As the big boys continue their conference seasons, the little guys hit the floor to start their conference tournaments.
Today marks the first day for the Big South and Horizon League Tournaments, while the Atlantic Sun, Ohio Valley Conference and Patriot Leauge tip-off their games tomorrow.
March is here my friends!
Horizon League Preview
Bubble- Butler, Cleveland State
PROJECTED CHAMPIONSHIP GAME- 1. UW-Milwaukee 18-12 (13-5) vs 2. Butler 21-9 (13-5)
So it looks like the highly anticipated match-up between Cleveland State and Butler will occur in the semifinals rather than the finals. The interesting thing about this game not being the finals is that it will be contested on a neutral floor; at UW-Milwaukee because they’re the number one seed.
The Vikings and Bulldogs have played in some memorable confrontations in recent Horizon League tournament history. The combatants met in back to back Championship Games in 2008 and 2009. Butler defeated Cleveland State handidly in 2008, but the Vikings pulled the shocker a year later 57.53. Cleveland State then went on and made a run to the Sweet 16 as a 13 seed.
I feel like Butler has done enough to warrant an NCAA bid, while Cleveland State most likely has to win the conference tournament to get into the Big Dance.
Butler and Cleveland State are getting all the hype, and deservedly so, but UW-Milwaukee beat Butler twice this year. Let’s not sleep on the Panthers.
PREDICTION- Butler has too much experience, I’ll take the Bulldogs.
Projected Tournament Seed- Butler (11)
Player to Watch- Norris Cole (Cleveland State)- The high-top fade is back! The Vikings love to utilize the pick-and-roll and this is where Cole excells as evidenced by his 41 point outburst against Youngstown State.
Big South Preview
PROJECTED CHAMPIONSHIP GAME- 1. Coastal Carolina 26-5 (13-5) vs 2. 21-9 (13-5)
The possible game to look at in this tournament is a possible semifinal rematch of last year’s Championship Game between Winthrop and Coastal Carolina. Winthrop has had a strangle-hold on the league for the better part of a decade; last year was Coastal Carolina’s first time in any real national spotlight. They showed jitters in that game a year ago. I expect a different outcome this time around.
UNC Asheville has a lot of momentum heading into the conference tournament, especially after the stunning buzzer-beater they had against the Chanticleers on Feb. 23.
PREDICTION- The Chanticleers have waited 12 months to get back to this point, it’s their time.
Projected Tournament Seed- Coastal Carolina (13)
Player to Watch- Chad Gray (Coastal Carolina)- The transfer from South Carolina made a significant impact in his two seasons with the Chanticleers. Gray averages 14 points and six rebounds a night.
About the Author
Written by Adrian Fedkiw
I currently work for the Sports Network. It's the best job ever! I am a 2010 graduate of Temple University where I majored in broadcast journalism, I LOVE SPORTS! That's why I am here. I have a vast knowledge and want to share my athletic intelligence with the world. Some people like to spend their time shooting down aliens in Halo; I like to spend my time watching sports, current and old. It's my passion! I got asked one time how I can watch a game over again when I already know the outcome. 5 minutes later, he's watching Happy Gilmore reciting all of the lines from the movie. Hypocrite! As for my favorite sports teams, I've been a lifelong Philadelphia sports fan. My favorite athlete is Allen Iverson. He didn't like practice that much, but when it came to gametime, no one let it all out on the floor like Iverson. He is absolutely beloved in the city of Brotherly Love. For college athletics, obviously I pay close attention to Temple. (Yes, football too) Even before I stepped foot on Temple's campus for the 1st time in 2005, I was a fan. Oh the good old days of John Chaney! Some other tidbits about myself, I love cheesesteaks, I hydrate myself with Welch's Grape Juice and Snapple. I love the HBO show Entourage. Also, when is Kenny Powers making his much anticipated return in Eastbound and Down!