Tag:metro atlantic athletic conference
Posted on: March 8, 2010 7:23 pm
Edited on: March 8, 2010 9:16 pm
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Siena Vs. Fairfield: Happening Now

C.M. TOMLIN


(The following will be updated as events warrant.)

7:06 The MAAC Championship is delayed by an overtime Xavier vs. Temple women's Atlantic 10 Conference Championship game. Xavier wins 57-55, I think. I had a hangnail that was pretty fascinating itself. Did see Xavier doing the John Wall dance.

7:08 And we join the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Finals already in progress at Albany's Times-Union Center, where citizens of Albany (Albanians?) will watch anything as long as it's warm in there.

7:12 Fairfield coach Ed Cooleyhighharmony looks like someone made a copy of a copy of a copy of Nolan Richardson.

7:18 Commentary by ESPN's Bob Wischusen and former Iona coach Tim Welsh. I can understand Welsh's inclusion, but it would seem Bob Wischusen's boss clearly hates him.

7:22 Score 14-13 Fairfield. Though they're not supposed to be, Siena's been looking not-so-fresh so far in this tournament, and they could drop this, I think.

7:30 Fairfield on an 11-2 run, leading 23-15. If this upset goes down, you're going to want to tell your friends you saw it live, at a slowly updating blog writing about it real time. 

7:38 Fairfield is rolling 34-19, having fun and making it happen as Siena looks like they can't find their car keys.

7:45 I think Fairfield forward Mike Evanovich literally grew a full beard during that last TV time-out.

7:50 At the half, Fairfield leads 39-38 and Siena could be in some trouble. Bob Wischusen right now is firing a finger-gun at himself in a men's restroom at the Times-Union Center because he knows this could be the big one for him.

8:14 Five minutes into the second half and Siena has decided to play, cutting Fairfield's lead to five. Saints forward Ryan Rossiter is good, but he looks like he should be yelling at you for bringing a can of soda into the computer lab. 

8:20 Siena's Edwin Ubiles just performed the most awkward, strange 360 dunk I've ever seen. You'll see on Sportscenter. Don't worry, your slow-motion button didn't magically activate itself, the dunk really was that slow-looking.

8:36 Tied up with seven minutes to go. I'm either becoming mesmerized by this game and starting to pull for Fairfield, or the tractor beam emitted the perfect part in Fran McCaffery's is physically preventing me from going anywhere. 

8:43 Cooleyhighharmony calls his crew over for a time out after sophomore Sean Crawford drains a three to put Fairfield up 58-55 with three and a half minutes to go. I like these Stags, they've got moxy.

8:48 Color me surprised that this is turning out to be a really exciting game. Actually, color me surprised that I'm sitting here watching Siena and Fairfield in the first place. But I've got MAAC fever.

8:52 Tied, twenty seconds. We got a ballgame here. And quite possibly a HUGE upset.

8:57 And we have MAAAAA-AAAAAAACK OVERTIME.

9:02 Three and a half minutes in overtime left, Siena back on top 64-60. Albany gets some excitement on a Monday night that's NOT a new episode of Accidentally on Purpose (only on CBS!).

9:07 Thirty seconds left to go and Siena looks to have the edge as the Stags start fouling. Seems as if Siena's going dancing, but they didn't really earn it. 

9:12 It's going to be rockin' at Siena tonight as the Saints win the MAAC Championship. The Arby's in Loudonville is staying open an extra hour tonight!  Now head on up and watch the goings-on at the Southern Conference final with Matt and Drew, and I'll be back with the Pac-10 Preview tomorrow evening.

Posted on: March 8, 2010 1:04 pm
Edited on: March 8, 2010 1:06 pm
 

Tonight's MAAC Finals: Siena vs. Fairfield

C.M. TOMLIN

 

Poor Siena. All the Saints want is to enjoy a nice, quiet little “Gonzaga-lite” existence, offing their conference dutifully and sneaking into the NCAA Tournament unnoticed and ready for ambush each year.

Instead, they’ve become an increasingly-watched mid-major Cinderella, and this year Siena’s 26-6 record (with only one conference loss) puts them on a lot of radars. Add in the fact that the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference is so collectively terrible this year – which makes Siena look even better by comparison – and the pressure’s never been greater on the Loudonville, New York school.

Tonight’s MAAC final (7:00 pm on ESPN2) pits the Saints against rivals the Fairfield Stags, and make no mistake about it – even though Fairfield’s a two-seed, there’s still no valid reason why Siena shouldn’t come strolling out of the flames of the MAAC is just burned to the ground. Tonight, I’ll be reviewing not only the game itself but the telecast thereof, so join me here at 7:00 if you’re so inclined. Until then, here’s a look at the stories in this conference final:

-Siena's Ronald Moore is like Scrappy Doo. The six-foot, 156-pound guard may only average 6.4 points per game, but his bursts of energy, gratuitous assists and slashing penetration make him a punchy little guy. Plus you have to love any small guard from Siena with the balls to talk trash to Rick Pitino during a second-round NCAA Tourney. He’s feisty, fun to watch and a playmaker.

-Fairfield is hobbled and intimidated. Head coach Ed Cooley (whom I refuse to call by any other name than Ed Cooleyhighharmony) said only last month that “why Siena isn’t in the top twentyfive, I don’t know.” He knows he has his work cut out for him, and Fairfield’s not exactly on top of the world. They’ve struggled with the spectre of injury all season – with forward Greg Nero’s bad back and forward Warren Edney’s bum ankle keeping them both out of the season – and Fairfield desperately needs someone to step up to help Anthony Johnson. That savior may be freshman Derek Needham, who hoisted the team on his back during the Stags’ semi-final against Niagara. If he can do it again, Fairfield may stand a chance. 

KEYS TO THE GAME

-The winning team has to make more shots than the other team.

-Each team needs to try to keep the other team from scoring.

-It’s important to pass the ball so everyone gets a chance to play and have fun.

-One of the players' moms needs to bring orange slices at halftime for an extra boost of energy.

-Whoever wins has to try to score more points in the alloted time than the other team.


Posted on: March 6, 2010 2:57 am
Edited on: March 6, 2010 7:04 pm
 

The Nightowl Special: MAAC & OVC Results

C.M. TOMLIN


Hey. Wake up. Yeah, I know it's late. But I also know that you aren't going to sleep soundly without knowing how your favorite conferences, the OVC and MAAC, wound up tonight. Look, just sit up in bed, alright? Are you listening? Don't go back to sleep. Hey. Seriously. Wake up. No, I won't leave you alone. You need to hear this.


In the OVC:

-Morehead looks like a man, son. I know it's all about Kenneth Faried in Morehead, but tonight the big kudos go to senior forward Maze Stallworth, who netted 24 points to put Tennessee Tech to bed. Stallworth was 4 of 5 from three-land (don't look it up, that's not an actual place) as the Eagles dropped the Golden Eagles (see? Just being golden don't make you special) 76-47. Morehead is gunning for bear right now. Are you listening, Murray State?

-The favorite, Murray State, struggles against Eastern Illinois. Tony Easley and Isaac Miles sucked it up in the few remaining minutes of the OVC semifinals to propel the Racers to a 55-51 win. If you ask me, that's small potatoes compared to the hurtin' Morehead put on Tennessee Tech, which could mean Murray's limping into a final matchup with a Morehead team that's loaded for bear. Add into that equation that the Eagles seem to have the Racers' number and we could be looking at a barnburner for tomorrow night's 8:00 matchup. 

In the MAAC: 

-Manhattan is fancy, yo. The Jaspers (Jaspers?) easily handled Loyola-Maryland with a 94-79 victory, with presumed hybrid salsa/country music superstar Rico Pickett garnering a career-high 33 points against the Greyhounds, sending them back to watch the rest of the tourney from an Applebees in Baltimore. The win guarantees Pickett and company a shot against juggernaut Siena tomorrow. I know the Saints are rolling, but thirty-three points? Siena better hope Pickett doesn't have the same day twice; that could be tough to handle.

-Canisius fever -- Catch it! I've always said "Never count Canisius out in the first round." Okay, that's not true, I've never said that. But still, the Golden Griffins handled the Marist Red Foxes like you might imagine a, er, golden griffin might handle a red fox? Seven seed Canisius' Elton Frazier made it look easy against Marist with 17 points, propelling the team to a 72-54 win. Tomorrow Canisius has their hands full with the Fairfield Stags, who may be the only team capable of knocking back the rollin' Siena Saints. 

There. You can go back to sleep now. I knew that you wouldn't be able to really truly rest until you heard about how these games turned out. What? Oh yeah? No, screw you. I'm just trying to help. Fine, then. See if I let you know about the next rounds (I will). You can't stop my MAAC and OVC love. It knows no bounds. 
Posted on: March 5, 2010 11:27 am
Edited on: March 5, 2010 11:37 am
 

FAQ: The MAAC Tournament

C.M. TOMLIN

What is the MAAC?

The Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) is an NCAA Division 1 conference based mainly in the Northeastern United States. It was founded in 1980 and includes Canisius College, Fairfield University, Iona College, Loyola University Maryland, Manhattan College, Marist College, Niagara University, Rider University, Saint Peter’s College and Siena College.

That’s a lot of colleges. Which one is the best?

This tourney season, Siena seems to be the team to beat. 17-1 in conference play and 24-6 on the season, no one seems to have their number sans a flukey home game at Niagara in early February. Siena is clearly the juggernaut here – possibly the best of this year’s mid-majors, led by guard Kenny Hasbrouck – but they may appear be too much of a lock.  They’ve certainly got a target on their back.

What are the mascots of the MAAC teams?

The mascots of the conference’s members include the Golden Griffins, Stags, Gaels, Greyhounds, Jaspers, Red Foxes, Purple Eagles, Broncs, Saints and Peacocks.

That's the most ridiculous bunch of mascots I've ever heard. Eagles aren't purple. And what's a "Gael?"

I think it’s someone of gaelic descent. Or a leprechaun with a two-by-four.

That’s trippy.

Yeah, tell me about it.

Who else should we watch out for?

Obviously, Niagara’s capable of beating the Saints – they did it last month. Fairfield’s a runner-up at 20-9 and the Stags have returned all five starters this year, including playmaking point guard Jonathan Han. Unfortunately for both teams, they sit on the same sides of the bracket, which not only means one will clearly devour the other, but that a Siena cakewalk to the finals seems even more likely.

How do I pronounce MAAC? It’s got two “As” next to each other. That’s crazy.

Mack.

Maaaaaaa-aaaaaaack.

No, Mack.

Whatever. Where is the MAAC Tournament held?

The MAAC Tournament rotates year to year around New England, with sites including Bridgeport, Connecticut; Trenton, New Jersey, Springfield, Massachusetts and Albany and Buffalo, New York.

Wow. I'll bet everyone gets really excited to go to Trenton.

Actually, this year’s site is Albany.

Same difference. I’ve got a cousin who goes to Iona. He can get us into some wicked parties. Want to go?

No thanks. I’m good.

It might be more fun than this MAAC thing you seem to love so much. You already said Siena’s going to win.

I said Siena’s a big favorite. But it’s tournament time, and with a trip to the Big Dance on the line, any of these bubble teams could take a trip to upset city and-

Yeah, yeah. Blah, blah, blah. Thanks, Mr. Tournament-Cliche. I'm out of here. 

-------------------------------

Today's MAAC Tournament Games

Loyola Maryland (8) VS. Manhattan (9), 7:30 PM

Canisius (7) VS. Marist (10), 9:30 PM 

Posted on: March 4, 2010 7:25 pm
Edited on: March 4, 2010 7:53 pm
 

Championship Week(s) Primer

MIKE RUTHERFORD

Opening round action has already tipped in the Big South, Horizon League, Ohio Valley, Patriot League and Atlantic Sun, which means the madness is officially upon us. 

Thirteen days of nothing but dream-fulfilling, career-ending, win-or-turn-in-your-jersey action. All the elements that draw casual fans so completely into the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament are inherent in each and every one of the 30 conference tournaments that will take place over the course of the next two weeks.

Quite simply, it's high drama that you can't find anywhere else in sport.

We've taken our shots at ESPN since the start of the season, but the fact remains that each and every one of us are enormously indebted to the worldwide leader for what it does during college basketball's postseason. Between Thursday and Selection Sunday, ESPN will air 152 conference tournament games on its family of networks. If it was possible for me to get sick of the sport, I would.

Mid and low-major D-I basketball is an acquired taste, and it's one that's especially difficult to attain when the team you love and follow plays in a conference like the Big East. So while I'm fully aware that the majority of you likely aren't interested in any of what you're about to read, allow me to say this: I don't care. This is my favorite time of the year, I'm currently smiling as I type, and this post is going to happen whether you like it or not.

For the rest of you, it's time to get briefed for Championship Week...sans, of course, the six major and four mini-major (A-10, WAC, MWC, C-USA) conferences.

YOUR COMPLETE CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT DATES AND LOCATIONS

It's the most logical, if not exciting, jumping off point, and we all know this blog has always been rooted in practicality.

Let's go ahead and include the big boys in this one just because we can.

Conference Tournament site Dates
ACC Greensboro, N.C. March 11-14
America East Hartford, Conn. March 6-7, 13
Atlantic Sun Macon, Ga. March 3-6
Atlantic 10 Atlantic City, N.J. March 9, 12-14
Big East New York March 9-13
Big Sky TBD (regular-season champion) March 6, 9-10
Big South Campus sites (higher seeds) March 2, 4, 6
Big Ten Indianapolis March 11-14
Big 12 Kansas City, Mo. March 10-13
Big West Anaheim, Calif. March 10-13
Colonial Richmond, Va. March 5-8
Conference USA Tulsa, Okla. March 10-13
Horizon Campus sites (higher seeds) March 2, 5-6, 9
Ivy League No Tournament  
MAAC Albany, N.Y. March 5-8
MAC Cleveland March 7, 11-13
MEAC Winston-Salem, N.C. March 8-13
Missouri Valley St. Louis March 4-7
Mountain West Las Vegas March 10-13
Northeast Campus sites (higher seeds) March 4, 7, 10
Ohio Valley Nashville, Tenn. March 2, 5-6
Pac-10 Los Angeles March 10-13
Patriot Campus sites (higher seeds) March 3, 7, 12
SEC Nashville, Tenn. March 11-14
Southern Charlotte, N.C. March 5-8
Southland Katy, Texas March 10-13
Summit Sioux Falls, S.D. March 6-9
Sun Belt Hot Springs, Ark. March 6-9
SWAC Shreveport/Bossier City, La. March 10-13
WAC Reno, Nev. March 11-13
West Coast Las Vegas March 5-8
 
Five is a good number. Agree? Agree.

 

FIVE SQUADS FOR THE BUBBLE BOYS TO PULL FOR

If you're a major conference fan still with us (me), we'll (I'll) humor you.

Rapidly aging fans of teams that haven't done enough yet to warrant "lock" status should adopt these squads as their own for the next couple of weeks.

1. Gonzaga (West Coast)

A perennial occupant of any such list, the 'Zags are merely playing for seed at this point.

2. Butler (Horizon)

Ditto.

3. Northern Iowa (Missouri Valley)

A team from the MVC was noticeably absent on this list a year ago. No more, as the Panthers have controlled the Valley from start to finish and have put themselves in position to snag a single-digit seed in the big show. 

4. St. Mary's (West Coast)

No team has been helped more by the struggles of bubble teams from power conferences in recent weeks than the Gaels. They've lost three conference games in a down season for the WCC, but their RPI is strong enough (44) that winning a game in the league tourney and falling to Gonzaga in the finals might be enough to get them an at-large bid. 

5. Siena (Metro Atlantic Athletic)

The Saints' 0-4 record against RPI top 50 teams means they'll likely have to win the MAAC tourney to get in, but the Notre Dames and San Diego States of the world should probably go ahead and don their gold and green this week just to be safe. 

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FIVE MORE BIG TIME FAVORITES

These runaway  regular season champs are all expected to go dancing, but will be relegated to the NIT with an upset.

1. Murray State (Ohio Valley)

The Racers weren't the preseason favorite in the OVC (defending champ Morehead was), but they, ahem, raced out to a 15-0 start in conference play and finished the regular season at 17-1 and 28-4 overall. 

2. Morgan State (MEAC)

Todd Bozeman's Bears are the three-time defending regular season MEAC champs and the defending league tourney champs. Their 14-1 conference record is best by four games. 

3. Oakland (Summit)

The Rawle Marshall-led Golden Grizzlies went to the NCAA Tournament in 2005, but Oakland captured its first Summit League regular season title this season by virtue of its 17-1 league record. 

4. Sam Houston State (Southland)

The Bearkats (it's right) have won 14 of their last 15 and have dominated opponents on their way to a 14-1 league record. SHS has won its last three games by a combined 71 points.

5. Jackson State (SWAC)

They've won 11 straight and sit at 15-1 in the conference but will still almost certainly be sent to Dayton for the play-in game if they can make it through the SWAC tourney unscathed. 

 

15 PLAYERS WHO WILL BE HEARD FROM

1. Gordon Hayward (Butler/Horizon League)

By averaging over 15 points and rebounds a game, Hayward became the fourth Bulldog in five years to bring home Horizon League POY honors. He sat out the regular season finale with a back injury, but should be good to go when Butler takes the floor in the Horizon semifinals on Saturday.

2. Omar Samhan (Saint Mary's/West Coast)

The senior center broke the Saint Mary's single-season scoring record when he dropped 33 on Loyola Marymount Saturday. He went off for 31 and 12 against Gonzaga in the first of two losses to the 'Zags earlier this year.

3. Artsiom Parakhouski (Radford/Big South)

The 6-foot-11 repeat Big South Player of the Year averaged 21.6 points and 13.2 rebounds and led the nation with 24 double-doubles. 

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4. Ryan Wittman (Cornell/Ivy)

You won't get to see him until the big dance since the Ivy League doesn't have a little dance, but the son of ex-NBA head coach Randy Wittman is one of the best shooters in college basketball. 

5. Reggie Holmes (Morgan State/MEAC)

Holmes, a senior, didn't become a full-time starter until this season, but has scored enough (22.0 ppg) to be just 42 points shy of 2,000 for his career. He's gone over 30 points five times this season, including a 34-point outburst in a November win at Arkansas.

6. Kenneth Faried (Morehead State/Ohio Valley)

Faried led the nation in rebounding again this season despite standing just 6-7. The reason for that being possible is simple: he plays harder than anyone else on the floor.  His 22 double-doubles were second only nationally to Parakhouski. 

7. Adnon Hodzic (Lipscomb/Atlantic Sun)

The A-Sun Player of the year averaged over 22 points per game for the top-seeded Bisons. His family fled war-torn bosnia when he was just a toddler.

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8. Ronald Moore (Siena/Metro Atlantic Athletic)

Moore leads the nation in assists per game (7.7), has an assist-to-turnover ratio of more than 3-to-1 and has the Saints poised for another NCAA Tournament run. He almost single-handedly led Siena to a first round victory over Ohio State a year ago, and then handled Louisville's pressure as well as any point guard had all season as the Saints nearly upset the top overall seed in the tournament. 

9. Marquez Haynes (UT-Arlington/Southland)

Haynes, a Boston College transfer, is the nation's third-leading scorer and one of the few true NBA prospects on this list. 

10. Noah Dahlman (Wofford/Southern)

Despite leading the league in scoring, Appalachian State's Donald Sims lost out to Dahlman in a hotly contested race for SoCon Player of the year. The junior forward led the division champion Terriers and ranked fourth in the league in scoring at 17.4 points per game. He has scored in double figures 44 straight times.

11. Tyren Johnson (Louisiana-Lafayette/Sun Belt)

Johnson led the Sun Belt in scoring, was second in rebounding, steals and minutes played, was fourth in blocked shots and in the top 15 in field goal percentage (.503), assists and assists-to-turnover ratio. No other player in the league led his team in scoring, rebounding, assists, steals and blocked shots.

12. Chris Harris (Navy/Patriot)

The All-Patriot League selection led the league in scoring (21.1), three-pointers made (84) and steals (2.0).

13. Justin Rutty (Quinnipiac/Northeast)

Rutty, Quinnipiac's first NEC Player of the Year, is the prototypical dominant mid-major post player: strong, too short to play low in a BCS conference and extremely aggressive. He notched a league best 14 double-doubles in his junior season. 

14. Larry Sanders (VCU/Colonial Athletic)

The departure of Eric Maynor has allowed Sanders to establish himself as his team's and the league's top post presence, averaging 14.8 ppg and 8.9 rpg. He's expected to be selected in the first round of the NBA Draft if he chooses to skip his senior year of college. 

15. Osiris Eldridge (Illinois State/Missouri Valley)

He was the Arch Madness MVP a year ago despite playing for the runner-up, and has admittedly spent the past 12 months preparing for this week and a shot at redemption. 

Osiris_20eldridge_202_medium

 

FIVE MORE BECAUSE I CAN

Marqus Blakely (Vermont/America East)
Donald Sims (Appalachian State/Southern)
Matt Bouldin (Gonzaga/West Coast)
Johnathon Jones (Oakland/Summit)
Michael Deloach (Norfolk State/MEAC)

 

FIVE TITLE GAMES YOU WANT TO HAPPEN

1. Gonzaga vs. Saint Mary's (West Coast)

These two simply don't care for one another. The 'Zags swept the regular season series with relative ease, but the stakes will be higher with the Gaels - perhaps - playing for their NCAA Tournament lives. 

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2. Murray State vs. Morehead State (Ohio Valley)

The defending champs and preseason favorites squaring off against the team that surprisingly dominated the league from start to finish. The last meeting between these two ended with Morehead handing Murray its first OVC loss and snapping the nation's longest winning streak in the process. 

3. Akron vs. Kent State (Mid-American)

Two words: identical records (22-8, 12-3).

4. Robert Morris vs. Quinnipiac (Northeast)

Robert Morris spanked the Bobcats by 27 in the NEC semifinals a season ago, but Quinnipiac exacted a bit of revenge in 2010 by knocking off the Colonials on Feb. 20 to earn the head-to-head tiebreaker and bring home the first regular season title in program history. 

5. Stony Brook vs. Vermont (America East)

The Catamounts are back among the league's elite and head into the postseason winners of eight of their last nine. Their only loss over that span was an 82-78 decision at Stony Brook which proved to be the difference in a regular season title race that was ultimately decided by one game. 

 

FIVE CRAZY COMPETITIVE CONFERENCE TOURNAMENTS

Parity reigns supreme and should make for some tremendous games in each of these leagues.

1. Atlantic Sun

Four teams tied for the regular season title, with Lipscomb ultimately earning the top seed by virtue of their 4-2 record against the other three teams. Perennial powerhouse Belmont wasn't one of the teams who finished 14-6, but the Bears enter the postseason as the hottest team in the league, having won eight of nine. 

2. Southern

While Stephen Curry's decision to leave for the NBA a year early will likely have a negative affect on the SoCon title game's TV rating, the tournament itself should be more fun to follow. Or at least the games will be more competitive. Come back, Steph. Wofford (15-3), Charleston (14-4) and Appy State (13-5) are the most likely contenders to end the Davidson Invitational era.  

3. Colonial Athletic Association

There was talk in late January of this league possibly producing multiple at-large bids, but inexcusable stumbles from the league's top dogs quickly brought it back down to win or go home status. Still, any one of the top five teams from this conference (Northeastern, Old Dominion, William & Mary, VCU, George Mason) are more than capable of springing a first round upset in the dance. 

4. Patriot League

With the exception of American and Navy tying for fourth-place at 7-7, each spot in the final league standings is separated by a single game. Year in, year out, the Patriot produces the most competitive quarterfinal contests during the opening week of the postseason. 

5. Sun Belt

Middle Tennessee, Troy and North Texas all finished with league-best records of 13-5. Still, Western Kentucky may (again) be the favorite here, riding a seven-game league winning streak into the Belt tourney. 

 

FIVE CRAPPIER CONFERENCE TOURNAMENTS

There's been a growing trend in recent years of leagues starting their regular season champions, or top two seeds, in the semifinals of the postseason tournament. It makes sense in that it adequately rewards regular season performance and gives the league its best shot to be well-represented in the NCAA Tournament, but it's like, not as fun.

Here are five conference tournaments that hope the prince cheats on Cinderella in ten years.

1. Big Sky

Not only does the Big Sky automatically place its top two seeds in the semifinals, but it only includes six teams in the whole tournament. A conference tournament that has as many total games as a first round baseball playoff series is un-American. I said it.

2. Horizon League

The Horizon has been utilizing this practice for a few seasons, but two years ago they stepped it up a notch. Now the top two seeds get an automatic bye into the semis, while the other eight teams have to win four games in four days. Wright State earned the second seed over Green Bay by a mere game and now sits in the semifinals, while the poor Phoenix have to win a pair of games just to get there. Of course a year ago Cleveland State did make it to the NCAAs by winning four games from the No. 3 spot.

3. West Coast

Gonzaga and St. Mary's will both begin league play in the semifinals, making this the easiest championship game to predict in the history of college basketball.

4. Big West

The Big West gives its top two seeds a bye into the semis, but it's also one of the few leagues that employs the NHL style of having the highest remaining seed play the lowest remaining seed in each round. Smart? Sure. Annoying as hell for fans of postseason college basketball? You bet.

What have we learned so far? Conference tournaments west of the Mississippi are infinitely lamer than conference tournaments east of the Mississippi. The Big East has four games for three straight days. THREE STRAIGHT DAYS OF FOUR GAMES.

Grow up, left coast. 

5. Ivy League

Say what you will about the other four, but at least they have tournaments. Also, studying: not cool.

 

FIVE TEAMS EVEN THOSE WHO STOPPED READING AN HOUR AGO SHOULD WATCH

1. VMI (Big South)

The highest scoring team in college basketball. That is all.

2. Sam Houston State (Southland)

Lots of pressing, lots of points, fairly high quality of basketball.

3. North Dakota State (Summit)

They stole America's hearts a year ago and I seriously doubt they've gotten any less scrappy or any less white.

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4. Morehead State (Ohio Valley)

Kenneth Faried should be taped and shown to any and all youth basketball players.

5. Portland State (Big Sky)

Capable of beating or losing to anyone in their conference because of their style of play. If you must watch the Big Sky Tournament, then be happy that the Vikings snuck in. 

 

TEN POTENTIAL NON-TOP SEEDS WHO COULD GO DANCING

1. Mount St. Mary's (Northeast)

Losers of nine straight earlier in the year, the Mountaineers are now riding a ten-game winning streak into the postseason. They've already defeated both Quinnipiac and Robert Morris, who tied for the regular season title.

2. Eastern Illinois (Ohio Valley)

The Panthers have won eight straight, including a victory over league runner-up Morehead State on Feb. 11.

3. Western Kentucky (Sun Belt)

Sharing the wealth has never been Western's thing. Just when you think it's definitely going to be someone else's year the 'Tops run off seven straight and thump the league's regular season champ (Troy) by 18. 

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4. Belmont (Atlantic Sun)

See above. The Bears have dominated this tournament for the past decade and, despite finishing fifth in the final A-Sun standings, have won eight of their last nine. 

5. Hofstra (Colonial)

A tough task lies in front of the seventh-seeded Pride, but they're playing as well as any team in the CAA. They closed the regular season by winning six straight and nine of their last ten, a run that included a Bracket Buster win over Rider and an 11-point triumph at Northeastern. 

6. Milwaukee (Horizon)

Winners of six straight, the fourth-seed may have a better shot at knocking off Butler than anyone else. 

7. Northern Colorado (Big Sky)

Not just for stab-happy kickers anymore. The Bears have won seven of eight, falling only to regular season champ Weber State on Feb. 13, a game which was their second on the road in as many days.

8. Vermont (America East)

Not exactly a sleeper pick. The Catamounts have won eight of nine and figure to get another shot at top-seed Stony Brook this weekend. 

9. Norfolk State (MEAC)

I'll go ahead and say it: if anyone's going to upset Morgan State, it'll be the Spartans. They've won five of six and fell to the Bears by a single point on the road last week. 

10. Portland (West Coast)

The odds of anyone outside of Gonzaga and Saint Mary's snagging WCC glory are slim, but the Pilots have won six of seven and knocked off the Gaels in ovetime on Feb. 13.

 

FIVE MORE BECAUSE I STILL CAN

Buffalo (Mid-American)
Illinois State (Missouri Valley)
Radford (Big South)
Oral Roberts (Summit)
Appalachian State (Southern)


And that's it. If you didn't read every word, you're tacky and I hate you.

 
 
 
 
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