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Tag:west coast conference
Posted on: March 8, 2010 11:48 pm
Edited on: March 9, 2010 7:32 pm
 

St. Mary's: It's Australian for 'Blowout'

Thomas Beisner

11:00 PM


On a night when superstar Omar Samhan and his C cups only went for nine points, St. Mary's got 70 points from their sextet of Australians en route to an 81-62 beatdown of the nation's #14 team and the West Coast Conference's #1 seed, Gonzaga. 

Magic Mickey McConnell doubled his season average with 26 points (and 6 assists) and Bedhead Ben Allen threw in 20 points and 9 rebounds as the pair combined to go 8-13 from downtown.  Jorden Page chipped in 11 off the bench and freshman Matthew Dellavedova added 7 points, 6 assists and one hell of a Charlie impression.  The other Australian guys contributed the other stats.

After taking only a two-point lead into the half, the Gaels came out firing like it was the Black War, outscoring the Zags 51-34 in the second period.  It was a made-for-the-big-screen run so inspiring, the only thing missing was a halftime change to the Team Australia onesies.  And the Aussie Emilio Estevez.

For Gonzaga, playing for their 10th conference tournament title under Mark Few, it was disappointment for the second time in three years and the type of emphatic beating that is going to hurt their seeding.  In case you hadn't heard, teams now have to pass an "eye" test too.  Gonzaga failed this miserably tonight.

But, on this night, it wasn't about Gonzaga.  It was all about the Gaels and all about the land down under.  Somewhere Chris Antsey and Mel Gibson are scrumming and celebrating with a Yahoo Serious movie marathon.  Somewhere else, Adam Morrison is crying alone and watching Yahoo Serious movies. 

St. Mary's is going dancing! 

St. Mary's advances to tourney by dethroning Gonzaga
Posted on: March 8, 2010 11:39 pm
Edited on: March 9, 2010 9:35 am
 

The Monday Night Wrap

MATT JONES

11:30 PM

Now THAT is what Championship Week is supposed to be about.  One great game goes to overtime, another team makes its first ever NCAA Tournament and a power goes down in a game they always win.  This was the kind of night we have waited for!  Some notes:

---  The game of the night was the MAAC Championship, which our man CM recapped in a great running journal, but was a classic game for March.  Siena is the power of the conference, having made the last two NCAA Tournaments and won their first round game in both, a feat that less than ten teams in the country will be able to claim in this year's version of the NCAA.  They got down big early, falling behind by 13, just as they had in both their quarter and semifinal games as well.  But they stormed back, and watched as their opponent Fairfield, went ice cold in overtime to give Siena their third straight tournament berth.  Siena is slowly entering the Gonzaga/Butler level, where they can no longer be considered a sleeper team, but rather are a legitimate power to be contended with every season.  They showed the heart of a champion tonight.

---  Ding-Dong the witch is dead.  Gonzaga showed why its the softest program in America yet again on Monday, getting hammered by St Marys.  The Zags were beaten off the dribble, outhustled to loose balls and then lost their cool down the stretch, getting smoked by 19 in the tournament final.  That game thus gave us two realities...first, St Marys is in and worries about their bubble status are irrelevant.  And second, Gonzaga is once again a team to ignore in your NCAA pool...just like every year.

---  The best story of the night comes from Wofford, which will be in its first NCAA Tournament ever after winning the Southern Conference Tournament in Charlotte.  The Terriers held on to beat Appalachian State after giving up an 18 point second half lead and allowing the App. State to cut the game to three.  But Wofford hit big free throws down the stretch and they will be dancing for the first time in school history.  The tiny school in Rock Hill, South Carolina is known for almost nothing except having produced Wendy Nix and a bunch of congressmen in South Carolina that you dont know.  But now they will be the darlings of the NCAA Tournament, and having beaten both South Carolina and Georgia this year, they could be dangerous depending on the matchup.

---  The final ticket was punched in the "Battle of the Moustaches" as Old Dominion won the Colonial Title with a solid win over William and Mary.  ODU is going to its first tournament since 2007, built in large part on there athletic play that has overwhelmed their opponents in the Colonial, both in the regular season and the tournament.  When you watch ODU play, think of two things...first their coach's black moustache has the potential to be one of the 4 or 5 most ridiculous modern looks you will see from people that venture out in public.  Also, ODU is another team that can pull a shocker...they will likely be ticketed for something like a #13 seed, and if given the right #4 team (like maybe Vandy), we could see the traditional 4-13 upset go down,

So there you have it...a great night of college basketball to kick off one of the most fun weeks of the year.  Tonight we have three more finals, with the Sun Belt Conference, The Big Sky and the Butler-dominated Horizon League.  Also, the Big East Tournament kicks off in New York and we get that exciting South Florida-Depaul matchup that you have waited all year for.  We will get you ready for all these events and more all day...so stay tuned and tell your friends...because they want to know, even if they say they don't.

Posted on: March 8, 2010 5:10 pm
Edited on: March 9, 2010 7:33 pm
 

WCC Final: Place Your Bets!

Thomas Beisner

5:00P PM


The West Coast Conference Tournament wraps up tonight when a couple of usual suspects battle it out in Vegas’ Orleans Arena. Gonzaga makes an appearance in the final for the thirteenth straight year and will battle St. Mary’s, a team they seem to play about 25 times a year.  More importantly, though, it’s your last night in Vegas and while I applaud you for not crashing yet, it’s time to hit it big. So, go take out that tax return and hit the sports book. These are five locks for tonight’s West Coast Final.

1. These two teams are dancing – At this point, Gonzaga is essentially a lock for the tournament every year. They’ve put together a pretty impressive non-conference schedule and their tournament spot is as guaranteed as charges after a night out with Ben Roethlisberger. St. Mary’s, on the other hand, finds itself on the “in” side of the bubble right now and, depending on some other conference tournaments, could go either way in the next six days. I’ll go out on a limb, though, and guarantee a spot for St. Mary’s. And that confidence means only one thing. This contest is more about the seed than Michelle Duggar.

2. Omar Samhan will roll an ankle – In all my years of watching college basketball (thousands of years), I’ve never seen a guy wear low-top basketball shoes (that’s what the kids call them, right?). That is, of course, until St. Mary’s star Omar Samhan. Samhan is a towering six feet-eleven inches tall and his shoes measure about three inches high, a move not heard of since people half-way started taking basketball seriously in about the 4th or 5th grade. No word yet on whether or not Samhan wore jeans to Little League practice or not.

3. “Bedhead” Ben Allen determines St. Mary’s fate – The former Indiana Hoosier has made the most of his playing time this year, which has increased from nine to twenty-seven minutes per game. When the Australian disappears from time to time on his walkabout, the Gaels suffer. In their last 13 games, St. Mary’s has won 10 games and Bedhead has averaged 14 points and 8 rebounds on 55% shooting in those wins. In their three losses (two to Gonzaga), he’s contributing only 4 and 4 on 36% shooting. Gaels fans better hope Caesar’s Palace serves Vegemite.

4. Robert Sacre has a chaperon – I won’t pretend to be extremely familiar with Gonzaga. After all, I don’t smoke weed or listen to jam bands. But, I do feel fairly confident after reading this profile in the student paper that Bulldog big man Robert “Sacretes” Sacre has been assigned a chaperon for Vegas and is to operate only under the buddy (and ankle bracelet) system. What we learned from this profile is that he only goes to Tuesday classes because the girls are hot, the louder the music, the better, he sleeps during his Christian Leadership course and is “quick sand” in a group setting. If anyone is stealing Tyson’s tigers, it’s Sacretes.

5. Mark Few will rise to the top – Just like cream (and ironically, unlike Cream), Mark Few is set to rise to the top tonight. In another Beisner guarantee, I’m promising a Zags victory, making Few the all-time winningest coach in Bulldog history. His 291st in will put him ahead of the late Hank Anderson, who took about a decade longer to reach his number. It also means that Few will cut down the WCC nets for the 8th time. And, with his alma mater boasting an open job in Eugene, it might be the last time he’ll be able to say the Slipper Still Fits.

Gonzaga vs. St. Mary’s (9:00 PM)
Posted on: March 8, 2010 1:01 am
 

The Day Ahead: Monday of Championship Week

MATT JONES

1:00 AM

It was a relatively calm day (again) in the world of Championship Week and we were all left wondering, when is the Madness going to start?  The only news of big importance was the 67-52 win by Northern Iowa in the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament, that sends the Panthers into the Big Dance with an automatic bid, thus ensuring that bubble teams from major conferences have another bid to fight over in the next week.   The Missouri Valley Tournament was supposed to be the highlight of the first four days of Championship Week, but it ended up being a dud, thus leaving us hoping for more wackiness in the days ahead.  I suspect we will see it however, as there are FOUR CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIPS TONIGHT, each of which provide interesting storylines to follow.  Here is a snapshot:

COLONIAL:  Old Dominion vs William and Mary

We get started in the heart of the Confederacy, as Old Dominion takes on William and Mary for the automatic bid in the Colonial Conference.  This entire tournament was suspected to be an elaborate ruse to get Old Dominion on the court with Northeastern for the title, but old William and his wife Mary combined to pull off the upset in the second semifinal on Sunday and ruin everyone's fun.  In all actuality, the most exciting basketball in all of America may have taken place at the Colonial Semifinals Sunday, as Old Dominion squeaked into the finals in OT, beating a tough VCU team in an offensive showcase, followed by William and Mary winning a defensive battle over Northeastern.  Now the two styles meet on Monday at 7 pm, with Old Dominion the heavy favorite.  For those of you following bubble teams, be on alert....Old Dominion is in contention for an at-large bid, so if they fall, you lose a bid for a mediocre power conference school.  You have been warned.

MAAC:  Siena vs Fairfield

At 7 pm tonight, the top two teams in the MAAC will square off for the automatic bid, with familiar Siena the favorite once again.  Siena only has one loss in conference and had they beaten Butler in the Bracketbuster event, would be a sure lock for the Tournament.  But now they may need to win on Monday, producing more pressure for this "biggest little program in America" than possibly any other school playing.  The last time these two teams matched up, it was on Siena's home court, where this game is also being played.  In that contest, Siena won with a late shot, 69-67.  This game will be a war and could be the game of the night.  Plus its in Albany and maybe David Patterson will show up with a mistress and make New Jersey jokes.  One can only hope.

SOUTHERN:  Wofford vs Appalachian State

I learned two important facts about this tournament over the course of the last four days.  First, the initial two rounds were played in something called the "Bojangles Coliseum", which may be the strangest name for an arena in these here United States.  If you are from North Carolina, you know Bojangles and its great dirty rice, but I think a move to the more mainstream "Time Warner Cable Arena" for the final two rounds was appropriate.  Then, I was also excited to learn that the former Miss Teen South Carolina who told us that we should give maps to the "Iraqis and such as" goes to Appalachian State.  I have been to Boone, North Carolina before and it is the best college town that no one knows about and has a disproportionate amount of gorgeous women for a school its size.  I tell you that only to say that when you watch this game, you should think not only about the action on the court (these are two of the three best teams in the league and Appalachian State won the only regular season meeting by one point), but the fun the people in Boone are having while you are watching on your couch.

WEST COAST:  Gonzaga vs St Marys

Has Gonzaga ever not played St Marys?  Seriously, everytime it is late at night and Gonzaga is on television, they are playing St Marys.  It is like the old NBA in the 90s, when the Knicks and Heat were contractually required to play each other 40 times a year, and each game would end 73-72 in Overtime.  Well once again they will play, this time for the West Coast Conference title and a trip to the NCAA Tournament.  Gonzaga is of course the heavy favorite because they still have that kid who did mushrooms and a lot of long guys with floppy hair who will beat you senseless so long as it isnt March.  St Marys no longer has Patty Mills, so they stink, just not as badly as the other teams in the West Coast Conference.  If Gonzaga loses, it takes away a bubble spot, but they wont, so when the game starts at 9 pm, flip over and watch the Southern Conference.  There will be better looking women, a better game and you might learn what a "Wofford" is.

So there you have it...your night on tap.  We will be around all day for more updates as we shift into high gear for what will be a great week of basketball excitement and random blogging action.

Posted on: March 7, 2010 7:33 pm
Edited on: March 7, 2010 7:42 pm
 

Four things to know for tonight's WCC semifinals

Thomas Beisner

7:30 PM





The WCC Semifinals get underway tonight in Vegas and, if you want to continue to pass yourself off as the West Coast's #1 fan (you're doing a good job so far), there are a couple of things you need to know about each school.  Other sites might bombard you with tons of information.  Here at CBS, we know you roll with the type of crowd that is impressed with you knowing only one fact.  We roll with those types of dudes too.  Now study up.

1. Nepotism rules at Gonzaga - Most people don’t learn the cruel reality that some people get places in life only because of their parents until they’re out of school. At Gonzaga, it’s obvious in the program every night. David Stockton, whose dad was an NBA player or something, is a 5’10”, 150 pound Bulldog walk-on who carrying on a proud, rarely on-the-court tradition previously traveled by Josh Maravich at LSU and Johnnie West at WVU (briefly).  Don't get too attached to David Stockton yet.  He's only a freshman and you're going to hear his story in every single game of his Gonzaga career.  To his credit, though, David Stockton did not ignite a uniform war over refusing to wear long shorts in favor of his father's nut-huggers.  Not that any other NBA legend's son would do that, right?

2. What is a Gael and who is the robot? - While commonly mistaken for its homophone meaning horrible mother-in-law, St. Mary’s mascot just refers to a group of Irish robots. And, true to his mascot, Coach Randy Bennett has five Australians on his team.

3. Wally Pilot is back!! - For some reason or another, Portland forced mascot Wally Pilot out the door back in 2004, siding instead with the "school spirit sucks" movement.  After some soul-searching and some world traveling, the riverboat captain is back and ready to accept our emails or be your Facebook friend.  Dr. Drew really can help anyone.  Welcome back, Wally. 

4. Loyola Marymount is Spanish for “star power” - You wouldn’t expect much from a school of less than 4,000 people in terms of notable alumni, but Loyola Marymount carries the swagger of a much larger school that produces unfunny people and irritating lawyers. Gilligan, Carson Daly and Holly Madison can all call themselves Lions, as well as OJ lawyers Johnnie Cochran and Robert Shapiro and Mark Geragos, lawyer to the stars. Now you know why they brag about Hank Gathers so much.

Tonight's Games

#5  Loyola Marymount vs. #1  Gonzaga (8:30 pm)

#3  Portland vs.  #2 Saint Mary's  (10:30 pm)
Posted on: March 6, 2010 10:57 am
Edited on: March 9, 2010 7:38 pm
 

West Coastin'

Thomas Beisner

11:00 AM


In the past 11 years, Gonzaga has claimed the West Coast Conference Tournament title in impressive nine times.  It started with Dan Monson on the sidelines and Matt Santangelo leading the charge and has given the world names like Dan Dickau, Casey Calvary, Ronny Turiaf, Adam Morrison, Derek Raivio and last year's MVP, Micah Downs.  So, you can't blame if-it-happened-before-the-internet-
then-it-didn't-happen-at-all America if Gonzaga is the West Coast Conference to them.  That's pretty much all they've ever known.

However, this year could change that.

The most obvious challenger to the Gonzaga dynasty is a familiar one.  Behind Patrick Mills, St. Mary's made a national name for themselves the past two seasons, flirting with the top-25 and, at one time, owning the nation's longest winning streak.  With Mills gone, the nation was ready to turn their eyes to the next mid-major darling.  But, believe it or not, it's possible this team is even better - and more balanced with five players averaging double figures. 

Big man Omar Samhan is a double-double machine (18this year), averaging 22 points and 11 rebounds per game and went off for 31 and 12 against the Zags earlier in the year.  It's the balanced perimeter attack, though, that allows Samhan to do work down low.  Thanks to junior Mickey McConnell (13 ppg and 5 apg), senior Wayne Hunter (11 ppg) and Autstralian freshman Matthew Dellavedova (13 ppg and 5 apg), St. Mary's boasts what some consider the most potent perimeter attack in the WCC.  A run to the finals should land them in the Big Dance, but if they want to win the WCC and make it a guarantee, they are going to need their three guards to play well and open up the paint for Samhan.

But, despite the obvious appeal of St. Mary's as Gonzaga's big threat, it might not be the most serious.  The third seed in the WCC tournament, Portland is a team that gave the Zags a run for their money in Portland on January 9th, finally falling 81-78.  But, less than a month later, they took a trip to Spokane and went down hard, 76-49, and leaving folks to wonder if they were actually a legitimate threat to the Zags.  Of their four conference losses, three were to the Zags and St. Mary's, leaving them as the only team that can claim to be a contender with a straight face - if they show up.

If the Pilots are to end the Zags' WCC title hopes in the finals, it will have to do so without a face that's familiar to the Zags.  Portland's leading scorer, senior guard Nik Raivio (14 ppg and 6 rpg), is the brother of 2007 WCC Tournament MVP and former Gonzaga Bulldog Derek Raivio, and will miss the entire tournament with an achilles injury that has sidelined him the second half of the season.  In his place, the Pilots will use the balance (that seems to be a theme in the WCC) of guards TJ Campbell (13 ppg) and Jared Stohl (12 ppg) and big men Robin Smeulders (13 ppg and 7 rpg) and Son of Sikma (8 ppg and 8 rpg) inside.  With no shot of an at-large bid, Portland needs to hopefully avoid feeling pressure and get back to the nothing to lose attitude they had in a pre-season run of wins over Oregon, UCLA and Minnesota.

Having said all this, make no mistake.  Gonzaga is the favorite in this tournament.  The Zags again won the regular season crown, but dropped road games to a pair of 7-7 WCC teams, San Francisco and Loyola Marymount, inspiring post-season hope in their conference peers.  Much like the Mark Few teams of the past, the Zags count on balance, relying on Matt Bouldin (16 ppg) and Steven Gray (13.5 ppg) on the perimeter and the duo of 7-foot sophomore Robert Sacre (10 and 5) and German freshman Elias Harris (15 and 7).  They've been down this road before and the smart money would be on them throwing the "W" up in Vegas after Monday's title game. 

Even if the Zags do take the WCC crown this weekend, the "others" in the conference can still claim victory.  The whole world might not be watching their games in the middle of the night, but it's probably more than the Pac-10.  And there's nothing mid-major about that.

Mark Few's battle rap

I got an interesting email this morning from a reader who said that Mark Few is so hurt by his conference not getting the respect it deserves, has resorted to his West Coast roots and released a battle rap.  Few enlisted West Coast rappers NWA and internet star Daniel Solzman to help him write his diss track.  What resulted is arguably one of the most horrible raps in the history of the world.....but it's set to NWA's "F--- the Police", so it's not all bad.

F*** tha Pac-10
Comin straight from the Evergreen
Hatin’ on my program cuz it’s clean.
Your sorry conference is more whack than a pager
Still you b****es call the West Coast a mid-major.

Screw that crap, cuz I ain’t tha one
To let a couple washed up retread coaches poke fun.
Tradition and talent? Really? B***h, please.
Even at UCLA, the only guarantee is the herpes.

Battling each other for a number 12 seed,
While Gonzaga and St. Mary’s spots are guaranteed.
Third seed Portland would hand you a killing.
Even the Pac-10 gives the women top billing

The West Coast’s repping dudes like Matt Bouldin,
Pac-10’s just hoping to avoid NCAA scolding.
Don’t forget about Samhan,
St. Mary’s center is the west’s best big man.
Freakin’ dudes everyway like MJ
Wrong song but you get the point anyway.

It’s about time we got our respect
Step to Mark Few and your face will get wrecked.
The West Coast Conference tourney starts tonight under lights
In Vegas making news like Tyson’s title fights
Up and coming conference on a warpath
And when we finish, there’ll be a blood bath.

Yo NCAA, I got somethin to say

F** tha Pac-10! 


Conference Scedule:

Friday, March 5  

#5 Loyola Marymount vs. #8 Pepperdine - In the first WCC Tournament game, fans were treated to a high-scoring affair as Loyola Marymount ruined Pepperdine's second round hopes and outlasted the 43 combined points of Keion Bell and Taylor Darby.  Four Lions scored in double figures, with Vernon Teel leading the way with 27.  They will now take on the Fighting Bill Russells of San Francisco on Saturday as long as Doug Christie's wife gives them permission. 

#6 San Diego vs. #7 Santa Clara - Friday's nightcap offered the sexiest Vegas show since Siegfried and Roy performed at Peep Show as a pair of teams that went 3-11 in their conference squared off.  San Diego earned the right to lose to Portland on Saturday, 61-59, behind 14 points, 12 rebounds and 7 blocks from Robert Mafra.  After the game, Santa Clara coach Kerry Keating declared that "Steve Nash is not walking through that door," adding that, "Even if he did, it would only be to ask for us to take his jersey out of the rafters.  You guys suck."

Saturday, March 6

#5 Loyola Marymount vs. #4 San Francisco 

#6 San Diego vs.  #3 Portland

Sunday, March 7

LMU/USF vs. Gonzaga

Portland/USD vs St. Mary's

Monday, March 8

Championship

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. 

Ncb_i_sienna_580_medium

 

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. 

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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.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com