The Pi-Rate Ratings

March 6, 2008

A PiRate Look At The NCAA Basketball Conference Tournaments–3rd Update


A PiRate Look at the NCAA Basketball Conference Tournaments

March 6, 2008, 3rd Update

Wednesday’s Conference Tournament Results

Atlantic Sun

#2 Jacksonville 65  #7 Mercer 57

#1 Belmont 75  #8 Campbell 66

Belmont almost blew a 19-point lead to survive in a game where they didn’t show up to play.  Jacksonville didn’t look like champion material, but the Dolphins took care of Mercer.


#3 Stetson 16-15 vs. #6 Gardner-Webb 15-15

#4 East Tennessee 18-12 vs. #5 Lipscomb 15-15


Jacksonville 17-12 vs. Stetson/Gardner-Webb Winner

Belmont 23-8 vs. East Tennessee/Lipscomb Winner



At-Large Teams:      0

Bubble:                      None

Patriot League

#1 American 62  #8 Holy Cross 60

#5 Army 64  #4 Lehigh 61 ot

#7 Bucknell 87  #2 Navy 86 3ot

#3 Colgate 76  #6 Lafayette 74

How about this opening round?  WOW!  All four games went down to the buzzer, with two going to overtime.  Two of the lower seeds won on the road.  Any of the four teams left can win.  American is not playing their best ball, so I would have to favor Colgate by a slim margin over the other three.


Army 14-15 at American 19-11

Bucknell 12-18 at Colgate 17-13

March 14

Championship Game at Higher Seed

At-Large Teams:      0

Bubble:                      None

Sunbelt Conference

#8 New Orleans 65  #9 Denver 60

#4 Middle Tennessee 74  #13 Louisiana Monroe 69

#12 Troy 70  #5 Louisiana Lafayette 60

#6 North Texas 85  #11 Arkansas State 63

#7 Florida Atlantic 91  #10 Florida International 64

It was a great night for Troy, as their women’s team also came up with a big win.  Middle Tennessee may be more than they can handle in the next round.  South Alabama better be ready for UNO, because the Privateers are going to scare the daylights out of them Sunday.  Western Kentucky isn’t a sure thing to beat North Texas either. 


New Orleans 19-12 vs. South Alabama 25-5

Middle Tennessee 15-14 vs. Troy 12-18

North Texas 20-10 vs. Western Kentucky 24-6

Florida Atlantic 15-17 vs. Arkansas Little Rock 19-10

At-Large Teams:      1 (South Alabama)

Bubble:                      Western Kentucky

Other Tournaments Underway

Big South

March 6 @ Asheville, NC

UNC-Asheville 22-8  vs. Liberty 16-15

Winthrop 20-11  vs. High Point 17-13

I expect the top two seeds to advance to the finals.  UNCA defeated Winthrop twice this year, so Winthrop will be poised to get revenge in the one that really matters.  Winthrop led the Bulldogs for most of the first half when they played at the Justice Center in Asheville earlier this year, but UNCA went on a huge run to win by 15.  UNCA was hot from behind the arc, and it opened up the inside.

March 8 @ Higher Seed

Championship Game

At-Large Teams:      0

Bubble:                      None

Horizon League

All Games Played At Indianapolis (Butler host team)

March 7

Wright State 21-9  vs. Valparaiso 20-12

Illinois-Chicago 17-14   vs. Loyola (Chi.) 12-18

March 8

Cleveland State 20-11  vs. Wright State/Valpo Winner

Butler 27-3  vs. Illinois-Chicago/Loyola (Chi.) Winner

At-Large Teams:      1 (Butler)

Bubble:                      None

Butler lost at home to Drake, but I doubt the Bulldogs will lose at home to any Horizon League opponent.  Cleveland State is playing well right now, and the Vikings gave Butler a good game in Indianapolis three weeks ago, having the game tied with less than 13 minutes to go before losing by five.  Wright State also played well at Butler, losing by five as well. 

Ohio Valley Conference

All Games Played At Nashville

Tennessee State had the most impressive win in the opening round, and the Tigers defeated top two seeds APSU and Murray within the past three weeks.  While Austin Peay is still the team to beat, the Tigers are confident they can knock off both the Racers Friday and the Governors Saturday to win the automatic bid.  UT-Martin has a chance against Peay, because Lester Hudson can carry a team on his back.  He won’t have to, as teammate Marquis Weddle will help carry the load.

March 7

Austin Peay 22-10  vs. UT-Martin 17-15

Murray State 18-12  vs. Tennessee State 15-15

March 8

Championship Game

At-Large Teams:      0

Bubble:                      None

Conference Tournaments Beginning Friday, March 7

America East

1st Three Rounds At Binghamton, NY.  Championship Game At Higher Seed

#8 Stony Brook 6-22  vs. #9 Maine 7-22

March 8

#1 Md. Balt. Co. 21-8  vs. Stony Brook/Maine Winner

#4 Vermont 15-14  vs. #5 Binghamton 14-15

#2 Hartford 16-15  vs. #7 New Hampshire 9-19

#3 Albany 15-14  vs. #6 Boston U. 13-16

March 9

UMBC-Stony Brook-Maine vs. Vermont-Binghamton

Hartford-New Hampshire vs. Albany-Boston

March 15

Championship Game

At-Large Teams:      0

Bubble:                      None

UMBC will have a tough time getting by host Binghamton in a possible semifinal match.  The Bearcats beat the top seed at home in the regular season and almost swept them when they played in Catonsville.  I look for the winner of that game to cut down the nets on the 15th.

Colonial Athletic Association

All Games Played At Richmond, VA (Virginia Commonwealth host team)

#8 Hofstra 12-17  vs. #9 Towson State 12-17 (VCU 23-6)

#5 William & Mary  vs. #12 Georgia State (ODU 17-14)

#6 Delaware  vs. #11 Drexel (UNCW 19-12)

#7 Northeastern  vs. #10 James Madison (GMU 20-10)

March 8

Virginia Commonwealth 23-6  vs. Hofstra/Towson Winner

Old Dominion 17-14  vs. William & Mary/Georgia State Winner

UNC-Wilmington 19-12  vs. Delaware/Drexel Winner

George Mason 20-10  vs. Northeastern/James Madison Winner

March 9

VCU-Hofstra-Towson  vs. ODU-Wm. & Mary-Georgia State

UNCW-Delaware-Drexel  vs. GMU-Northeastern-JMU

March 10

Championship Game

At-Large Teams:      0 or 1

Bubble:                      Virginia Commonwealth

VCU is the obvious choice to win the tournament that is being played on their home floor, but they aren’t the runaway choice.  Old Dominion beat both VCU and George Mason down the stretch, with the win against the Rams coming in Richmond.  UNC-Wilmington beat ODU twice and won at George Mason, but the Seahawks didn’t come close either time against VCU.  They may have an axe to grind in a third match with the Rams, but it would still be hard to defeat VCU in Richmond.

Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference

All Games Played At Albany, NY (Siena host team)

#8 Manhattan 11-18  vs. #9 St. Peter’s 6-23

#7 Iona 12-19  vs. #10 Canisius 5-24

March 8

#1 Siena 19-10  vs. Manhattan/St. Peter’s Winner

#4 Loyola (Md.) 18-13  vs. #5 Fairfield 14-15

#2 Rider 21-9  vs. Iona/Canisius Winner

#3 Niagara 19-9  vs. Marist 17-13

March 9

Siena-Manhattan-St. Peter’s  vs. Loyola-Fairfield

Rider-Iona-Canisius  vs. Niagara-Marist

March 10

Championship Game

At-Large Teams:      0

Bubble:                      None

The top four seeds are basically even in talent.  Siena has home court advantage, but the Saints had a better road record than home record in conference play.  Niagara enters the tournament as the hottest team, winning five of their final six games.  However, the one loss came by 16 points at Siena.

Southern Conference

All Games Played At Charleston, SC (College of Charleston host team)

#8 Wofford 15-15  vs. #9 Western Carolina 10-20

#7 Elon 11-18  vs. #10 Furman 7-22

#6 Charleston 14-16  vs. #11 Citadel 6-23

March 8

#1 Davidson 23-6  vs. Wofford/Western Carolina Winner

#4 Appalachian State 18-12  vs. #5 UNC-Greensboro 18-11

#2 Chattanooga 18-12  vs. Elon/Furman Winner

#3 Georgia Southern 20-11  vs. Charleston/Citadel Winner

March 9

Davidson-Wofford-Western Carolina  vs. Appy State-UNCG

Chatt-Elon-Furman  vs. Ga. Sou.-Chas.-Citadel

March 10

Championship Game

At-Large Teams:      0 or 1

Bubble:                      Davidson

How can any SoCon team beat Davidson?  Who can do it?  Only Davidson can do it to themselves.  The Wildcats made a mockery of the league for the second year in a row, going 20-0.  In their final regular season game and playing on the home court of the next best team in the league in a game that only had pride on the line, DU blew away Georgia Southern by 20 points.  Against the top four contenders (Ga. Sou., Chatt., Appy State, and UNCG), Davidson won by an average score of 81-66.  Any team beating the Wildcats will have pulled off an upset similar to the Miracle on Ice in 1980.

 West Coast Conference

All Games Played At San Diego (San Diego host team)

#5 San Francisco 9-20  vs. # 8 Loyola Marymount 5-25

#6 Pepperdine 10-20  vs. #7 Portland 9-21

March 8

#4 Santa Clara 14-15  vs. San Francisco/Loyola Marymount Winner

#3 San Diego 18-13  vs. Pepperdine/Portland Winner

March 9

#1 Gonzaga 24-6  vs. Santa Clara-San Francisco-Loyola Marymount

#2 St. Mary’s 25-5  vs. San Diego-Pepperdine-Portland

March 10

Championship Game

At-Large Teams:      2 (Gonzaga & St. Mary’s)

Bubble:                      None

The bubble teams across the nation will be rooting hard for either Gonzaga or St. Mary’s to win the tournament.  If San Diego can get hot at home and beat both of the behemoths, the WCC will send three teams to the Dance, and another bubble will pop.  The opening day of this tournament couldn’t field four weaker teams.  The quartet combined for 86 losses.  All four will be gone after the second round.  The host Toreros have an easy road to the semifinals, where they should be fresh for St. Mary’s.  It should be a great game that extends the winner and allows Gonzaga to sweep the regular season and tournament yet again.

The Other Conference Races

Already Clinched Automatic Berth in NCAA Tournament (1)

1. Cornell-Ivy League Champion

Atlantic Coast

At Large Teams:      5 or 6

Bubble:                      Maryland

North Carolina, Duke, and Clemson are locks.  Virginia Tech and Miami are close to becoming locks and will be so with one more win.  Maryland has lost four of their last six, including a home loss to Clemson.  The Terps must win at Virginia and then take one game in the ACC Tournament to feel safe.  No other team can get in without winning the conference tournament.

Atlantic 10

At Large Teams:      2 or 3

Bubble:                      Dayton

Xavier is the only sure thing as of today.  U Mass is close and should be safe if they win at George Washington Saturday.  Dayton is mired in a tie for eighth place at 7-8 in the league, but the Flyers’ RPI is still in the 30’s.  If they beat St. Joseph’s Saturday to finish the regular season 8-8/20-9, then they could work their way onto the bubble by advancing to the tournament semifinals.  St. Joe’s, Rhode Island, and Temple could still conceivably move to the bubble by getting to the finals of the conference tournament, but they still would be in jeopardy of being left out.

Big East

At Large Teams:      7 or 8

Bubble:                      Syracuse, Villanova

Louisville, Georgetown, Notre Dame, Connecticut, and Marquette are locks.  West Virginia and Pittsburgh are almost there and should get in short of total collapses.  Syracuse and Villanova still have work to do.  It’s hard to see the Big East getting nine teams.  Syracuse has dropped five of their last seven and must defeat Marquette to close out the regular season and then probably pull off a first round win at MSG and possibly upset someone in the quarterfinals.  Villanova is in the same boat.  The Wildcats absolutely must win at Providence and then do some damage in the Big East Tournament.

Big 10

At Large Teams:      4 or 5

Bubble:                      Ohio State, Minnesota

Wisconsin, Indiana, Purdue, and Michigan State are locks.  Ohio State helped themselves big time by knocking off Purdue; a regular season finale win at home against Michigan State could do the trick.  If they lose that game, the Buckeyes must get to the semifinal round of the Big 10 Tournament to have a shot.  Minnesota could get into the picture with a win at Illinois to close out the regular season followed by a surprise showing in the Big 10 Tourney.  They would have to get to the championship game to be on the bubble at 22-12.

Big 12

At Large Teams:      5, 6, or 7

Bubble:                      Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Baylor   (Tiny Bubble: Texas Tech, Oklahoma State)

Kansas, Texas, and Kansas State are safely in the Dance.  After that, the picture is a little more cloudy.  Oklahoma, Texas A&M and Baylor have high enough RPIs to be in the upper heights of the bubble.  However, if any of this trio loses their final regular season game and then gets dropped in their first game of the conference tournament, they could be sweating come Selection Sunday.  Texas Tech and Oklahoma State can still get in the mix, but I don’t think they will do so.  If there are enough surprise conference tournament winners, this league will definitely lose one bid.

Big West

At Large Teams:      0

Bubble:                      0

There are four teams with enough talent to pull off an opening round upset in the NCAA Tournament, but none of them have a strong enough resume to be considered for an at-large bid.  Cal State Northridge 19-8, Cal State Fullerton 20-8, UC Santa Barbara 21-7, and Pacific 21-9 are that quartet.  The three teams that don’t get in the Field of 65 should all be highly considered for the NIT.

Conference USA

At Large Teams:      1 or 2

Bubble:                      UAB, Houston

Memphis is obviously in, and if they win the CUSA Tournament, there is a chance they will be the only league team dancing.  UAB lost by one at home to Memphis, and now they close out the regular season by playing the Tigers in the Bluff City.  A Blazer win would move them to within one conference tournament win of getting in as an at-large team.  Houston needs a win at UTEP, and then the Cougars would have to get to the title game in the CUSA Tourney to have a legitimate shot at an at-large bid.


At Large Teams:      1

Bubble:                      None

Kent State is now a lock for an at-large bid, but if any other team is going to make it to the Big Dance, they will have to win the MAC Tournament.  Akron and Ohio U are both capable of beating Kent State four times out of 10 on a neutral floor.


At Large Teams:      0

Bubble:                      None

Morgan State has won 12 of their last 13 games, and the Golden Bears are talented enough to pull off an upset in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.  Of course, they have a big obstacle to successfully counter first.  The MEAC Tournament is almost always chock full of surprises.  Six other teams could have what it takes to put together a quick hot streak and cut down the nets in Raleigh on March 15.  Watch out for FAMU.  The Rattlers have won four straight games and already own a victory over Morgan State.  This tournament should be well worth the price of admission for the potential ticket buyer.

Mountain West

At Large Teams:      2

Bubble:                      New Mexico

BYU and UNLV haven’t received much publicity this year.  Maybe, there’s been too much snow in Utah and too many celebrities in Las Vegas stealing the headlines, but the Cougars and Runnin’ Rebels are both quite good.  New Mexico isn’t chopped liver either.  The Lobos are squarely on the bubble, and they will get in if they advance to the semifinal round of the MWC Tourney and there aren’t too many conference tournament upsets.


At Large Teams:      4, 5, 6, or 7

Bubble:                      Arizona, Southern Cal, Arizona State, Oregon

The Pac-10 is rather strong until you get to number 10 Oregon State.  When you have two great teams like UCLA and Stanford, and seven really good teams, it makes it hard for those seven really good teams to climb above mediocrity in the standings.  It is my opinion that this is the best league in the nation, and the RPI ratings show it to be tied for first with the ACC.  Therefore, I expect a team could get in the Big Dance with a regular season conference record of 8-10, if that team fares well in the conference tournament.

UCLA, Stanford, and Washington State are safe locks.  Southern California finishes the regular season at home against Stanford and Cal, and a win in either game will push them over the top.  The two Arizona schools must close out the regular season in the State of Oregon.  Both should handle Oregon State.  If either can knock off Oregon, that should move them into the better half of the bubble.  As far as the Ducks go, Oregon probably needs to beat both Arizona teams and then advance to the semifinals of the Pac-10 Tournament.

California and Washington are now out of the picture, but both teams are better than probably 25 of the teams that will be part of the Field of 65.


At Large Teams:      4 or 5 

Bubble:                      Arkansas

Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Mississippi State, and Kentucky are in the Dance.  Arkansas needs a win over Alabama this weekend plus one win in the SEC Tournament.  Ole Miss can only get there by winning the Tournament, even if they win at Georgia to close out the regular season.


At Large Teams:      0 or 1

Bubble:                      Stephen F. Austin

This should be an interesting tournament.  You have Stephen F. Austin, which until falling at home to UT-Arlington last week, was in good shape for an at-large bid.  Now, their at-large possibilities are limited at best to winning all their games until the Southland Conference Championship Game.  Lamar has the best league record, and they had won 10 games in a row until losing to McNeese State last Saturday.  Sam Houston is hanging in there in the third position at 22-6, and you have to watch out for Northwestern State which routinely plays their best ball in March.


At Large Teams:      0

Bubble:                      None

It’s Alabama State or bust.  The Hornets are the only SWAC team capable of advancing with a winning record to the play-in round of the NCAA Tournament.  When the conference tournament convenes in Birmingham,  Alabama State will be the favorite, but the chance that someone other than the Hornets wins the tourney is greater than 50%.  Last place Alcorn State won at Alabama State a couple weeks ago, so the spread from first to last isn’t that great. 


At Large Teams:      0

Bubble:                      None

The WAC Tournament will decide which single team gets a Dance invitation, as there are no teams close enough to the bubble to be considered.  New Mexico State hosts the tournament, and the Aggies have a scoring margin of 83-62 in their last nine games at the Pan American Center.  NMSU might be the third or fourth seed in the tourney, but they are the heavy favorite to win the lone league bid.

Nevada, Utah State, and Boise State are the other three really good teams in the league, and Nevada is the only WAC team to have won in Las Cruces this year.

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