Is this the year when coach Mike Brey gets his Notre Dame team to the second weekend of the NCAA tournament. Its something that hasn’t happened for Notre Dame in quite some time, but it looks like Brey finally has the squad to do.
Notre Dame has always been a great jump-shooting team, but now it looks like they have the total package. What’s separating the Irish this year is the late season emergence of freshman Bonzie Colson. Colson, with his long arms give the Irish a legitimate post presence.
Notre Dame looks right for a deep run this year. If they can show some toughness this March, they could be a sleeper in the tournament.
MID-EASTERN ATHLETIC: The MEAC is one of the few leagues that saw a team roll through the regular season undefeated. North Carolina Central looks like the class of a MEAC that is as good as its been in recent memory. Norfolk St and UMES will challenge the Eagles, but expect Central to repeat as champions and return to the NCAA tournament.
MID-AMERICAN: As usual, the MAC was competitive like always with three teams, Central Michigan, Kent St and Buffalo, finishing tied for the regular season crown at 12-6. Behind those three, Bowling Green and Toledo finished tied for fourth with identical 11-7 records. Suffice it to say, this thing is completely up in the air. In the end, Kent St’s history navigating this tournament makes them the pick here.
SOUTHWESTERN ATHLETIC: Texas Southern, a team that has wins at Michigan St and Kansas St, rolled nearly wire-to-wire here. They have only two conference losses and look primed to make another run to the NCAA tournament. The only teams close, Southern and Alabama St, are ineligible for the postseason but are somehow allowed to compete anyway. Look for the Texas Southern to go dancing.
Last Four In: Illinois, Miami (FL), Texas, Purdue
Last Four Out: Indiana, UCLA, Old Dominion, Texas A&M
On Saturday night the North Carolina Tarheels showed the world why they were ranked preseason No. 1. North Carolina went to Duke and thoroughly defeated a team that will be a No. 2 seed at the least. It was one of the more impressive performances I’ve seen this season and served notice to Syracuse and Kentucky that there’s one more legit contender for the national championship.
The Tarheels have possibly the best frontcourt in the nation with John Henson, Tyler Zeller and Harrison Barnes to go along with perhaps the best pure point guard in Kendall Marshall. This is a scary team to face because they can beat you with so many guys.
Defense and point guard depth is a concern, but good luck to any team that plans on outscoring the Heels. They have their mojo back and are serious threats to cut down the nets.
MID-AMERICAN: This will be a competitive tournament as usual. The MAC is one of the best mid-major conferences in the country and the action in Cleveland should be entertaining. Akron won the regular season championship, but that was only by one game over Buffalo, who swept the season series. Neither Akron or Buffalo will have to play until the semifinals, but it won’t matter as Ohio will get the automatic bid.
MID-EASTERN ATHLETIC: I’ve never liked how the MEAC stretches its tournament out. A league that’s constantly fighting to stay out of Dayton should be doing everything it can to make sure it’s best teams have the best chance of winning. For that reason I don’t trust regular season champion Savannah St to win. I’m going with the experience of Fang Mitchell’s Coppin St club to go dancing.
SOUTHLAND: Texas-Arlington cruised through league play and lost it’s only conference game in its last game. It has been consistent all year and appear to be the favorite. I’m not choosing the Mavericks though. Ever since Pat Knight ripped his Lamar Cardinals they’ve been playing like a different team. I expect that to carry over to an automatic bid.
SOUTHWESTERN ATHLETIC: Mississippi Valley State’s 17-1 conference record is an impressive feat. The Delta Devils lone loss came on the last game of the regular season and I think it’ll serve as a wake-up call. The fact that second-place finisher Southern is ineligble for postseason play on solidifies my belief that the Delta Devils will dance.
WESTERN ATHLETIC: I’ve seen the Nevada Wolfpack play multiple times and I’ve come away impressed every time. They have a gaudy 25 wins and should have the support of plenty of Wolfpack fans in Las Vegas. New Mexico St and Idaho will be threats, but won’t be good enough.
BIG WEST: The last thing the rest of the Big West needed to happen was to have Long Beach St lose it’s final regular season game. The 49ers now have the extra motivation of avenging their only regular season conference loss. I’m convinced that Long Beach St is among the best 35-50 best teams in the country and none of their Big West mates are even close. Long Beach St will dance.
Today’s Bracket Projections:
Last Four In: Tennessee, Virginia Commonwealth, Northwestern, Colorado St
Last Four Out: South Florida, California, Oregon, NC State