The Pi-Rate Ratings

March 10, 2008

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

 

A PiRate Look at the NCAA Basketball Conference Tournaments

March 10, 2008, 5th Update

Conference Tournament Results through Sunday, March 09, 2008

America East

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

Opening Round

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

Saturday, March 8

Quarterfinals

#1 Md. Balt. Co. 76  Stony Brook 60

#4 Vermont 65  #5 Binghamton 57

#2 Hartford 68  #7 New Hampshire 65

#6 Boston U. 68  #3 Albany 64  ot

Sunday, March 9

Semifinals

Md. Balt. Co. 73  Vermont 64

Hartford 59  Boston U. 52

Saturday, March 15

Championship Game

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

At-Large Teams:      0

Bubble:                      None

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

Atlantic Sun

Quarterfinals

#4 East Tennessee 81 #5 Lipscomb 74

#6 Gardner-Webb 82  #3 Stetson 63

#2 Jacksonville 65  #7 Mercer 57

#1 Belmont 75  #8 Campbell 66

Semifinals

Jacksonville 89 Gardner-Webb 80

Belmont 69 East Tennessee 65

Saturday, March 8

Championship

Belmont 79  Jacksonville 61

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

At-Large Teams:      0

Bubble:                      None

Big Sky

Saturday, March 8

Quarterfinals

#4 Idaho State 67  #5 Montana 65

#3 Weber State 65  #6 Montana State 49

Tuesday, March 11 @ Portland, OR

Semifinals

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

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

Wednesday, March 12 @ Portland, OR

Championship Game

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

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

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

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

At-Large Teams:      0

Bubble:                      None

Big South

Opening Round

#1 UNC-Asheville 87  #8 Charleston Southern 63

#4 Liberty 103  #5 VMI 88

#2 Winthrop 76  #7 Radford 45

#3 High Point 59  #6 Coastal Carolina 56

Semifinals

UNC-Asheville 75  Liberty 57

Winthrop 61  High Point 53

Saturday, March 8 @ Asheville, NC

Championship Game

Winthrop 66  UNC-Asheville 48

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

At-Large Teams:      0

Bubble:                      None

Colonial Athletic Association

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

#9 Towson State 81  #8 Towson State 66

#5 William & Mary 58 #12 Georgia State 57

#6 Delaware 60  #11 Drexel 51

#7 Northeastern 73 #10 James Madison 59

Saturday, March 8

Quarterfinals

#1 Virginia Commonwealth 57  Towson State 46

William & Mary 63  #4 Old Dominion 60

#3 UNC-Wilmington 82  Delaware 59

#2 George Mason 63  Northeastern 52

Sunday, March 9

Semifinals

William & Mary 56  Virginia Commonwealth 54

George Mason 53  UNC-Wilmington 41

Monday, March 10

Championship Game

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

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

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

At-Large Teams:      0 or 1

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

Horizon League

All Games Played At Indianapolis (Butler host team)

Opening Round

#3 Wright State 60  #10 Detroit 37

#6 Valparaiso 75  #7 UW-Green Bay 67

#4 Illinois-Chicago 70  #9 Youngstown State 59

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

Quarterfinals

Valparaiso 72  Wright State 67

Illinois-Chicago 60 Loyola (Chi.) 49

Saturday, March 8

Semifinals

#2 Cleveland State 78  Valparaiso 73

#1 Butler 66  Illinois-Chicago 50

Tuesday, March 11

Championship

Cleveland State 21-11 at Butler 28-3

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

At-Large Teams:      1 (Butler)

Bubble:                      None

Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference

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

Opening Round

#8 Manhattan 73  #9 St. Peter’s 59

#10 Canisius 64  #7 Iona 59

Saturday, March 8

Quarterfinals

#1 Siena 66  Manhattan 58

#4 Loyola (Md.) 64  #5 Fairfield 59

#2 Rider 75  Canisius 71

#6 Marist 66  #3 Niagara 62

Sunday, March 9

Semifinals

Siena 65  Loyola (Md.) 63

Rider 76  Marist 71

Monday, March 10

Championship Game

Rider 23-9 at Siena 21-10

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

At-Large Teams:      0

Bubble:                      None

Missouri Valley @ St. Louis (Arch Madness)

Opening Round

#8 Indiana State 71  #9 Wichita State 67

#7 Missouri State 69 #10 Evansville 46

Quarterfinals

#1 Drake 68  Indiana State 46

#4 Creighton 74  #5 Bradley 70

#2 Illinois State 63  Missouri State 58

#6 Northern Iowa 54  #3 Southern Illinois 49

Saturday, March 8

Semifinals

Drake 75 Creighton 67

Illinois State 56 Northern Iowa 42

Sunday, March 9

Championship

Drake 79  Illinois State 49

At-Large Teams:      0 or 1

Bubble:                      Illinois State 23-9  RPI avg. 35.5

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

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

Northeast

Quarterfinal

#1 Robert Morris 64  #8 Monmouth 50

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

#2 Wagner 71  #7 Long Island 62

#3 Sacred Heart 84  #6 Central Connecticut State 71

Sunday, March 9

Semifinals

Mt. St. Mary’s 83  Robert Morris 65

Sacred Heart 55  Wagner 49

Wednesday, March 12

Championship

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

At-Large Teams:      0

Bubble:                      None

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

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

Ohio Valley Conference

Quarterfinals @ Higher Seed

#1 Austin Peay 76  #8 Eastern Kentucky 51

#4 UT-Martin 101  #5 Samford 94  3ot

#2 Murray State 77  #7 Tennessee Tech 74

#6 Tennessee State 68  #3 Morehead State 61

Semifinals @ Nashville

Austin Peay 78  UT-Martin 77

Tennessee State 83 Murray State 75

Saturday, March 8

Championship

Austin Peay 82 Tennessee State 64

At-Large Teams:      0

Bubble:                      None

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

Patriot League

Quarterfinals

#1 American 62  #8 Holy Cross 60

#5 Army 64  #4 Lehigh 61 ot

#7 Bucknell 87  #2 Navy 86 3ot

#3 Colgate 76  #6 Lafayette 74

Sunday, March 9

Semifinals

American  72 Army 60

Colgate 54  Bucknell 40

Friday, March 14

Championship

Colgate 18-13 at American 20-11

At-Large Teams:      0

Bubble:                      None

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

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

Southern Conference

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

Opening Round

#8 Wofford 58  #9 Western Carolina 49

#7 Elon 52  #10 Furman 37

#6 Charleston 66  #11 Citadel 48

Saturday, March 8

Quarterfinals

#1 Davidson 82 Wofford 49

#5 UNC-Greensboro 63  #4 Appalachian State 46

Elon 60  #2 Chattanooga 57

Coll. of Charleston 87  #3 Georgia Southern 73

Sunday, March 9

Semifinals

Davidson 82 UNCG 52

Elon 75  Charleston 61

Monday, March 10

Championship Game

Davidson 25-6  vs. Elon 14-18

At-Large Teams:      0 or 1

Bubble:                      Davidson

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

Summit League @ Tulsa (Oral Roberts host team)

Saturday, March 8

Quarterfinals

#1 Oral Roberts 84 #8 Centenary 56

#2 IUPUI 69  #7 Missouri-Kansas City 65

Sunday, March 9

Quarterfinals

#5 IPFW 66  #4 Southern Utah 62

#3 Oakland 80 #6 Western Illinois 66

Monday, March 10

Semifinals

Oral Roberts 22-8 vs. IPFW 13-17

IUPUI 25-6 vs. Oakland 17-13

Tuesday, March 11

Championship

At-Large Teams:      0 or 1

Bubble:                      Oral Roberts

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

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

Sunbelt Conference

1st Round

#8 New Orleans 65  #9 Denver 60

#4 Middle Tennessee 74  #13 Louisiana Monroe 69

#12 Troy 70  #5 Louisiana Lafayette 60

#6 North Texas 85  #11 Arkansas State 63

#7 Florida Atlantic 91  #10 Florida International 64

Sunday, March 9 @ Mobile, AL

Quarterfinals

South Alabama 81  New Orleans 77

Middle Tennessee 65  Troy 59

Western Kentucky 84  North Texas 70

Arkansas Little Rock 66  Florida Atlantic 60

Monday, March 10 @ Mobile, AL

Semifinals

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

Western Kentucky 25-6 vs. UALR 20-10

Tuesday, March 11 @ Mobile, AL

Championship

At-Large Teams:      1 (South Alabama)

Bubble:                      Western Kentucky

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

 West Coast Conference

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

Opening Round

#5 San Francisco 79  # 8 Loyola Marymount 60

#6 Pepperdine 50  #7 Portland 48  ot

Saturday, March 8

Quarterfinals

#4 Santa Clara 51  San Francisco 50

#3 San Diego 75  Pepperdine 55

Sunday, March 9

#1 Gonzaga 52  Santa Clara 48

San Diego 75  #2 St. Mary’s 69  2ot

Monday, March 10

Championship Game

San Diego 20-13  vs. Gonzaga 25-6

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

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

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

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

Already Clinched Automatic Berth in NCAA Tournament (5)

1. Cornell-Ivy League Champion

2. Winthrop-Big South Champion

3. Austin Peay-Ohio Valley Champion

4. Belmont-Atlantic Sun Champion

5. Drake-Missouri Valley Champion

Only 60 teams left to go!

Conference Tournaments Beginning Tuesday, March 11

MEAC @ Raleigh, NC

Tuesday, March 11

Opening Round

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

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

Wednesday, March 12

Opening Round

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

Quarterfinal Round

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

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

Thursday, March 13

Quarterfinal Round

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

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

Friday, March 14

Semifinal Round

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

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

Saturday, March 15

Championship Game

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

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

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

WAC @ Las Cruces, NM

Tuesday, March 11

Opening Round

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

Thursday, March 13

Quarterfinal Round

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

#4 Boise State 22-8  vs. Hawaii 11-18

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

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

Friday, March 14

Semifinal Round

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

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

Saturday, March 15

Championship Game

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

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

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

Advertisements

March 8, 2008

A PiRate Look At The NCAA Basketball Conference Tournaments–March 8, 2008

 

A PiRate Look at the NCAA Basketball Conference Tournaments

March 8, 2008, 4th Update

Conference Tournament Results through Friday, March 07, 2008

America East

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

Opening Round

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

Saturday, March 8

Quarterfinals

#1 Md. Balt. Co. (21-8)  vs. Stony Brook (7-22)

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

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

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

Sunday, March 9

Semifinals

UMBC-Stony Brook vs. Vermont-Binghamton

Hartford-New Hampshire vs. Albany-Boston

Saturday, March 15

Championship Game @ Higher Seed

At-Large Teams:      0

Bubble:                      None

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

Atlantic Sun

Quarterfinals

#4 East Tennessee 81 #5 Lipscomb 74

#6 Gardner-Webb 82  #3 Stetson 63

#2 Jacksonville 65  #7 Mercer 57

#1 Belmont 75  #8 Campbell 66

Semifinals

Jacksonville 89 Gardner-Webb 80

Belmont 69 East Tennessee 65

Saturday, March 8

Championship

Jacksonville (18-12) vs. Belmont (24-8)

Belmont has not played up to their capabilities in the first two rounds and wouldn’t be in the championship game if not for a technical foul on an East Tennessee player with less than 15 seconds remaining in the semifinal game.  Jacksonville was impressive in their semifinal match with Gardner-Webb.  Unless the Bruins turn it around in less than 24 hours, Jacksonville will cut down the nets tonight.

At-Large Teams:      0

Bubble:                      None

Big Sky

Saturday, March 8

Quarterfinals

#5 Montana (14-15) at #4 Idaho State (11-18)

#6 Montana State (15-14) at #3 Weber State (15-13)

Tuesday, March 11 @ Portland, OR

Semifinals

#1 Portland State (21-9)  vs. Lower Remaining Seed

#2 Northern Arizona (20-10) vs. Higher Remaining Seed

Wednesday, March 12 @ Portland, OR

Championship Game

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

PSU won all their conference home games this year, but in half of them, they had to pull out squeakers.  The one team that has the best shot at the Vikings is #3-seed and defending tournament champion Weber State.  The Wildcats lost by three at PSU, and the game stayed tight the entire 40 minutes.  Weber State can win by taking advantage of its quickness.

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

At-Large Teams:      0

Bubble:                      None

Big South

Opening Round

#1 UNC-Asheville 87  #8 Charleston Southern 63

#4 Liberty 103  #5 VMI 88

#2 Winthrop 76  #7 Radford 45

#3 High Point 59  #6 Coastal Carolina 56

Semifinals

UNC-Asheville 75  Liberty 57

Winthrop 61  High Point 53

Saturday, March 8 @ Asheville, NC

Championship Game

UNC-Asheville (23-8)  vs. Winthrop (21-11)

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

At-Large Teams:      0

Bubble:                      None

Colonial Athletic Association

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

#9 Towson State 81  #8 Towson State 66

#5 William & Mary 58 #12 Georgia State 57

#6 Delaware 60  #11 Drexel 51

#7 Northeastern 73 #10 James Madison 59

Saturday, March 8

Quarterfinals

Virginia Commonwealth (23-6)  vs. Towson State (13-17)

Old Dominion (17-14)  vs. William & Mary (15-15)

UNC-Wilmington (19-12)  vs. Delaware (14-16)

George Mason (20-10)  vs. Northeastern (14-16)

Sunday, March 9

Semifinals

VCU-Towson  vs. ODU-Wm. & Mary

UNCW-Delaware vs. GMU-Northeastern

Monday, March 10

Championship Game

This should be a well-played, interesting tournament.  Virginia Commonwealth hosts the tournament and is the top-seed, but Old Dominion was playing the best ball down the stretch.  UNC-Wilmington and George Mason give this league four really good teams, all of which can win an opening round NCAA Tournament game.

At-Large Teams:      0 or 1

Bubble:                      Virginia Commonwealth

Horizon League

All Games Played At Indianapolis (Butler host team)

Opening Round

#3 Wright State 60  #10 Detroit 37

#6 Valparaiso 75  #7 UW-Green Bay 67

#4 Illinois-Chicago 70  #9 Youngstown State 59

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

Quarterfinals

Valparaiso 72  Wright State 67

Illinois-Chicago 60 Loyola (Chi.) 49

Saturday, March 8

Semifinals

Cleveland State (20-11)  vs. Valparaiso (21-12)

Butler (27-3)  vs. Illinois-Chicago (18-14)

Tuesday, March 11

Championship

Butler lost at home to Drake, but I doubt the Bulldogs will lose at home to any Horizon League opponent.  Cleveland State is playing well right now, and the Vikings gave Butler a good game in Indianapolis three weeks ago, having the game tied with less than 13 minutes to go before losing by five.  Valparaiso is flying under the radar, but Homer Drew knows how to get a team to the Dance.

At-Large Teams:      1 (Butler)

Bubble:                      None

Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference

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

Opening Round

#8 Manhattan 73  vs. #9 St. Peter’s 59

#10 Canisius 64  #7 Iona 59

Saturday, March 8

Quarterfinals

#1 Siena (19-10)  vs. Manhattan (12-18)

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

#2 Rider (21-9)  vs. Canisius (6-24)

#3 Niagara (19-9)  vs. #6 Marist (17-13)

Sunday, March 9

Semifinals

Siena-Manhattan  vs. Loyola-Fairfield

Rider-Canisius  vs. Niagara-Marist

Monday, March 10

Championship Game

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

At-Large Teams:      0

Bubble:                      None

Missouri Valley @ St. Louis (Arch Madness)

Opening Round

#8 Indiana State 71  #9 Wichita State 67

#7 Missouri State 69 #10 Evansville 46

Quarterfinals

#1 Drake 68  Indiana State 46

#4 Creighton 74  #5 Bradley 70

#2 Illinois State 63  Missouri State 58

#6 Northern Iowa 54  #3 Southern Illinois 49

Saturday, March 8

Semifinals

Drake (26-4) vs. Creighton (21-9)

Illinois State (23-8)  vs. Northern Iowa (18-13)

Sunday, March 9

Championship

At-Large Teams:      1 (Drake)

Bubble:                      Illinois State

Southern Illinois is gone, but Creighton is still around.  It is my belief that the Blue Jays will defeat the top-seed today and then win the tournament championship tomorrow.  Illinois State may earn an at-large bid with an impressive win over Northern Iowa today.  An ISU-Creighton final would be a great game.

Northeast

Quarterfinal

#1 Robert Morris 64  #8 Monmouth 50

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

#2 Wagner 71  #7 Long Island 62

#3 Sacred Heart 84  #6 Central Connecticut State 71

Sunday, March 9

Semifinals

Mt. St. Mary’s (16-14) at Robert Morris (26-6)

Sacred Heart (17-13) at Wagner (23-7)

Wednesday, March 12 @ Higher Seed

Championship

At-Large Teams:      0

Bubble:                      None

Robert Morris hasn’t lost since January 13; the Colonials have won 14 straight games by an average score of 76-64.  #2-seed Wagner went 5-0 in overtime games and won several others in regulation by one to five points.  The Seahawks should not panic late in close games, and that could be a major plus in a close tournament game.  Sacred Heart cannot be overlooked.  They looked tough in dismissing CCSU in the quarterfinals.

Ohio Valley Conference

Quarterfinals @ Higher Seed

#1 Austin Peay 76  #8 Eastern Kentucky 51

#4 UT-Martin 101  #5 Samford 94  3ot

#2 Murray State 77  #7 Tennessee Tech 74

#6 Tennessee State 68  #3 Morehead State 61

Semifinals @ Nashville

Austin Peay 78  UT-Martin 77

Tennessee State 83 Murray State 75

Saturday, March 8

Championship

Austin Peay 23-10 vs. Tennessee State 16-15

At-Large Teams:      0

Bubble:                      None

As predicted, Tennessee State has upset two teams to make it to the finals.  The Tigers and the Governors should be worth watching tonight in the Championship game.  Austin Peay fell at TSU February 18th, and that’s the Govs only loss in their last 11 games.  APSU’s Drake Reed hit the second of two free throws with two seconds left to edge UT-Martin in last night’s semifinal game.

Tennessee State forced APSU into numerous turnovers, most via steals of the ball.  They parlayed many of those steals into points.  If the same thing happens tonight, the home town Tigers will be cutting down the nets in Nashville tonight.

Patriot League

Quarterfinals

#1 American 62  #8 Holy Cross 60

#5 Army 64  #4 Lehigh 61 ot

#7 Bucknell 87  #2 Navy 86 3ot

#3 Colgate 76  #6 Lafayette 74

Sunday, March 9

Semifinals

Army (14-15) at American (19-11)

Bucknell (12-18) at Colgate (17-13)

Friday, March 14

Championship

At Higher Seed

At-Large Teams:      0

Bubble:                      None

The first round scores in this tournament revealed just how balanced this league is.  American and Colgate are no locks for winning at home over their opponents, but you have to favor them playing for the title next Friday evening. 

Southern Conference

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

Opening Round

#8 Wofford 58  #9 Western Carolina 49

#7 Elon 52  #10 Furman 37

#6 Charleston 66  #11 Citadel 48

Saturday, March 8

Quarterfinals

#1 Davidson (23-6)  vs. Wofford (16-15)

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

#2 Chattanooga (18-12)  vs. Elon (12-18)

#3 Georgia Southern (20-11)  vs. Charleston (15-16)

Sunday, March 9

Semifinals

Davidson-Wofford  vs. Appy State-UNCG

Chatt-Elon  vs. Ga. Sou.-Charleston

Monday, March 10

Championship Game

At-Large Teams:      0 or 1

Bubble:                      Davidson

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

Summit League @ Tulsa (Oral Roberts host team)

Saturday, March 8

Quarterfinals

#1 Oral Roberts (21-8)  vs. #8 Centenary (10-20)

#2 IUPUI (24-6) vs. #7 Missouri-Kansas City (11-20)

Sunday, March 9

Quarterfinals

#4 Southern Utah (11-18)  vs. #5 IPFW (12-17)

#3 Oakland (16-13)  vs. #6 Western Illinois (12-17)

Monday, March 10

Semifinals

ORU-Centenary vs. S. Utah-IPFW

IUPUI-UMKC vs. Oakland-W. Ill.

Tuesday, March 11

Championship

At-Large Teams:      0 or 1

Bubble:                      Oral Roberts

Oral Roberts was 18-5 and in good shape for an at-large bid until they finished the regular season 3-3 and lost in the Bracket Buster to Creighton on a late three-pointer. #2-seed IUPUI went 11-1 down the stretch, and the Jaguars won several of those games by large margins (an average of 14.5 points per game).  I think the Jags will beat ORU in the title game.

Sunbelt Conference

1st Round

#8 New Orleans 65  #9 Denver 60

#4 Middle Tennessee 74  #13 Louisiana Monroe 69

#12 Troy 70  #5 Louisiana Lafayette 60

#6 North Texas 85  #11 Arkansas State 63

#7 Florida Atlantic 91  #10 Florida International 64

Sunday, March 9 @ Mobile, AL

Quarterfinals

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

Middle Tennessee (15-14) vs. Troy (12-18)

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

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

Monday, March 10 @ Mobile, AL

Semifinals

UNO/USA vs. MTSU/Troy

N. Tex./WKU vs. FAU/UALR

Tuesday, March 11 @ Mobile, AL

Championship

At-Large Teams:      1 (South Alabama)

Bubble:                      Western Kentucky

This is one tournament the bubble teams will be watching closely.  As many as three teams could possibly emerge from this fete with tickets to the Dance, although I expect the league will be lucky to land a second participant.  South Alabama needs only to beat New Orleans Sunday to solidify their at-large hopes.  Western Kentucky might need to win the championship, but the Hilltoppers definitely must make it to the final game to have any chance whatsoever.  North Texas will be a tough quarterfinal match for WKU.

 West Coast Conference

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

Opening Round

#5 San Francisco 79  # 8 Loyola Marymount 60

#6 Pepperdine 50  #7 Portland 48  ot

Saturday, March 8

Quarterfinals

#4 Santa Clara (14-15)  vs. San Francisco (10-20)

#3 San Diego (18-13)  vs. Pepperdine (11-20)

Sunday, March 9

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

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

Monday, March 10

Championship Game

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

Bubble:                      None

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

Already Clinched Automatic Berth in NCAA Tournament (1)

1. Cornell-Ivy League Champion

Have fun watching all the exciting games.  I hope it isn’t 13 degrees below zero where you are this morning.

March 6, 2008

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

 

A PiRate Look at the NCAA Basketball Conference Tournaments

March 6, 2008, 3rd Update

Wednesday’s Conference Tournament Results

Atlantic Sun

#2 Jacksonville 65  #7 Mercer 57

#1 Belmont 75  #8 Campbell 66

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

Thursday

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

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

Friday

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

Belmont 23-8 vs. East Tennessee/Lipscomb Winner

Saturday

Championship

At-Large Teams:      0

Bubble:                      None

Patriot League

#1 American 62  #8 Holy Cross 60

#5 Army 64  #4 Lehigh 61 ot

#7 Bucknell 87  #2 Navy 86 3ot

#3 Colgate 76  #6 Lafayette 74

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

 Sunday

Army 14-15 at American 19-11

Bucknell 12-18 at Colgate 17-13

March 14

Championship Game at Higher Seed

At-Large Teams:      0

Bubble:                      None

Sunbelt Conference

#8 New Orleans 65  #9 Denver 60

#4 Middle Tennessee 74  #13 Louisiana Monroe 69

#12 Troy 70  #5 Louisiana Lafayette 60

#6 North Texas 85  #11 Arkansas State 63

#7 Florida Atlantic 91  #10 Florida International 64

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

Sunday

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

Middle Tennessee 15-14 vs. Troy 12-18

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

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

At-Large Teams:      1 (South Alabama)

Bubble:                      Western Kentucky

Other Tournaments Underway

Big South

March 6 @ Asheville, NC

UNC-Asheville 22-8  vs. Liberty 16-15

Winthrop 20-11  vs. High Point 17-13

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

March 8 @ Higher Seed

Championship Game

At-Large Teams:      0

Bubble:                      None

Horizon League

All Games Played At Indianapolis (Butler host team)

March 7

Wright State 21-9  vs. Valparaiso 20-12

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

March 8

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

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

At-Large Teams:      1 (Butler)

Bubble:                      None

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

Ohio Valley Conference

All Games Played At Nashville

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

March 7

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

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

March 8

Championship Game

At-Large Teams:      0

Bubble:                      None

Conference Tournaments Beginning Friday, March 7

America East

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

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

March 8

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

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

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

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

March 9

UMBC-Stony Brook-Maine vs. Vermont-Binghamton

Hartford-New Hampshire vs. Albany-Boston

March 15

Championship Game

At-Large Teams:      0

Bubble:                      None

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

Colonial Athletic Association

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

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

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

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

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

March 8

Virginia Commonwealth 23-6  vs. Hofstra/Towson Winner

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

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

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

March 9

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

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

March 10

Championship Game

At-Large Teams:      0 or 1

Bubble:                      Virginia Commonwealth

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

Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference

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

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

#7 Iona 12-19  vs. #10 Canisius 5-24

March 8

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

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

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

#3 Niagara 19-9  vs. Marist 17-13

March 9

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

Rider-Iona-Canisius  vs. Niagara-Marist

March 10

Championship Game

At-Large Teams:      0

Bubble:                      None

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

Southern Conference

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

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

#7 Elon 11-18  vs. #10 Furman 7-22

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

March 8

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

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

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

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

March 9

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

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

March 10

Championship Game

At-Large Teams:      0 or 1

Bubble:                      Davidson

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

 West Coast Conference

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

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

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

March 8

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

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

March 9

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

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

March 10

Championship Game

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

Bubble:                      None

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

The Other Conference Races

Already Clinched Automatic Berth in NCAA Tournament (1)

1. Cornell-Ivy League Champion

Atlantic Coast

At Large Teams:      5 or 6

Bubble:                      Maryland

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

Atlantic 10

At Large Teams:      2 or 3

Bubble:                      Dayton

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

Big East

At Large Teams:      7 or 8

Bubble:                      Syracuse, Villanova

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

Big 10

At Large Teams:      4 or 5

Bubble:                      Ohio State, Minnesota

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

Big 12

At Large Teams:      5, 6, or 7

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

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

Big West

At Large Teams:      0

Bubble:                      0

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

Conference USA

At Large Teams:      1 or 2

Bubble:                      UAB, Houston

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

Mid-American

At Large Teams:      1

Bubble:                      None

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

M E A C

At Large Teams:      0

Bubble:                      None

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

Mountain West

At Large Teams:      2

Bubble:                      New Mexico

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

Pac-10

At Large Teams:      4, 5, 6, or 7

Bubble:                      Arizona, Southern Cal, Arizona State, Oregon

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

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

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

Southeastern

At Large Teams:      4 or 5 

Bubble:                      Arkansas

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

Southland

At Large Teams:      0 or 1

Bubble:                      Stephen F. Austin

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

S W A C

At Large Teams:      0

Bubble:                      None

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

W A C

At Large Teams:      0

Bubble:                      None

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

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

« Newer Posts

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.