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NCAA Men's Basketball First Four Open Thread; Texas-San Antonio/Alabama St. and USC/VCU

Tonight we have the big Cal NIT game versus Mississippi.  Hopefully, Monty's crew can handle the Rebel boys.  First, we have some NCAA Tournament action.  We had two First Four games yesterday and UNC Asheville and Clem(p)son made it out of their games.

Today, we have 2 more games, one of which includes a Pac-10 team!  Check out Avinash's writing on SB Nation Bay Area on tonight's game.

After the jump, more info on these games.  GO BEARS!

First up, Texas San Antonio v. Alabama St:

Alabama State was depleted by injuries during its brutal opening schedule— it played eight of the first nine on the road. It wasn’t surprising that the Hornets opened 1-8, the only win coming in their only home game. They ended the month of January with a 73-59 loss at Texas Southern that left them 6-16.

The problem? They couldn’t score. The Hornets were one of the worst shooting teams in the Southwestern Athletic Conference. They couldn’t even make a free throw, shooting only 55 percent from the line.

After that loss at Texas Southern, things started coming together. Moorer, who got a sixth year of eligibility because of injuries, returned for the final 15 games. The rest of the lineup mended. The offense came around, and the Hornets won their next eight, gaining confidence with each game.

"Once they got two or three wins under their belt, they even worked harder in practice," coach Lewis Jackson said. "They got so competitive. We knew as a coaching staff that these guys were about to come together. And they kept working and working, and the wins started to pile up.

"And here we are."

The offense came around when Moorer, the top returning scorer from last season, got healthy again. He was the MVP of the conference tournament, averaging 13.7 points and 7.3 rebounds.

 

I think Texas San Antonio will win this one.  

Also, 

USC-VCU:

 

The Trojans (19-14) take on Virginia Commonwealth (23-11) in Wednesday’s First Four game at the University of Dayton Arena. The winner faces a quick turnaround game against sixth-seeded Georgetown on Friday in Chicago.

But O’Neill, in his second year of a massive rebuilding project, wasn’t even certain he’d still be with the team this week.

"Coaches are always fearful of those things," he said of potentially being let go. "I certainly didn’t want to get fired. Guys make mistakes. I made a big mistake, and (USC’s administration has) been very understanding, very worthwhile in their support."

The Trojan players consider O’Neill’s suspension and subsequent apology as a sort of team-building exercise.

"You can tell that he really felt like he let us down," guard Jio Fontan said. "It’s something that I think he’s glad that he went through for the learning part of it. And we feel like as a team it’s kind of something we benefited from, brought us all together, brought us all closer. We definitely got to see another side of the coaching staff that we would not have seen if that altercation hadn’t happened."

I see USC winning this game.