The Pi-Rate Ratings

February 15, 2018

2018 NCAA Division 1 Conference Tournament Schedule

Here is a look at the 32 Division 1 conferences’ tournament schedules.  A few league still have “to be announced starting times.”

America East Conference Tournament
All Games Played at Higher Seed
Tournament Re-seeded after quarterfinals
Top 8 Teams
       
Quarterfinals–March 3
Time Home Visitors TV
TBA #1 #8 ESPN3
TBA #4 #5 ESPN3
TBA #2 #7 ESPN3
TBA #3 #6 ESPN3
       
Semifinals–March 6
Time Home Visitors TV
TBA Highest Remaining Lowest Remaining ESPN3
TBA 2nd Highest 3rd Highest ESPN3
       
Championship–March 10
Time Home Visitors TV
TBA Higher Lower ESPN2

Vermont (11-0/21-5) has won 14 games in a row and should be the overwhelming favorite to return to the NCAA Tournament.  The Catamounts are one of the better shooting teams from behind the arc, and they are sneaking good on the boards.  They will not be an easy out for a favored power conference team in the first round.

American Athletic Conference Tournament
Orlando, FL
First 3 Rounds EST/Championship EDT
       
First Round–March 8
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM # 8 #9 ESPNU
2:30 PM #5 #12 ESPNU
6:00 PM #7 #10 ESPNU
8:30 PM #6 #11 ESPNU
       
Quarterfinals–March 9
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM #1 8 or 9 ESPN2
2:30 PM #4 5 or 12 ESPN2
6:00 PM #2 7 or 10 ESPNU
8:30 PM #3 6 or 11 ESPNU
       
Semifinals–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
1:00 PM 1, 8, or 9 4, 5, or 12 CBS
3:30 PM 2, 7, or 10 3, 6, or 11 CBS
       
Championship–March 11
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
3:00 PM     CBS

Cincinnati (12-0/23-2) faces three tough regular season  games on their schedule before the AAC Tournament begins.  The Bearcats play at Houston (9-3/19-5) tonight in a game you can see on CBSSN at 7 PM Eastern.  UC looks like a national championship contender.  The Bearcats are number one in the nation in field goal percentage defense and in scoring margin.  The team is one of the quickest teams we have seen in many years, and they plug defensive holes fast enough to give up many decent shots.  Coach Mick Cronin’s forces are better offensively this year, because they just may be the best passing team in college basketball.  The ball moves much quicker through the air than by the dribble, and combining fast player movement with crisp passing makes it hard to contain.  The only question is whether the Bearcats have played a tough enough schedule.  Road games at Houston and Wichita State will give us the answer.

Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament
Washington, DC
First 4 Rounds EST/Championship EDT
       
First Round–March 7
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM #12 #13  
8:30 PM #11 #14  
       
Second Round–March 8
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM #8 #9 NBCSN
2:30 PM #5 12 or 13 NBCSN
6:00 PM #7 #10 NBCSN
8:30 PM #6 11 or 14 NBCSN
       
Quarterfinals–March 9
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM #1 8 or 9 NBCSN
2:30 PM #4 5, 12, or 13 NBCSN
6:00 PM #2 7 or 10 NBCSN
8:30 PM #3 6, 11, or 14 NBCSN
       
Semifinals–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
1:00 PM 1, 8, or 9 4, 5, 12, or 13 CBSSN
3:30 PM 2, 7, or 10 3, 6, 11, or 14 CBSSN
       
Championship–March 11
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
1:00 PM     CBS

Rhode Island (13-0/21-3) has secured a bid to the NCAA Tournament with or without the automatic bid.  Should somebody upset the Rams in the A-10 Tournament, there will be an extra A-10 team dancing, which means one bubble will pop.  URI has a 16-game winning streak, and Danny Hurley will become a hot commodity in the coaching wars in late March and April.

Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament
Brooklyn
All Times EST
       
First Round–March 6
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM #12 #13 ESPN2
2:00 PM #10 #15 ESPN2
7:00 PM #11 #14 ESPNU
       
Second Round–March 7
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM #8 #9 ESPN
2:00 PM #5 12 or 13 ESPN
7:00 PM #7 10 or 15 ESPN2
9:00 PM #6 11 or 14 ESPN2
       
Quarterfinals–March 8
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM #1 8 or 9 ESPN
2:00 PM #4 5, 12, or 13 ESPN
7:00 PM #2 7, 10, or 15 ESPN
9:00 PM #3 6, 11, or 14 ESPN
       
Semifinals–March 9
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
7:00 PM 1, 8, or 9 4, 5, 12, or 13 TBA
9:00 PM 2, 7, 10, or 15 3, 6, 11, or 14 TBA
       
Championship–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
8:30 PM     ESPN

Virginia (13-1/24-2) lost at home to rival Virginia Tech (7-6/18-8), placing the Hokies many places higher on the Bubble.  This tournament should be up for grabs, because there are many quality teams.  One will get hot and play its best basketball of the season, and that team will earn the automatic bid.  Keep an eye on North Carolina State (7-6/17-9).  First year coach Kevin Keatts proved to be one of the best tournament coaches when he was at UNCW, and his players have played well above their talent levels for him.  Just a tad more improvement, and the Wolf Pack could be dangerous in the Barclay’s Center.

Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament
All Games Played at Higher Seed
All Times EST
       
Quarterfinals–February 26
Time Home Visitors TV
TBA #1 Florida Gulf Coast #8 ESPN3
TBA #4 #5 ESPN3
TBA #2 #7 ESPN3
TBA #3 #6 ESPN3
       
Semifinals–March 1
Time Home Visitors TV
TBA 1 or 8 4 or 5 ESPN3
TBA 2 or 7 3 or 6 ESPN3
       
Championship–March 4
Time Home Visitors TV
TBA     ESPN

Florida Gulf Coast (11-0/20-8) has already secured the top seed and will host every game it plays in the A-Sun Tournament.  This Eagles team is not as strong as the great dunking 2013 team that advanced to the Sweet 16, but it will be a major upset if FGCU loses.

Big 12 Conference Tournament
Kansas City
All Times CST
       
First Round–March 7
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM #8 #9 ESPNU
8:00 PM #7 #10 ESPNU
       
Quarterfinals–March 8
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
11:30 AM #4 #5 ESPN2
1:30 PM #1 8 or 9 ESPN2
6:00 PM #2 7 or 10 ESPNU
8:00 PM #3 #6 ESPNU
       
Semifinals–March 9
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM 1, 8, or 9 4 or 5 ESPN2
8:00 PM 2, 7, or 10 3 or 6 ESPN2
       
Championship–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
5:00 PM     ESPN

This will be one interesting and exciting tournament.  Except for Iowa State, any of the other nine teams has the ability to win this tournament.  It will be important to finish in the top six to avoid having to play an extra game to win the thing, but even the 7 through 9 seeds will have chances to win four games in four days.  Baylor (6-7/16-10) has won four straight games to move from the cellar to a fifth place tie.  The Bears are the hot team, and their wins at Oklahoma State and Texas plus a home win over Kansas proves that they are good enough to keep winning.  Saturday’s game against front-runner Texas Tech (10-3/22-4) should be one of the best of the weekend.

Big East Conference Tournament
New York City
All Times EST
       
First Round–March 7
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
7:00 PM #8 #9 FS1
9:30 PM #7 #10 FS1
       
Quarterfinals–March 8
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM #1 8 or 9 FS1
2:30 PM #4 #5 FS1
7:00 PM #2 7 or 10 FS1
9:30 PM #3 #6 FS1
       
Semifinals–March 9
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:30 PM 1, 8,or 9 4 or 5 FS1
9:00 PM 2, 7, or 10 3 or 6 FS1
       
Championship–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:30 PM     Fox

Villanova (10-3/23-3) dropped from the top of the polls and then dropped from the top of the conference.  Xavier (12-2/24-3) is the hot team, but the Musketeers have eeked out a lot of their wins this year.  Teams that pick up many close wins seldom advance to the Final Four, but it is not impossible.  Xavier pinned one of the losses on Cincinnati, and it is slightly possible that the Final Four could have two teams from the Queen City.

After losing 11 games in a row, St. John’s (3-11/14-13) has won four in a row, including two over top five teams (Duke and Villanova).  Seldom does the last place team look capable of winning a power conference tournament, but there is precedence.  Virginia won the ACC after finishing last in the standings one season in the 1970’s.

Big Sky Conference Tournament
Reno, NV
All Times PST
       
First Round–March 6
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM #8 #9 Pluto tv
2:30 PM #5 #12 Pluto tv
5:30 PM #7 #10 Pluto tv
8:00 PM #6 #11 Pluto tv
       
Quarterfinals–March 8
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM #1 8 or 9 Pluto tv
2:30 PM #4 5 or 12 Pluto tv
5:30 PM #2 7 or 10 Pluto tv
8:00 PM #3 6 or 11 Pluto tv
       
Semifinals–March 9
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
5:30 PM 1, 8, or 9 4, 5, or 12 Pluto tv
8:00 PM 2, 7, or 10 3, 6, or 11 Pluto tv
       
Championship–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
5:00 PM     ESPNU

Three teams have put it together in the month of February, and one of the three should win the tournament.  Montana (13-0/20-5) has won 13 games in a row; Weber St. (10-2/17-7) has won 7 in a row; and Idaho (9-3/17-7) has won 4 in a row.  Montana plays at Idaho on Saturday.

Big South Conference Tournament
1st Round & Championship Game at Higher Seeds
Quarterfinals and Semfinals at #1 Seed
All Times EST
       
First Round–February 27
Time Home Visitors TV
7:00 PM #7 #10 BSN
7:00 PM #8 #9 BSN
BSN TV at http://bigsouthsports.com    
Quarterfinals–March 1
Time Home Visitors TV
1:00 PM #2 7 or 10 ESPN3
3:30 PM #3 #6 ESPN3
7:00 PM #1 8 or 9 ESPN3
9:30 PM #4 #5 ESPN3
       
Semifinals–March 2
Time Home Visitors TV
6:00 PM 2, 7, or 10 3 or 6 ESPN3
8:30 PM 1, 8, or 9 4 or 5 ESPN3
       
Championship–March 4
Time Home Visitors TV
1:00 PM     ESPN

UNC-Asheville (11-3/18-9) was the preseason pick to win the Big South, but the Bulldogs underachieved through early January.  Since then, UNCA has passed four teams to move to the top of the standings, riding a 7-game winning streak.  Keep an eye on eighth place Charleston Southern (6-8/11-14).  The Buccaneers have won four of five games, and they could easily be 9-9 by the time the tournament starts.  Many of CSU’s losses have been close, including road losses against the top part of the league.  The Bucs are peaking at the right time.

Big Ten Conference Tournament
New York City
All Times EST
       
First Round–February 28
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
5:30 PM #12 #13 Big Ten
7:45 PM #11 #14 Big Ten
       
Second Round–March 1
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM #8 #9 Big Ten
2:15 PM #5 12 or 13 Big Ten
6:30 PM #7 #10 Big Ten
8:45 PM #6 11 or 14 Big Ten
       
Quarterfinals–March 2
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM #1 8 or 9 Big Ten
2:15 PM #4 5, 12, or 13 Big Ten
6:30 PM #2 7 or 10 Big Ten
8:45 PM #3 6, 11, or 14 Big Ten
       
Semifinals–March 3
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
2:00 PM 1, 8, or 9 4, 5, 12, or 13 CBS
4:30 PM 2, 7, or 10 3, 6, 11, or 14 CBS
       
Championship–March 4
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
4:30 PM     CBS

The Big Ten season is ending early this year so the league can stage its conference tournament at Madison Square Garden.  MSG also hosts the Big East Tournament.

The top three teams (Ohio St. 13-1/22-5), Michigan St. (13-2/25-3), and Purdue (12-2/23-4) have separated themselves from the rest of the field and are all safely in the Dance.  Michigan (10-5/21-7) is close to a lock.  There are three or four other teams that will begin the tournament needing multiple wins to have a chance to get into the field.  Nebraska (11-4/20-8) is a victim of the new way of picking at-large teams.  In past years, the Cornhuskers would be a near lock with an 11-4 record in the Big Ten.  With the new quadrant system being used, Nebraska does not have a Quadrant 1 win and not enough Quadrant 2 wins.  The Huskers have three winnable conference games and could be 14-4 in the league and still back on the Bubble, so NU will need to do some damage in the Big Apple.

Big West Conference Tournament
Anaheim, CA
Top 8 Teams Qualify & Tournament Re-seeds for Semifinals
All Times PST
       
Quarterfinals–March 8
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM #2 #7 FSWest
2:30 PM #3 #6 FSWest
6:00 PM #1 #8 FSWest
8:30 PM #4 #5 FSWest
       
Semifinals–March 9
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:30 PM Highest Remaining Lowest Remaining TBA
9:00 PM 2nd Highest 3rd Highest TBA
       
Championship–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
9:00 PM     ESPN2

UC-Santa Barbara (8-2/19-5), UC-Irvine (8-3/13-14), UC-Davis (7-4/16-9), Cal State Fullerton (7-4/14-9), and Long Beach St. (7-4/13-14) have stayed bunched together all season, and no team has a great edge over any other.  With the game at the Honda Center in Anaheim, there are basically three home teams in UCI, CSF, and LBSU.  This one is up for grabs.

Colonial Athletic Association Tournament
North Charleston, SC
All Times EST
       
First Round–March 3
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM #8 #9 CAA TV
8:30 PM #7 #10 CAA TV
       
Quarterfinals–March 4
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM #1 8 or 9 Comcast
2:30 PM #4 #5 Comcast
6:00 PM #2 7 or 10 Comcast
8:30 PM #3 #6 Comcast
       
Semifinals–March 5
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM 1, 8, or 9 4 or 5 CBSSN
8:30 PM 2, 7, or 10 3 or 6 CBSSN
       
Championship–March 6
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
7:00 PM     CBSSN

In the late 1990’s John Kresse took College of Charleston to multiple NCAA Tournaments.  The Cougars (11-3/20-6) have not been to the Big Dance since, but this looks like the most promising year this century for C of C.  The Cougars are strong in the backcourt and have a beefy forward in Jarrell Brantley.

Conference USA Tournament
Frisco, TX
Top 12 Teams Qualify
All Times CST
       
Note: This facility splits into two separate courts until the semifinals
First Round–March 7
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM #8 #9 TBA
6:30 PM #5 #12 TBA
8:30 PM #7 #10 TBA
9:00 PM #6 #11 TBA
       
Quarterfinals–March 8
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM #1 8 or 9 Stadium
6:30 PM #4 5 or 12 Stadium
8:30 PM #2 7 or 10 Stadium
9:00 PM #3 6 or 11 Stadium
       
Semifinals–March 9
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:30 PM 1, 8, or 9 4, 5, or 12 CBSSN
3:00 PM 2, 7, or 10 3, 6, or 11 CBSSN
       
Championship–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
7:30 PM     CBSSN

Middle Tennessee (12-1/20-5) will be the favorite, but the Blue Raiders will not waltz to an easy three-peat in CUSA.  The tournament has been moved to the North Dallas suburbs, where it will be played on the Cowboys’ practice facility.  The football field will be split into two courts so that two games can be played at a time (women’s tournament will also be there simultaneously).

The next three best teams, Western Kentucky (10-2/18-7), Old Dominion (10-2/19-5), and Marshall (8-4/17-8) have very little chance of sniffing an at-large bid.  WKU may have a slight chance, but realistically the Hilltoppers need to win out in the regular season and make it to the finals before their at-large hopes would be legitimate.

It’s the tier below these top four that should concern Middle Tennessee the most.  North Texas (7-5/14-11) is virtually a home team in the conference tournament.  UTSA (7-5/14-11) has improved by 10 points since December.  UAB (7-6/16-10) has not yet played up to its talent level, which means the Blazers could peak at tournament time.

Horizon League Tournament
Detroit (Motor City Madness)
All Times EST
       
First Round–March 2
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
5:30 PM #7 #10 ESPN3
8:00 PM #8 #9 ESPN3
       
Quarterfinals–March 3
5:30 PM #2 7 or 10 ESPN3
8:00 PM #1 8 or 9 ESPN3
       
       
Quarterfinals–March 4
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
5:00 PM #3 #6 ESPN3
7:30 PM #4 #5 ESPN3
       
Semifinals–March 5
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
7:00 PM 1, 8, or 9 4 or 5 ESPNU
9:30 PM 2, 7, or 10 3 or 6 ESPNU
       
Championship–March 6
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
7:00 PM     TBA

Northern Kentucky (12-2/19-7) and Wright St. (11-3/19-8) have flip-flopped between first and second place all year.  Northern Kentucky is the defending conference champions, and the Norse were the overwhelming favorite to repeat this year.

There are a couple more teams to consider in this tournament.  UIC (10-4/15-12) has quietly moved into third following a 7-game winning streak, and the top two teams still must visit UIC Pavilion.  Oakland (8-6/16-11) has a powerful, up-tempo offense, which is not all that consistent.  When consistent, the Golden Grizzlies have the ability to beat any league opponent.  Oakland won by 13 at NKU.

Ivy League Tournament
Philadelphia (Ivy Madness)
Top 4 Teams Qualify
Semifinals EST Championship Game EDT
       
Semifinals–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:30 PM #1 #4 ESPNU
3:00 PM #2 #3 ESPN2
       
Championship–March 11
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
9:00 PM     ESPN2

Penn (7-1/17-7) and Harvard (7-1/12-11) have secured half of the spots in the field of four that will square off at the Palestra.  The Quakers will have the home court advantage.

The other two spots are still very much up for grabs with five teams competing and six conference games remaining.  This is a down year for the Ivy, and the winner of the tournament will most likely face a #1 seed in the first round if not forced to go to Dayton for the First Four.

Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Tournament
Albany, NY
All Times EST
       
First Round–March 1
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
5:00 PM # 8 #9 ESPN3
7:00 PM #7 #10 ESPN3
9:00 PM #6 #11 ESPN3
       
Quarterfinals–March 2
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
7:00 PM #1 8 or 9 ESPN3
9:30 PM #2 7 or 10 ESPN3
       
Quarterfinals–March 3
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
7:00 PM #3 6 or 11 ESPN3
9:30 PM #4 #5 ESPN3
       
Semifinals–March 4
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
7:00 PM 1, 8, or 9 4 or 5 ESPN3
9:30 PM 2, 7, or 10 3, 6, or 11 ESPN3
       
Championship–March 5
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
7:00 PM     TBA

This is a league in transition, as its previous top teams have settled back in the pack.  The current top three in the standings are the three teams playing their best ball in February, and we would tend to believe that one of the trio will win the automatic bid.  Those three teams are: Rider (12-2/19-7), Canisius (12-2/18-9), and Niagara (10-4/17-10).  For Rider and Canisius, it was the mid 1990’s when they were in the NCAA Tournament, while Niagara went in 2007.

Mid-American Conference Tournament
Cleveland (First Round at Higher Seeds)
All Times EST
       
First Round–March 5
Time Home Visitors TV
TBA #8 #9 TBA
TBA #5 #12 TBA
TBA #7 #10 TBA
TBA #6 #11 TBA
       
Quarterfinals–March 8
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM #1 8 or 9 ESPN3
2:30 PM #4 5 or 12 ESPN3
6:30 PM #2 7 or 10 ESPN3
9:00 PM #3 6 or 11 ESPN3
       
Semifinals–March 9
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:30 PM 1, 8, or 9 4, 5, or 12 CBSSN
9:00 PM 2, 7, or 10 3, 6, or 11 See *
* This game will be available at cbssports.com
       
Championship–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
7:00 PM     ESPN2

Buffalo (11-2/19-7) looked like the clear-cut favorite until the last week or so, and now the Bulls have stiff competition from Toledo (11-2/19-7).  However, historically, the MAC Tournament has seen an abnormally large number of surprises.  We don’t expect it to be any different this year.  Central Michigan (5-8/16-10) has disappointed this year, as their talent level is better than their results so far.  The Chippewas are a very longshot to win the tournament, but it would not surprise us if CMU looks much stronger in Cleveland–if they get there.

Mideastern Athletic Conference Tournament
Norfolk, VA
All Times EST
       
First Round–March 5
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:30 PM #4 #13 ESPN3
9:00 PM #5 #12 ESPN3
       
First Round–March 6
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
4:00 PM #8 #9 ESPN3
6:30 PM #6 #11 ESPN3
9:00 PM #7 #10 ESPN3
       
Quarterfinals–March 7
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM #1 8 or 9 ESPN3
8:00 PM #2 7 or 10 ESPN3
       
Quarterfinals–March 8
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM #3 6 or 11 ESPN3
8:00 PM 4 or 13 5 or 12 ESPN3
       
Semifinals–March 9
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM 1, 8, or 9 4, 5, 12, or 13 ESPN3
8:00 PM 2, 7, or 10 3, 6, or 11 ESPN3
       
Championship–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
1:00 PM     ESPN2

The winner of this conference may be forced to go to the First Four round in Dayton, but there is one team from this league that no other 16-seed wants to see in Dayton.  Savannah State (10-1/13-13) is the most up-tempo team in Division 1.  Watching the Tigers play is the closest thing to watching UNLV play in the 1970’s (not like Loyola Marymount under Paul Westhead.)  Former Georgetown great Horace Broadnax has had a total change in coaching paradigm in the last two years.  He used to coach like his mentor John Thompson, emphasizing defense and patient offense.  Now, Broadnax’s Tigers play like a Mike D’Antoni-coached team.  There is little need for a shot-clock in SSU games.  The Tigers average better than 84 possessions per game.  They take more than 73 field goal attempts per game.  They force more than 18 turnovers per game and average close to 10 steals per game, and they score 86.5 points per game.  If it weren’t for an inability to rebound, we would have SSU on our list of low majors with a legitimate chance to upset a power team in the Round of 64.  If they get to the NCAA Tournament and advance past the First Four, they will be forced to play somebody like Virginia, Villanova, or Cincinnati, and they don’t have the muscle to pull off the biggest upset in the history of the Dance.  However, if they get there, you will want to watch them play.

Missouri Valley Conference Tournament
St. Louis (Arch Madness)
All Times CST
       
First Round–March 1
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM #8 #9 MVC TV
8:30 PM #7 #10 MVC TV
       
Quarterfinals–March 2
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM #1 8 or 9 MVC TV
2:30 PM #4 #5 MVC TV
6:00 PM #2 7 or 10 MVC TV
8:30 PM #3 #6 MVC TV
       
Semifinals–March 3
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
2:30 PM 1, 8, or 9 4 or 5 CBSSN
5:00 PM 2, 7, or 10 3 or 6 CBSSN
       
Championship–March 4
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
1:00 PM     CBS

With Wichita State now in the AAC, it figured that the Valley race would be wide open.  While it still may be so, it sure looks like Loyola (Chi.) (12-3/22-5) is doing its best to return to glory.  The Ramblers won it all in 1963, and they have only been back to the NCAA Tournament one time since legendary coach George Ireland retired in the late 1960’s.  Southern Illinois (10-5/18-10) was a national joke a few years ago when Coach Barry Hinson went on one of the most famous rants in coaching history, and ESPN featured it for two days.  Hinson has never taken a team to the NCAA Tournament in 17 years as a head coach.

Mountain West Conference Tournament
Las Vegas
All Times PST
       
First Round–March 7
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
11:00 AM # 8 #9 Stadium
1:30 PM #7 #10 Stadium
4:00 PM #6 #11 Stadium
       
Quarterfinals–March 8
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM #1 8 or 9 CBSSN
2:30 PM #4 #5 CBSSN
6:00 PM #2 7 or 10 CBSSN
8:30 PM #3 6 or 11 CBSSN
       
Semifinals–March 9
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM 1, 8, or 9 4 or 5 CBSSN
8:30 PM 2, 7, or 10 3, 6, or 11 CBSSN
       
Championship–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
3:00 PM     CBS

In our opinion, Eric Musselman should be the National Coach of the Year.  His Nevada Wolfpack (11-2/22-5) has 10 transfers on the roster.  Musselman inherited a 22-game loser in Reno when he arrived three years ago and immediately turned the program around, going 24-14 and winning the CBI Tournament.  He won both the regular season and conference tournament last year, but Nevada quickly got behind by double digits against Iowa State in the first round and went home after one game.

This year, Nevada has the tools to do some damage in the tournament.  They are most likely going back as an at-large team if they do not win the automatic bid.

Boise State (10-4/20-6) is worthy of making the tournament even if the Broncos cannot top Nevada for the conference tournament title.  Former Mark Few assistant Leon Rice has built the BSU program up to where it is now on par with the football program.  Rice could be in line for a pay raise and a relocation to a power conference school.

Northeast Conference Tournament
All Games at Higher Seed
Top 8 Teams Qualify and Tournament Re-seeds after Quarterfinals
All Times EST
       
Quarterfinals–February 28
Time Home Team Visitors TV
TBA #1 #8 NEC *
TBA #2 #7 NEC *
TBA #3 #6 NEC *
TBA #4 #5 NEC *
* NEC Front Row at http://necfrontrow.com/
       
Semifinals–March 3
Time Home Team Visitors TV
12:00 PM Highest Remaining Lowest Remaining ESPN3
2:00 PM 2nd Highest 3rd Highest ESPN3
       
Championship–March 6
Time Home Team Visitors TV
7:00 PM     ESPN2

The NEC is a candidate for placing its automatic qualifier in a First Four game.  No league team this year has enough force to do any damage in the NCAA Tournament.  First place Wagner (11-3/18-7) is not much of a favorite to win the NEC Tournament.  The Seahawks’ three conference losses came to teams in the lower half of the standings.

Ohio Valley Conference Tournament
Evansville, IN
Top 8 Teams Qualify, Southeast Missouri ineligible due to low APR Scores
All Times CST
       
First Round–February 28
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:30 PM #5 #8 OVC
8:30 PM #6 #7 OVC
OVC Network at http://www.ovcdigitalnetwork.com/watch
       
Quarterfinals–March 1
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:30 PM #4 5 or 8 OVC
8:30 PM #3 6 or 7 OVC
       
Semifinals–March 2
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
7:00 PM #1 4, 5, or 8 ESPNU
9:00 PM #2 3, 6, or 7 ESPNU
       
Championship–March 3
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
7:00 PM     ESPN2

The Ohio Valley Conference Tournament is set up so that the top two seeds have large advantages over the rest of the field.  The top two start in the semifinals and only have to win twice to earn the automatic bid.

It also severely handicaps the rest of the field when the top two are considerably better than the rest of the field.  Murray State (12-2/20-5) and Belmont (12-2/20-7) have dominated the league for years, and both are capable of knocking off a favored opponent in the opening round.

The tournament has moved away from Nashville to Evansville, Indiana, so Belmont will not have a home town advantage.  Murray, Kentucky, is an easy drive from Evansville, but then so is Nashville.  It should make for a grand finale if the Racers and Bruins meet for all the marbles.

Pacific 12 Conference Tournament
Las Vegas
All Times PST
       
First Round–March 7
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM # 8 #9 Pac12
2:30 PM #5 #12 Pac12
6:00 PM #7 #10 Pac12
8:30 PM #6 #11 Pac12
       
Quarterfinals–March 8
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM #1 8 or 9 Pac12
2:30 PM #4 5 or 12 Pac12
6:00 PM #2 7 or 10 Pac12
8:30 PM #3 6 or 11 FS1
       
Semifinals–March 9
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM 1, 8, or 9 4, 5, or 12 Pac12
8:30 PM 2, 7, or 10 3, 6, or 11 FS1
       
Championship–March 11
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
7:00 PM     FS1

The Pac-12 may not be the best conference in the West this year.  The best four teams, maybe five teams, out West are not from the Pac-12.  Arizona (10-3/20-6) may not be as strong as Gonzaga, Saint Mary’s, Nevada, Boise State, and maybe New Mexico State.  So, it figures that the league will send a minimum number of teams to the Big Dance, maybe just two or three.

Arizona State (7-6/19-6) was once a lock for the NCAA Tournament, and the Sun Devils will most likely make it into the field because of the new criteria, where the way a team ends the season is not considered at all.  Wins over Kansas, Kansas State, and Xavier should be enough to get Bobby Hurley’s team into the field, where you can bet they will be placed in position to play Rhode Island in the first or second game, and the Committee will claim it was purely coincidental.

The Arizona rivals face off in Tempe tonight, and it should be one worth watching.  Tune in to ESPN at 9:00 PM Eastern.

USC, Oregon, and Washington still have work to do to make it into the field, while Utah, Colorado, and Stanford are probably looking at only an automatic bid as a means of Dancing.

Patriot League Tournament
All Games Played at Higher Seed
All Times EST
       
First Round–February 27
Time Home Visitors TV
TBA #7 #10 Stadium
TBA #8 #9 Stadium
       
Quarterfinals–March 1
Time Home Visitors TV
TBA #1 Bucknell 8 or 9 Stadium
TBA #4 #5 Stadium
TBA #2 7 or 10 Stadium
TBA #3 #6 Stadium
       
Semifinals–March 1
Time Home Visitors TV
TBA 1 or 8 4 or 5 CBSSN
TBA 2 or 7 3 or 6 CBSSN
       
Championship–March 4
Time Home Visitors TV
TBA     CBSSN

Bucknell (13-2/19-9) secured the top seed this past weekend, so the Bison will host any game they play in the Pat Tourney.  One of their two league defeats came at home, so it is possible that they could be upset, but not very likely.

Southeastern Conference Tournament
St. Louis
First 4 Rounds CST, Championship Game CDT
       
First Round–March 7
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM #12 #13 SECTV
8:30 PM #11 #14 SECTV
       
Second Round–March 8
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM #8 #9 SECTV
2:30 PM #5 12 or 13 SECTV
6:00 PM #7 #10 SECTV
8:30 PM #6 11 or 14 SECTV
       
Quarterfinals–March 9
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM #1 8 or 9 ESPN
2:30 PM #4 5, 12, or 13 ESPN
6:00 PM #2 7 or 10 SECTV
8:30 PM #3 6, 11, or 14 SECTV
       
Semifinals–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM 1, 8, or 9 4, 5, 12, or 13 ESPN
2:30 PM 2, 7, or 10 3, 6, 11, or 14 ESPN
       
Championship–March 4
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM     ESPN

There will be a double dose of Arch Madness this year, as the SEC moves its tournament to St. Louis.  It happens to coincide with the return to power of Missouri (8-5/18-8), and the Tigers’ fans may rival those from the Bluegrass.  Coach Cuonzo Martin was born just across the river, and he will have a loyal following as Mizzou has to be considered a co-favorite to win the conference tournament.  Now, if Michael Porter can suit up and play any amount of meaningful minutes, Missouri will become the odds-on favorite to win the tournament.

Auburn (11-2/23-3) will win the regular season title, while Tennessee (9-4/19-6) will most likely finish second, but the PiRates do not believe either team’s style of play and talent can win three games in three days.  If Missouri doesn’t win the tournament, it could be Alabama (8-5/17-9), a team with tough defense and enough offense to win three times in three days.

Of course, there are Florida (8-5/17-9) and Kentucky (6-7/17-9).  Who would ever count out either team with the incredible talent on both rosters?  It would not be a surprise if one or both peaked at the right time.

Southern Conference Tournament
Asheville, NC
All Times EST
       
First Round–March 2
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
5:00 PM #8 #9 ESPN3
7:30 PM #7 #10 ESPN3
       
Quarterfinals–March 3
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM #1 8 or 9 ESPN3
2:30 PM #4 #5 ESPN3
6:00 PM #2 7 or 10 ESPN3
8:30 PM #3 #6 ESPN3
       
Semifinals–March 4
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
4:00 PM 1, 8, or 9 4 or 5 ESPN3
6:30 PM 2, 7, or 10 3 or 6 ESPN3
       
Championship–March 5
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
9:00 PM     ESPN2

This looks like a two-team race.  East Tennessee (13-1/22-5) was cruising along with the nation’s best winning streak at 16, before they crashed and burned at UNC-Greensboro (11-2/20-6).  If anybody else wins the automatic bid, it is going to be a quick one and done.  Both ETSU and UNCG have the talent to win an opening round game.  ETSU has the strong front court, while UNCG has a fantastic press defense.

Southland Conference Tournament
Katy, TX
Top 8 Teams Qualify
All Times CST
       
First Round–March 7
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
5:00 PM #5 #8 ESPN3
7:30 PM #6 #7 ESPN3
       
Quarterfinals–March 8
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
5:00 PM #4 5 or 8 ESPN3
7:30 PM #3 6 or 7 ESPN3
       
Semifinals–March 9
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
5:00 PM #1 4, 5, or 8 ESPN3
7:30 PM #2 3, 6, or 7 ESPN3
       
Championship–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
8:00 PM     ESPN2

This is no longer Stephen F. Austin (10-3/21-5) and the 7 Dwarfs.  The Lumberjacks may very well win the conference tournament again this year, but they won’t just show up and receive the trophy.

Nicholls State (11-2/17-9) and Southeast Louisiana (11-3/17-10) rank ahead of SFA at the moment, and Sam Houston State (10-4/16-11) and New Orleans (10-4/13-12) are bunched up in a tight race.  None of the contenders have exceptionally strong resumes, so this league could be staring at a 16-seed in the tourney.

Southwestern Athletic Conference Tournament
First Round at Higher Seed, Semifinal and Final Round in Houston
Grambling and Alabama A&M are ineligible due to low APR Scores
All Times CST
       
Quarterfinals–March 6
Time Home Visitors TV
TBA #1 #8 TBA
TBA #4 #5 TBA
TBA #2 #7 TBA
TBA #3 #6 TBA
       
Semifinals–March 9
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
2:30 PM 1 or 8 4 or 5 TBA
8:30 PM 2 or 7 3 or 6 TBA
       
Championship–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
3:00 PM     ESPN2

It hurts that the best team, Grambling (10-3/14-12) in the league is ineligible to play in the NCAA Tournament.  The other nine teams have losing records, so the winner of this conference tournament will almost assuredly be playing in Dayton in the First Four round.

Arkansas-Pine Bluff (9-4/9-18) went 0-14 outside of the SWAC, yet the Lions could be the favorite to win the tournament.  Southern (8-5/12-14) and Alabama St. (6-6/6-18) are actually the two hottest teams at the moment.

Summit League Tournament
Sioux Falls, MS
All Times CST
       
Quarterfinals–March 3
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM #1 #8 MidcoSN
8:30 PM #2 #7 MidcoSN
       
Quarterfinals–March 4
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM #4 #5 MidcoSN
8:30 PM #3 #6 MidcoSN
       
Semifinals–March 5
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM 1 or 8 4 or 5 MidcoSN
8:30 PM 2 or 7 3 or 6 MidcoSN
       
Championship–March 6
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
8:00 PM     ESPN2

The top two teams will send a lot of fans to Sioux Falls to make their games feel like home games.  South Dakota State (10-1/22-6) and South Dakota (10-2/23-6) have to be considered prohibitive co-favorites, but we will keep a careful eye on Fort Wayne (6-6/17-12).  The Mastodons are like the Boston Red Sox during the Ted Williams days.  You know they are going to score, score, score with a powerful offense, but you never know if they are going to give up too many to the opponent.  If you saw the second half of Fort Wayne’s two-point loss at SDSU, you know that when this team puts it all together, they can beat any team in the Summit.  Indiana coach Archie Miller will tell you how talented these guys are.  The question is, will they ever put it all together for three consecutive days?

Sun Belt Conference Tournament
New Orleans
First 3 Rounds CST, Championship Game CDT
       
First Round–March 7
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
11:30 AM # 8 #9 ESPN3
2:00 PM #5 #12 ESPN3
5:00 PM #7 #10 ESPN3
7:30 PM #6 #11 ESPN3
       
Quarterfinals–March 9
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
11:30 AM #1 8 or 9 ESPN3
2:00 PM #4 5 or 12 ESPN3
5:00 PM #2 7 or 10 ESPN3
7:30 PM #3 6 or 11 ESPN3
       
Semifinals–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
11:30 AM 1, 8, or 9 4, 5, or 12 ESPN3
2:00 PM 2, 7, or 10 3, 6, or 11 ESPN3
       
Championship–March 11
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
1:00 PM     ESPN2

A month ago, this tournament looked like a mere formality where the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns (11-1/21-4) would party in New Orleans.  As Lee Corso would say, “Not so fast my friends.”  From almost out of nowhere, Georgia State (10-3/19-7).  A recent 10-game winning streak, which included a 14-point trouncing of ULL, brought GSU to within a game of first place.

West Coast Conference Tournament
Las Vegas
All Times PST
       
First Round–March 2
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM #8 #9 The W
8:00 PM #7 #10 The W
The W at: http://www.wccsports.com/ot/upcoming-events.html
       
Quarterfinals–March 3
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
1:00 PM #3 #6 The W
3:00 PM #4 #5 The W
7:00 PM #1 8 or 9 ESPN2
9:00 PM #2 7 or 10 ESPN2
       
Semifinals–March 4
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM 1, 8, or 9 4 or 5 ESPN
8:00 PM 2, 7, or 10 3 or 6 ESPN2
       
Championship–March 6
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM     ESPN

We know about the top two teams, as they are always in contention for an NCAA bid every year.  Gonzaga (13-1/23-4) is no longer a mid-major team.  Once you make it to within a couple minutes of a national championship, you deserve the ranks to join teams from the past like UNLV, Marquette, Jacksonville, and UTEP that came to national prominence from out of nowhere.

Saint Mary’s (13-1/24-3) is not that far behind Gonzaga.  With Jock Londale in the post, they may have the top center in the nation.  SMU should get into the Dance as an at-large if they do not win the automatic bid.

Now, the question is can a third team earn a bubble-busting spot by beating both of the league powers?  BYU (9-5/20-7) certainly has the talent to get hot and run the table at Orleans Arena.  The Cougars can be tough to match up with, especially when they get their running game going.

Western Athletic Conference Tournament
Las Vegas
All Times PST
       
Quarterfinals–March 8
Time Home Visitors TV
12:00 PM #3 #6 ESPN3
2:30 PM #2 #7 ESPN3
6:00 PM #1 #8 ESPN3
8:30 PM #4 #5 ESPN3
       
Semifinals–March 9
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM 3 or 6 2 or 7 ESPN3
8:30 PM 1 or 8 4 or 5 ESPN3
       
Championship–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
7:00 PM     ESPNU

This is a league with one really good team and three or four average teams that have the capability to sneak into the tournament title.  It would be ashamed for this league if New Mexico State (9-0/22-3) were to be upset in the tournament and end up as a 1-seed in the NIT.  The Aggies may have their best team in Las Cruces since Lou Henson took the 1970 team to the Final Four.  Coach Chris Jans has been rebuilding his reputation, and after a stint as Gregg Marshall’s assistant at Wichita State, he has made a strong comeback in his first year at NMSU.  He may be able to set up a long dynasty in the WAC.

Before you think that the Aggies will go through the motions and win the league title, there are four other decent teams that can beat them.  Seattle (6-3/17-9) and Utah Valley (6-3/17-8) are tied for second, but we believe that Grand Canyon (6-4/17-9) may be the team that best has the tools to upset NMSU.  The Antelopes are coached by former NBA tough man, Dan Majerle, and his teams are an extension of his hustle.

 

Advertisements

August 14, 2015

2015 American Athletic Conference Preview

2015 brings changes to the American Athletic Conference.  Navy joins the league, giving the AAC 12 teams, and with 12, you get a championship game.  The league has now been divided into divisions with Central Florida, Cincinnati, Connecticut, East Carolina, South Florida, and Temple placed in the East, and Houston, Memphis, Navy, SMU, Tulane, and Tulsa placed in the West.

Last year, Memphis, Cincinnati, and Central Florida tied for first with East Carolina, Houston, and Temple finishing bowl eligible.  Only Temple failed to earn a bowl bid.  This year, as many as eight teams could wind up bowl eligible, but the league will probably just send seven teams to bowls.  Not having the planned Austin Bowl this year will be a major bummer to one possible 6-6 team.

The clear-cut media favorite in the East Division is Cincinnati.  Coach Tommy Tuberville’s first two Bearcat teams ended with identical 9-4 records, which followed consecutive 10-3 records by his predecessor Butch Jones.  Tuberville welcomes back the vagabond quarterback Gunner Kiel, who when he finally settled on Nippert Stadium as his home field, instantly became the top passer in the league last year.  Kiel helped Cinti top 300 passing yards per game in 2014, and 2015 should be more of the same, as the top six receivers are back in the fold.  The Bearcats must rebuild in the defensive front seven, but they have a seasoned and talented secondary, so don’t expect much falloff on this side of the ball.

Temple began to turn the corner last year under Coach Matt Rhule, as the Owls finished 6-6 after going 2-10 the year before.  Rhule welcomes back a league high 19 starters as well as better than 80% of the letterwinners from 2014, and this TU team is talented enough to edge out Cincinnati for the East Division title.  The Owls must play the Bearcats in the Queen City, and that game will take place early in the season on September 12.  Temple must play Penn State the week before, while UC gets a patsy in Alabama A&M.  If the Temple front seven can stay healthy in week one, the Owls can slow down Cinti’s offense and have a chance to get the upper hand in the division race.

The drop from number two to number three in the East is steep.  Central Florida must rebuild on both sides of the ball, as Coach George O’Leary lost all of his key pass catchers on offense and all of his starting secondary and his top five tacklers from last year.  There is enough talent remaining for UCF to post a winning record, but the Knights will be fighting off East Carolina for third and not the top two contenders.

Speaking of East Carolina, the Pirates also face a minor rebuilding reclamation.  Shane Carden graduated as the top passer in school history and Justin Hardy left as the top receiver in school history, and it will be impossible to replace their contributions.  A better than average offensive line will make it a bit easier for new skill position players to have some success, but the offensive points per game is going to take a hit.  Defensively, ECU is thin on the front line, so the rushing defense could weaken as the season wears on.

Willie Taggart maybe has one more season to resurrect the South Florida program.  Coach T doubled the wins from two to four in year two, but Bulls fans believe this team should dominate the league, and they may look to make changes if USF doesn’t double the win total again this year.  That is not going to happen, as the Bulls must start anew on the offensive end.  Taggart is switching to a faster-paced offense, and breaking in a new quarterback with a new offense is a recipe for many mistakes, mistakes which lead to losses.  The USF defense should be improved, but the offense may not give the stop troops a lot of rest.

Connecticut has not enjoyed a good season since 2010, when former coach Randy Edsall took the Huskies to the Fiesta Bowl.  Second year coach Bob Diaco went 2-10 in his first year in Storrs, and this year’s team is more talented.  However, more talented may only lead to closer losses, as both sides of the interior line are not yet up to AAC standards.

The race in the West Division should be a three-team affair.  Memphis, Houston, and Navy all have the horses to take the division crown, while Tulane, Tulsa, and SMU should fight for fourth.
Memphis was the big surprise in the league last year.  Coach Justin Fuente began his coaching career with 4-8 and 3-9 records, and the Tigers were not expected to do any better in 2014.  After beginning the season 2-2 with expected wins over Austin Peay and Middle Tennessee with competitive losses to UCLA and Ole Miss, Memphis blew Cincinnati off the Liberty Bowl field.  Following a close loss to Houston, the Tigers then ran the table to finish 10-3, including a bowl win over BYU.

This year, Memphis has the bulk of its offense returning, and the Tigers could threaten to average 40 points per game.  They are going to need those points, because the defense was decimated by graduation losses.  Only one starter from the back seven returns, and the pass defense will get a Baptism under fire with early games against pass happy Bowling Green, Cincinnati, and Ole Miss.

Houston welcomes a new coach after firing a coach that went 8-5 in back-to-back seasons.  There are many examples in the past where schools got too stingy and replaced a better than average coach with what they thought was an even better coach, only to experience many disappointing seasons.  Can Tom Herman bring the Urban Meyer magic to Houston?  Herman was Ohio State’s offensive coordinator, but Herman couldn’t bring along Cardale Jones, J. T. Barrett, Ezekiel Elliott, or Braxton Miller.  He’ll have to make do with better than average Greg Ward at quarterback, talented Kenneth Farrow at running back, and a group of credible but not flashy wide receivers.  His offensive line won’t remind him of the Buckeye line he had last year.  Defensively, the Cougars return the bulk of the two deep secondary, and this will be the best pass defense in the league.

Navy brings the spread option offense to the league, and because none of their conference foes faced this offense last year, the Midshipmen will benefit from the lack of experience facing the regular and triple option.  Coach Ken Niumatalolo typically starts as many seniors as he can, so every year, Navy must break in a batch of new starters.  However, one player that returns to his spot is quarterback Keenan Reynolds.  An experienced option quarterback is like a Major League baseball team having three 20-game winners in its starting rotation.  Reynolds should leave Navy as the all-time leading rusher, and he is going to set a mark for career rushing touchdowns by a quarterback that may not be topped for decades.

Tulane represents the best of the rest in the West.  The Green Wave should be much improved over last year’s 3-9 mark, and it would not surprise us if Coach Curtis Johnson guides TU back to bowl eligibility.  Last year’s offense actually outgained the 2013 offense in yardage but scored eight fewer points per game.  Look for TU to return to the 2013 scoring rate.  The Green Wave defense is not strong enough to stop the top teams in the league, so fourth is the best this team can hope for in the division.

There was a time when Tulsa would have dominated the West Division if not the entire league.  In 2008, the Golden Hurricane offense led the nation with 47.2 points per game and 570 total yards per game.  In 2012, TU won the Conference USA championship and then knocked off Iowa State in the Liberty Bowl.  Since then, TU has won just five of 24 games, and that has brought a coaching change.  Enter Phillip Montgomery, the former Baylor assistant who mentored RGIII and Bryce Petty.  There is good news and bad news for TU fans this year.  The good news: expect Montgomery’s air show to light up the scoreboards and bring a lot of  excitement to Champan Stadium.  With 10 starters returning, including a fine quarterback in Dane Evans and a potential NFL receiver in Keevan Lucas, the Hurricane should top 30 points per game and maybe even 35 with the new wide open passing game.  The bad news: the defense is going to give up points just as quickly as the offense and maybe even a bit quicker.  It adds up to a season where there won’t be a lot of kicks on Route 66 down in T-Town.

SMU is almost back in the same position as they were when they returned from the Death Penalty in the 1980’s.  Following a 1-11 season where the Mustangs played like more like Shetland Ponies, the school has made sweeping changes.  Gone is Coach June Jones and his run and shoot offense.  Enter former Clemson offensive guru Chad Morris and his spread offense.  Morris is highly connected in the Lonestar State, and he will eventually bring enough talent to return SMU to some of its former glory, but it isn’t going to happen in year one.  SMU can hope to double its win total this year, but 2-10 is not much to get excited over.  There is a long way to go to return to respectability.

Here are the AAC Media’s preseason predictions.

American Athletic Conference Media Poll
Pos. Team 1st Place Total
East Division
1 Cincinnati 29 179
2 Central Florida 1 135
3 Temple 0 116
4 East Carolina 0 105
5 South Florida 0 53
6 Connecticut 0 42
West Division
1 Memphis 13 153
2 Houston 10 149
3 Navy 7 148
4 Tulane 0 74
5 SMU 0 59
6 Tulsa 0 47
Overall Champion
Cincinnati 22, Memphis 5, Houston 2, UCF 1

The media did not select a preseason All-AAC team, so we are posting our own preseason team based on highest individual PiRate Ratings, the basic component for our PiRate and Bias team ratings and a key component of the Mean Rating.

Conference USA Preseason All-Conference Team
Offense Player School
Quarterback Gunner Kiel Cincinnati
Running Back Marlon Mack South Florida
Running Back Kenneth Farrow Houston
Wide Receiver Keevan Lucas Tulsa
Wide Receiver Mekale McKay Cincinnati
Tight End Alan Cross Memphis
Offensive Line Kyle Friend Temple
Offensive Line J. T. Boyd East Carolina
Offensive Line Ike Harris East Carolina
Offensive Line Parker Ehringer Cincinnati
Offensive Line Garrett Stafford Tulsa
Defense Player School
Defensive Line Silverberry Mouhon Cincinnati
Defensive Line Thomas Niles Central Florida
Defensive Line Praise Martin-Oguike Temple
Defensive Line Royce Lafrance Tulane
Linebacker Tyler Matakevich Temple
Linebacker Zeek Bigger East Carolina
Linebacker Nigel Harris South Florida
Defensive Back William Jackson Houston
Defensive Back Adrian McDonald Houston
Defensive Back Josh Hawkins East Carolina
Defensive Back Zach Edwards Cincinnati
Special Teams Player School
Punter Spencer Smith Memphis
Kicker Jake Elliott Memphis
Return Specialist Shaq Washington Cincinnati

Here are the preseason PiRate, Mean, and Bias Ratings and average of the three.

American Athletic Conference
East Division
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Temple 103.5 106.6 104.5 104.9
Cincinnati 104.2 104.6 105.7 104.8
Central Florida 94.7 99.6 96.3 96.9
East Carolina 93.3 99.2 93.7 95.4
South Florida 86.0 93.9 85.8 88.6
Connecticut 79.3 85.9 79.1 81.4
West Division
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Memphis 101.3 101.6 102.6 101.8
Houston 94.2 102.6 96.8 97.9
Navy 96.8 99.6 96.8 97.7
Tulane 92.4 95.6 92.2 93.4
Tulsa 86.9 94.1 88.1 89.7
SMU 84.1 89.8 83.2 85.7
AAC Averages 93.1 97.8 93.7 94.9

And, here are our won-loss predictions and bowl projections.

PiRate Ratings Predicted Records
Pos Team Conf. Overall Bowl
East Division
1 Cincinnati 7-1 10-3 * Birmingham
2 Temple 6-2 8-4 Military
3 Central Florida 5-3 7-5 Miami Beach
4 East Carolina 5-3 6-6 St. Petersburg
5 South Florida 2-6 3-9 None
6 Connecticut 0-8 2-10 None
West Division
1 Memphis 7-1 10-3 ^ Cure
2 Navy 6-2 9-3 Boca Raton
3 Houston 5-3 8-4 Hawaii
4 Tulane 4-4 6-6 At-Large
5 Tulsa 1-7 3-9 None
6 SMU 0-8 2-10 None
* Wins Title Game
^ Loses Title Game

Coming Later Today: The FBS Independents (what’s left of them).

 

March 9, 2011

NCAA Basketball Conference Tournaments–March 9 Update

Filed under: College Basketball — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 8:25 am

Three More Tickets Punched

Horizon League Championship

Butler 59  Milwaukee 44

 The Bulldogs held Milwaukee to 30% shooting from the field, and Matt Howard connected on seven of nine shots to pace Butler with 18 points, as the defending National Final runner-up earned another spot in the Big Dance.

 Summit League Championship

Oakland 90  Oral Roberts 76 

The Golden Grizzlies displayed a great offensive show with the aid of numerous first half steals by Drew Valentine and Reggie Hamilton to build a double-digit lead by the break.  After withstanding an early second half run by the Golden Eagles, Oakland pulled away to win the automatic bid.  

Keith Benson topped Oakland with 28 points and 14 rebounds.  Hamilton added 25 with six assists, while Will Hudson recorded a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds.

 

Sunbelt Conference Championship

U A L R  64  North Texas  63 

The Trojans won their first Sunbelt Championship and earned their first bid to the NCAA Tournament since 1990.

 

SBC Player of the Year Solomon Bozeman drove from the backcourt to the left side of the top of the key and drained a three-pointer with 1.5 seconds remaining to give UALR the decisive points.  Bozeman scored a game-high 20 points. 

North Texas had led by seven points with less than two minutes to go, but the Mean Green wilted under the Trojan pressure defense.  With one last chance to try to win, UNT committed a turnover on the inbounds pass. 

11 Automatic Qualifiers To Date

Team Conference Record
Arkansas-Little Rock Sunbelt  19-16
Belmont  Atlantic South 30-4
Butler  Horizon 23-9
Gonzaga West Coast 24-9
Indiana State  Missouri Valley  20-13
Morehead State  Ohio Valley  24-9
Oakland  Summit  25-9
Old Dominion Colonial 27-6
St. Peter’s Metro Atlantic 20-13
UNC-Asheville Big South 19-13
Wofford Southern 21-12

 

Two Tickets To Be Punched Tonight

Big Sky Tournament Championship @ 9PM ET On ESPN2

#2 Montana (21-9) at #1 Northern Colorado (20-10)

 

Semifinal Round

Montana 57  Weber State 40

Northern Colorado 73  Northern Arizona 70

 

These two split their regular season series with Northern Colorado winning 63-45 in Greeley, and Montana winning 55-42 in Missoula.  Tonight’s game will be played at Butler-Hancock Hall in Greeley, so Northern Colorado will enjoy the home court advantage. 

This game is a great study in contrasts.  Northern Colorado is a quicker team, but Montana is a stronger team.  Northern Colorado has one exceptionally dominant player, while Montana has more, albeit less exceptional, weapons.

 

The Bears’ offense runs through 6-1 senior guard Devon Beitzel.  Beitzel averages a league-best 21 points per game, and he is deadly at the free throw line, where he connects on 91% of his tosses. 

The rest of the team collectively shoots under 41% from the field and commits more turnovers than assists, so if the Grizzlies can stop Beitzel, or at least limit his touches, they have a chance of defending their crown.

 

Montana has the dominant big man in the conference in 6-11/260 senior center Brian Qvale.  If the Grizzlies can keep this game a half-court affair, they stand a great chance of winning with Qvale plugging the middle on defense and controlling the boards at both ends of the court.  Qvale averages 15 points and nine boards a game, and he had a double-double with 16 points and 17 rebounds in the semifinal round.  Montana likes to limit possessions, so those numbers are even more impressive than they look. 

In the win over UNC, Montana held the Bears to 23.3% shooting, while they shot just 32.6% in the loss at Greeley.

 

It is our opinion that the visiting number two seed will pull off the mild upset over the host numbone seed, but it is not a strong feeling. 

 Northeast Conference Tournament Championship @ 7PM ET On ESPN2

#3 Robert Morris (18-13) at #1 Long Island (26-5)

Semifinal Round

Long Island 69  Central Connecticut 67

Robert Morris 64  Quinnipiac 62

Brooklyn has not been this excited over one of their own sports teams since the Dodgers won the 1955 World Series.  Long Island is one of the most exciting teams in the nation, and their 26-5 record has throngs of Brooklynites cramming into the Wellness, Recreation, and Athletic Center.  The WRAC holds just 2,500 seats, but you can bet that more than that amount will find their way into the game tonight, as they “Pack the WRAC.” 

Those fans will be converging to the corner of Ashland and Dekalb tonight, dressed in all white, to watch what could be a blowout win for their team.   

LIU is on a roll.  The Blackbirds have won 12 games in a row (longest current streak in the nation) and 20 of their previous 21 games.  They average almost 83 points per game.  The Blackbirds have exceptional depth with eight players capable of scoring 15 or more points. 

 

The Blackbirds pose difficult matchups with their roster, as they rely on quick guards and medium-sized forwards with great leaping ability to play at a fast pace.  There is no center on the roster, but the two 6-7 forwards have controlled the boards in most games this year. 

Those forwards are Julian Boyd and Jamal Olasewere, who team up for 25.4 points and 15.7 rebounds per game.

 5-10 backup guard Jason Brickman plays just 22 minutes per game, but he leads the team with 5.3 assists per game.  When he comes in the game, the pace picks up, and the Blackbirds shoot a lot of threes in transition.

 

Robert Morris is definitely not cannon fodder.  The Colonials are the two-time defending NEC Tournament champions, and they believe they can three peat even on the road in hostile conditions. 

The Colonials have won eight games in a row, relying on a stellar defense that limits possessions and pressures the guards.  They are missing their leading scorer, as 5-9 guard Karon Abraham’s season ended two weeks ago with a torn Achilles Tendon.  On the positive side, Abraham missed RMU’s win at LIU on December 2, as he was serving a multi-game suspension. 

Velton Jones and Russell Johnson will have to shine tonight for the Colonials to pull off the upset.  The duo are the only double figure scorers left, but both shoot less than 39% from the field. 

Without Abraham, RMU shoots just 33.7% from behind the arc, so the only way they can possibly win tonight is to replicate the formula that was successful more than three months ago—control the tempo and prevent LIU from getting off any uncontested three-pointers. 

We believe this game will begin slowly with RMU taking the lead in the early stages.  Somewhere in the first half, LIU will go on one of their patented runs and gain the lead.  Then, a second spurt will give them a commanding lead.  RMU might cut into that lead, but we believe in the end, the Blackbirds will be celebrating at the WRAC.  We do not believe the Brooklynites will be crying “Wait ‘Til Next Year.”  This will be like October of 1955 in the borough.

 

Yesterday’s Other Tournament Results

Atlantic 10 Conference

First Round

LaSalle 75  St. Bonaventure 73  2ot

St. Joseph’s 71  George Washington 59  ot

Rhode Island 70  St. Louis 61

Dayton 78  U Mass 50

 

Big East Conference

First Round

Connecticut 97  DePaul 71

Rutgers 76  Seton Hall 70 ot

South Florida 70  Villanova 69

Marquette 87  Providence 66 

M A C

First Round

Bowling Green 74  Northern Illinois 54

Ohio U 74  Toledo 57

Akron 67  Eastern Michigan 53

Buffalo 64  Central Michigan 50

 

M E A C

First Round

MD-Eastern Shore 87  F A M U 85  2ot

S. C. State 64  Delaware State 59 

Ivy League Playoff Set

Princeton defeated rival Penn 70-58 last night in Philadelphia, forcing a one-game playoff for the Ivy League’s automatic berth.  Princeton (24-6) will take on co-champion Harvard (23-5) Saturday afternoon at 4PM Eastern Time.  The game will be played at Yale University in New Haven, CT, and it can be seen live on ESPN3.com.

Princeton has appeared in all seven Ivy League tiebreaking playoff games in the history of the league.  This is Harvard’s first Ivy League basketball championship of any kind.  The Crimson last appeared in the NCAA Tournament in 1946. 

There is a chance that the loser of this game could hold a slim chance of earning an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.  Harvard is ranked #35 in the RPI, while Princeton is ranked #49.  Harvard has two wins over top 50 teams as well as three losses.  Their biggest win was at Boston College.  Princeton has just one win against the top 50 and two losses.  For the Ivy to earn two bids, the Tigers have to win Saturday and hope Harvard’s high RPI is enough to earn the second bid. 

Conference Tournaments In Action Today

Big 12 Conference

Tournament Site: Kansas City

1st Round Games

#8 Nebraska (19-11) vs. #9 Oklahoma State (18-12)  12:30 PM ET

#5 Colorado (19-12) vs. #12 Iowa State (16-15)  3 PM ET

#7 Baylor (18-12) vs. #10 Oklahoma (13-17)  7PM ET

#6 Missouri (22-9) vs. #11 Texas Tech (13-18) 9:30 PM ET 

Big East Conference

Tournament Site: New York City

2nd Round Games

#8 Georgetown (21-9) vs. #9 Connecticut (22-9)  12 Noon ET on ESPN

#5 St. John’s (20-10) vs. #13 Rutgers (15-16)  Approx. 2:15 PM ET on ESPN

#7 Cincinnati (24-7) vs. #15 South Florida (10-22)  7 PM ET on ESPN

#6 West Virginia (20-10) vs. #11 Marquette (19-13)  Approx. 9:15 PM ET on ESPN 

Conference USA

Tournament Site: El Paso, TX

1st Round Games

#8 East Carolina (16-14) vs. #9 Central Florida (19-10)  1 PM ET

#5 Southern Miss (21-9) vs. #12 Tulane (13-16)  3:30 PM ET

#6 Marshall (21-10) vs. #11 Houston (12-17)  7:30 PM ET

#7 S M U (17-13) vs. #10 Rice (13-17)  10 PM ET 

M E A C

Tournament Site: Winston-Salem, NC

Note: The MEAC has a unique way of scheduling their tournament.  As a result, one first round game will be played today as well as two quarterfinal round games.  The other two quarterfinal round games will be played Thursday. 

1st Round

#6 Norfolk State () vs. #11 Howard ()  3 PM ET

Quarterfinal Round

#1 Bethune-Cookman (20-11) vs. #9 South Carolina State (10-21)  7 PM ET

#2 Hampton (21-8) vs. #10 Maryland-Eastern Shore (9-21)  9:30 PM ET 

Mountain West Conference

Tournament Site: Las Vegas

1st Round

#8 Wyoming (10-20) vs. #9 T C U (10-21)  5 PM ET 

Pac-10 Conference

Tournament Site: Los Angeles

1st Round

#8 Stanford (15-15) vs. #9 Oregon State (10-19)  9 PM ET on Fox Sports Net

#7 Oregon (14-16) vs. #10 Arizona State (12-18)  11:30 PM ET on Fox Sports Net 

Southland Conference

Tournament Site: Katy, TX (Houston Area)

Quarterfinal Round

#2 Northwestern State (LA) (18-13) vs. #7 Texas-San Antonio (16-13)  1 PM ET

#3 Sam Houston (17-12) vs. #6 Stephen F. Austin (18-10)  3:30 PM ET

#1 McNeese State (19-10) vs. #8 Nicholls State (14-13)  7 PM ET

#4 Texas State (15-15) vs. #5 Southeastern Louisiana (15-13)  9:30 PM ET 

S W A C

Tournament Site: Garland, TX (Dallas-Ft. Worth Area) 

Quarterfinal Round

#2 Jackson State (16-14) vs. #7 Prairie View (10-21)  12:30 PM ET

#1 Texas Southern (18-11) vs. #8 Arkansas-Pine Bluff (7-23)  9 PM ET

W A C

Tournament Site: Las Vegas

1st Round

#5 Hawaii (18-11) vs. #8 San Jose State (15-14)  3 PM ET

#6 Nevada (12-18) vs. #7 Fresno State (14-16)  5:30 PM ET

March 8, 2011

NCAA Basketball Conference Tournaments–March 8 Update

 

The Four Newest Dance Invitees

Did you see those conference championship games last night?  Was this the Monday Night Fights or basketball?  There were more cut men and cut women than in your average boxing card.

 

When it is all or nothing for these smaller conferences, you get what we saw last night—teams playing like their lives were on the line.

 

Colonial Athletic Association

Old Dominion 70

Virginia Commonwealth 65

 

Old Dominion 27-6

 

The Monarchs are capable of making a semi-surprise run in the Big Dance.  They lead the nation in rebounding margin, and they can score points in the paint. 

 

Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference

St. Peter’s 62

Iona 57

 

St. Peter’s 20-13

 

The Peacocks beat Alabama earlier in the season, and their defense could keep them within striking defense in an opening round game, but we cannot see SPC advancing to the second round.

 

Southern Conference

Wofford 77

College of Charleston 67

 

Wofford 21-12

 

The Terriers finally beat the Cougars (we predicted this yesterday), and they will not roll over and play dead in the first round.  This team returns to the Dance for the second consecutive season, and they will not back down.  They may not advance, but they will not be in awe of their heavily favored first round opponent.

 

West Coast Conference

Gonzaga 75

Saint Mary’s 63

 

Gonzaga 24-9

 

This edition of Zags may not be the most talented in the Coach Mark Few era, but they are playing their best ball at the right time.  It will depend on their bracket, but this team has Sweet 16 potential.

 

Three More Invitations Go Out Tonight

By 11:15 PM Eastern Time tonight, we will know the names of three more NCAA Tournament participants.  Let’s break down these games.

 

Horizon League Championship @ 9PM ET on ESPN

Butler (22-9)  at  Milwaukee (19-12)

 

Butler defeated Cleveland State in the semifinal round Saturday evening, while Milwaukee topped Valparaiso.  During the regular season, Milwaukee swept the Bulldogs, winning 76-52 at home and 86-80 in overtime on the road.  The top-seeded Panthers host this game.

 

Both teams are red hot coming into this title match.  Milwaukee has gone 10-1 in their last 11 games, and the only loss was in the Bracketbuster to Buffalo.  Their defense is what got them here, as they shoot only 43% from the field and 65% at the foul line.

 

Three Panthers average double figures in scoring, led by Anthony Hill.  Hill averages just under 16 points per game, but he broke out with a 24-point, 11-rebound performance in the semifinal game against Valpo.  Kaylon Williams is the X-factor for Panthers.  He can score when needed, rebound with the big men, and run the offense.  He recorded a triple-double earlier in the season against Butler (10 points-10 rebounds-10 assists), and he added a double-double in the second win over the Bulldogs.

 

Butler missed Gordon Hayward even more than most experts predicted.  The Bulldogs played a tough pre-conference schedule and limped into February.  With their backs against the wall, they reeled off eight consecutive victories to get to the title game tonight.

 

Most basketball fans know Matt Howard and Shelvin Mack from last year’s team that made the surprise run to the National Championship Game.  The duo has teamed for 32 points and 6.5 rebounds per game this year.  However, it has been the emergence of 6-11 sophomore center Andrew Smith that has allowed Butler to turn things around and look like a force to be reckoned with once again.  Smith averaged 11 points per game over the second half of the season.  In the eight game winning streak, he has averaged 32 minutes per game and pulled down close to eight rebounds per game.  His 63% field goal percentage has forced defenses to stop him first, giving Howard and Mack more room to get open.  Smith was a non-factor in the two games against Milwaukee, and he is the key to tonight’s game.  If he plays 32 minutes and gets double figure points and eight rebounds, Butler will be cutting down the nets yet again.

 

Summit League Championship @ 9PM ET on ESPN2

Site: Sioux Falls, SD

Oakland (24-9)  vs. Oral Roberts (19-14)

 

If you like high-scoring, fast-paced games, you will definitely clear your schedule to view this one.  Oakland is the second best offensive team in the nation, averaging 86 points per game (92 ppg in their last 10 games).  The Grizzlies connect on close to 50% of their field goal attempts, and they tend to hit spurts where they score 10 points in two minutes.  Oral Roberts averages 81 points per game and has no qualms running with Oakland.

 

Both teams are riding major winning streaks entering tonight’s title game.  Oakland has won 17 of their last 18 games, while the Golden Eagles have won 10 in a row.  In the regular season, Oakland won both high-scoring games, but both were nail-biters that went down to the wire. 

 

Oakland has a tall and short combination that has done a lot of the damage on opponents.  6-11 center Keith Benson is the best player in the league.  Benson averages 17.7 points and 10 rebounds per game.  He showed he can do it against the big schools, as he had 17 points and 12 rebounds in a close loss to Michigan State and 26 points and 10 rebounds in a big win at Tennessee. 

 

5-11 guard Reggie Hamilton is a threat to top 20 points any night.  He is quick and can get open without help from screens.

 

Oral Roberts has a star in its own right.  Dominique Morrison averages just under 20 points per game, and he doesn’t need to heave up 25 shots per game to get those points.  Morrison shoots 51.3% from the field, 40% from behind the three-point line, and 78.4% at the foul line.  He scored 56 points in the two games against Oakland.

 

This should be a great game, and we don’t believe Oakland is that much of a favorite.  ORU has been to the Big Dance four times in the last six years, while Oakland is the defending tournament champion.  We expect the winner to top 90 points in this game, and it is too close to call.  We say Oakland has about a 54% chance and Oral Roberts a 46% chance of winning.

 

Sunbelt Conference Championship @ 7PM ET on ESPN2

Site: Hot Springs, AR

 

North Texas (22-10)  vs. U A L R (18-16)

 

On paper this looks like a mismatch, even though the teams finished one game apart in the regular season.  North Texas finished fourth in the West with an 8-8 league mark, while Little Rock finished fifth at 7-9.

 

North Texas was one of the biggest underachievers this season.  The Mean Green returned four starters from their 2010 conference champion team and were expected to win again this year with the best backcourt and one of the best frontcourts in the league.  Instead, a 3-9 swoon in the middle of the season placed them out of contention for the West crown.  Since that awful slide, UNT has recovered with five consecutive victories.

 

6-5 senior guard Tristan Thompson has led the way for the Mean Green in the tournament, scoring 80 points in the first three games.  He has done a lot of the damage at the foul line, where he is 31-35 in Hot Springs, including an unbelievable 20-20 performance in the win over top-seed Florida Atlantic.  Thompson combines a quick move to the basket with a sweet shot from outside.  Beefy forward George Odufuwa averages 11 points and 10.2 rebounds per game, and UALR has a tough matchup problem against him.

 

The Trojans dropped both regular season games to North Texas, mostly because they could not compete under the basket.  Their chance to win this game will come down to limiting possessions and trying to win 55-50.  They have won three games in the tournament by getting to the foul line and hitting foul shots, while using the clock and taking 30 seconds to shoot on most possessions.  UALR’s big star in this tournament has been senior guard Solomon Bozeman.  Like Thompson, Bozeman has gotten to the free throw line and made the most of his opportunities.  He has connected on 37 of 42 attempts including an eye-popping 19 of 22 against Middle Tennessee last night.

 

We expect a low-possession, low-scoring game.  There may be fewer than 100 field goal attempts tonight.  North Texas has been there before, while UALR has never won the Sunbelt Conference Tournament.  We think that trend will continue, but it wouldn’t surprise us if this game stays relatively close for the entire 40 minutes.  We could see North Texas winning 60-54.

 

The Other Tournaments In Action Today

 

Atlantic 10 Conference

First Round At Higher Seed Home Court

 

#9 Dayton (19-12) at #8 U Mass (15-14)  9PM ET on CBSC

#12 St. Joseph’s (9-21) at #5 George Washington (17-13)  7PM ET on CBSC

#10 LaSalle (14-17) at #7 St. Bonaventure (16-13)  5 PM ET on CBSC

#11 St. Louis (12-18) at #6 Rhode Island (18-12)  7 PM ET no TV

 

Big East Conference

Madison Square Garden in New York City

 

#16 Depaul (7-23) vs. #9 Georgetown (21-9) 12 Noon ET on ESPN2

#13 Rutgers (14-16) vs. #12 Seton Hall (13-17) Approx. 2:15 PM ET on ESPN2

#15 South Florida (9-22) vs. #10 Villanova (21-10) 7PM ET on ESPNU

#14 Providence (15-16) vs. #11 Marquette (18-13) Approx 9:15 ET on ESPNU

 

Big Sky Conference

Semifinal Round At Higher Seed Home Court

#3 Weber State (18-11) at #2 Montana (20-9)

#4 Northern Arizona (19-11) at #1 Northern Colorado (19-10)

 

Mid-American Conference

1st Round At Higher Seed Home Court  All Games At 7PM ET

 

#10 Northern Illinois (9-20) at #7 Bowling Green (13-18)

#11 Eastern Michigan (9-21) at #6 Akron (19-12)

#9 Central Michigan (10-20) at #8 Buffalo (17-12)

#12 Toledo (4-27) at #5 Ohio U (17-14)

 

Mideastern Athletic Conference

Lawrence Joel Coliseum in Winston-Salem, NC

 

#9 South Carolina State (9-21) vs. #8 Delaware State (9-20)  9PM ET

#10 Maryland-Eastern Shore (8-21) vs. #7 Florida A&M (12-19)  6:30 PM ET

 

Note: One more 1st round game Wednesday plus two quarterfinal games

 

 

March 7, 2011

NCAA Basketball Conference Tournaments–March 7 Update

NCAA Tournament Qualifier #4

Congratulations to the Indiana State Sycamores, the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament champions.  ISU defeated Missouri State Sunday by a score of 60-56, giving them eight wins in their last nine games.  This Sycamore team is not to be confused with the 1979 National Finalists with some guy named Larry Bird doing a lot of the scoring, but ISU (20-13) has enough talent to pull off an upset in the first round.  The last time they were in the Big Dance, ISU upset Oklahoma 70-68 in the first round of the 2001 tourney; they lost 85-68 to Gonzaga in the next round.  The Sycamores lost by nine at Notre Dame and by 13 against Purdue, so they can compete against Top 10 teams.

 

Indiana State joins UNC-Asheville, Belmont, and Morehead State as automatic qualifiers in the NCAA Tournament.

 

Four More Teams To Enter The Dance Party Tonight

The field of automatic qualifiers doubles from four to eight tonight.  Let’s take a look at the four conference championships for Monday.

 

Colonial Athletic Association

Virginia Commonwealth (23-10)  vs. Old Dominion (26-6)

7:00 PM EST on ESPN

 

In the semifinal round, VCU upset top-seed George Mason 79-63, while Old Dominion ousted Hofstra 77-69.  Bubble teams will be cheering hard for ODU because if VCU wins, the CAA could send an extra team to the Dance.  George Mason and ODU are virtually assured at-large spots, but VCU will be College Insiders, CBI or NIT-bound if they lose tonight.

 

ODU has won eight games in a row and 12 of 13.  Big forward Frank Hassell has continued to improve and impress down below, and Notre Dame can tell you how well he plays in the postseason; ODU beat the Irish in the first round of last year’s NCAA Tournament.

 

VCU slumped at the end of the regular season, losing four of their final five games (and the one win was in the Bracketbuster) to fall from first to fourth.  The Rams won nine games in a row in the middle of the season, including a road victory over their opponent tonight. 

 

Forward Jamie Skeen will be the key man to watch.  If he can match or beat Hassell point-for-point and rebound-for-rebound, VCU should pull off the victory.  If Hassell wins the battle, then the Monarchs will live up to their preseason billing as best in the league. 

 

If the game comes down to the backcourt, then VCU has the superior tandem there with Bradford Burgess and Joey Rodriguez.  If the battle comes down to the rebounding game, ODU will win and maybe win by 10-20 points.

 

Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference

St. Peter’s (19-13)  vs.  Iona (22-10)

7:00 PM EST on ESPN2

 

St. Peter’s pulled off the big upset in this tournament, defeating #1-seed Fairfield 62-48 in yesterday’s semifinal round.  Iona slaughtered Rider 83-59 to earn their spot in the championship game.  The Gaels won their opener by 30 over Siena, so they are the clear-cut favorite tonight.

 

St. Peter’s is an experienced team.  The Peacocks’ top four players are seniors—Wesley Jenkins, Jeron Belin, Nick Leon, and Ryan Bacon.  The quartet averages a combined 45 points a game with all four averaging more than 10 points a game.  Their strongest asset is their defensive ability, and teams have a tough time scoring on SPU.  Unfortunately, the Peacocks barely top 40% shooting from the field and less than 64% at the foul line.  To win tonight, they need to connect on at least 45% of their shots and get some second chance opportunities.

 

Iona has the look of a champion.  The Gaels have won nine games in a row by an average margin of 18.6 points per game.  They swept SPU by 18 and 14 in the regular season.  Star forward Michael Glover has recorded 17 double-doubles, and the only thing that could prevent him from making it 18 tonight would be his early exit from the game due to the game being a blowout.

 

As you can surmise, we think Iona will put this game away with a big run about halfway into the opening half after a five to eight-minute period to calm the nerves.

 

Southern Conference

College of Charleston (24-9)  vs.  Wofford (20-12)

9:00 PM EST on ESPN2

 

Semifinal Scores

College of Charleston 63  Furman 58

Wofford 86  Western Carolina 72

 

The top two teams in the league meet for the third time and Charleston won the first two meetings.  The Cougars won the battle on the boards in both games and in turn took several more shots.  Andrew Goudelock was unstoppable in both games, and Wofford must do something to keep the ball out of his hands tonight and prevent him from scoring his average of 23 points per game to have a chance.

 

The Terriers are the defending SoCon Tournament champions, and they were the overwhelming pick to repeat as champions this year.  They will need a repeat of yesterday’s performance to pull off the upset.  Wofford connected on 54% of their field goals, 50% of their three-point attempts, and 80% at the foul line.  Their big three, Noah Dahlman, Jamar Diggs, and Cameron Rundles, teamed for 52 points and 16 rebounds.  Wofford also has excellent depth with three players capable of coming off the bench and scoring points and pulling down rebounds in massive numbers.

 

Charleston proved to be the better team in the regular season sweep, but we tend to believe this night will belong to Wofford.  The Terriers are playing up to their potential, while the Cougars are not. 

 

West Coast Conference

Saint Mary’s (24-7)  vs. Gonzaga (23-9)

9:00 PM EST on ESPN

 

Semifinal Round

Saint Mary’s 73  Santa Clara 64

Gonzaga 71  San Francisco 67

 

This is the game of the night.  We tend to believe both teams have done enough to punch a ticket to the tournament, but still, this will be a hard-fought rivalry game.

 

The teams split their regular season series, both winning close games on the other’s home court.  If you like offense, then this is the game for you.  Both teams routinely top 80 points per game, and both have enjoyed many nights where they shot in excess of 50% from the field.

 

Gonzaga has won eight games in a row, and the Bulldogs utilize great depth to wear down opponents.  They can go 10-deep with very little drop in talent, as no player averages over 14 points per game, and only one tops six rebounds per game. 

 

SMC relies on a trio of talented players in Mickey McConnell, Rob Jones, and Matthew Dellavedova.  They team up to average 43.3 points per game.  McConnell is one of the best outside shooters in the nation, and he is virtually automatic at the charity stripe.

 

This game is a tossup in the truest since, and we expect it to go down to the final minute for the third time this season.  They could not settle it in 40 minutes the last time they faced off, so this has to be considered a 50-50 game.  We will go with Gonzaga’s 50% chance tonight.

 

Continuing Tournaments

America East Conference

Semifinal Round

Boston U. 55  Hartford 49

Stony Brook 69  Vermont 47

 

Championship Game—Saturday, March 12@ 12 Noon on ESPN2

Stony Brook (15-16) at Boston U (20-13)

 

Northeast Conference

Semifinal Round

Long Island 69  Central Connecticut 67

Robert Morris 64  Quinnipiac 62

 

Championship Game—Wednesday, March 9 @ 7PM on ESPN2

Robert Morris (18-13) at Long Island (26-5)

 

Patriot League

Semifinal Round

Lafayette 73  American 71  2ot

Bucknell 66  Lehigh 64

 

Championship Game—Friday, March 11 @ 4:45 PM on ESPN2

Lafayette (13-18) at Bucknell (24-8)

 

Summit League

Quarterfinal Round

South Dakota State  85  I P F W  75

I U P U I  79  Missouri-KC  55 

 

Semifinal Round—Monday, March 7 @ Sioux Falls, SD

Oakland (23-9)  vs.  South Dakota State (19-11) @ 7:00 PM EST

Oral Roberts (18-14)  vs.  I U P U I (19-13) @ 9:30 PM EST

 

Sunbelt Conference

Quarterfinal Round

Western Kentucky 81  Louisiana-Lafayette 76

North Texas 78  Florida Atlantic 64

Middle Tennessee 73  Florida International 38

U A L R  59  Arkansas State 52

 

Semifinal Round—Monday, March 7 @ Hot Springs, AR

Western Kentucky (16-15)  vs. North Texas (21-10) @ 7:00 PM EST

Middle Tennessee (16-15)  vs.  U A L R (17-16) @ 9:30 PM EST

 

Coming Tomorrow: The Big Sky Conference and Horizon League Tournament Championships are decided, and four more conference tournaments begin.  Check back Tuesday afternoon for more coverage.

March 5, 2011

NCAA Basketball Conference Tournaments–March 6 Update

Congratulations To Three Champions

Three teams have punched their tickets to the Big Dance.

 

Big South Conference

UNC-Asheville 60  Coastal Carolina 47

 

UNC-Asheville 19-13

 

Atlantic Sun Conference

Belmont 87  North Florida 46

 

Belmont 30-4

 

Ohio Valley Conference

Morehead State 80  Tennessee Tech 73

 

Morehead State 24-9

 

Scores From Other Conference Tournaments

 

America East Conference

Vermont 57  Binghamton 46

Stony Brook 67  Albany 61

Boston U 69  New Hampshire 60

Hartford 66  Maine 63

 

Sunday, March 6 Semifinal Round

Vermont 23-7  vs. Stony Brook 14-16

Boston U. 19-13  vs. Hartford 11-19

 

Big Sky Conference

Weber State 79  Eastern Washington 70

Northern Arizona 65  Montana State 62

 

Tuesday, March 8 Semifinal Round

Montana 20-9  vs. Weber State 18-11

Northern Colorado 19-10  vs. Northern Arizona 19-11

 

Colonial Athletic Association

George Mason 68  Georgia State 45

Virginia Commonwealth 62  Drexel 60

Old Dominion 59  Delaware 50

Hofstra 72  William & Mary 56

 

Sunday, March 6 Semifinal Round

George Mason 26-5  vs.  Virginia Commonwealth 22-10

Old Dominion 25-6  vs. Hofstra 21-10

 

Horizon League

Butler 76  Cleveland State 68

Milwaukee 70  Valparaiso 63

 

Tuesday, March 8 Championship Game

Butler 22-9  vs. Milwaukee 19-12

 

Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference

Fairfield 55  Marist 31

St. Peter’s 70  Loyola (MD) 60

Rider 79  Canisius 64

Iona 94  Siena 64

 

Sunday, March 6 Semifinal Round

Fairfield 24-6  vs. St. Peter’s 18-13

Rider 23-9  vs. Iona 21-10

 

Missouri Valley Conference

Missouri State 60  Creighton 50

Indiana State 61  Wichita State 54

 

Sunday, March 6 Championship Game

Missouri State 25-7  vs. Indiana State 19-13

 

Southern Conference

Western Carolina 77 UNC-Greensboro 66

Wofford 67  Appalachian State 56

Furman 61  Chattanooga 52

College of Charleston 78  Elon 60

 

Sunday, March 6 Semifinal Round

Western Carolina 18-14  vs. Wofford 19-12

Furman 22-9  vs. College of Charleston 23-9

 

Summit League

Oakland 82  Southern Utah 66

Oral Roberts 72  North Dakota State 65

 

Sunday, March 6 Quarterfinal Round Continues

I P F W  18-11  vs. South Dakota State 18-11

I U P U I  18-13  vs. Missouri-Kansas City 16-13

 

Sunbelt Conference

Western Kentucky 66  Louisiana-Monroe 50

North Texas 83  Troy 69

Florida Int’l 53  Denver 49

U A L R  82  South Alabama 68

 

Sunday, March 6 Quarterfinal Round

Louisiana-Lafayette 14-14  vs. Western Kentucky 15-15

Florida Atlantic 21-9  vs. North Texas 20-10

Middle Tennessee 15-15  vs. Florida Int’l  11-18

Arkansas State 17-14  vs. U A L R  16-16

 

West Coast Conference

Santa Clara 76  Loyola Marymount 68

San Francisco 76  Pepperdine 59

 

Sunday, March 6 Semifinal Round

St. Mary’s 23-7  vs. Santa Clara 19-13

Gonzaga 22-9  vs. San Francisco 17-13

March 4, 2011

NCAA Basketball Conference Tournaments–March 5 Update 1

Two new conference tournaments begin today (Saturday), but more importantly the first three spots in the Big Dance Card will be filled.

 

All Times EST

Summit League Tournament

Tournament Site: Sioux Falls, SD

Saturday, March 5: Quarterfinal Round

G 1: #1 Oakland vs. #8 Southern Utah  7PM

G 2: #2 Oral Roberts vs. #7 North Dakota State 9:30 PM

 

Sunday, March 6: Quarterfinal Round

G 3 #4 I P F W vs. #5 North Dakota State 7 PM

G 4 #3 I U P U I vs. #6 Missouri-Kansas City 9:30 PM

 

Monday, March 7: Semifinal Round

G 5: G 1 Winner vs. G 3 Winner 7 PM

G 6: G 2 Winner vs. G 4 Winner  9:30 PM

 

Tuesday, March 8: Championship Game at 9PM on ESPN2

G 5 Winner vs. G 6 Winner

 

Hot Team:  Oral Roberts has won eight consecutive games by an average margin of 12.6 points per game.   This includes a key win over IUPUI that clinched the second seed.

 

Oakland enters the tournament riding a five-game winning streak.  The Golden Grizzlies won 15 of their final 16 regular season games.

 

Not Hot:  Missouri-Kansas City lost its last three games, but they were to three of the top four teams in the league.

 

Team Nobody Wants To Play: South Dakota State is only one hour from Sioux Falls, and the Jackrabbits will fill the arena.  Oakland would much rather play four-seed I P F W in the semifinals.  If SDSU wins their quarterfinal game, look for them to give Oakland fits in a semifinal match.

 

Oakland as Favorite:  The Golden Grizzlies finished 17-1 in league play, so they must be considered solid favorites.  Their lone league loss came at IUPUI, and in their 18 conference games they had a +14.2 scoring margin.    

 

Our Pick:  We will stick with the favorite to win here, even though we believe they will struggle to win their semifinal and final game.

 

 

Sunbelt Conference Tournament

Tournament Site: Hot Springs, AR (using Summit Arena and Convention Center Court)

 

Saturday, March 5: Opening Round

G 1: #3E Western Kentucky vs. #6W Louisiana-Monroe  7:45 PM (Convention Center)

G 2: #4W North Texas vs. #5E Troy  7:30 PM (Summit Arena)

G 3: #3W Denver vs. #6E Florida International  9:45 PM   (Summit Arena)

G 4: #4E South Alabama vs. #5W U A L R  10PM (Convention Center)

 

Sunday, March 6: Quarterfinal Round

G 5: G 1 Winner vs. #2W Louisiana-Lafayette  7:30 PM (Summit Arena)

G 6: G 2 Winner vs. #1E Florida Atlantic  7:45 PM (Convention Center)

G 7: G 3 Winner vs. #2E Middle Tennessee  10 PM (Convention Center)

G 8: G 4 Winner vs. #1W Arkansas State  9:45 PM (Summit Arena)

 

Monday, March 7: Semifinal Round (Summit Arena)

G 9: G 5 Winner vs. G 6 Winner  7PM

G10: G 7 Winner vs. G 8 Winner  9:30 PM

 

Tuesday, March 8: Championship Game (Summit Arena)

G11: G 9 Winner vs. G 10 Winner at 7PM on ESPN2

 

Hot Team: Louisiana-Lafayette has won 11 consecutive games, but seven of those wins were by five points or less or in overtime.  The Ragin’ Cajuns defeated both division winners in that stretch

 

Not Hot: Denver dropped from first to third when they lost their last three games and six of their final eight.  The Pioneers had won eight consecutive games in midseason, but they lost their offensive touch down the stretch.

 

Team That Nobody Wants To Play: After starting conference play 0-4, Western Kentucky righted the ship and won eight of their last 12 conference games.  The Hilltoppers greatly underachieved, and with two studs in Steffphon Pettigrew and Sergio Kerusch, WKU can beat anybody in the SBC.

 

Florida Atlantic As Favorite: The Owls started 8-0 in league play before faltering a bit down the stretch.  We do not feel strongly that FAU can win three games in three days.  In fact, we believe they will not even be around for the championship game. 

 

Our Pick: When UL-Lafayette takes on Western Kentucky in the quarterfinal round, we believe the winner of that game will upset FAU in the semifinal round and go on to win the league’s lone bid to the Dance.

 

The First Three Bids Go Out Today

 

The league championship games are on tap for Saturday.  Let’s look at the scores from Friday with the schedule for the three conference championship games.

 

Big South Conference— 4:00 PM on ESPN2

#3 UNC-Asheville (18-13) at #1 Coastal Carolina (28-4)

 

UNCA beat Charleston Southern 72-63 and High Point 62-45.  Coastal Carolina beat Gardner-Webb 83-72 and VMI 89-81

 

Atlantic Sun Conference—6:00 PM on ESPN2

Site: Macon, GA

#1 Belmont (29-4) vs. #6 North Florida (15-18)

 

Belmont defeated Kennesaw State 72-57 and Mercer 80-72.  North Florida defeated Jacksonville 68-64 and East Tennessee 59-55

 

Ohio Valley Conference—8:00 PM on ESPN2

Site: Nashville

#2 Morehead State (23-9) vs. #4 Tennessee Tech (20-11)

 

Morehead State beat Austin Peay 68-49.  Tennessee Tech beat UT-Martin 83-59 and Murray State 64-59.

 

Scores From Other Conference Tournaments

 

Colonial Athletic Association

#9 Georgia State 58  #8 UNC-Wilmington 52

#5 Drexel 75  #12 Towson  69

#7 Delaware 60  #10 Northeastern 58

#11 William & Mary 72  #6 James Madison 68

 

Quarterfinal Round—Saturday

#1 George Mason vs. #9 Georgia State

#4 Virginia Commonwealth vs. #5 Drexel

#2 Old Dominion vs. #7 Delaware

#3 Hofstra vs. #11 William & Mary

 

Horizon League

#3 Cleveland State 73  #6 Wright State 59

#4 Valparaiso 88  #5 Detroit 78

 

Semifinal Round—Saturday

#1 Milwaukee vs. #4 Valparaiso

#2 Butler vs. #3 Cleveland State

 

M A A C

#9 Marist 73  #8 Niagara 61

#7 Siena 68  #10 Manhattan 66 OT

 

Quarterfinal Round—Saturday

#1 Fairfield vs. #9 Marist

#4 St. Peter’s vs. #5 Loyola (MD)

#3 Rider vs. #6 Canisius

#2 Iona vs. #7 Siena

 

Missouri Valley

#1 Missouri State 58  #8 Southern Illinois 56

#5 Creighton 60  #4 Northern Iowa 57

#2 Wichita State 70  #10 Bradley 56

#3 Indiana State 52  #6 Evansville 50

 

Semifinal Round—Saturday

#1 Missouri State vs. #5 Creighton

#2 Wichita State vs. #3 Indiana State

 

Southern Conference

#5N UNC-Greensboro 71  #4S Davidson 64

#3N Appalachian State 65  #6S Georgia Southern 57

#3S Furman 61  #6N Samford 48

#4N Elon 85  #5S Citadel 74

 

Quarterfinal Round—Saturday

#1N Western Carolina vs. #5N UNC-Greensboro

#2S Wofford vs. #3N Appalachian State

#2N Chattanooga vs. #3S Furman

#1S College of Charleston vs. #4N Elon

 

West Coast Conference

#8 Loyola Marymount 72  #5 Portland 68

#6 Pepperdine 84  #7 San Diego 81

 

Quarterfinal Round—Saturday

#4 Santa Clara vs. #8 Loyola Marymount

#3 San Francisco vs. #6 Pepperdine

 

Ivy League Results (Princeton and Harvard)

Harvard 79  Penn 64

Princeton 77  Dartmouth 55

 

Princeton is now 11-1.  Harvard is now 11-2.  The two teams square off in Cambridge tonight.  If Princeton wins, the Tigers clinch the Ivy League title.  If Harvard wins, then Princeton must win at Penn Tuesday night to force a playoff for the Ivy League title.

March 3, 2011

NCAA Basketball Conference Tournaments–March 4 Update

Three more conference tournaments begin Friday, making it 11 tournaments in action.  The MAAC, Southern Conference, and West Coast Conference tournaments get underway.  

 

All Times EST

Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Tournament

Tournament Site: Bridgeport, CT

Friday, March 4: Opening Round

G 1: #8 Niagara (9-22) vs. #9 Marist (5-26)

G 2: #7 Siena (12-17) vs. #10 Manhattan (6-24)

 

Saturday, March 5: Quarterfinal Round

G 3: G 1 Winner vs. #1 Fairfield (23-6)

G 4: #4 St. Peter’s (17-13) vs. Loyola (Chi) (15-14)

G 5: G 2 Winner vs. #2 Iona (20-10)

G 6: #3 Rider (22-9) vs. #6 Canisius (15-14)

 

Sunday, March 6: Semifinal Round

G 7: G3 Winner vs. G 4 Winner

G 8: G 5 Winner vs. G 6 Winner

 

Monday, March 7: Championship Game At 7 PM on ESPN2

G 7 Winner vs. G 8 Winner

 

Hot Team: It depends on how you look at it.  Rider won their last five games, seven of their final eight, and 10 of their last 12.  Included in this was a road win at top seed Fairfield.

 

Iona won their final seven games including a victory over Fairfield as well.

 

Fairfield, prior to the season-ending loss to Iona had won five in a row and 12 of 13.

 

Not Hot: St. Peter’s was 9-3 in conference play and ended up 11-7 with an extra loss in the Bracketbuster.

 

Team Nobody Wants To Play: The obvious choice here is top-seeded Fairfield.  The Stags don’t get to play in their home gym, but they do get to play in their home town.

 

Fairfield as Favorite:  We are inclined to go against the Stags here, but not by much.  Iona and Rider should meet in the semifinals, and the winner of that game has a 50-50 chance of besting Fairfield in the final.

 

Our Pick:  Let’s go with the hottest team that has shown an ability to put away opponents quickly.  We’ll pick Iona to win in a mild upset.

 

 

Southern Conference Tournament

Tournament Site: Chattanooga, TN

 

Friday, March 4: Opening Round

G 1: #4S Davidson (17-13) vs. #5N UNC-Greensboro (6-23)

G 2: #3N Appalachian State (15-14) vs. #6S Georgia Southern (5-26)

G 3: #3S Furman (20-9) vs. #6N Samford (12-18)

G 4: #4N Elon (13-16) vs. #5S Citadel (10-21)

 

Saturday, March 5: Quarterfinal Round

G 5: G 1 Winner vs. #1N Western Carolina (17-14)

G 6: G 2 Winner vs. #2S Wofford (18-12)

G 7: G 3 Winner vs. #2N Chattanooga (16-15)

G 8: G 4 Winner vs. #1S College of Charleston (22-9)

 

Sunday, March 6: Semifinal Round

G 9: G 5 Winner vs. G 6 Winner

G10: G 7 Winner vs. G 8 Winner

 

Monday, March 7: Championship Game at 9:00 PM on ESPN2

G 9 Winner vs. G 10 Winner

 

Hot Team: Wofford won their final five regular season games by an average of 15.8 points per game.  Included in that run was an incredible 39 point win at Chattanooga, the host team for this tournament. 

 

Davidson closed with nine wins in their last ten games.  This includes an 11-point win over College of Charleston, a 14-point win over Chattanooga, and a nine-point win at Wofford.

 

Not Hot: After winning seven in a row, top-seeded College of Charleston dropped its last two games, allowing Wofford to tie them for the South Division title. 

 

Team Nobody Wants To Play: Chattanooga is the host team, and the Mocs are a much better team at home. 

 

College of Charleston as Favorite: C of C is not a heavy favorite.  In fact, we would classify the Cougars as a co-favorite at best. 

 

Our Pick: Wofford is a team on a mission.  The Terriers came close last year, and they have the horses to win three games in three days.  Forward Noah Dahlman can take over a game at both ends of the court.

 

West Coast Conference Tournament

Tournament Site: Las Vegas

 

Friday, March 4: Opening Round

G 1: #5 Portland (20-10) vs. #8 Loyola Marymount (10-20)

G 2: #6 Pepperdine (11-20) vs. #7 San Diego (6-23)

 

Saturday, March 5: Quarterfinal Round

G 3: G 1 Winner vs. #4 Santa Clara (18-13)

G 4: G 2 Winner vs. #3 San Francisco (16-13)

 

Sunday, March 6: Semifinal Round

G 5: G 3 Winner vs. #1 St. Mary’s (23-7)

G 6: G 4 Winner vs. #2 Gonzaga (22-9)

 

Monday, March 7: Championship Round at 9:00 PM on ESPN

G 5 Winner vs. G 6 Winner

 

Hot Team: Gonzaga is peaking at the right time.  The Bulldogs won their last seven games by an average of 19 points a game.  Six of their nine losses were to quality teams.

 

Not Hot: St. Mary’s lost three games in a row before topping Portland in their regular season finale.  Of course, two of those losses were to Utah State and Gonzaga.

 

Team Nobody Wants To Play: Portland was not expected to win 20 regular season games again after losing so much to graduation, but the Pilots cannot be dismissed.  They could easily upset Santa Clara in the Quarterfinal Round, and then St. Mary’s will have to worry about an upset in the Semifinal Round.

 

St. Mary’s as Favorite: We don’t consider the Gaels the favorite in this tournament.  Gonzaga is clearly the better team at this point of the season.  GU’s path to the Championship Game will be easier than SMU’s.

 

Our Pick: Coach Mark Few has the Bulldogs playing their best at the right time.  We believe Gonzaga is the prohibitive favorite in this tournament.

 

Thursday’s Tournament Game Scores

 

America East Conference

#8 Binghamton 91  #9 Maryland-Baltimore Co. 65

 

Binghamton advances to take on top-seed Vermont when the Quarterfinal round commences Saturday.

 

Atlantic Sun Conference

#5 Mercer 73  #4 Lipscomb 63

#6 North Florida 68  #3 Jacksonville 64

 

The lower seeds won both games on Thursday.  Mercer, the host team, now advances to the Semifinal round to face top-seed Belmont, while North Florida takes on East Tennessee.

 

Big South Conference

#3 UNC-Asheville 62  #7 High Point 45

#1 Coastal Carolina  89  #4 V M I  81

 

Coastal Carolina hosts UNCA for the automatic bid at 4 PM Saturday.

 

Missouri Valley Conference

#8 Southern Illinois  57  #9 Illinois State  54

#10 Bradley 63  #7 Drake  48

 

Southern Illinois moves on to face top-seed Missouri State, while the last place seed Bradley faces number two seed Wichita State.

 

#4 Northern Iowa faces #5 Creighton, and #3 Indiana State faces #6 Evansville in the other quarterfinal games.

 

Northeast Conference

#1 Long Island  90  #8 St. Francis (PA)  75

#4 Central Connecticut State  64  #5 St. Francis (NY)  62

#2 Quinnipiac  78  #7 Mount St. Mary’s  59

#3 Robert Morris  78  #6 Wagner  74

 

LIU hosts CCSU and Quinnipiac hosts Robert Morris in the Semifinal round Sunday.

 

Ohio Valley Conference

#4 Tennessee Tech  83  #8 UT-Martin 59

#3 Austin Peay  76  #7 Southeast Missouri 60

 

Tennessee Tech brings a six-game winning streak into their semifinal match with top-seed Murray State.  Austin Peay faces Morehead State in the other semifinal game Friday night.

March 2, 2011

NCAA Basketball Conference Tournaments–March 3 Update

We add three more conference tournaments to the active list today.  The America East,  Missouri Valley, and Northeast Conference tournaments commence; this brings the active tournament list to eight.

 

All Times EST

America East Conference Tournament

Tournament Site: 1st Three Rounds at Hartford, CT

Championship Game Played On Home Court Of Higher Seeded Finalist

Thursday, March 3: Opening Round

G 1: #8 Maryland-Baltimore County (5-24) vs. #9 Binghamton (7-22)

 

Saturday, March 5: Quarterfinal Round

G 2: MD-Balt. Co./Binghamton Winner vs. #1 Vermont (22-7)

G 3: #4 Albany (16-15) vs. #5 Stony Brook (13-16)

G 4: #2 Boston U (18-13) vs. #7 New Hampshire (12-17)

G 5: #3 Maine (15-14) vs. #6 Hartford (10-19)

 

Sunday, March 6: Semifinal Round

G 6: G 2 Winner vs. G 3 Winner

G 7: G 4 Winner vs. G 5 Winner

 

Saturday, March 12: Championship Game

G 6 Winner vs. G 7 Winner at Higher Seed at 12 Noon on ESPN2

 

Hot Team: Boston U has won eight games in a row by an average of 12.1 points per game.  Included in that streak is a road win at top seed Vermont.  The Terriers swept the Catamounts this year and may have to make it three out of three to get to the Big Dance.

 

Not Hot: The bottom three seeds enter tournament play coming off multiple game losing streaks, but the big news here is that Vermont dropped its last two games after winning the previous ten in a row.

 

Team Nobody Wants To Play: Stony Brook underachieved all season.  Expected to contend for the conference title, the Seawolves finished a disappointing 8-8 in league play.  Stony Brook would have won three or four more conference games had Tommy Brenton not suffered a knee injury before the season began.

 

Vermont as Favorite:  The Catamounts have an easy quarterfinal game, but they will be in for a rough game in the semifinals.  If they win there, they may have to face Boston U for a third time after losing twice to the Terriers.  We do not consider Vermont as the clear-cut favorite in this tournament; in fact, we believe that Boston U, Maine, and Albany are almost co-favorites with the Catamounts.   

 

Our Pick:  We like Maine to upset the top two seeds and steal the automatic bid.  The Black Bears play competently on the road, and they have the best offense in the league.

 

Missouri Valley Conference

(Arch Madness)

Tournament Site: St. Louis

 

Thursday, March 3: Opening Round

G 1: #8 Southern Illinois (12-18) vs. #9 Illinois State (12-18)

G 2: #7 Drake (13-17) vs. #10 Bradley (11-19)

 

Friday, March 4: Quarterfinal Round

G 3: G 1 Winner vs. #1 Missouri State (23-7)

G 4: #4 Northern Iowa (19-12) vs. #5 Creighton (18-13)

G 5: G 2 Winner vs. #2 Wichita State (23-7)

G 6: #3 Indiana State (17-13) vs. #6 Evansville (15-14)

 

Saturday, March 5: Semifinal Round

G 7: G 3 Winner vs. G 4 Winner

G 8: G 5 Winner vs. G 6 Winner

 

Sunday, March 6: Championship

G 7 Winner vs. G 8 Winner at 2:00 PM on CBS

 

Hot Team: Missouri State won their last six conference games and lost only the bracketbuster game at Valparaiso in that time frame.

 

Not Hot: Northern Iowa was in contention for an at-large bid at 18-6 when the Panthers lost at Drake.  NIU concluded the regular season losing six of seven games.

 

Team Nobody Wants To Play: Missouri State may be the top seed, but Wichita State has performed much better on the road this year.

 

Missouri State as Favorite: The Bears are on a roll, but they cannot be considered a prohibitive favorite.  This league has several teams talented enough to advance to the NCAA Tournament.  Even #10 Seed Bradley is capable of winning this tournament.  The Braves won five of their final eight games.

 

Our Pick: Wichita State has a strong defense, plus what we think is the easier path to the Championship Game than Missouri State.  Northern Iowa knows they must win the tournament to gain re-admittance to the Big Dance.  A prospective semifinal match between UNI and MSU could be one of those memorable games that drain the winner and leave them with little left in the tank for the Championship Game.  We’ll pick the Shockers.

 

Northeast Conference

All Games Played At Home Court Of Higher Seed

 

Thursday, March 3: Quarterfinal Round

G 1: #8 St Francis (PA) (9-20) at #1 Long Island (24-5)

G 2: #5 St. Francis (NY) (15-14) at #4 Central Connecticut State (18-11)

G 3: #7 Mount St. Mary’s (11-20) at #2 Quinnipiac (21-8)

G 4: #6 Wagner (13-16) at #3 Robert Morris (16-13)

 

Sunday, March 6: Semifinal Round

(Tournament Re-seeds after Quarterfinals

Lowest Remaining Seed at Highest Remaining Seed

2nd Lowest Remaining Seed at 2nd Highest Remaining Seed

 

Wednesday, March 9: Championship Game

Semifinal Winners Meet At Higher Seed’s Home Court At 7:00 PM on ESPN2

 

Hot Team: How about four hot teams?  LIU won their last ten games and 18 of their final 19.  Quinnipiac won nine of their final ten, losing only at LIU.  Robert Morris won their final six games by an average of 11 points per game.  St. Francis (NY) won their final four games after losing two close games to LIU.

 

Not Hot: Central Connecticut had a shot at second place until they lost their last three games.  The Blue Devils had been hot in the middle of the schedule, winning 13 of 15 games.

 

Team That Nobody Wants To Play: Robert Morris is the two-time defending conference tournament champion,  and in Karon Abraham, they have a sharpshooter that can light it up when he is on.  Can he be on for three straight games?  We think not.

 

Long Island as Favorite: The Blackbirds can score as ably as any team in the nation, and they won 13 of 16 games away from home.  They are decided favorites in this tournament, and they know they will be confined to the NIT if they do not secure an automatic bid.

 

Our Pick: The NEC re-seeds the brackets after the first round (think NFL playoffs), so LIU will could conceivably play the #8, #7, and #6 seeds to get to the NCAA Tournament.  Regardless of whether they play the top teams or the bottom teams, they will play at home as long as they stay alive.  We do not see much opportunity for an upset, as LIU has a dominating inside presence with Julian Boyd and Jamal Olasewere.

 

Tournaments Underway

 

Atlantic Sun Conference

#1 Belmont 72  #8 Kennesaw State 57

#2 East Tennessee 54  #7 Campbell 53

 

The quarterfinal round continues Thursday as #3 Jackonsville plays #6 North Florida, and #4 Lipscomb plays the host team in #5 Mercer.

 

Ohio Valley Conference

#8 UT-Martin  68  #5 Tennessee State 64

#7 Southeast Missouri 65  #6 Eastern Kentucky 49

 

The Quarterfinal round begins Thursday night as #3 Austin Peay takes on #7 Southeast Missouri and #4 Tennessee Tech faces #8 UT-Martin.  The top two seeds, Murray State and Morehead State get a second bye into the Semifinal round.

 

Patriot League

#1 Bucknell  78  #8 Army  51

#2 American 69  #7 Colgate 53

#6 Lafayette 77  #3 Holy Cross 70

#4 Lehigh  87  #5 Navy 75

 

The Semifinal Round is Sunday with Bucknell hosting Lehigh and American hosting Lafayette.

 

March 1, 2011

NCAA Basketball Conference Tournaments–March 2 Update

Three more conference tournaments begin on Wednesday.  The Atlantic Sun, Ohio Valley, and Patriot Leagues bring to five the number of tournaments going on.

 

All Times EST

Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament

Tournament Site: Macon, GA

Wednesday, March 2: Quarterfinals

G 1: #1 Belmont (27-4) vs. #8 Kennesaw State (8-22)

G 2: #2 East Tennessee (21-10) vs. #7 Campbell (12-18)

 

Thursday, March 3: Quarterfinals

G 3: #4 Lipscomb (17-12) vs. #5 Mercer (14-17)

G 4: #3 Jacksonville (19-10) vs. #6 North Florida (13-18)

 

Friday, March 4: Semifinals

G 5: G 1 Winner vs. G 3 Winner

G 6: G 2 Winner vs. G 4 Winner

 

Saturday, March 5: Championship

G 5 Winner vs. G 6 Winner at 6:00 PM on ESPN2

 

Hot Team: Belmont went 19-1 in league play.  The Bruins are riding a nine-game winning streak entering the tournament.

 

Not Hot: Kennesaw State, Belmont’s opening round opponent, has lost five in a row, the last of which was a 47-point loss at home to the Bruins.

 

Team Nobody Wants To Play:  Nobody wants to play Belmont, but besides the overwhelming favorite, Mercer is the home team.  The Bears were 7-3 at home in conference play, losing to Belmont, East Tennessee, and North Florida.

 

Belmont as Favorite:  It will be a major upset if anybody beats the Bruins.  If they win the tournament, the Bruins will be making their fourth NCAA appearance in the last six years.  If they were to lose in the final round, there is a very remote chance they could earn an at-large bid.

 

Our Pick: We would be crazy to go against perhaps the biggest favorite in conference tournament play this season.  Belmont could be a #12 seed at 30-4.

 

Ohio Valley Conference

Tournament Site: Nashville

Wednesday, March 2: First Round

G 1: #5 Tennessee State (14-15) vs. #8 UT-Martin (11-20)

G 2: #6 Eastern Kentucky (15-15) vs. #7 Southeast Missouri (9-21)

 

Thursday, March 3: Quarterfinal Round

G 3: G 1 Winner vs. #4 Tennessee Tech (18-11)

G 4: G 2 Winner vs. #3 Austin Peay (19-12)

 

Friday, March 4: Semifinal Round

G 5: G 3 Winner vs. #1 Murray State (23-7)

G 6: G 4 Winner vs. #2 Morehead State (22-9)

 

Saturday, March 5: Championship

G 5 Winner vs. G 6 Winner at 8 PM on ESPN2

 

Hot Team: Murray State won three in a row to grab the top seed in the tournament, but Tennessee Tech won their final five and nine of their final 11.  Tennessee State also won their last three.

 

Not Hot: Eastern Kentucky never recovered from the overtime loss at home to arch-rival Morehead State.  The Colonels dropped their final four games.

 

Team Nobody Wants To Play: Although it is not on their campus, Tennessee State won 11 of 13 games at home this season.  Municipal Auditorium is two miles from their campus.

 

Murray State as Favorite: The Racers have won more OVC tournaments than any team, so it comes as no surprise for Murray to be the favorite.  However, Morehead State is just as deserving here.  The OVC awards the top two seeds trips to the semifinals.  A Murray-Morehead Championship game would be the best this league has to offer.  The two teams split the season series, winning on their home floors.

 

Our Pick: We believe the Eagles will edge the Racers in the rubber match.  With the nation’s leading rebounder in Kenneth Faried, Morehead State may get enough inside points when it counts the most.

 

Patriot League

All Games Played At Higher Seed’s Home Floor

 

Wednesday, March 2: Quarterfinals

G 1: #8 Army (11-18) at #1 Bucknell (22-8)

G 2: #5 Navy (11-19) at #4 Lehigh (15-14)

G 3: #7 Colgate (7-22) at #2 American (21-8)

G 4: #6 Lafayette (11-18) at #3 Holy Cross (8-20)

 

Sunday, March 6: Semifinal Round

G 5: G1 Winner vs. G 2 Winner at higher seed’s home floor

G 6: G 3 Winner vs. G 4 Winner at higher seed’s home floor

 

Friday, March 11: Championship Game

G 5 Winner vs. G 6 Winner at higher seed’s home floor at 4:45 PM on ESPN2

 

Hot Team: The top two teams are on a tear.  Bucknell won their final seven games by more than 11 points per game.  American won their final five games and 14 of their final 17.  Two of those three losses were to Bucknell.

 

Not Hot: Army lost their final seven games and will lose their eighth in a row at Bucknell.

 

Team Nobody Wants To Play: Lafayette underachieved all season, and the Leopards have enough talent to upset a higher seed.

 

Bucknell as Favorite: The Bison lost by 20 at last place Army, so don’t etch their name into the trophy just yet.  They will beat Army in the rubber match, and a semifinal game against Navy or Lehigh should be another easy win.  However, Lafayette or American could give them trouble in a championship game. 

 

Our Pick: We will go with the top seed playing three games at home.  Bucknell is not as good as they were when they upset Kansas and Arkansas in back-to-back seasons, but the Bison are still the class of the Patriot League.

 

Now, let’s check what happened Tuesday in the Big South Conference and Horizon League.

 

Big South Conference

 

Quarterfinal Round

#7 High Point 66  #2 Liberty 60

#3 UNC-Asheville 72  #6 Charleston Southern 63

#1 Coastal Carolina 83  #8 Gardner-Webb 72

#4 V M I 78  #5 Winthrop 73

 

Thursday, March 3: Semifinal Round

#7 High Point (13-18) at #3 UNC-Asheville (18-13)

#4 V M I (19-12) at #1 Coastal Carolina (28-4)

 

Horizon League

 

First Round

#3 Cleveland State 73  #10 Illinois-Chicago 61

#6 Wright State 60  #7 Green Bay 50

#4 Valparaiso 80 #9 Youngstown State 71

#5 Detroit 90  #8 Loyola (Chi) 69

 

Friday, March 4: Quarterfinal Round

#3 Cleveland State (26-7) vs. #6 Wright State (20-13)

#4 Valparaiso (23-10) vs. #5 Detroit (18-15)

 

Saturday, March 5: Semifinal Round

Cleveland State-Wright State Winner vs. #2 Butler (21-9)

Valparaiso-Detroit Winner vs. #1 Milwaukee (18-12)

Older Posts »

Blog at WordPress.com.