Boston University Terriers
What They’re Playing For: Now that the top seed of this tournament has been dismissed, the Vermont Catamounts and Boston Terriers will battle for the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
How They Got Here: Boston University defeated Hartford 87-46 & Stony Brook 70-63. Vermont defeated Maryland-Baltimore County 76-59 & New Hampshire 57-38.
Who to Watch: Boston is going to look for a great game from F John Holland. Holland is shooting 46% from the field on the season, making him the best shooter on the team. He’s also the squad’s top scorer at 19.3 points per game. Holland only scored ten points in the semifinal affair with Stony Brook, but better should be expected out of him in the finale. Vermont will counter with F Marqus Blakely, who does a little bit of everything on both sides of the ball. Blakely is the team’s best scorer (17.2 PPG), as well as its best defender (9.1 RPG, 2.5 steals per game, 2.0 blocks per game).
Previous Meetings: January 17th – Vermont 78 – Boston 58, February 9th – Vermont 76 – Boston 75
What to Expect: The Terriers have made a nice little story in the America East Tournament, but it won’t be parlayed into an NCAA Tournament appearance. Vermont is just so much more of a well-rounded team, and unless someone shows up offensively for BU aside from Holland, it will be dismissed by a comfortable margin.
Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks
Sam Houston State Bearkats
What They’re Playing For: After each played hard-fought semifinals against solid opponents, the top two games in the Southland will face off for a spot in the NCAA Tournament when the Sam Houston State Bearkats play the Sam Houston State Lumberjacks.
How They Got Here: Stephen F. Austin defeated Texas Arlington 77-54 & Texas A&M Corpus Christi 60-53. Sam Houston State defeated Nichols State 62-57 & Southeast Louisiana 88-85.
Who to Watch: The Lumberjacks have a well-rounded team defensively, and the man in charge of the paint is F Jordan Glynn. Glynn may not be the most prolific scorer on the team (8.6 PPG), but he is averaging 8.4 rebounds per game. F Gilberto Clavell fought foul trouble all night long against SE Louisiana, but he still finished with 16 points to lead the way for the Bearkats. He’s the team’s leading scorer at 16.7 PPG, and he’ll be the man that needs to step up if SHSU is going to go dancing.
Previous Meetings: January 9th – Sam Houston State 66 – Stephen F. Austin 57
What to Expect: These were the best two teams in the Southland all season long, and it’s hard to not like the way that the Lumberjacks are playing right now, especially defensively. They’re only conceding 59.7 PPG and have kept four of their L/5 foes under the 55-point barrier. That should take Stephen F. Austin to March Madness.
What They’re Playing For: The carnage in the Conference USA Tournament has left the Houston Cougars with the task of knocking off the top seed in this tourney, the UTEP Miners. UTEP knows that it is already dancing, so bubble teams will be watching this team closely, as a bid to the dance can clearly be stolen.
How They Got Here: Houston defeated East Carolina 93-80, Memphis 66-65, & Southern Mississippi 74-66. UTEP defeated Central Florida 76-54 & Tulsa 75-61.
Who to Watch: This is certainly a game for the stars. UTEP’s G Randy Culpepper and Houston’s G Aubrey Coleman are amongst the best scorers in the conference. Culpepper is scoring 17.8 points per game, while Coleman is amongst the leading point men in the nation at 25.9.
Previous Meetings: January 13th – Houston 75 – UTEP 65, February 3rd – UTEP 65 – Houston 58
What to Expect: The Cougars were the last team to beat UTEP this year, as the Miners have rolled off 16 straight games since that point. Culpepper and a host of talented Miners had better capture this game, or there are going to be a lot of bubble teams that are awfully unhappy. UTEP has the more well-rounded team, and that will give it the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament as long as it shows up to play.
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos
Long Beach State 49ers
What They’re Playing For: The Big West champion probably won’t be hanging around the NCAA Tournament for very long, but the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos and Long Beach State 49ers will duke it out for the league’s automatic place on the bracket come Sunday.
How They Got Here: Santa Barbara defeated UC-Davis 76-62. Long Beach State defeated Cal-Poly 79-69 & Pacific 68-61.
Who to Watch: The 49ers continue to get great play out of F TJ Robinson this year. He’s averaging a double-double per night at 15.4 points and 10.1 rebounds per game, and he’ll be the man in charge of keeping the paint clear of Gauchos on Saturday. G Orlando Johnson is a slasher, and he’s not afraid to try to get down and dirty for UCSB. He’s averaging right at 18.0 PPG this year, but he’s coming off of a slightly sub-par 14 point showing against UC-Davis.
Previous Meetings: January 14th – Long Beach State 67 – Santa Barbara 47, February 13th – Santa Barbara 64 – Long Beach State 62
What to Expect: The Big West has been a wacky conference all season long, and this game will be no exception. On paper, the Gauchos should be the team to march onto the dance, but we have a sneaking feeling that the tough manner in which the 49ers have played foes lately will show on the court on Saturday. Look for Long Beach State to steal the league’s ticket onto the dance floor.
West Virginia Mountaineers
What They’re Playing For: The Georgetown Hoyas and West Virginia Mountaineers will face off at Madison Square Garden for the 2010 Big East Championship even though both teams are already locks for next week’s NCAA Tournament.
How They Got Here: Georgetown defeated South Florida 69-49, Syracuse 91-84, & Marquette 80-57. West Virginia defeated Cincinnati 54-51 & Notre Dame 53-51
Who to Watch: C Greg Monroe has probably earned himself a lot of money in this tournament. The big man went for 23 points, 13 boards, and seven assists against Marquette and is now averaging 16.1 points, 9.6 rebounds, and 3.7 assists per night. F Da’Sean Butler has had two 20+ point efforts in games in which his team has failed to reach the 55-point mark. He’s the team’s leading scorer at 17.1 points per game, and he’ll need another fantastic effort to win the Big East crown.
Previous Meetings: March 1st – West Virginia 81 – Georgetown 68
What to Expect: It’s payback time for the Hoyas! Though West Virginia is playing well defensive, it’s a bit fluky that it is even still alive in this tournament. G’Town is just playing too well right now to be denied. As long as Monroe and the other four starters on this team don’t tire out, the Hoyas are going to be very, very tough to knock off the way that they’ve been playing.
Kansas State Wildcats
What They’re Playing For: Truth be told, there may be absolutely nothing on the line here. The Kansas Jayhawks already have the #1 seed in the Midwest Bracket on lockdown, while the Kansas State Wildcats probably don’t have enough bulk to move anywhere aside from the #2 seed in either the South or Midwest Regions. This should just be a good old fashioned duel between two great teams for Big XII bragging rights.
How They Got Here: Kansas State defeated Oklahoma State 83-64 & Baylor 82-75. Kansas defeated Texas Tech 80-68 & Texas A&M 79-66.
Who to Watch: It’s hard to pick just one player off of either of these squads to look out for. Kansas’ C Cole Aldrich isn’t always the most prolific of scorers, but he a junkyard dog on the glass. He’s KU’s leading rebounder at 9.9 per game, and he is pouring in 11.3 PPG to boot. The Wildcats are all about G Jacob Pullen, who is scoring 19.1 PPG and is coming off of a 26 point showing against Baylor.
Previous Meetings: January 30th – Kansas 81 – Kansas State 79, March 3rd – Kansas 82 – Kansas State 65
What to Expect: This is a tough one to call. It’s probably more important for KSU’s psyche to win this game than it is for Kansas. The Jayhawks have won five straight in this series, but they look vulnerable at this point. The Wildcats are a spunky squad, and that unexpected home loss to Iowa State really seems to have woken them up. Look for them to capture the Big XII title and at least make a bit of a case for a #1 seed in the dance.
UNLV Runnin’ Rebels
San Diego State Aztecs
What They’re Playing For: Unless a ton of stuff wrecks the brackets over these next two days, the only thing that the San Diego State Aztecs and UNLV Runnin’ Rebels will be playing for in the grand scheme of things is seeding the NCAA Tournament. Both teams should firmly be in the field of 65.
How They Got Here: San Diego State defeated Colorado State 72-71 & New Mexico 70-69. UNLV defeated Utah 73-61 & BYU 70-66.
Who to Watch: Both teams have little men that are coming off of huge games in the conference semifinals. The Aztecs watched G Billy White shoot 11/14 from the field to total a whopping 28 points in the big win over the Lobos. Mr. Do-It-All G Tre’Von Willis put up 18 against BYU for the Rebels and is the team’s best (and sometimes only) offensive weapon.
Previous Meetings: January 13th – UNLV 76 – San Diego State 66, February 13th – San Diego State 68 – UNLV 58
What to Expect: If this game was played on a truly neutral court, it would probably be more competitive and swing the edge to the Aztecs. However, considering this one is in Sin City, it probably means more for the Rebels to take down the tournament crown. There has to be a sense of job completion for SDSU, which heard nothing but that it needed to beat New Mexico to go dancing. The deed is done. UNLV will clean up the pieces and take down the MWC title.
California Golden Bears
What They’re Playing For: When the dust all settled in a miserable year in the Pac-10, the California Golden Bears and Washington Huskies will play for the conference’s automatic spot in the NCAA Tournament. Washington may still need that bid if all heck breaks loose over the weekend, but many think that both of these teams have done enough to go dancing regardless of who the winner is.
How They Got Here: California defeated Oregon 90-74 & UCLA 85-72. Washington defeated Oregon State 59-52 & Stanford 79-64.
Who to Watch: F Quincy Pondexter has all the experience in the world in this, his senior season. He needs to lead the Huskies as he did in the semifinal against the Cardinal when he scored 19 points and brought in seven boards. Cal’s best scoring option is G Jerome Randle, who has two 20+ point performances under his belt in the Pac-10 Tournament and will be looking for a third to boost his 18.9 PPG average.
Previous Meetings: January 16th – Washington 84 – California 69, February 11th – California 93 – Washington 81
What to Expect: If Cal tries its best to play at the Huskies’ pace, it’ll get run off the court in a hurry. We like the way that U-Dub is playing right now, as the mix of defense is starting to get thrown in there as well for a squad that is traditionally all offense. They’ll remove any doubts that were left about them reaching the NCAA Tournament by taking the one bid from this conference that absolutely can’t be taken away.
Texas Southern Tigers
Arkansas-Pine Bluff Golden Lions
What They’re Playing For: All the Arkansas-Pine Bluff Golden Lions and the Texas Southern Tigers are playing for is a right to face either Winthrop or other team of the sorts in Tuesday’s play-in game to the NCAA Tournament. The winner will claim the SWAC title.
How They Got Here: Texas Southern defeated Prairie View A&M 66-49 & Grambling 60-57. Arkansas-Pine Bluff defeated Mississippi Valley State 69-66 & Alabama State 46-44.
Who to Watch: The Tigers got 20 points out of G Deandre Hall on Friday night. He’s the team’s leading scorer at 16.5 points per game. The Golden Lions don’t have a ton of prolific scorers, but G Terrance Calvin has the hot hand right now after scoring 43 points in his L/3 games.
Previous Meetings: January 25th – Texas Southern 70 – Arkansas-Pine Bluff 67, February 22nd – Arkansas-Pine Bluff 57 – Texas Southern 53
What to Expect: Neither one of these teams have exactly been convincing to get to this point. Pine Bluff was given a scare by two inferior foes, while the Tigers were spooked by an awful Grambling team after getting a favor from it for dumping Jackson State out of this tournament. We’ll bank on the Golden Lions, as they have won 10 out of 11 games, but either way, the winner will probably never get a chance to face a #1 seed.
Utah State Aggies
New Mexico State Aggies
What They’re Playing For: This Aggie battle between New Mexico State and Utah State will be for bragging rights in the WAC and the conference’s automatic ticket to the dance. USU is already in regardless in all likelihood, while NMSU will have to play its way in with the WAC’s crown.
How They Got Here: New Mexico State defeated San Jose State 90-69 & Nevada 80-79. Utah State defeated Boise State 84-60 & Louisiana Tech 85-55.
Who to Watch: Utah State’s top sharpshooter is G Jared Quayle, and games often change on one of his three-pointers. Quayle, who is shooting 43.3% from beyond the arc, is the team’s second leading scorer at 12.1 PPG. NMSU relies heavily on G Jahmar Young, who is the team’s top point man at 20.7 points per game, though he is one of five players scoring in double figures.
Previous Meetings: January 2nd – New Mexico State 55 – Utah State 52, March 4th – Utah State 81 – New Mexico State 63
What to Expect: New Mexico State is a nice little story, but the reality of the whole thing is that Utah State is just playing too well right now to be denied. The regular season WAC champs are just killing teams on this 17-game winning streak, as they have flushed their L/4 foes by an average of 27.3 PPG. Anything less than another double digit win for USU would be surprising.
South Carolina State Bulldogs
Morgan State Bears
What They’re Playing For: The Morgan State Bears will look to parlay their regular season MEAC championship into the league’s automatic bid when they take on the South Carolina State Bulldogs.
How They Got Here: Morgan State defeated North Carolina A&T 84-57 & Hampton 74-67. South Carolina State defeated Maryland Eastern Shore 59-53 & Delaware State 70-66.
Who to Watch: It’s hard to ignore just how hot of a shooter that G Jason Flagler has been on late. He’s put up 20+ points in three of his L/4 games for the Bulldogs, and he leads the team with a shade over 15 points per contest. Morgan State has one of the best scorers in the nation in G Reggie Holmes. Holmes hasn’t lived up to his potential in the MEAC Tournament, but he is still averaging 22.1 points per game in spite of his two dismal efforts which have only totaled 28 points.
Previous Meetings: January 16th – Morgan State 72 – South Carolina State 67, February 15th – South Carolina State 71 – Morgan State 68
What to Expect: Not only was SCSU the only team to beat the Bears on their home court this season, but it is also the only squad that has beaten them since January 6th. Morgan State is just too hot to lose this game. The Bears should get a significantly better effort from Holmes than what they’ve gotten of lately, and that should send them to the NCAA Tournament.
What They’re Playing For: Two teams that played in the East Division of the MAC will duke it out for the right to capture the conference’s only bid to the NCAA Tournament when the Akron Zips face the Ohio Bobcats.
How They Got Here: Ohio defeated Kent State 81-64 & Miami (OH) 54-42. Akron defeated Eastern Michigan 97-89 & Western Michigan 66-64.
Who to Watch: G Armon Bassett has been a man on a mission for the Bobcats in this tournament. He has logged games of 28 and 38 points already, raising his average to a team-high 16.7 points per game. On the flip side, the Zips are going to count of F Jimmy Conyers to put forth some better efforts. His 17 total points and five total boards are nowhere near his averages of 9.9 PPG and 6.8 RPG.
Previous Meetings: January 13th – Akron 67 – Ohio 62, February 14th – Akron 91 – Ohio 88
What to Expect: The Zips clearly should’ve taken this tournament over after the Golden Flashes were eliminated. However, all that’s happened is that the squad has continued to flirt with disaster. On Saturday, it will bite them in the butt, as Ohio is just playing fantastic ball right now and is coming off of its best defensive game of the season. If Bassett lights it up, no one may respond for Akron.