Before getting to tonight's matchup, a quick look around this evening's local games...
We had ESPN on in the office tonight, so I wasn't paying as close attention as I could have to the Dayton-La Salle game. Reading Kevin Tatum's recap, it like the crowd at Tom Gola arena certainly got its money' worth.
Down by 11 points at halftime, the Explorers came back to tie the game at 61-61 with 46.4 seconds left. But the Flyers got the 63-61 win on a putback slam by Marcus Johnson with 1.4 seconds remaining. Ouch.
The news was better at the Palestra, where St. Joe's beat George Washington, 66-58. That score sure looks a bit closer than it should have been, but as Ray Parrillo's game recap notes the last-place Colonials quite literally battered Ahmad Nivins throughout the night.
When I saw that Villanova had a lead at halftime in Providence, I felt pretty confident the Wildcats would beat a Friars squad that has been flying below the radar so far this season.
Then I saw that the score was 86-79 with 35 seconds left, and I was a bit worried, but I figured 'Nova would hold on.
Then it was 88-84 with 23 seconds left, and I thought they couldn't possibly blow it, could they?
Then it was 92-91 with four seconds left. Uh oh.
But Weyinmi Efejuku, whose three-pointer cut the margin to only one point, didn't foul Scottie Reynolds until there was only one second on the clock. Reynolds hit both free throws and sealed the 94-91 win.
Overall, Reynolds scored a game-high 31 points - including 13-for-15 shooting from the line - and Dwayne Anderson added 19. Across the floor, three Providence players scored more than 20 points.
There was also drama in the night's all-Schuylkill 16 meeting between Drexel and Delaware. The Dragons and Blue Hens went to overtime in Newark, and the Blue Hens prevailed, 73-70.
Drexel, which saw its seven-game winning streak snapped, missed two three-pointers in the game's final seconds. The Blue Hens, who had lost three in a row, are now 4-8 in conference play. That win over VCU sure seems a long time ago, doesn't it.
Congratulations to Kentucky's Jodie Meeks for beating Tennessee-Martin's Lester Hudson in the first round of the Fantasy HORSE Invitational.
Meeks will face either Central Florida's Jermaine Taylor or Virginia Commonwealth's Eric Maynor, both of whose teams lost tonight in surprising fashion. Taylor's Golden Knights were blown out at home by Houston, 97-69, while the Rams fell at UNC-Wilmington, 82-71. The Seahawks are in next-to-last place in the CAA, which might make that result an even bigger upset even though it was a road game for VCU.
Now on to tonight's HORSE matchup.
My good friend Andy Glockner, whose Bubble Watch column now lives at SI.com, has campaigned for years against acts of mid-on-mid crime.
While the transgression's official definition is the pairing of mid-major teams in early-round NCAA Tournament games, I hereby confess to committing the offense at a misdemeanor level.
The second game of the Fantasy HORSE Invitational is between two players at mid-major schools in the Central Time Zone that I bet many of you have never heard of: North Dakota State's Ben Woodside and Chicago State's David Holston.
To be honest with you, I've never seen them myself. But since one plays in the Summit League and the other plays for a Division I independent, that can't be too surprising.
While I know that the mid-major devotees among you will stay in your seats for this contest, I suspect some of you will see this as an opportunity to head out to the concourse and get a snack.
(A soft pretzel, even.)
But I hope you'll stick around at least long enough to cast a vote in this round of the tournament. That's partly because NDSU is in first place in the Summit right now, and if you watch him now you'll be that much smarter when you fill out your bracket in March.
If you do pass up this contest, though, be ready for a matchup tomorrow night that could resonate in Palestra lore for years to come. Some of you might have already figured it out, and you might have also noticed that there's a big game involving a local team at a very convenient time.
Come back at around 7 p.m. to see it all unfold.
As a reminder, here are the stats on tonight's competitors:
2. Ben Woodside, North Dakota State (62.5 TS% / 23.7 PPG)
7. David Holston, Chicago State (58.7 TS% / 26.4 PPG)