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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Rooting Interests for Championship Week

It's the time of year where ESPN start's pimping the mid-majors because they have exclusive rights to their conference tournaments.  Most people that didn't attend one of these schools really don't care what's going on but if you're a fan of a bubble team you might want to check in every now and then to see what's going on. Every year more than one surprise team wins their respective conference tournament and shrinks the bubble. After this weekend we'll begin to officially count how many bubble spots there are and see who is in line to grab them.
I've listed each of the conference tournaments that will take place this week and shown how potential winners will affect the field.  I've also gone ahead and given my predictions for what it's worth.

America East
Regular Season Champ: Stony Brook
Potential At-large Bids: None
Who fans of Mid-majors want to win: Stony Brook deserves it and is the only potential representative who could skip the play-in game.
Who fans of bubble teams want: No interest
Who will win: Stony Brook went 14-2 in conference play and will pull it out.


Atlantic Sun
Regular Season Champ: Belmont
Potential At-large Bids: Belmont
Who fans of Mid-majors want to win: Belmont's not a sure thing to earn the respect of the committee so winning the conference tournament is the only guarantee the best team moves on.
Who fans of bubble teams want: Belmont since they are likely on the top of the bubble.
Who will win: Belmont




Big South
Regular Season Champ: NC Asheville
Potential At-large Bids: None
Who fans of Mid-majors want to win: NC Asheville
Who fans of bubble teams want: No interest
Who will win: Campbell has a great draw from their point of view. They went 2-0 against Winthrop, their first round opponent, and beat #2 seed Coastal Carolina also. That would likely earn them a draw with NC Asheville where anything can happen.


Colonial
Regular Season Champ: Drexel
Potential At-large Bids: Drexel and maybe VCU
Who fans of Mid-majors want to win: Either George Mason or VCU depending on how confident you are that VCU can earn an at-large bid.
Who fans of bubble teams want: Drexel since they're the only sure team to earn a bid.
Who will win: VCU will end Drexel's 16 game winning streak in an ESPN Instant Classic.




 Horizon League
Regular Season Champ: Valparaiso
Potential At-large Bids: None
Who fans of Mid-majors want to win: Valparaiso or Cleveland St. since they're the two most talented teams.
Who fans of bubble teams want: I think Butler has a lot of fans now.
Who will win: Valpo has a double bye and home court throughout so that may give them just the edge they need.



Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference
Regular Season Champ: Iona
Potential At-large Bids: Iona
Who fans of Mid-majors want to win: Iona's probably in though they're not a sure thing especially with the way the bubble can move in the last week of the season, so Iona.
Who fans of bubble teams want: Definitely Iona.
Who will win: Iona gets it done with their exciting offense and even breaks 100 in their first game.



Missouri Valley Conference
Regular Season Champ: Wichita St.
Potential At-large Bids: Wichita St., Creighton
Who fans of Mid-majors want to win: Anyone but Wichita St. or Creighton to get another team in the field.
Who fans of bubble teams want: The Shockers and Jays have spots locked up so in order to preserve the bubble one of these two teams will need to win Arch Madness.
Who will win: I'm going to go out on a limb and say the winner of Missouri St. and Evansville takes out Wichita St. in the final.  Both of these teams played Creighton tough this season so picking an upset there isn't much of a stretch.

Northeast Conference
Regular Season Champ: Long Island
Potential At-large Bids: None, this is another lock for a 16 seed.
Who fans of Mid-majors want to win: Wagner's defense is good enough to give a top team some trouble which could cause some temporary excitement in the first round.
Who fans of bubble teams want: No interest
Who will win: Wagner shuts down LIU to earn the bid.

Ohio Valley
Regular Season Champ: Murray St.
Potential At-large Bids: Murray St.
Who fans of Mid-majors want to win: Tough call, but I think Murray St. since a championship would give them a 30-1 record prior to the Big Dance with a good shot at reaching the Sweet 16. 
Who fans of bubble teams want: Murray St. is arguably the best mid-major program this season so they're a lock.
Who will win: Murray St. will cruise through their conference tournament since the OVC isn't very good.

Patriot League
Regular Season Champ: Bucknell
Potential At-large Bids: None
Who fans of Mid-majors want to win: Remember when Bucknell upset Kansas a few years ago?
Who fans of bubble teams want: No interest
Who will win: Bucknell leads the nation in fewest offensive rebounds allowed and that's one of the ways to win tournaments: prevent second chances.

Southern League
Regular Season Champ: Davidson
Potential At-large Bids: None. Davidson's ship has sailed.
Who fans of Mid-majors want to win: Davidson is the only team who can bring down a giant.
Who fans of bubble teams want: No interest.
Who will win: I think Davdison gets it done but due to their conference's goofy bracket setup it won't be easy.

West Coast Conference
Regular Season Champ: St. Mary's ended Gonzaga's reign atop the WCC.
Potential At-large Bids: St. Mary's, Gonzaga, and probably BYU barring a silly loss.
Who fans of Mid-majors want to win: Loyola Marymount winning might give this conference four bids.
Who fans of Power Conferences want: St. Mary's or Gonzaga along with a BYU loss to Pepperdine or San Diego.
Who will win: Gonzaga appears to be playing their best ball now and recently ripped St. Mary's. Gonzaga's the pick.


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