The last of our conference tournament previews. We’re going to start with the Summit League championship game.
SUMMIT LEAGUE: North Dakota St and IPFW will be meeting for the this league’s title and judging by the semifinal results, North Dakota St is ready to go dancing. However, things don’t always go that way. Expect a really competitive game and North Dakota St to go dancing.
SOUTHLAND: If you’re a regular of this blog, you know how I feel about the Southland conference champion. Stephen F. Austin dominated the regular season going a perfect 18-0 in league play. So far, that hasn’t proven to translate into conference tournament success, but there’s something to be said about a team that won every time it stepped on a court in league play. I fully expect the Lumberjacks to go dancing.
BIG SKY: Weber St has the luxury of not only having a bye into he semifinals, but the Wildcats will also be hosting this tournament. While, that didn’t work for Green Bay in the Horizon League, Weber St has recent history of navigating through this tournament. In Ogden, at elevation and on short rest I don’t think there will be anyone who can beat the Wildcats this week.
BIG WEST: There have been years where the Big West has been much better, but with the loss of Pacific it may take a while for the remaining schools to get to that level. UC-Irvine and UC-Santa Barbara spent much of the season jostling for the No. 1 spot in the league with UC-Irvine finishing a game ahead. That puts the Gauchos on the other side of the bracket with third-place finisher Long Beach St. The 49ers know this tournament all too well and I think they’ll be the squad going dancing.
WESTERN ATHLETIC: No matter what happens in Vegas this week, everyone will think about the ugly incident that took place at Utah Valley when they defeated New Mexico St. It just so happens that those two teams finished 1-2. I believe they’re on a collision course and there will be plenty of bad blood between the two teams. New Mexico St is the more talented team and the Aggies will return to the dance.
SUN BELT: Here is another league that was hurt by defections to other leagues. That has hurt he overall quality of the teams. Georgia St entered the conference from the CAA and immediately staked its claim as the top dog. At 17-1 the Panthers look to be on the fast track to the big dance. Despite that, Western Kentucky sitting around as a team that’s won this tournament recently is a scary site. Georgia St won’t have to play until the semifinals though and the five-game difference in the standings is enough to project the Panthers as winners of this tournament.
On to the bracket.
Last Four In: Minnesota, Arkansas, Tennessee, Saint Joseph’s
Last Four Out: California, Pitt, Georgetown, St. John’s
1.Florida16.Stony Brook Orlando
4.Louisville13.Stephen F. Austin
6.New Mexico11.Iowa Buffalo
7.VCU10.Stanford St. Louis
1.Villanova16.Wofford(SoCon)/Alabama St Buffalo
8.Kansas St9.Arizona St
5.Saint Louis12.Tennessee/Minnesota San Antonio
6.UCLA11.Saint Joseph’s/Arkansas Milwaukee
1.Arizona16.Weber St San Diego
5.Ohio St12.Louisiana Tech San Diego
3.San Diego St14.UC-Irvine
1.Wichita St(MVC)16.Coastal Carolina(BSouth)/Wright St St. Louis
5.Michigan St12.Western Michigan Spokane
4.Oklahoma13.North Dakota St
6.Texas11.Xavier San Antonio