The Pi-Rate Ratings

March 10, 2008

A PiRate Look At The NCAA Basketball Conference Tournaments–March 10, 2008

 

A PiRate Look at the NCAA Basketball Conference Tournaments

March 10, 2008, 5th Update

Conference Tournament Results through Sunday, March 09, 2008

America East

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

Opening Round

#8 Stony Brook 73  vs. #9 Maine 65  ot

Saturday, March 8

Quarterfinals

#1 Md. Balt. Co. 76  Stony Brook 60

#4 Vermont 65  #5 Binghamton 57

#2 Hartford 68  #7 New Hampshire 65

#6 Boston U. 68  #3 Albany 64  ot

Sunday, March 9

Semifinals

Md. Balt. Co. 73  Vermont 64

Hartford 59  Boston U. 52

Saturday, March 15

Championship Game

Hartford 18-15  at Maryland-Baltimore Co. 23-8

At-Large Teams:      0

Bubble:                      None

UMBC didn’t have to play Binghamton, and that made their task much easier.  Hartford had a tough time with two weak opponents to get this far, and the clock will strike midnight for them Saturday.  While these two teams split a pair of one-point games during the regular season, I believe UMBC should win this rubber match by 10 or more points and earn their first trip to the Big Dance, where they could be a #14 seed.  Of particular interest in this championship game will be the matchup of two, small, but beefy forwards.  Hartford’s Warren McLendon and UMBC’s Darryl Proctor will battle it out for close to 40 minutes and make this game worth watching.

Atlantic Sun

Quarterfinals

#4 East Tennessee 81 #5 Lipscomb 74

#6 Gardner-Webb 82  #3 Stetson 63

#2 Jacksonville 65  #7 Mercer 57

#1 Belmont 75  #8 Campbell 66

Semifinals

Jacksonville 89 Gardner-Webb 80

Belmont 69 East Tennessee 65

Saturday, March 8

Championship

Belmont 79  Jacksonville 61

The Bruins broke out of their two-game mini-slump and hit the outside shots.  When Belmont gets hot from behind the arc, they are tough against any opponent.  At 25-8, they should not be a #16 or #15 seed playing a Final Four team in the first round like they have the past two seasons.

At-Large Teams:      0

Bubble:                      None

Big Sky

Saturday, March 8

Quarterfinals

#4 Idaho State 67  #5 Montana 65

#3 Weber State 65  #6 Montana State 49

Tuesday, March 11 @ Portland, OR

Semifinals

#1 Portland State (21-9)  vs. Idaho State 12-18

#2 Northern Arizona (20-10) vs. Weber State 16-13

Wednesday, March 12 @ Portland, OR

Championship Game

If Portland State has the same intensity they had in February, they are going to waltz through this tournament.  The Vikings won their last 12 conference games, including slaughters at Montana State 96-68 and at Montana 108-56 as the regular season ended.

PSU won all their conference home games this year, but in half of them, they had to pull out squeakers.  Idaho State wasn’t one of those squeakers, and the Vikings should win their semifinal game with ease, allowing Coach Ken Bone to empty the bench rather early in the second half.

The one team that has the best shot at the Vikings is #3-seed and defending tournament champion Weber State.  The Wildcats lost by three at PSU, and the game stayed tight the entire 40 minutes.  Weber State can win by taking advantage of its quickness.

As for #2-seed Northern Arizona, the Lumberjacks match up well with Weber State but not with Portland State.  NAU dominated on the boards and forced a lot of turnovers on WSU in their two games with the Wildcats.  Against PSU, the Lumberjacks’ defense forced turnovers, but gave up too many easy shots and couldn’t hold their own on the boards.

At-Large Teams:      0

Bubble:                      None

Big South

Opening Round

#1 UNC-Asheville 87  #8 Charleston Southern 63

#4 Liberty 103  #5 VMI 88

#2 Winthrop 76  #7 Radford 45

#3 High Point 59  #6 Coastal Carolina 56

Semifinals

UNC-Asheville 75  Liberty 57

Winthrop 61  High Point 53

Saturday, March 8 @ Asheville, NC

Championship Game

Winthrop 66  UNC-Asheville 48

Winthrop’s defense completely shut down the UNCA offense, and the home team panicked when they found themselves down by eight point.  This Eagle team is not as talented as last year’s great squad, but they could cause a headache for the opposing coach in a first-round NCAA Tournament game.

At-Large Teams:      0

Bubble:                      None

Colonial Athletic Association

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

#9 Towson State 81  #8 Towson State 66

#5 William & Mary 58 #12 Georgia State 57

#6 Delaware 60  #11 Drexel 51

#7 Northeastern 73 #10 James Madison 59

Saturday, March 8

Quarterfinals

#1 Virginia Commonwealth 57  Towson State 46

William & Mary 63  #4 Old Dominion 60

#3 UNC-Wilmington 82  Delaware 59

#2 George Mason 63  Northeastern 52

Sunday, March 9

Semifinals

William & Mary 56  Virginia Commonwealth 54

George Mason 53  UNC-Wilmington 41

Monday, March 10

Championship Game

William & Mary 17-15  vs. George Mason 22-10

William & Mary is trying to crash the party.  The Tribe barely edged last place Georgia State in the opening round.  Then, they knocked off the league’s hottest team in Old Dominion in the quarterfinals.  To top that off, they dismissed league champion VCU (and on the Rams’ home floor to boot) to advance to the finals.  Can they win four games in four days, including knocking off three of the top four teams in the league?  I think they will fall a bit short tonight.  George Mason still has a couple players left over from their Final Four team in 2006.  The game won’t be pretty, and 55 points could easily be enough to win.

As for VCU, the Rams just may have been reduced to an NIT team.  They are on the bubble, but if one or two more upsets in other conferences force surprise teams into the field, the Rams are going to be jilted.

At-Large Teams:      0 or 1

Bubble:                      Virginia Commonwealth 24-7  RPI Avg.: 61.3 *     * = average of four RPIs I can get for free.

Horizon League

All Games Played At Indianapolis (Butler host team)

Opening Round

#3 Wright State 60  #10 Detroit 37

#6 Valparaiso 75  #7 UW-Green Bay 67

#4 Illinois-Chicago 70  #9 Youngstown State 59

#8 Loyola (Chi.) 57  #5 UW-Milwaukee 51

Quarterfinals

Valparaiso 72  Wright State 67

Illinois-Chicago 60 Loyola (Chi.) 49

Saturday, March 8

Semifinals

#2 Cleveland State 78  Valparaiso 73

#1 Butler 66  Illinois-Chicago 50

Tuesday, March 11

Championship

Cleveland State 21-11 at Butler 28-3

Butler is already in the Dance win or lose the Championship Game of the Horizon League.  Cleveland State is on the bubble for an NIT trip if they lose this game, so the Vikings have more to play for in this game.  CSU lost a close game at Butler in February, and I expect them to bring their A-game for the title match.  Butler still has home court advantage, and the Bulldogs are a seasoned squad.  CSU’s chances of an upset hinge on the shooting of forward J’Nathan Bullock.  If he’s hot, then the Vikes have a chance at the upset.  If he shoots 35% like he has in the two regular season games with Butler, then Butler wins and becomes a #3 or 4 seed.

At-Large Teams:      1 (Butler)

Bubble:                      None

Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference

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

Opening Round

#8 Manhattan 73  #9 St. Peter’s 59

#10 Canisius 64  #7 Iona 59

Saturday, March 8

Quarterfinals

#1 Siena 66  Manhattan 58

#4 Loyola (Md.) 64  #5 Fairfield 59

#2 Rider 75  Canisius 71

#6 Marist 66  #3 Niagara 62

Sunday, March 9

Semifinals

Siena 65  Loyola (Md.) 63

Rider 76  Marist 71

Monday, March 10

Championship Game

Rider 23-9 at Siena 21-10

Just because this game is being played at top seed Siena, don’t automatically think the Saints are the favorites in this game.  Rider won at Siena by 14 points in the regular season, and the Broncos are riding a five-game winning streak.  Rider will rely on the league’s best player in years, Jason Thompson, who averages 20.5 points and 12 rebounds per game.  In the two games against Siena, Thompson score 49 points and pulled down 45 rebounds!  However, he played the full 40 minutes against Marist last night, and he could show signs of fatigue.

At-Large Teams:      0

Bubble:                      None

Missouri Valley @ St. Louis (Arch Madness)

Opening Round

#8 Indiana State 71  #9 Wichita State 67

#7 Missouri State 69 #10 Evansville 46

Quarterfinals

#1 Drake 68  Indiana State 46

#4 Creighton 74  #5 Bradley 70

#2 Illinois State 63  Missouri State 58

#6 Northern Iowa 54  #3 Southern Illinois 49

Saturday, March 8

Semifinals

Drake 75 Creighton 67

Illinois State 56 Northern Iowa 42

Sunday, March 9

Championship

Drake 79  Illinois State 49

At-Large Teams:      0 or 1

Bubble:                      Illinois State 23-9  RPI avg. 35.5

Drake looked like a Final Four team yesterday.  The Bulldogs’ defense was reminiscent of Jerry Tarkanian’s Amoeba Defense at UNLV in 1990 and 1991.  The team effort was outstanding, and if the Bulldogs continue to play with the same intensity, they will be at least a Sweet 16 team if not an Elite Eight team.  Drake has one Final Four appearance in its history.  In 1969, the Bulldogs had a dominating inside presence with Willie Wise, Willie McCarter, and Dolph Pulliam.  In the six-year run as National Champs spanning from the years of Lew Alcindor/Kareem Abdul Jabbar to Bill Walton, it was the 1969 Drake team that came the closest to dethroning the Bruins.  UCLA almost blew a double digit lead late in the game and had to hold on for a three-point victory.  The Bruins then slaughtered Purdue in the championship, while Drake blew away by 20 points a North Carolina team led by Charlie Scott in the consolation game.

Even though they were embarrassed, Illinois State is firmly on the bubble.  The MVC usually gets multiple teams into the Field of 65, and the Redbirds proved to be the second best team.

Northeast

Quarterfinal

#1 Robert Morris 64  #8 Monmouth 50

#4 Mt. St. Mary’s 80  #5 Quinnipiac 70

#2 Wagner 71  #7 Long Island 62

#3 Sacred Heart 84  #6 Central Connecticut State 71

Sunday, March 9

Semifinals

Mt. St. Mary’s 83  Robert Morris 65

Sacred Heart 55  Wagner 49

Wednesday, March 12

Championship

Mt. St. Mary’s 17-14 at Sacred Heart 18-13

At-Large Teams:      0

Bubble:                      None

This is a weird set of circumstances here.  Mt. St. Mary’s looked impressive in downing Quinnipiac in the quarterfinals, but what the Mountaineers did to top seed Robert Morris last night is incredible.  They completely destroyed a team that hadn’t lost since January 13th, and now the Mount is the hottest team in the league.

On the other side of the bracket, Sacred Heart held off Wagner to advance to the finals.  It isn’t much of a surprise that the Pioneers have advanced to the championship game, which they will host Wednesday night.  SHU was supposed to be the top dog in the league this year, and the team underachieved.  Maybe, they will right their wrongs this week and grab the crown they were suppose to obtain all along.  With MSM riding an emotional high, it figures they won’t bring their A-game to Fairfield.

Ohio Valley Conference

Quarterfinals @ Higher Seed

#1 Austin Peay 76  #8 Eastern Kentucky 51

#4 UT-Martin 101  #5 Samford 94  3ot

#2 Murray State 77  #7 Tennessee Tech 74

#6 Tennessee State 68  #3 Morehead State 61

Semifinals @ Nashville

Austin Peay 78  UT-Martin 77

Tennessee State 83 Murray State 75

Saturday, March 8

Championship

Austin Peay 82 Tennessee State 64

At-Large Teams:      0

Bubble:                      None

Austin Peay totally dominated the championship game, and it was never in doubt after about 10 minutes of action.  The Governors have a veteran team, but they don’t have enough inside muscle to advance in the NCAA Tournament, but if their offense is clicking, they could make it interesting.

Patriot League

Quarterfinals

#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

Sunday, March 9

Semifinals

American  72 Army 60

Colgate 54  Bucknell 40

Friday, March 14

Championship

Colgate 18-13 at American 20-11

At-Large Teams:      0

Bubble:                      None

This should be a close game, and it wouldn’t surprise me if it went to overtime.  American beat Colgate twice by eight points this year, and I expect the Red Raiders to be ready to exact some revenge. 

American has won nine of its last 10 games, and the Eagles have the best backcourt in the Patriot League.  In tournaments, guard play is very important, as the backcourt that makes the most errors or forces the fewer errors usually comes from the losing team.  I’ll go with American in this one, which will allow Coach Jeff Jones to get back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since he was at Virginia in the 1990’s.

Southern Conference

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

Opening Round

#8 Wofford 58  #9 Western Carolina 49

#7 Elon 52  #10 Furman 37

#6 Charleston 66  #11 Citadel 48

Saturday, March 8

Quarterfinals

#1 Davidson 82 Wofford 49

#5 UNC-Greensboro 63  #4 Appalachian State 46

Elon 60  #2 Chattanooga 57

Coll. of Charleston 87  #3 Georgia Southern 73

Sunday, March 9

Semifinals

Davidson 82 UNCG 52

Elon 75  Charleston 61

Monday, March 10

Championship Game

Davidson 25-6  vs. Elon 14-18

At-Large Teams:      0 or 1

Bubble:                      Davidson

It’s one thing to hold a 22-loss Furman team to 37 points.  It’s one bigger thing to upset #2-seed Chattanooga.  It’s an even bigger thing to upset tournament host Charleston by 14 points.  However, it’s an impossible team to beat Davidson if you are another member of the Southern Conference.  The Wildcats are one win away from advancing to the Big Dance seeded in the upper half of a 16-team regional.  Another blowout win could influence the Selection Committee into seeding the Wildcats as high as sixth and no lower than eighth.  If they can sneak in as a sixth seed, they have a chance to go far into the tournament.  This is a team that had North Carolina on the ropes back in November, took Duke down to the wire, and gave UCLA a tough game at Anaheim, leading by as much as 18 points.  On a neutral floor in mid-March and with non-biased officiating, this team has the potential to do what George Mason did two years ago.

Summit League @ Tulsa (Oral Roberts host team)

Saturday, March 8

Quarterfinals

#1 Oral Roberts 84 #8 Centenary 56

#2 IUPUI 69  #7 Missouri-Kansas City 65

Sunday, March 9

Quarterfinals

#5 IPFW 66  #4 Southern Utah 62

#3 Oakland 80 #6 Western Illinois 66

Monday, March 10

Semifinals

Oral Roberts 22-8 vs. IPFW 13-17

IUPUI 25-6 vs. Oakland 17-13

Tuesday, March 11

Championship

At-Large Teams:      0 or 1

Bubble:                      Oral Roberts

Oral Roberts has a much easier path to the finals than IUPUI.  IPFW shouldn’t be much of a challenge for ORU.  The Golden Eagles dominated every aspect of the game when they slaughtered the Mastodons 88-56 a few weeks back.  I don’t expect the underdog to make up a 32-point gap.  They might lose by less than 20 points, but that’s about all you can expect.

IUPUI and Oakland will be the more exciting game.  Both teams won by double digits on their home floor when they played in the regular season, and on a neutral floor, it’s close to a 50-50 tossup.  The winner is probably going to be too fatigued to give ORU their best effort tomorrow night.

Sunbelt Conference

1st Round

#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

Sunday, March 9 @ Mobile, AL

Quarterfinals

South Alabama 81  New Orleans 77

Middle Tennessee 65  Troy 59

Western Kentucky 84  North Texas 70

Arkansas Little Rock 66  Florida Atlantic 60

Monday, March 10 @ Mobile, AL

Semifinals

South Alabama 26-5  vs. Middle Tennessee 16-14

Western Kentucky 25-6 vs. UALR 20-10

Tuesday, March 11 @ Mobile, AL

Championship

At-Large Teams:      1 (South Alabama)

Bubble:                      Western Kentucky

Western Kentucky looked like a team that belonged in the Big Dance Sunday night, as the Hilltoppers handled North Texas by 14 points.  South Alabama had their hands filled with UNO, but with the win, the Jaguars probably secured an at-large invitation if they need to rely on one.  I expect the Jags to take care of Middle Tennessee tonight since they have some revenge on their minds.  Western may have the tougher time of it tonight, but I expect them to come through.  If tomorrow night’s championship is a USA-WKU tilt, it will be one you have to watch.  Can USA beat WKU three times in one season?  We’ll have to wait a few hours to see if that develops.

 West Coast Conference

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

Opening Round

#5 San Francisco 79  # 8 Loyola Marymount 60

#6 Pepperdine 50  #7 Portland 48  ot

Saturday, March 8

Quarterfinals

#4 Santa Clara 51  San Francisco 50

#3 San Diego 75  Pepperdine 55

Sunday, March 9

#1 Gonzaga 52  Santa Clara 48

San Diego 75  #2 St. Mary’s 69  2ot

Monday, March 10

Championship Game

San Diego 20-13  vs. Gonzaga 25-6

At-Large Teams:      0, 1 or 2 (Gonzaga & St. Mary’s)

Bubble:                      St. Mary’s 25-6  Avg. RPI 40.8

Here’s where some bubble teams are a bit nervous.  The host team San Diego Toreros have knocked off St. Mary’s and advanced to the WCC Championship Game.  They face perennial champion Gonzaga, but this is no gimme game for Coach Mark Few’s Bulldogs.  USD is coached by Few’s former assistant Bill Grier, who will have his team prepared for battle against the Goliath of the league.

The key to tonight’s game may be which Gyno Pomare shows up for USD.  He was a non-factor in the two games against Gonzaga in the regular season, and the Toreros need him to score 12-15 points and pull down 7-10 boards tonight as a minimum.

Already Clinched Automatic Berth in NCAA Tournament (5)

1. Cornell-Ivy League Champion

2. Winthrop-Big South Champion

3. Austin Peay-Ohio Valley Champion

4. Belmont-Atlantic Sun Champion

5. Drake-Missouri Valley Champion

Only 60 teams left to go!

Conference Tournaments Beginning Tuesday, March 11

MEAC @ Raleigh, NC

Tuesday, March 11

Opening Round

#7 Coppin State 12-20  vs. #10 Howard 6-25

#8 South Carolina State 12-19  vs. #9 Bethune Cookman 11-20

Wednesday, March 12

Opening Round

#6 Florida A&M 14-16  vs. #11 Maryland Eastern Shore 4-27

Quarterfinal Round

#2 Hampton 18-11 vs. winner of Coppin State-Howard

#1 Morgan State 20-9 vs. winner of South Carolina State-Bethune Cookman

Thursday, March 13

Quarterfinal Round

#3 Norfolk State 15-14  vs. winner of FAMU-UMES

#4 Delaware State 13-15  vs. #5 North Carolina A&T 15-15

Friday, March 14

Semifinal Round

Morgan St.-SC State-BCU  vs. Del. St.-NCAT

Hampton-Coppin-Howard vs. Norfolk-FAMU-UMES

Saturday, March 15

Championship Game

Note: There will be a bonus game prior to the Championship Game to be played between North Carolina Central (3-26) and Winston-Salem State (12-17), two future MEAC teams.

Morgan State gives the MEAC its best chance to win an NCAA Tournament game, but it’s no given they will survive the MEAC Tournament.  Even though the Golden Bears won 13 of their final 14 games, the MEAC Tournament is the Saratoga Race Track of the NCAA-it’s where champions get upset.  Just ask Delaware State last year.  The Hornets were more dominating in 2007 than Morgan State has been this year, but they fell to Florida A&M in the title game. 

Who might be this season’s FAMU?  I’d keep an eye on Jerry Eaves’ North Carolina A&T team.  The Aggies have the depth to win three games in three days, and they have enough scoring options so that somebody will have a hot hand every game.

WAC @ Las Cruces, NM

Tuesday, March 11

Opening Round

#8 San Jose State 12-18  vs. Louisiana Tech 6-23

Thursday, March 13

Quarterfinal Round

#1 Utah State 23-9  vs. San Jose State-La. Tech winner

#4 Boise State 22-8  vs. Hawaii 11-18

#2 Nevada 20-10  vs. #7 Fresno State 13-18

#3 New Mexico State 19-13  vs. #6 Idaho 8-20

Friday, March 14

Semifinal Round

Utah State-San Jose St.-La. Tech  vs. Boise State-Hawaii

Nevada-Fresno State  vs. New Mexico St.-Idaho

Saturday, March 15

Championship Game

In a conference where four teams tied for the regular season championship, it is obvious that the tournament will be interesting with lots of nail-biter games.  If the four co-champions survive to the semifinal round, the WAC will be the talk of the West.  You have to consider New Mexico State the favorite, as they are really tough to beat in Las Cruces.  You have to pull for Utah State this year.  Last season, the Aggies lost in the title game to New Mexico State 72-70.  In 2006, they lost in overtime in the final to Nevada.  One more basket in either year would have won the Championship for them.

Nevada wasn’t supposed to fare this well this season after losing superstar Nick Fazekas to graduation.  Coach Mark Fox may be in the hunt for a big time job soon.

Unfortunately for this league, no team appears to be on the radar screen for at-large consideration.  No team has an RPI average near bubble range.

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