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 5, 2010 12:33 am
Edited on: March 9, 2010 7:40 pm
 

The Atlantic Sun: Someone has to win, right?

Thomas Beisner

1:00 AM



When the Atlantic Sun tournament kicked off Wednesday at the ratings-driven time of 2:30 in the afternoon, the competition for the league's NCAA bid was as up for grabs as any in the nation , with the top four seeds all entering the tournament with the same 14-6 conference record. But, after one round, only one of those four teams (Jacksonville) remain in contention for an NCAA berth and the #5, 6 and 8 seeds are only two games away from going dancing.

The madness (think you’ll hear that word much?) started in the first game Monday when the eighth-seeded Kennesaw State Owls knocked off the top-seeded Lipscomb Bisons behind 9-11 three-point shooting from Kurtis Woods and Kevin McConnell. After sitting out of the Atlantic Sun tournament for three years as a part of their agreement to move up to Division I, it was a sweet reward for the Owls in Macon.

Wednesday’s night session offered a bit of a return to status quo as second-seeded Jacksonville and seventh-seeded North Florida squared off and made people wonder how Jacksonville can support two Atlantic Sun teams and struggle to support an NFL squad. Just four years removed from winning only one game, the Dolphins (that’s Jacksonville) benefited from the inside-outside combo of Ben Smith and Lehmon Colbert, who both went for 24 points in the beating of the Ospreys. It should be noted that this game matched the least intimidating mascots since former Kentucky player Donald Williams’ high school played anyone. Anyone.

On Thursday, the reigning Atlantic Sun tournament champions, East Tennessee State, got their (minor) upset on and knocked off another one of the 14-6 teams, Campbell, 72-64. The details of the game are foggier than Snoop Dogg’s tour bus, though, as the A-Sun site reports 32 points from junior guard Micah Williams sparked the comeback and ESPN says he didn’t play in the game. What is known, however, is that the Bucs are now virtually a lock to defend their title in the championship game. They’ve blown out Kennesaw State both times they’ve played this year. And there are no upsets in the Atlantic Sun.

If there is such a thing as a dominant force and a sure thing in the Atlantic Sun, the Belmont Bruins just might be it. The private Nashville school that plays on an anatomically correct basketball court won three straight conference tournaments before falling to ETSU in the semifinals last year and was one of those four teams tied for the top conference spot. But, just like their fellow first-place surnamed religious institutions, the Bruins’ NCAA hopes came crashing down in the first round of the Atlantic Sun tournament. Belmont, winners of 8 of 9 games, drew the home team, the Mercer Bears, and their formidable 14-16 record. And, on this night, just like in the English language, the Bears proved have more staying power than the Bruins.

So, what was considered to be a wide-open tournament to start because of the four-way tie at the top, now shapes up as a the most wildly unknown tournament thanks to some upsets. Jacksonville, based on seeding, remains as the favorite. ETSU, however, is now on a five-game winning streak that saw them beat the Dolphins (that’s Jacksonville) on the road last week. But, don’t count out the Mercer Bears and their home court advantage, who now hold my rooting interest for one reason only. Should they win, there is a possibility they could not accept the NCAA bid once the Baptist school finds out that it’s considered dancing.

Atlantic Sun basketball….I love this game!

What’s Up Next

Friday
#8 Kennesaw State vs. #5 East Tennessee State (6:30 pm)
#6 Mercer vs. #2 Jacksonville (9:00 pm)

Saturday
Drama! (6:00 pm)
Posted on: March 5, 2010 12:31 am
Edited on: March 5, 2010 12:36 am
 

Nor'easter a'brewin



JOHN WILKINSON
12:30 AM

Welcome to the Northeast Conference, where the basketball may not be quite as elite as its populace, but damned if it isn't every bit as cutthroat. 

The NEC Tourney has already been trimmed to four with a single goal in mind: 16 seed. 

Most "experts" agree the eventual NEC champ is destined for sacrificial slaughtering from the only slot on the NCAA Tournament bracket to have never advanced, but even when your date to the dance has more neck fat than Beano Cook and visible backne, you're still hitching a ride in that limo. And that's what college sports are all about. Limos.  (college life on the other hand, is certainly more about neck fat)

So without further ado, or really much ado at all, the NEC final 4. Like many of the low-major post-season extravaganzas, the higher seed gets rewarded with a home game. 

Sunday 
#4 Long Island (14-16, 11-7) @ #1 Quinnipiac (22-8, 15-3)

#3 Mount St. Mary's (16-14, 12-6) @ #2 Robert Morris 21-11, 15-3)
From the beginning this tournament had the look of a two-horse race between the Bobcats of Quinnipiac and Robert Morris Nissan, and when you add in the fact both schools combined for a mere one loss at home in conference, it's hard to imagine any other outcome. But this is March, people. You don't need the zeal of Gus Johnson or the tranquility of Jim Nantz to commence the crazy. Amazing things happen when it's win or go home, and it's all about who's hot at the right time. Which is why you'd be foolish to write off Mount Saint Mary's, winners of 11 straight, gliding on the wings of The Great Virgin (Mary, not Tebow). And if you think a school located in Brooklyn (Long Island) is simply going lie down and take what's coming to them, then you my friend have never been to Brooklyn. Quinnipiac can expect to be tested, and at the least, gentrified.  Official Conference Site

Stay tuned. More to come later, including: -Robert Morris: A Gentleman and a Baller? -LIU vs LIT: bracketology meets mixology -Quinnipiac: from struggling summer camp to the cusp of the Big Dance Plus, Andy Rooney. 
Posted on: March 4, 2010 11:43 pm
 

Rolling With My Boy Drake and other MVC Notes

MATT JONES

11:30 PM



As part of this Championship Week coverage, I am reporting on five conferences.  Most of them have funny names that make you feel like you are heading towards the Oregon Trail and are likely made up, such as "Big Sky" and "Horizon."  Others however are conferences that you are told every year are "mid-major" and are "sleepers" and "Billy Packer hates them with a passion."  One of those such conference is the Missouri Valley Conference, which has produced team after team of guys with floppy hair who can shoot threes better than you.  On the off chance that you were distracted by the baby episode of "The Office", (which was decent but has me worried that the show will become way too baby-oriented and as all people my age can tell you, when your friends become too baby-oriented, they become lame...but I digress) then it is up to me to let you knowthis year's Missouri Valley Conference Tournament actually began tonight. 

Unlike in past years, the Missouri Valley is a one-bid league this year unless its top team, Northern Iowa were to get upset in the tournament in St. Louis.  Thus every game at the MVC Tournament is not only a chance to see Nelly live and in person, but also an elimination game that could spell the end of your postseason, unless you get invited to whatever constitutes that wacky "CBI" Tournament.  Northern Iowa is the distinct favorite, but teams like Wichita State, Creighton and Illinois State are perfectly constituted to pull an upset.  That is why all day on Friday we will be giving you game by game MVC coverage on this blog to let you see what is happening in the "Biggest Little Conference in America", right before the Championship game is played on CBS on Sunday.   

Tonight there were two opening games, and they went like this:

DRAKE 63  SOUTHERN ILLINOIS 61

If you are like me, you probably assumed that Southern Illinois was good this year.  They were picked 4th in the conference preseason, have that coach that every year is called an "up and comer" in Chris Lowery and are located Carbondale, Illinois, a place that just sounds like it should be home to a mid-major champion.  But the reality is that the Salukis have actually been disappointing for two straight seasons, finishing last year with a losing record and this year at .500.  Tonight they lost to Drake on a last-second buzzer beater by Josh Young of Drake, producing the first such game-ending shot of the Championship week season.  Southern Illinois was up 10 with 8 minutes ago but channeled their inner Greg Norman for a choke job that will have the Salukis shaking their heads during the long offseason.  For Drake, the reward is a 1 pm tipoff against in-state rival, Northern Iowa in what will likely be the "game you can skip" of the MVC Tournament.  Although both losses came in close games, Drake is 0-2 this year against Northern Iowa and with the quick turnover in game time and the disparity in talent, will soon be 0-3.  But hey, at least they got one conference tournament victory and were great in "Degrassi."

MISSOURI STATE 52  EVANSVILLE 46

There are certain moments in which you need to take a step back, look at the way you are spending your time and evaluate your life.  One of those moments occurred for me tonight as I desperately searched the MVC website trying to find a live feed of the Missouri State-Evansville 7-10 matchup in the first round of the Conference Tournament.  I ended up spending an hour following along via a live gamecast and recognizing that the worst basketball played outside of the Young Republicans Convention was taking place on a court in St Louis between these two juggernauts.  Both teams shot poorly, played sloppy and in the end, Missouri State pulled out the victory.  Going into the tournament, Missouri State was my sleeper, mainly because they lost their last 6 games by only a combined 20 points and still have 20 overall wins on the season.  They will have to play better than they did tonight, but I am going out on a limb for tomorrow.  MISSOURI STATE WILL BEAT WICHITA STATE IN THE SECOND ROUND

There you heard it here first....the big upset of the MVC Tournament will occur tomorrow night in the late game.  So call all your friends, wake them up, tell them that there is a school they have never heard of called Missouri State and they will beat Wichita State tomorrow night.  Then find new friends.  See you tomorrow.

If you have questions or comments, email us at onebloggingmoment@gmail.com

Posted on: March 4, 2010 8:54 pm
Edited on: March 5, 2010 12:49 pm
 

Previously, on the OVC Conference Tournament...

C.M. TOMLIN

Welcome to OVC Basketball, Mr. and Mrs. America. If you’re like me, in the past two days you haven’t been able to go anywhere without someone telling you all the latest information on the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament, which started on Tuesday. Oh, you probably wished to your self thirteen or fourteen times, how I wish there were some sort of website-journal which would keep me up to date on all my favorite OVC teams.

I am pleased to tell you, Mr. and Mrs. America, that such a site exists. And if you google “Ohio Valley Conference Tournament” you will probably find it, because Google is very effective.

But perhaps you’re thinking to yourself “I have already taken the time to find this particular CBS website, and I like my sporting information as closely related to Simon Baker’s smash prime time hit The Mentalist as possible.” In that case, I am happy to tell you I can help.

As we mentioned before, the OVC Tournament began on Tuesday. It was a giant affair, with four games, and afterward everyone was so tired that it was decided that everyone should go home and relax and get some sleep and come back on Friday. Also, Eastern Illinois had a doctor’s appointment on Wednesday morning and Tennessee Tech had to pick someone up at the airport on Thursday night. But here’s how the excitement of Tuesday’s matchups shook out:

-Murray is “racing” to a tourney bid. See what I did there? Because Murray State is known as “the Racers.” I know, it’s very impressive. But not as impressive as a handy 84-51 Racer win over Tennessee State which saw five players with double digits, led by sophomore forward Ivan Aska. When the CBS College Basketball Road Trip saw Morehead State derail Murray’s unbelievable 17-game win streak, we were told afterward by a bystander that we’d see this matchup again in the OVC Tourney finals. That’s looking like a good bet, because…

-Morehead has come to play. The Eagles meant business when they took down Murray in last Thursday’s intra-state rivalry, and they meant business when they bested Jacksonville State 87-54 in the first round. It’s clear that Kentucky’s contingent are the two teams to beat. Well, minus Eastern Kentucky, which fell to Eastern Illinois 68-61.

-#6 Seed Tennessee Tech Knocked off #3 Austin Peay, where sophomore forward Kevin Murphy knocked down a three with six seconds left to become the most popular man in Cookeville, Tennessee -- an accolade previously held by that one guy there who met Triple H at a Hampton Inn continental breakfast once.

Play resumes at the Sommet Center in Nashville tomorrow, as Murray takes on Eastern Illinois and Morehead faces Tennessee Tech. Will the soothsayer we met at Johnson Arena be correct? Will we see a Morehead/Murray rematch in the finals? Will Horatio Cane and his CSI:Miami team be ready to face their most difficult case yet? The answers, respectively, seem to be maybe, possibly, and tune in to CBS Mondays and find out! Likewise, stay tuned here. We’ll let you know how it all works out.

 

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. 

340x_medium

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.

Adnanhodzic_medium

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. 

200903092116766018131-pf

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.

Posted on: March 4, 2010 5:05 pm
Edited on: March 4, 2010 5:39 pm
 

CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT WEEK BEGINS

MATT JONES

5:00 PM



So after ten days of driving around the country and seeing college basketball at its best, we returned to our homes and tried to get on with the rest of our lives.  While college basketball is likely the best feature of life, there is the tiny rest of life such as paying bills, talking to our families and dealing with other humans that are not based in a Kia Rondo, that we had to deal with upon return.  While we will always have memories of Kansas, Michigan State, Northern Iowa and an empty North Carolina gym, it is time to move to the next facet of our lives and our CBS work.  So with that in mind, it is (wait for it):

CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT WEEK!

Yes its the time of year when 30 of the 31 conferences (the Ivy League thinks it is so smart it doesnt have to have a tournament...well you take your top-notch degree and 6 figure paycheck and go somewhere else my friend!) play off for a chance to make it into the NCAA Tournament on an automatic bid.  In terms of sheer madness, nothing can beat it.  You have the little guy playing for its chance to get slaughtered by Kansas, the mid-major hoping to impress the Tournament committee one last time and the big conference powers playing for seeding.  Plus you get ten days of wall-to-wall basketball, with each minute providing highlights that you will remember for a lifetime (or at least until the next game begins). 

Now as far as I know, no one has ever tried to undertake the task of providing running commentary and analysis of every conference tournament in the land.  It is such an absurd goal that only fools and people who drive Kia Rondos would attempt it.  But we are just those fools.  To accomplish the task, we have brought back the four hearty souls from the road trip (Matt Jones, Drew Franklin, TJ Beisner and CM Tomlin) and added two other great writers, John Wilkersly from Kentucky Sports Radio and Mike Rutherford of Cardchronicle.com.  We have divided up the conferences in this manner:

MATT JONES

  1. SEC
  2. Missouri Valley
  3. Big Sky
  4. Horizon
  5. Sun Belt

CM TOMLIN

  1. Pac 10
  2. Conference USA
  3. America East
  4. MAAC
  5. OVC

TJ BEISNER

  1. Big 12
  2. West Coast
  3. Atlantic Sun
  4. MAC
  5. Patriot

DREW FRANKLIN

  1. ACC
  2. Atlantic 10
  3. Big West
  4. MEAC
  5. Summit

JOHN WILKERSLY

  1. Big Ten
  2. Mountain West
  3. Big South
  4. Northeast
  5. Southland

MIKE RUTHERFORD

  1. Big East
  2. WAC
  3. Colonial
  4. Southern
  5. SWAC

If you are a fan of one of these conferences, these are the guys to take you through the coverage.  Some of them have already begun and for those, the coverage begins tonight.  So strap yourself in and get ready to see the Conference Tournaments covered in the most ridiculous manner possible, with more random facts on the MEAC than you could ever imagine.  Its "One Blogging Moment" and it begins now:

Posted on: March 1, 2010 5:38 pm
 

Thats All Folks

MATT JONES

4:00 PM

After driving through the mountains of West Virginia in the snow and darkness (and let me tell you, not a lot of people on the roads in West Virginia in the middle of the night...a horror movie may be in order), we are back home and exhausted.  The last ten days have been an amazing run for us and our trip is one for the books.  Drew gave a top 10 list below of the great moments and it is certainly appropriate.  But there were also some fantastic basketball moments as well, such as:

---  Watching Northern Iowa prove why they are a Bracket Buster team with Sweet 16 potential

---  Seeing Evan Turner up close and personal and witnessing why he may be Player of the Year

---  Watching Kansas at its peak prove why they are the favorites in the NCAA on a neutral court

---  Evaluating the demise of UNC Basketball this season in an unbelievably empty arena that still boggles the mind

---  Watching one of the great games of the season in Maryland vs Virginia Tech and their double OT thriller.  Greivis Vasquez is for real.

---  Seeing a scary Duke team that will be a #1 seed with no hype.

In addition to that, we had great experiences and interactions with coaches, players and media types.  I was told a joke by Bill Raftery, Drew was ignored by Kid Rock, we were heckled by Bob Valvano, given a weary eye by a number of Sports Information Directors, mocked (in a loving way) by Coach K and congratulated on the Kia Rondo by Patrick Patterson.  Nearly everywhere we went, people were tremendously nice and we got to see college basketball from every angle, the good, bad and the ugly.  It was a dream trip.

I want to thank our great group of travelers, Drew Franklin, CM Tomlin, TJ Beisner and the man they call Hubby.  And we also have to give a big shout out to CBS for setting this whole thing up.  It has been great.

We hope to see all you folks again soon, and until then remember, a Kia Rondo driving in the middle of the night down a snowy backroad in Iowa so you can make a Louisville-Depaul 2 pm tipoff is most definitely the way to live life.

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