Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Yes Yes Yes

It's here folks, the greatest time of the year, the fabulous month of March. Not only do we get the NCAA tournament, which is of course the main attraction, but we also get the individual conference tournaments, which are just as awesome in their own right (not to mention Square Root Day!). And they're here already, starting today with the Big South, Horizon, and Ohio Valley. And just like last year, I'm here to give you a short preview on all the action.

A horrible defensive conference, with 7 of their 10 teams ranking worse than 200th in defensive efficiency, the Ohio Valley also sports the nation's second leading scorer at 26.6 points per game in Tennessee-Martin's Lester Hudson.
FAVORITE: Tennesse-Martin. Not only do the Skyhawks have Hudson, but they also have the #1 seed at 14-4 in the conference. Hudson is a definite bomber who takes a higher percentage of his team's field goal attempts than even Stephen Curry (38.9% to 38.1%) and chucks up 9 three pointers per game in his two year career despite just being a 37% shooter.
SLEEPER: Austin Peay. The Governors finished just one game behind the Skyhawks, and although they are awful defensively, they had Hudson's number. Yes, he scored 32 and 30 in the two games, but also shot 11-27 and 8-25 in the games, and had more turnovers than assists in each.
W's PICK: Murray State. The Racers are always involved in March, and finished tied with Austin Peay for second in the conference. They have the right recipe for success in March, a controlled tempo (#299 in the country), balanced attack (8 guys average between 6 and 12 points per game), and a good defense (not really, but best in the OVC) will see them through as Hudson shoots his team right out of the tournament.

BIG SOUTH: A pretty wide open conference with 7 of it's 10 teams at .500 or better in conference play, the Big South has seen a shift since the last two years when UNC-Asheville and Winthrop dominated. Asheville's big mutant freak horse, 7-7 Kenny George, sadly had to have part of his foot amputated which has limited his basketball playing to zero, and Winthrop has fallen into the middle of the pack since coach Gregg Marshall left to destroy Wichita State's program.
FAVORITE: Radford. Although the Highlanders' only non-conference wins came against non-Division I teams, a 15-3 Big South record snags them the #1 seed and title of favorite.
SLEEPER: VMI. The Keydets have a much more impressive overall record at 22-7, were just 2 games behind Radford in the standings and split with them on the season. And don't forget their season-opening win over Kentucky. VMI is the highest scoring team in the country and boasts two of the top three scorers in the Big South in twins Travis and Chavis Holmes.
W's PICK: VMI. Too much firepower. Plus, how awesome would it be if they catch North Carolina in the first round? That game could be 150-120.

HORIZON: Pay attention over here Gopher fans, because Butler is getting in the dance no matter what happens. If they lose, that brings in one team that wouldn't normally be going, and pushes one more team off the bubble - hopefully not the Gophers (of course, they need to win 2 games first and I'm not sure they're capable).
FAVORITE: Butler. Again. They're ranked, and other than a minor hiccup last month, have rolled pretty much all season.
SLEEPER: UW-Green Bay. UWGB beat Butler earlier in the season 75-66, one of just three league losses for the Bulldogs. UWGB is one of the best shooting team in the country, hitting 41% from three (fifth in the nation) and 79% from the line (2nd). If they get hot they could surprise.
W's PICK: Butler. They're just way too good - maybe better than last year.

Cincinnati @ South Florida (ESPNU, 6pm) - The Bearcats only hope is to keep winning
Kansas St @ Oklahoma St (ESPN2, 6:30) - Bubble elimination game right here
Georgetown @ St Johns - The Hoyas are almost completely dead - this would end it for sure
Wake Forest @ Maryland - wins over Mich State and UNC keeping Maryland alive, this one would go a long way as well.
Ohio State @ Iowa (BTN, 8:05) - Experts say Ohio State is in good shape, but I'm not sure I'm buying it. Either way, this almost a must win.

TOMORROW: Atlantic Sun, Patriot, Sun Belt