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Tag:sun belt conference
Posted on: March 9, 2010 11:11 pm
Edited on: March 9, 2010 11:28 pm
 

Tuesday Wrap Up and Day Ahead

MATT JONES

11:30 PM



On a day in which one US Congressman admitted on national television that he engaged in "tickle fights" with his male staff members, it is may have been hard for many of you to focus on college basketball.  With the Pac 10 and Big 12 joining the Big East in conference tournament action on Wednesday, you might have thought to yourself, "Self, I am going to watch something else tonight, or possibly read a book or even talk to my family."  If you did that is understandable, but you missed three new entries into the NCAA Tournament and two teams that saw the door slam shut on their March dreams.  A review seems in order (not of the tickle fights...you must read about that in Gary Parrish's column):

SUN BELT:  North Texas takes down the Men of Troy

There has been a common theme in a number of these conference tournament games.  One team gets up big, chews on the fat of success (ask your relatives from the South what that means), the other team comes back and ties the game up...and then the original leader gets their head back in gear and wins at the end.  The latest version of this story came in Hot Springs, Arkansas, which was hotter than a 2 dollar pistol on Tuesday night as North Texas took down the Troy Trojans 66-63.  The big shot occurred with 22 seconds left when Josh White (no relation to Justice Byron White), hit a key free throw line jumper to put the "Mean Green" up for good.  It was a great victory for North Texas and their Coach Johnny Jones, who in addition to having a fun name to say, also bears a striking resemblance to Mr. Cooper of "Hangin With Mr. Cooper" fame.  Obviously buoyed on by that connection, Jones took his team to its first NCAA Tournament since 2007 and will hope to have a better second act in the NCAA Tournament than Mark Curry did in his post-Mr. Cooper life.  North Texas became the tenth team in, and the first that I can say without equivocation, will not scare anyone in the Tournament and is actually so little of a threat that they qualify as a "Bracket Builder."

HORIZON:  Butler Crushes the Will of Wright State

You folks at home dont realize this, but blogging on "One Blogging Moment" is a lot like making sausage, it is dirty and gritty and contains a lot of bad visuals that are better left out of the mind.  Take for instance how we assign conferences.  I assigned to the group based on a scientific "which games do I want to watch and which do I want to make someone else watch" system that I thought was fool-proof.  Thus I ended up with both the Missouri Valley and the Horizon, under the theory that those mid-majors play great basketball and have a history of exciting basketball.  Well lets just say that didnt work out.  After the snooze fest that was the MVC Tournament, I got the stinker of all stinkers, Butler's shellacking of Wright State 70-45, as my final for the Horizon League.  I looked for anything to entertain me during the game...focusing on the fact that the Butler coach looks like he is young enough to have his own paper route, the really cute Butler cheerleader who seemed to be looking at me through the television or the way that Butler guard, Shelvin Mack's name brigns back memories of a Cosby Show chant from the early 90s ("Shelvin Mack, Mack, Mack, all dressed in Black, Black, Black, with silver buttons, buttons, buttons all down his back, back, back").  None of it worked and I was still bored.  Because Wright State gave the Bulldogs no game, we are still left with the question, "is Butler any good?"  I dont know the answer but I do know that if I am a #1 seed, I want them as my #4 or #5 seed...Horizon good is not Kansas or Kentucky good.  It just isn't.

SUMMIT:  Oakland Makes Us Once Again Stop Caring about IUPUI

The streets of Rochester, Michigan are most certainly rocking with excitement again, as Oakland took down the fighting Pooeys of IUPUI, 76-64.  I had high hopes for this game as well, and when the Horizon started becoming a bust, I quickly flipped to the Summit hoping for something, anything to get the blood flowing.  Instead of hot Summit action, I got a rout in Sioux Falls, South Dakota so boring that the empty seats asked for their money back (that joke killed when Jack Benny told it in 1956).  I was thus left with changing the channel to something called "Altitude" (seriously who knew that was an actual channel...and how much is my cable bill that I have a package that includes it?) to watch the Big Sky Semifinals, where I tried to convince Drew that there is an actual state called "Weber."  Oakland moves on to the NCAA Tournament for what will be the 2nd appearance in the Big Dance in the school's history.  In the regular season, Oakland lost to a lot of good teams badly (Kansas, Syracuse, Michigan State) and beat no one of consequence, so the likelihood of an upset is minimal.  But their win at least stopped the hideous nature of the two 9 pm games tonight, so we should celebrate the small victories.

UCONN's BUBBLE BURST

Two teams probably saw their tournament hopes come to an end today, but if you are one of the 12 people who care about Charlotte basketball, take solace in your destruction of Louisville earlier in the year and get ready for the NIT.  Nationally, the much more important story is the embarassment we saw from the Huskies today, who were playing with their NCAA Tournament lives on the line and put up the stinker of all stinkers in a 71-52 loss to St Johns.  UConn was really never in the game and the overall performance waa enough to make Jim Calhoun call Coach K and ask how he was able to pull the whole "lets not count that year against my record" maneuver in 1995.  UConn, a team that looked like it had Top Ten capability when it took Kentucky to the buzzer at Madison Square Garden in December, seemed ready to pack it all in and go home on Tuesday afternoon, as it took a loss that will sting for quite some time.  We will see a lot of games over these next few games, but we will not see a more disappointing performance than the one from the Huskies today.

There was also a Big East shootout (they have those?) between Seton Hall and Providence, the setup of a Montana vs Weber State Big Sky Final and Atlantic 10 opening round games that could only be seen if you lived on a pirate ship off the coast of Florida.  But yo can read about those elsewhere.  What we are concerned with now is Wednesday, when you will have:

1.  Two Conference Finals

The Big Sky and the Northeast Conference get it going as Montana takes on Weber State and Quinnipac plays Robert Morris.  If anyone out there can name one player on each team, leave your computer and go try and meet a girl (or guy).

2.  Big East Gets Amped Up

The odd structure of the Big East Tournament means that there are still four teams that wont play today, but second-tier teams like Louisville, Georgetown, Marquette and Notre Dame take the floor today in big games.  Watch Notre Dame and Seton Hall at 7 pm, a game Notre Dame needs for seeding and Seton Hall could use to find entry into the NCAA Tournament.

3.  Big 12 and Pac 10 Suit up

Three of the six major conferences will be in action on Wednesday as things begin for the Big 12 and Pac 10.  The Big 12 is all about Kansas and a chance to see if the Jayhawks will roll through the field as most believe.  I am interested to see just how good Baylor is...the talent is there and they are playing as well as any team not in the Big Three in America.  We shall see how it all works out in the postseason.  And at the Pac 10 Tournament, no one but California is safe for the NCAA Tournament, so the feel will be one of a smaller tournament, with a "win or you are out" type feel.  Watch Arizona State and Washington...they may be headed to a Semifinal clash that could be an NCAA play-in game and would have more excitement than any other major conference game this weekend.

So there you go....today is the day it gets amped up.  "One Blogging Moment" will have live, rolling coverage all day.  Stay tuned and call in sick to work.  Its about to get good...and if it isnt, "Hangin With Mr. Cooper" is out on Blueray.

Posted on: March 9, 2010 5:19 pm
 

Can the Butler Do It...and Other Events Tonight

MATT JONES

5:30 PM

Did you skip work to watch the First Round of the Big East Tournament like I told you to?  No?  Well shame on you because you missed South Florida beating Depaul and UCONN quitting to a degree that would have embarassed even Rudy Guiliani's Presidential campaign staff.  It was the embodiment of mediocrity in New York and if you didnt watch it, you will regret it for at least the next couple of minutes.

But tonight is your chance to redeem yourself as we have THREE BIG CONFERENCE FINALS for tickets 10-12 to the NCAA Tournament.  A quick rundown:

HORIZON LEAGUE:  Butler vs Wright State  9 pm

Every year I have a hard time evaluating Butler.  Their conference record is generally great and their coach looks like he hopped right out of a 1980s John Hughes movie (speaking of which, did you see MaCauley Culkin at the Oscars? Between he and Forrest Whitaker, it was if we had the Emaciated All Stars of 2010 on stage).  But it is always hard to know whether they are just feasting on Horizon League competition, or are actually ready to make March noise.  This year I am a believer.  Between leading scorer Gordon Hayward and Lexington, Kentucky native Shelvin Mack, the team has firepower at the right positions and the athleticisim to compete with the top teams.  Tonight they play on their home court against Wright State for the Horizon title and the chance to enter the NCAA Tournament in the Top 10.  If you are a bubble team, you are pulling for Butler.  A Wright State win would be a HUGE upset.

SUN BELT CONFERENCE:  Troy vs North Texas  7 pm

This game sounds like it should be a football championship game, but in a movie starring Scott Bakula and Kathy Ireland.  But it is basketball and for the first time in a few years, Western Kentucky is not the dominant force in the Sun Belt and two other teams have a chance to make the NCAA Tournament.  The top two seeds in the tournament will play in a place called "Hot Springs, Arkansas", which again doesnt seem real but would likely be in a novel of historical fiction about Bill Clinton's run for President.  I will probably not watch this game and if you do, you are a better person than I am.  But that doesnt mean that everyone involved are not great people.

SUMMIT CONFERENCE:  Oakland vs IUPUI  9 pm

I will however watch the Summit Conference final for three reasons.  First, Oakland is a very good team, led by Keith Benson, the Conference Player of the Year and a kid who has a chance to be picked in the NBA Draft in the future.  Second, the only team to beat Oakland this year in conference is IUPUI, who won at Oakland 85-82, led by the two leading scorers in the league, Robert Glenn and Alex Young.  And then finally, everything about the Summit is fascinating to me.  They have a school called "Oakland" that is actually in Michigan, a school pronounced "OOH-EEE, POO-EEE" that is a regular contender and for reasons no one understands, the games are being held in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.  If a conference was ever to be considered wacky, it is the Summit.

So there you go, your night primer.  We also have opening round games in the Big East and Atlantic 10 and the potential for other random occurrences.  Stick here on "One Blogging Moment" and we will bring them all to you, unless "Lost" is really good, at which point we might miss some of them. 

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.

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