Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The Best Time of the Year

Yes, it is upon us. The greatest time of the year. Starting today, conference tournaments begin, carrying on for the next two weeks culminating in selection Sunday. Then the Big Dance (along with the NIT and CBI - Go Gophers). There's nothing better than Day Action, although that doesn't start until Thurday. In any case, it's championship week(s), and it all gets started with the Horizon, Big South, and Ohio Valley today.

HORIZON: This would be a huge one if the Gophers had any kind of prayer of getting an NCAA bid. Butler is a lock for the tournament, whether they win the Horizon tourny or not, and if someone knocks them off that takes away a bid from a bubble team, as there is no other Horizon team worthy of consideration. The good news for the Bulldogs is that the Horizon protects their top two seeds, so Butler and Cleveland State get byes into the semifinals. The semis and championship are also played at Hinkle Field House, which just so happens to be Butler's home gym.
SLEEPER: Wright State. Despite a three game skid, they give the Bulldogs fits. The Bulldogs won't have to face them unless they get past Cleveland State in the semis.
W's PICK: Butler. Despite not having the pressure of having to earn a bid into the NCAA tournament, they are head and shoulders above the rest of the teams in the conference.

Basically a two team conference, with Murray State and Austin Peay at the top. The Governors (Austin Peay) are at the top of the conference, at 16-4, three games better than the Racers (Murray State). The two teams split the regular season matchup, and despite a slight talent edge to Austin Peay, you can't count out Murray State as they seem to make it to the tournament quite often, going all the way back to Popeye Jones. No at-large bid possibilities to the loser here, so it's all on the line.
FAVORITE: Austin Peay
SLEEPER: Tennessee-Martin. The Skyhawks boast the nation's third leading scorer in Lester Hudson. Hudson averaged 25.4 points per game this season and can score with anybody, going for 35 against Memphis, 27 against Mississippi State, and 36 against Vanderbilt. He shoots 46% from the field, 40% from 3, 82% from the line, and chips in with 7.8 rebounds, 4.5 assists, and 2.9 steals at 6-3. Despite going just 11-9 in the conference this year, Hudson is the type of player who could get hot and lead them to a bid.
W's PICK: Austin Peay. The Governors lost in the OVC championship game last season, and should be focused enough to get it done this year.

BIG SOUTH: Another two team conference, with last season's darling Winthrop and UNC-Asheville's freak team the only two relevant teams. Asheville's Kenny George is a monster at 7-7, 360 lbs. If you haven't seen him, look here:

He only plays 20 minutes a game, but manages to score 12.5 points, pull in 7 rebounds and block 4 shots per game. He's not athletic enough to handle a lot of bigger conference big men, but can hold his own in the Big South. Winthrop has a new coach and some new players this year, and isn't the same team that knocked off Notre Dame last year, but could still do some damage, with wins over Georgia Tech and Miami this season.
FAVORITE: UNC-Asheville. Tied with Winthrop at the top, but swept the Eagles.
SLEEPER: High Point. Third in the conference, beating both Asheville and Winthrop once this season. They boast the conference's second leading scorer in Arizona Reid, who averages 24.2 per game and scored 42 in the regular season finale (and also leads in rebounding at 11.1 rpg). I don't consider High Point a serious threat.
W's PICK: Winthrop. Despite not being quite as good as last season, Winthrop is still the best in the conference and has the experience to get to the dance once again.

Wake Forest @ Virginia Tech - if Tech keeps winning, they can get in
Purdue @ Ohio State - Buckeyes on their last legs, can't afford any more losses (ESPN 6pm)
Miami (OH) @ Kent State - Kent in position for a rare MAC at large bid, has to avoid slipping up (ESPN2 6pm)
UNLV @ New Mexico - Rebels may be at large worthy as well, also need to avoid losses
Arkansas @ Mississippi - A monster game here. Not quite an elimination game for Arkansas, but pretty much is for Ole Miss. A Razorback win puts them in and the Rebels out (ESPN 8pm)

TOMORROW: Atlantic Sun, Patriot, Sun Belt


JP Losman said...

Nice blog. Your favorite QB, Favre, retires at 8:45 AM and instead of breaking it down we get a Horizon league breakdown. Fluuuuuush, that is the sound of this blog going further down the drain.

P.S. Nice call on 8th place texas tech.

WWWWWW said...

I don't care about Favre retiring. If you're expecting me to write something up, you're going to be waiting for a while. Feel free to break it down for us.

What call? That they'd be in the NIT? Um, I still stand by that.

Aaron Rodgers said...

If you want coverage of the Pete Rose of football, just turn on any TV or radio station.