The Pi-Rate Ratings

February 28, 2011

2011 Conference Tournament Kickoff

Hurray for March.  Spring is near.  Daylight Savings Time is coming, so it will still be light for many when their work day ends.  However, for many sports fanatics across the fruited plain, March means only one thing—March Madness.

This has been an infectious syndrome for years, and the condition is going to go viral this year.  The kind folks at CBS Sports have branched out so that every one of the tournament games will be available to be viewed on television.  If you don’t like the game that has been given to you, you can just turn to another channel and view the game you want to see.

Selection Sunday is a mere 12 days away.  In that time, except for the Ivy League, the other 30 conferences will conduct post-season tournaments (31 if you count the Great West Conference which does not receive an automatic bid.)  The Ivy League could very well be forced to decide its regular season champion by way of a playoff game, because Harvard and Princeton could easily finish tied at 12-2.

It all begins today, as the Big South Conference and Horizon League tournaments commence.  Tomorrow, the Atlantic Sun, Ohio Valley Conference, and Patriot League tournaments begin, and on Wednesday, the America East, Metro Atlantic, Missouri Valley, Northeast, and Southern Conference Tournaments start.

Check back daily here for updates.  We will have the brackets and results for each tournament, and update our list of locks, near locks, high bubble, low bubble, and out of the Dance teams.

Let’s begin with the two leagues that kick things off.

The Big South Conference Tournament

All Times EST

Tuesday, March 1 – Quarterfinals (at home sites of top four seeds at 7PM)
G 1: #2 Liberty (19-12) vs. #7 High Point (11-18)  

G 2: #3 UNC Asheville (16-13) vs. #6 Charleston Southern (16-15) 
G 3: #1 Coastal Carolina (26-4) vs. #8 Gardner-Webb (11-20)
G 4: #4 VMI (17-12) vs. #5 Winthrop (13-16)


Thursday, March 3 – Semifinals (at Coastal Carolina)
G 5: Winner G 1 vs. Winner G 2 @ 6:00pm (ESPNU)
G 6: Winner G 3 vs. Winner G 4 30 Minutes After G 5 Ends (ESPNU)


Saturday, March 5 – Championship (at highest remaining seed)
Winner G 5 vs. Winner G 6 @ 4:00pm (ESPN2)

Hot Team: UNC Asheville—won last three including at Coastal Carolina

Not Hot: Liberty—lost last four by average of 10.5 points per game

Team Nobody Wants To Play: VMI can score points in bunches and comes in riding a five-game conference winning streak

Coastal Carolina as Favorite:  The Chanticleers will be NIT bound if they are upset in this tournament.  CCU has 0% chance to receive an at-large invitation.  They will breeze through their first round game with Gardner-Webb, but we believe that VMI could give them a scare in a possible semifinal round game.  CCU won both regular season meetings by double digits, but the Keydets could pull off a big upset in the third meeting.  VMI must get past a feisty Winthrop team in the quarterfinals.

Our Pick: Coastal Carolina over UNC-Asheville.

The Horizon League Tournament

All Times EST

Tuesday, March 1

First Round (At Home Sites Of Higher Seed)

G 1: #10 UIC (7-23) at #3 Cleveland State (24-7) 7 p.m.

G 2: #7 Green Bay (14-17) at #6 Wright State (18-13) 7 p.m.

G 3: #9 Youngstown State (9-20) at #4 Valparaiso (21-10) 8 p.m.

G 4: #8 Loyola (Chi) (16-14) at #5 Detroit (16-15) 7 p.m.


Friday, March 4

Second Round (at Milwaukee)

G 5: G 1 winner vs. G 2 winner 6 p.m. ET

G 6: G 3 winner vs. G 4 winner 8:30 p.m. ET


Saturday, March 5

Semifinals (at Milwaukee)

G 7: G 5 winner vs. Butler (21-9)  6 p.m. ESPNU (tape-delayed at 10:30 p.m.)

G 8: G 6 winner vs. Milwaukee (18-12) 8:30 p.m.  ESPNU


Tuesday, March 8

Championship (at Home Site of Higher Seed)

G 7 winner vs. G 8 winner 9 p.m.  ESPN

Hot Team: Butler comes in riding a seven-game winning streak, but the Bulldogs lost twice to Milwaukee.

Not Hot: UIC won only two of their final 16 games.

Team Nobody Wants To Play: Cleveland State should easily dismiss UIC and either Green Bay or Wright State in a second round match.  The Vikings should be on a roll by the time they must face Butler in the semifinals.

Butler’s At-large chances: The Bulldogs played a tough non-conference slate, but they only defeated Florida State.  If Butler lost in the conference finals, the Bulldogs would be well down on the bubble and have about a 15% chance of getting into the Big Dance.

Our Pick:  Milwaukee lost only to Buffalo in the Bracketbuster after January 21.  The Panthers have to be considered a co-favorite with Butler.  It would be hard for Cleveland State to beat Butler and then Milwaukee on the Panthers’ home court, but we believe Vikings have a good shot.  Valparaiso must not be dismissed, but in the end, we will go with Butler’s tournament experience and take the Bulldogs to once again rule the Horizon.

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