Tag: Patrick Mills

Even More Conference Tournament Predictions

I put these together for thehoopsreport.com so they’re a little long-winded

AMERICA EAST

The Favorite: The Binghamton Bearcats are in a position they’ve never been in before. They enter the America East tournament as the hunted. America East Player of the Year D.J. Rivera leads a club that has won 10 out of its last 11 games. The Bearcats have gone on the road and won on the home courts of Big East and Conference USA schools. They’ve prepared for this time of year and look to be ready for any and all comers in Albany this weekend.

The Challenger: The Catamounts of Vermont would be the kings in the America East if it weren’t for Binghamton. They’d be the No. 1 seed this weekend had the Bearcats not swept them. Despite that, this is a team with 23 wins and has been playing at a high level the entire year. They’ve won 14 of 15 and are on a serious roll entering the postseason. Although they face the unenviable task of having to face Albany on its home court in the quarterfinals, junior Marquis Blakely and the rest of the Catamounts will be a tough out.

The Darkhorse: The UMBC Retrievers enter the postseason losing three of their last four. However, this team is confident and experienced. Seniors Darryl Proctor and Jay Greene played integral roles in UMBC’s run to last year’s NCAA tournament and are fully capable of putting three solid games together. The Retrievers are responsible for one of Binghampton’s conference losses. This is one scary No. 6 seed.

When it’s all said and done, the cream will rise to the top in the America East. Vermont and Binghamton have been the teams to beat all season and nothing will change this weekend. The championship game will be in Binghamton, but Vermont will avenge the two earlier losses and return to the tournament for the first time since 2005.

COLONIAL ATHLETIC ASSOCIATION

The Favorite: Two years ago, Eric Maynor put his name on the map with a game-winning shot against Duke. He’s still at Virginia Commonwealth and he’s one of the best guards in the country. The Rams always seem to be at the top of the CAA and this year was no different. They’ve had mixed results coming down the stretch with a 5-3 record in their last eight. However, the Rams have Eric Maynor and he makes them the most dangerous team in the CAA.

George Mason Coach Jim Larranaga
George Mason Coach Jim Larranaga

The Challenger: Jim Larranaga has his Patriots in this position again. George Mason has been lurking the entire season and are in their relished position of the being the hunter. The names have changed from their Final Four run three years ago, but this is still an experienced basketball team. Seniors Dre Smith and John Vaughn are still at Mason and they have seen everything. They’ll expect to be in the Big Dance and that’s not something many mid-majors share with them.

The Darkhorse: Old Dominion quietly went about its business all year. Head coach Blaine Taylor’s Monarchs traditionally have talent, but seem to be overlooked in the CAA. After winning their last five, no one in the CAA is going to take them lightly. They’re as hot as any team in the conference and are the last team anyone wants to face in Richmond this weekend.

The CAA Tournament is always a very competitive tournament and this year will be no different. There are six teams capable of cutting the nets down in Richmond and that makes for great basketball. Old Dominion will meet George Mason in a classic Monday night and the Patriots will take their rightful place back in the field of 65.

METRO ATLANTIC

The Favorite: The Siena Saints began the season with at-large aspirations after their impressive showing in last year’s tournament.  They played a difficult non-conference schedule and got off to a slow start.  Once conference play started, the Saints showed their mettle and rolled to a 16-2 conference record to save their at-large hopes.  The experienced club led by senior Kenny Hasbrouck and junior Edwin Ubiles; Siena will be a tough out this weekend and, possibly, in two weeks as well.

The Challenger: Niagara has been consistent all year long.  The Purple Eagles hit the road in their non-conference schedule and are as prepared for this time of year as any team in the MAAC.  First-team All-MAAC and the conference’s defensive player of the year, junior Tyrone Lewis controls this club which closed the season with victories over Siena and Missouri Valley contender, Illinois St.  They are fully capable of keeping up with the Saints.

The Darkhorse: The only MAAC team to defeat both Siena and Niagara was the Rider Broncs.  They closed the season winning 7 of their last 9 and believe they can win the automatic bid.  Junior Ryan Thompson is one of the most explosive players in the MAAC and will be able to get any shot he wants this weekend.  The Broncs believe they should be mentioned with the Saints and Purple Eagles and are ready to prove why.

The bracket sets up well for Siena, who should cruise into the finals.  The other half of the bracket will be much more difficult with Niagara and Rider vying for the opportunity to face Siena.  In the end, Niagara will navigate its way to the finals to set up one of the best championship games of any conference tournament.  The homecourt advantage will not help the Saints this year though and Niagara will go dancing.

SOUTHERN CONFERENCE

Davidson Guard Stephen Curry
Davidson Guard Stephen Curry

The Favorite: Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past three seasons, you know Stephen Curry is and you know who the Davidson Wildcats are.  This edition of the Wildcats isn’t as potent as last year’s, but they are still dangerous.  They’ve beaten West Virginia and NC State on neutral courts and have breezed through the SoCon regular season once again.  While they actually lost a league game this year, something they hadn’t done in two seasons, the Wildcats are still the team to beat as long as Curry puts on a Davidson jersey.

The Challenger: There’s only one team who can claim to beat Davidson at full strength during conference play and that’s the College of Charleston.  Head Coach Bobby Cremins has turned around the program which was a perennial NCAA tournament team in the late 90’s.  All-Conference guard Andrew Goudelock and the Cougars have wins over TCU and South Carolina so they’re a tested group.  They’ve proven they can beat the Wildcats now it’s time to see if they can do it again.

The Darkhorse: When the Citadel Bulldogs upset Davidson on February 18, the Wildcats were without Stephen Curry.  That doesn’t matter to the Bulldogs though.  They’re the playing their best basketball right now as winners of 12 of their last 13 and finished in a tie for second in the South Division.  In a season where they’ve won 18 games against Division-I opponents and 15 conference games for the first time, is an initial trip to the NCAA tournament in the offering for the Bulldogs as well?

The worst thing the College of Charleston and Citadel could’ve done was make Davidson see its own blood. Now the Wildcats have their antennas up and will be ready in Chattanooga this weekend.  While it won’t be easy, Davidson will make four consecutive trips to the Big Dance.

WEST COAST

The Favorite: Anyone who finishes with an undefeated conference record is going to be the favorite and this situation is no different.  Gonzaga is back in its usual spot with an NCAA tournament bid all but sewn up.  This could be the most talented team in Bulldogs’ history with seniors Jeremy Pargo, Josh Heytvelt, and Micah Downs leading the way.  Head Coach Mark Few always plays a tough non-conference schedule to prepare his team for this time of year.  They fell victim to the upset in last year’s WCC tourney.  They’ll be out to make sure that doesn’t happen again.

The Challenger: The Saint Mary’s Gaels captured an at-large bid last season and may be in position to do the same this year.  Sophomore Patrick Mills, possibly the best guard in the country, is back from injury and ready to pick up where he left off.  When healthy, this Gaels team can play with anyone in the country.  They’ve won five in-a-row including a huge win over Utah State in “Bracket Busters.”  This is a confident team going in to Las Vegas this weekend.

The Darkhorse: There was a buzz in the preseason that the San Diego Toreros may be able to capture an at-large bid after their upset of UConn in last year’s NCAA Tournament.  The Toreros have struggled this season, but this is still a team that can jump up and bite you.  Brandon Johnson is gone for the season, but any team with Gyno Pomare and Rob Jones is capable of doing damage.

When all is said and done, this is a two-horse race.  Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s are on a collision course and it’s going to be a special basketball game.  The Gaels played one and half games against the Bulldogs without Patrick Mills and now that he’s back, they’re chomping at the bit.  Saint Mary’s will take its NCAA Tournament fate out of the committee’s hands and win the WCC tournament.

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Hypothetical Situations that Just Might Happen

We’re going to do something different this week.  Since Selection Sunday is creeping up on us, I’m going to talk about different scenarios that may play out for some bubble teams.

St. Marys Guard Patrick Mills
St. Mary's Guard Patrick Mills

Saint Mary’s: Patrick Mills comes back.  A month ago, I thought the season was over for the Gaels when Mills was injured and it appeared I was correct in my assumption when they lost four of five.  However, the Gaels have rebounded to win three straight and when the committee gets in the room, they’re going to consider the Gaels record with Mills.  They have two games left in the regular season and the conference tournament.  Let’s say the Gaels win all their games up to the West Coast Conference Championship where they would lose to Gonzaga.  They would have lost only 2 games without Mills vs. 24 wins.  Are wins over Providence, San Diego St, and Utah St worth an At-large bid?

Creighton: The Blue Jays are 10-2 in their last 12 and have snatched the lead from Northern Iowa in the Missouri Valley.  They have two games left in the regular season and would win two games to get the the MVC championship game.  If the Blue Jays were able to win every game left except the championship game, they’d be 27-7, probably 11-5 against the top-100, 11-1 in their last 12, and the regular season winner of the 9th rated conference in the country.  That resume has been good enough to get you in in the past.  Will it be this season?

New Mexico: The Lobos are currently in a 3-way tie for second in the Mountain West Conference.  They’ve beaten UNLV, BYU, and San Diego St in conference with a win over Ole Miss out-of-conference.  For the sake of argument, let’s say they  win 3 out of their last 4 and finish in 3rd place.  They win their first-round game and then lose their semi-final game.  Will that be enough to get the Lobos to the tournament?

Notre Dame F Luke Harangody
Notre Dame F Luke Harangody

Notre Dame: The Fighting Irish have won 3 out of it’s last 4 after losing the previous 7.  They have four games left in the regular season including two against UCONN and Villanova.  Let’s say the Irish go 3 of 4 and win it’s first 2 games in the Big East tournament.  That’ll be four wins over teams in the NCAA tournament and three of those wins would’ve come in it’s last 10.  Will 9-9 in the Big East get Notre Dame in?

This week’s Bracket Projections:

Last Four In: Texas A&M, Michigan, Tennessee, Maryland

Last Four Out: Temple, USC, St. Mary’s, USC

This bracket is good for games played thru Sunday, February22, 2009.

MIDWEST

1.Pittsburgh16.Tenn-Martin/Alabama St Dayton, OH

8.Utah St9.Boston College

5.Washington12.Tennessee Portland, OR

4.Purdue13.Western Kentucky

6.West Virginia11.Michigan Miami, FL

3.Clemson14.North Dakota St

7.Arizona10.Kentucky Kansas City, MO

2.Memphis15.Stephen F. Austin

WEST

1.North Carolina16.Jacksonville Greensboro, NC

8.Florida9.Texas

5.Illinois12.BYU Portland, OR

4.Marquette13.Binghampton

6.California11.Maryland Minneapolis, MN

3.Kansas14.Buffalo

7.Dayton10.Penn St Philadelphia, PA

2.Louisville15.Cornell

SOUTH

1.Oklahoma16.Long Beach St Kansas City, MO

8.Wisconsin9.Butler

5.Arizona St12.Siena Boise, ID

4.LSU13.Davidson

6.Xavier11.Minnesota Miami, FL

3.Villanova14.American

7.UCLA10.UNLV Greensboro, NC

2.Duke15.Morgan St

EAST

1.Connecticut16.Radford Philadelphia, PA

8.Ohio St9.South Carolina

5.Utah12.Texas A&M Boise, ID

4.Wake Forest13.Virginia Commonwealth

6.Florida St11.Creighton Minneapolis, MN

3.Michigan St14.Weber St

7.Gonzaga10.Syracuse Dayton, OH

2.Missouri15.Robert Morris

Leaders of the Pac(k)

Washington F Jon Brockman
Washington F Jon Brockman

Quick, which team is the best team in the state of Washington?  I bet you answered Gonzaga.  You may be correct, but they have a serious challenger in the form of the Washington Huskies.  Lorenzo Romar has his team tied for first in the Pac-10 with wins over USC, UCLA and Arizona St already.

Led by Isaiah Thomas, Jon Brockman, and Justin Dentmon, Washington is poised to make a run at the Pac-10 regular season and tournament titles and an opportunity to play close to home in the NCAA tournament.  They have four very winnable games upcoming before they go on the road to play the Los Angeles schools.

I know they’re games air late on the East coast, but if I were you, I’d make sure I’d catch a UW game soon.

Stock Up: Kansas.  It’s amazing.  They’re the defending national champions, but no one is talking about the Jayhawks.  They’re rolling right now after a very tough start which included a loss to UMass.  Cole Aldrich is one of the most improved players in America and Sherron Collins is playing out of this world basketball right now.  This team is well on its way to moving out of the shadow of last year’s squad.

Stock Down: Pat Knight.  He took a page out of his father’s book and went crazy on Saturday.  That type of behavior may be ok for his father because his father won games.  Pat is 10-10 right now at Texas Tech.  You can’t use that type of decorum on the court and not win.  You can get fired easily doing that and I don’t care who your father is.

Stock Up: Penn St.  Now THIS is how you get over the Rose Bowl.  This is clearly the best Penn St team since they went to the tournament eight years ago.  That team made it all the way to the Sweet 16.  I don’t know if this team has that kind of success in it, but it could be on it’s way to a tournament berth.

Stock Down: St. Mary’s.  Unfortunately Patrick Mills broke his hand last week.  He’s going to be out for a month and that’s going to destroy the Gaels at-large chances.  This is just not a tournament team without him on the floor.  It’s a shame too, because he’s clearly one of the best guards in the country.

This week’s Bracket Projections:

Last Four In: Michigan, Providence, Georgetown, Texas A&M

Last Four Out: BYU, Baylor, Cincinnati, San Diego St

Sorry Wake Forest fans, as the last #1, you got stuck with the Fri-Sun games because of the play-in game.

This bracket is good for games played through Sunday, February 1, 2009.

SOUTH

1.North Carolina16.Long Beach St Greensboro, NC

8.Davidson9.UNLV

5.Washington12.Georgetown Portland, OR

4.Purdue13.Buffalo

6.Gonzaga11.Florida St Portland, OR

3.Xavier14.Cornell

7.Ohio St10.Tennessee Minneapolis, MN

2.Marquette15.East Tennessee St

MIDWEST

1.Oklahoma16.Holy Cross Kansas City, MO

8.Arizona St9.LSU

5.Illinois12.Providence Philadelphia, PA

4.Butler13.Northern Iowa

6.Missouri11.Siena Miami, FL

3.Clemson14.Stephen F. Austin

7.USC10.Penn St Kansas City, MO

2.Louisville15.Weber St

WEST

1.Wake Forest16. Morehead St/Alabama St Dayton, OH

8.Syracuse9.South Carolina

5.Texas12.Michigan Miami, FL

4.Villanova13.Western Kentucky

6.UCLA11.Kentucky Boise, ID

3.Memphis14.VMI

7.Utah St10.Boston College Dayton, OH

2.Pittsburgh15.Robert Morris

EAST

1.Connecticut16.Morgan St Philadelphia, PA

8.Utah9.California

5.Minnesota12.Virginia Tech Boise, ID

4.Kansas13.Northeastern

6.West Virginia11.Texas A&M Minneapolis, MN

3.Michigan St14.North Dakota St

7.Dayton10.Florida Greensboro, NC

2.Duke15.Vermont