Tag: MVC

Conference Tournament Previews Pt. 2

OHIO VALLEY: The OVC protects its best teams until the semifinals. That means Belmont and Murray St won’t be playing until Friday night. On the other hand, the 5-8 seeds will have to win four games to win the championship. It’s happened before, but I have a hard time seeing that happening with how dominant the Bruins and Racers have been. Belmont clipped Murray St earlier this season, but that was at home. It was the only time the two squads played and here’s hoping we get a rematch. If we do, I predict Belmont to win that one too.

NORTHEAST: Wagner is one of the better mid-majors in the country and its 14-4 NEC record justifies that. The Seahawks performed admirably in the non-conference and are the favorites as they’ll have homecourt throughout. They made a critical mistake though. They let tournament-tested Mount St. Mary’s beat them in the last regular season game. That’s the last team you need to give confidence to. For that reason the Mountaineers will make a return trip to the NCAA tournament.

MISSOURI VALLEY: Loyola-Chicago is the favorite after having one of the more impressive seasons in all of conference basketball. The Ramblers have a sneaky at-large resume as well. They’re one of the newer programs in the MVC so they don’t have much history in this tournament. That being said its difficult to see a team that did what Loyola did in and out of conference losing in this version of the MVC.

METRO-ATLANTIC ATHLETIC: This is a tournament that always seems to provide upsets. There have been pretty good Iona and Monmouth teams in the past that have failed to finish the deal. This year Canisius and Rider finished in a first-place tie. Rider won the tiebreaker and gets the No. 1 seed. That helps the Broncs avoid a possible quarterfinal road game against Siena. That said I expect to see Canisius and Rider in the final. They split both games – winning on their homecourt by one point. Canisius will find away to get it done in its home state.

 

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The Feasibility of a Multi-Bid Missouri Valley

 

loyola florida
(Ron Irby – Associated Press)

Here we are in the second week of December and we’re going to talk about NCAA tournament scenarios for a mid-major conference. We’re doing it because the Missouri Valley, without the assistance of Wichita St, is having a helluva pre-conference season.

 

Northern Iowa currently sits with a RPI of 20. The Panthers also have the 12th rated strength of schedule (SOS) in the country and a projected non-conference SOS of 6. They made it to the championship game of the Battle 4 Atlantis where they beat SMU and NC State while losing to Villanova. After that, they beat UNLV and UT-Arlington. They’re in really good shape barring a meltdown.

Valparaiso just took it’s first loss last night to Purdue. The Crusaders’ RPI is 52, but their SOS is 183 and their projected non-conference SOS is 247. They have games left at Ball St, Northwestern, Santa Clara and UC Riverside before conference play starts. They’ll probably have to win all those games and finish in at least second to have a chance.

Missouri St’s current RPI is 60. The Bears’ best win by the numbers thus far was over South Dakota St. They’re current SOS is 119 and their projected non-conference SOS is 199. There are really no other opportunities left for the Bears to make any headway before conference play.

Loyola-Chicago. This is the most intriguing one. The Ramblers are coming off a huge win at No. 5 Florida on Wednesday. Their lone loss came at Boise St by 34. Their current RPI is 70 with a SOS of a horrible 270 and a projected non-conference SOS of 263. Those numbers are ugly but they beat Florida and are 4-1 in road/neutral games.

Overall, the league is the 7th in RPI with the 10th best SOS. That’s ahead of the American, Mountain West and Atlantic-10.

I’m not sure any of the teams have an at-large profile outside of Northern Iowa right now. It’s certainly possible that more than one of these clubs will go dancing, but they’re going to have to go on major win streaks during conference play.

This is still an impressive run by a league that has lost it’s two best programs to realignment in the past 5 years.

More Conference Tournament Previews

AMERICA EAST: Albany was by far the most dominant team in the league this season. The Great Danes didn’t lose their first conference game until Feb. 17. With all games being at campus sites its going to take a lot to keep Albany from repeating.

MISSOURI VALLEY: This certainly was a top heavy league this year as Wichita St and Northern Iowa ran away and hid from the rest of the conference. That’s why it is expected that those will be the two teams playing for the championship on Sunday. In the rubber match, expect Wichita St, the team with the superior experience and talent, to cut down the nets.

METRO ATLANTIC ATHLETIC: A loss on the last day of the regular season is the only thing that kept Iona from winning the league by three games. The Gaels’ misstep doesn’t scare me too much as they’ve been to the tournament recently and will be tough prep on short rest. The tournament will be competitive as always, but expect Iona to go dancing.

SOUTHERN: As good as Wofford has been over the course of the year, Chattanooga has been right there all along. The two squads were far and away the class of this conference and appear to be on a collision course for a Monday night showdown. The teams won on each other’s home floor so this creates a bit of intrigue. Wofford is the favorite here, but not by much.

COLONIAL: The regular season in the CAA finished in a four-way tie for first place. If there’s anyone out there who’ll tell you they have this league pegged than than call that person’s bluff. On a true neutral court in Baltimore anything can happen. Given the disappointment from last season and performing well against the other top teams in the league, I’m going with William & Mary.

WEST COAST: There may be many people wondering if there’s a major kink in the armor of Gonzaga after losing to BYU in it’s last regular season home game. I am not one of those people. BYU played fantastic and could very well be a tournament team itself, but Gonzaga is one of the best teams in the country and it’ll have motivation. The Zags will win in Vegas.

SUMMIT: South Dakota St and North Dakota St went back and forth this season vying for the Summit League’s No. 1 spot. At the end of the day, both teams finished with 12-4 records with South Dakota St winning the tiebreaker. Playing the tournament in the state of South Dakota gives the Jackrabbits a bit of a chance. Despite that, there’s a team on their side of bracket who’s beaten them and is even closer to the site where the tournament will be played. That’s the South Dakota Coyotes and they’re my upset pick to win the Summit League.

The Biggest Cats in the Valley

Northern Iowa’s Seth Tuttle. Photo: Jeffrey Becker, USA TODAY Sports

The country has been so enamored with Wichita St over the past three years that it overlooked a program that has been among the most successful in the Missouri Valley in the past decade. That is no longer an issue as Northern Iowa has staked its claim as the team to beat in the MVC.

As in most years, the Panthers are doing it with defense as they lead the league in points allowed, field goal percentage defense, and three-point field goal percentage defense. In fact, when Wichita St made the trip up to Cedar Falls it only shot 35.4 percent for the game.

Defense can carry a team a long way in March and the Panthers, who’ve only allowed one opponent to score 60 since December 13, have the tools to get to the second weekend.

Stock Up: Oklahoma and Oklahoma St. The arch rivals are having quite the run in recent weeks. Both are climbing the Big XII standings and posting impressive wins while they do it.

Stock Down: Georgetown. There’s a lot of talent on the team, but it’s just not coming together as of yet. The Hoyas have plenty of time to climb out of their current funk, but getting swept by Xavier and Providence won’t look good on Selection Sunday.

Stock Up: Harvard. Hasn’t been the prettiest start, but it looks like the Crimson has found its groove. Harvard is beginning to resemble the team everyone thought it would before the season started.

Stock Down: USC. The Trojans are 1-10 in conference play and this is a down year in the Pac-12. Andy Enfield has yet to get Dunk City to move to Los Angeles.

On to the Bracket.

Last Four In: Miami(FL), Stanford, Purdue, Texas A&M

Last Four Out: Colorado St, Michigan St, Boise St, Rhode Island

This bracket is good for games thru 2/8

Quick Note: Virginia is on the No. 2 line because of Justin Anderson’s injury. We’ll see how this week plays out.

MIDWEST

1.Kentucky16.North Florida/Alabama St Louisville

8.Iowa9.Xavier

5.Ohio St12.Stephen F. Austin Jacksonville

4.Oklahoma13.Harvard

6.Cincinnati11.Old Dominion Portland

3.Utah14.North Carolina Central

7.SMU10.Georgia Charlotte

2.Virginia15.Albany

WEST

1.Gonzaga16.Sacramento St Seattle

8.Georgetown9.Dayton

5.Northern Iowa12.Purdue/Stanford Columbus

4.Iowa St13.Valparaiso

6.Oklahoma St11.Texas A&M/Miami(FL) Louisville

3.North Carolina14.Bowling Green

7.VCU10.Illinois Portland

2.Arizona15.New Mexico St

EAST

1.Duke16.North Dakota St Charlotte

8.Indiana9.Tulsa

5.West Virginia12.Wofford Pittsburgh

4.Wichita St13.Iona

6.Maryland11.UCLA Seattle

3.Baylor14.UC Davis

7.Mississippi10.Texas Pittsburgh

2.Villanova15.Louisiana Monroe

SOUTH

1.Wisconsin16.St. Francis(NY)/Colgate Omaha

8.San Diego St9.LSU

5.Butler12.Murray St Jacksonville

4.Notre Dame13.Louisiana Tech

6.Arkansas11.Temple Columbus

3.Louisville14.William & Mary

7.Providence10.George Washington Omaha

2.Kansas15.High Point

More Conference Tournament Previews

MISSOURI VALLEY: Who are we fooling here?  There’s only one real choice and that’s Wichita St.  The  Shockers are the nation’s lone undefeated team and there’s nothing that says they’ll lose in St. Louis this week.  Out of 18 conference games, only three were decided by single-digits.  On a neutral floor, this is the Shockers’ tournament to lose.

WEST COAST: This should be one of the more intriguing tournaments early in championship week.  The WCC has gone back to a traditional bracket and away from a system that protected the top two seeds until the semifinals.  That evens the playing field with no one team having a real advantage in Vegas.  With four teams in the top-70 of the RPI, this will be a fun tournament to watch.  I expect BYU to be up to the challenge and go to the Big Dance.

COLONIAL ATHLETIC ASSOCIATION: This should be another barnburner of a tournament.  The CAA has held its tournament in Richmond since the beginning of time, but since many of it’s heavy-hitting Virginia teams have left the league, the conference decided to move the tournament to Baltimore.  At one point it looked like Delaware would run the table, but they’ve lost a couple down the stretch.  One of those losses was to Towson – a team that finished a game behind Delaware and should have plenty of fans in attendance.  I expect the Tigers to ride that advantage and Jerrelle Benimon to the NCAA tournament.

METRO ATLANTIC ATHLETIC: This is a league filled with teams that are fun to watch.  However there is one team that seems to stay in the upper echelon of the league year after year.  Iona won the regular season title outright this year and seems poised to return to the Big Dance.  It would be their third consecutive trip.  The Gaels will get strong challenges from Manhattan, Quinnipiac, and Canisius, but they’re up-and-down style of play should propel them this week.

SOUTHERN: On it’s way out of the conference, Davidson decided to let the SoCon know just what it’ll be missing next season.  The Wildcats ran away with the regular season title with a 15-1 record.  They are the class of league and it’ll be sad to see them in the Atlantic 10 next season.  For this season though, the Wildcats will remind everyone why they were the dominant team in the league.

SHOCKing Results

Fred VanVleet has led Wichita St to a 19-0 record

Threw almost three months of the season there is one team whose undefeated record is as surprising as its run to the Final Four last season.  Wichita St rolled through its non-conference schedule and with Creighton in the Big East, it looks like the Shockers will face little resistance in the Missouri Valley this season.

Led by one of the best point guards in the country in Fred VanVleet, the Shockers destroyed Indiana St, the only other team in the Valley with real at-large aspirations.  He runs the show and is surrounded by talent that plenty of high majors schools are probably envious of.  Throw in Gregg Marshall, a man who’s legitimately one of the best coaches in the country and this is a team that looks like a national title contender.

Stock Up: Tyler Ennis.  The Syracuse freshman has taken this team to another level.  Any thoughts of a drop off after Michael Carter-Williams have been erased as Ennis has made the Orange the favorite to win the ACC.

Stock Down: Big East favorites.  Both Georgetown and Marquette are sputtering to find themselves as injuries, suspensions and early departures have crushed their respective rosters.  Both squads thought they’d perform much better this season but neither have been close to upholding the standard the each program has set.

Stock Up: Kansas.  The Jayhawks are putting it together and its going to get scary for everyone else.  It appears that Joel Embiid has taken the reigns as the best player on this team and everyone else has followed.  Kansas already has four losses, but it could be a good while before it losses again…if it losses again.

Stock Down: VCU. The Rams have been figured out.  If you limit VCU’s transition opportunities they can’t score.  This team can get hot from deep, but it’s not consistent when the Rams are off, they’re extremely easy to defend.

On to the bracket:

First one of the year.

Last Four In: North Carolina, Stanford, Providence, SMU

Last Four Out: Saint Mary’s, Boise St, Purdue, Georgetown

 

WEST

1.Arizona16.Robert Morris/Chattanooga               San Diego

8.Baylor9.Florida St

5.Ohio St12.Providence/Stanford             Raleigh

4.Duke13.Mercer

6.Memphis11.Texas       San Antonio

3.Wichita St14.Georgia St

7.Kansas St10.George Washington           Milwaukee

2.Wisconsin15.Vermont

SOUTH

1.Florida16.Radford        Orlando

8.UCLA9.Xavier

5.Pittsburgh12.Toledo   San Diego

4.Cincinnati13.Stephen F. Austin

6.Gonzaga11.Clemson   Spokane

3.Oklahoma St14.Boston

7.Michigan10.Harvard    Buffalo

2.Villanova15.Utah Valley

MIDWEST

1.Michigan St16.Southern            Milwaukee

8.California9.Southern Miss

5.Iowa St12.Missouri      Raleigh

4.Louisville13.Manhattan

6.Oklahoma11.Green Bay            San Antonio

3.UMass14.Northern Colorado

7.Virginia10.Oregon        Spokane

2.San Diego St15.UC Irvine

EAST

1.Syracuse16.South Dakota/Morgan St  Buffalo

8.Minnesota9.Colorado

5.Saint Louis12.SMU/North Carolina        Orlando

4.Kentucky13.Belmont

6.Creighton11.VCU         St. Louis

3.Iowa14.Towson

7.UConn10.New Mexico               St. Louis

2.Kansas15.Old Dominion

More Conference Tournament Previews

WEST COAST: This one is academic.  There is one team in this league that will potentially be a No. 1 seed and then there is one team who may get an at-large bid.  Gonzaga went 16-0 in league play this year with some really impressive victories.  In Las Vegas this weekend, I can’t see anyone beating the Bulldogs on a neutral floor.  Saint Mary’s is playing for its NCAA tournament life, but I don’t think it will be enough to overcome the talent Gonzaga has.

NORTHEAST: Robert Morris finished two games ahead of the crowded bunch of teams which includes Wagner, Bryant and Long Island University.  In fact, the top seven finishers in the NEC finished .500 or above so I expect this to be one of the craziest conference tournaments in all of college basketball.  In a situation like this I give the edge to a team that’s been there before and that team is LIU.  The Blackbirds know how to navigate this tournament and I expect them to go dancing again.

PATRIOT LEAGUE: This year was supposed to be nothing short of a coronation for Lehigh.  However, C.J. McCollum injured his foot and Lehigh wasn’t able to sustain early season success.  One school that has been able to is Bucknell.  The Bison have lost only two games in conference play and five overall and since this tournament is played on the home court of the higher seeded team, I’d say its the heavy favorite to win this tournament.

MISSOURI VALLEY: The eyes of the nation were on Creighton and Wichita St in the Missouri Valley this season.  While many expected the two to dominate; history tells us that this conference has been known to eat its own and that’s why Indiana St’s at-large hopes have gone up in smoke.  This is always one of the more competitive tournaments and this year should be no different.  I expect one of the hottest teams in the league to shock the world.  Evansville will cut down the nets in St. Louis.