Conference Tournament Rundown and Highlighted Match-ups (March 9th)

Conference Tournament Rundown and Highlighted Match-ups (March 9th)
Mar 09, 2008, 04:02 am


#2. ILLINOIS STATE VS #1. DRAKE (***Automatic Bid***). Creighton put up a decent fight in the semifinals against Drake and were pretty close late in the game, but Drake was able to keep them at arms length and pick up the win. Illinois State didn’t have too much trouble from Northern Iowa either. I believe both teams will make the NCAA Tournament. Drake is a virtual lock. As for Illinois State, although they appear to be inside the bubble, they’re still close to it. They’ve advanced to the finals, but beating Northern Iowa instead of Southern Illinois in the semifinals probably won’t impress the committee quite as much. If they win this one, obviously they’re in automatically, but I still really like their chances of getting a bid even if they don’t. It’s just that one never knows what’s going to happen in the other conference tourneys.


-#4. SANTA CLARA VS #1 GONZAGA. The Zags are in the NCAA Tournament regardless of what happens and are merely playing to help out their seeding. Winning the tournament should put them somewhere in the 7-8 range. They blew out Santa Clara just last week, but they needed overtime to beat them earlier this season. Santa Clara must win this game to keep their NCAA Tournament hopes alive.

-#3. SAN DIEGO AT #2. SAINT MARY’S. Saint Mary’s is already in the NCAA Tournament, but could really help out their seed by winning the conference tourney. Doing so would impress the committee because San Diego is hosting the tournament and Gonzaga is a quality team, so it isn’t as if winning the next two games will be a walk in the park that the committee would dismiss. San Diego needs the automatic bid to get in, but they’re at home, they’re a good team, and I like their chances. They’ve actually beaten Saint Mary’s at home this year, so they’re definitely capable of advancing to the championship game.


-#5. WILLIAM & MARY VS #1. VCU. William & Mary hasn’t ever had much of a basketball tradition and up until last year they were regulars at the bottom of the standings. They’re not quite at the top yet, but they’re certainly doing much better and have a tremendous opportunity today. It looks as though VCU will need to win the conference tournament in order to make the NCAAs, but if they win today and lose in the championship they could get some consideration.

-#3. GEORGE MASON VS #2. UNC WILMINGTON. UNCW won handily in the quarterfinals. George Mason didn’t win in a blowout, but they pretty much led the whole way in their game as well. This one should be exciting. George Mason is capable of playing very well, and if they play at the top of their potential they could very easily end up winning this tournament. UNCW is a solid team as well. The two faced each other twice during the regular season and UNCW won both, but they won by just a combined total of five points so the two are pretty even. We should be in for another exciting game today.


-#5. UNC GREENSBORO VS #1. DAVIDSON. Earlier this season UNCG jumped out to a big lead against Davidson and really had them on the ropes, but Davidson came back to win. That’s the closest they’ve come to losing a conference game. UNCG has played them tough both times, so Davidson will need to be on upset alert. They still have a shot at getting in if they don’t win the tournament, but they’d be sweating. They just don’t have a standout win on their resume and that will work against them if they need an at-large.

-#7. ELON VS #6. COLLEGE OF CHARLESTON. College of Charleston is the host team, so it isn’t too surprising that they’ve gotten this far despite the fact that they finished 7th. I don’t see either team putting up much of a fight against Davidson if they end up facing them in the championship game, though.


-#8. NEW ORLEANS VS #1. SOUTH ALABAMA. South Alabama should be safe for an at-large bid if they can advance to the championship game, but a loss this early would really be damaging. New Orleans’s season got off to a great start, but they struggled in conference play and fell to South Alabama twice rather decisively.

-#12. TROY VS #4. MIDDLE TENNESSEE. Middle Tennessee was one of the few schools that actually managed to beat South Alabama. Not to be looking ahead, but I don’t see them having too much trouble with Troy in this round.

#7. FLORIDA ATLANTIC VS #2. ARKANSAS LITTLE ROCK. Both teams come into this game with quite a bit of momentum. UALR has won four straight and FAU has won three out of four.

-#6. NORTH TEXAS VS #3. WESTERN KENTUCKY. The only reason Western Kentucky is not a #2 seed is because UALR was guaranteed the #2 after they won their division. WKU is clearly the second best team and shouldn’t have too much trouble getting by North Texas today.


-#4. Vermont vs #1. UMBC
-#6. Boston University vs #2. Hartford

UMBC won’t be faced with the situation of having to win on someone else’s home court after all. Vermont took care of Binghamton in the quarterfinals. If UMBC wins this game then they’ll host the championship. They beat Vermont twice during the year, so one has to like their chances.


-#4. Loyola @ #1. Siena
-#6. Marist vs #2. Rider

Three of the top four teams that all finished within one game of one another at the top of the standings have advanced to the semifinals, but none of the teams blew past their opponents. All of the quarterfinals games were close. Canisius, who had an awful season, won their opening round game and nearly upset Rider in the quarterfinals. This is still anyone’s tournament to win. All of these teams are capable of beating each other.


-#4. Mount Saint Mary’s @ #1. Robert Morris
-#3. Sacred Heart # #2. Wagner

Robert Morris is red hot and they didn’t have too much trouble with Monmouth in the opening round. The championship game will be played on the home floor of the higher seeded team, so obviously Robert Morris will host if they’re able to get past Mount Saint Mary’s, which is a team they beat twice during the season. It was a struggle the last time they faced them, though.


-#5. Army @ #1. American
-#7. Bucknell @ #3. Colgate

All four quarterfinal games were great. Two went to overtime, one went to triple overtime, and the two that were decided in regulation were decided by two points or less. This looks like it’s anyone’s tournament to win. American has beaten Army twice this year, and Bucknell actually beat Colgate twice during the year in two close games. We’re used to seeing Bucknell in the championship game, but not as a #7 seed. Hopefully today’s games are as good as the quarterfinals games were.


-#5. IPFW vs #4. Southern Utah (winner gets Oral Roberts)

-#6. Western Illinois vs #3. Oakland (winner gets IUPUI).

Oakland actually beat IUPUI rather handily not that long ago, so they have a pretty good chance of getting to the championship game if they can get past Western Illinois today. IPFW and Southern Utah didn’t have much luck against Oral Roberts, and beating them in Tulsa will be a difficult task for the semifinals.


-KENT STATE AT AKRON (Mid American). A win for Kent State should be enough to lock up an at-large bid. Akron isn’t an NCAA team, but they are tough to beat at home, so they should get some credit from the committee for the win. They’d most likely completely lock up a bid if they win this and win a game in the conference tourney.

-CINCINNATI AT CONNECTICUT (Big East). This game was originally scheduled for yesterday, but was delayed due to the bad weather. Connecticut is coming off a loss to Providence, but is still looking at a solid seed for the NCAA Tournament and can sustain the strength of their current profile with a win today. Cincinnati has played some good basketball this season and nearly beat UConn the first time these two met, but they’ve really struggled lately and will need to win the Big East Tournament to get to the NCAAs. UConn has already clinched 4th place and wrapped up a bye, so there isn’t a whole lot to be gained or lost from this game, but if they do lose this and then lose early in the conference tournament the committee will likely penalize them for ending the season with three straight losses.

-PURDUE AT MICHIGAN (Big Ten). Purdue has had an incredible season and appears to have locked up a good seed in the NCAA Tournament. This loss would look bad on their profile, especially if they follow it up with an early exit from the Big Ten Tournament. They’ll have a chance to build up their credentials even more next week. They just don’t want to get caught looking ahead.

-INDIANA AT PENN STATE (Big Ten). The Hoosiers are into the Big Dance, but their play hasn’t been as solid since Kelvin Sampson resigned. They’ve been winning, but not impressively, and they were absolutely blown out just a week ago against Michigan State. One wouldn’t expect them to have too much trouble in this one, but seeing as how they’ve struggled lately Penn State could pull the upset. Pen State also only lost two games at home this season.

-DE PAUL AT PITTSBURGH (Big East). Providence’s loss to Villanova means that De Paul is still alive, but they need to win this in order to get into the Big East Tournament. It won’t be easy, though. Pitt is trying to get to 10-8 in conference play and build upon their credentials. They’re in the NCAA Tournament, but can really boost their seed with a good showing in the conference tourney next week. Having said that, they could potentially hurt their seed with a loss in a game like this.

-SOUTH CAROLINA AT TENNESSEE (SEC). Tennessee’s last four games have been heart stoppers, but they’ve managed to win three of them. They’re at home today and they appear to be undermatched. A win in this game and at least one win in the SEC Tournament should earn them a #1 seed. They do have one of the most impressive road wins out of anyone in the nation this year.

-OKLAHOMA STATE AT TEXAS (Big Twelve). Texas stubbed their toes a week ago against Texas Tech and struggled to get past Nebraska in their last game. They’re still in strong contention for a #1 seed, especially considering they’ve beaten both Tennessee and UCLA, but they need to take care of business in this game and then win a couple of games in the Big Twelve Tournament in order to lock it up. The competition for a #1 is really stiff this year. Seven teams are competing for four spots.


-VIRGINIA TECH AT CLEMSON (ACC). Virginia Tech has won four straight games. They don’t have many quality wins to speak of and have some pretty bad losses on top of that, but they have beaten Maryland twice and are building up some momentum. This is the kind of win that they need, especially right now because it would be a road win against a tournament caliber team. If they can win this game and then pick up another big win or two in the conference tournament Virginia Tech just might sneak into the NCAAs.

-FLORIDA AT KENTUCKY (SEC). A win will put Kentucky in the NCAA Tournament. They’ve already clinched second place in the SEC East, and should be in position to make some noise in the SEC Tournament, so they actually have the opportunity to continue to build on their resume. Florida blew a big lead against Tennessee in their last game, and they already know who they’re playing in the opening round of the SEC Tournament. If they want to get any consideration at all then they probably need to advance to the championship game of the conference tournament. Anything short of that and they’re likely off to the NIT.

-MICHIGAN STATE AT OHIO STATE (Big Ten). Ohio State picked up a huge win against Purdue earlier this week, which is something they desperately needed, but even that probably isn’t enough to get them in. They need to win today as well, and then make some noise in the Big Ten Tournament if they want to feel completely safe. Michigan State has something to gain as well because they’ve struggled on the road this season. This is a chance to add one more true road win to their resume, which would help them out. They’re in the tournament regardless, but picking up a road win here and some neutral floor wins next week should improve their seeding.

-MARYLAND AT VIRGINIA (ACC). Maryland has lost four of their last six. If they don’t win today they’ll probably be outside the bubble. They also need to win some games in the conference tournament if they want to feel completely secure.

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