3-point shot: Gaels have the momentum

February, 28, 2012
2/28/12
5:00
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1. Saint Mary’s loss to Murray State 10 days ago seemed to temporarily zap the buzz out of the Gaels. But they didn’t fret. They returned to winning and swept a road trip at Portland and San Francisco. The Gaels clinched their first conference title in 23 years and snapped Gonzaga's 11-straight WCC regular-season title run. You cannot underestimate what this title will do for the program’s perception on the West Coast. Saint Mary’s will still have to survive a likely matchup against Loyola Marymount in the the semifinals of the conference tournament before a showdown with either BYU or Gonzaga in the finals in Las Vegas.

2. One of the selection committee's most intriguing decisions will be where to seed Murray State. The Racers need two wins in the OVC tournament in Nashville later this week to finish the season with just one loss. They will likely have to beat Tennessee State, essentially on the road, for the automatic berth. Murray State should at least be considered for a protected seed and play in Nashville in the second and third round. Where they will be seeded is still to be determined.

3. One of the toughest potential tournament title games could be in Sioux Falls, S.D., where top seed Oral Roberts may have to face No. 2 South Dakota State in a final. It would be cool to see SDSU in the NCAA tournament, if for no other reason than to get fuller representation from the states. Aside from South Dakota, only Maine and Alaska (no Division I teams) have yet to send a school to the dance. Oh, and I’ve never hidden my fondness for the nickname and logo. For whatever reason, I love the Jackrabbits as a nickname. And this team is no fluke. Nate Wolters is a serious player who averages 21.2 points, five boards and 6.1 assists a game. SDSU crushed Washington in Seattle on Dec. 18 in its most impressive win of the season. The Jackrabbits also beat ORU at home by 15.

Andy Katz | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com

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