February 24, 2010
The calendar may still say February but it’s time to look ahead to March and the beginning of conference tournaments. The first three tourneys (Big South, Horizon and Ohio Valley) kick off on March 2nd with two (Patriot and Atlantic Sun) more joining the action on March 3rd. As we look at these five tournaments the records and numbers are the way things stand as of 2/24.
The Big South starts on Tuesday and league leader Coastal Carolina (13-3) is looking to secure its stronghold on the #1 seed with two games remaining. Winthrop (11-4) and Radford (11-5) are looking up at the Chanticleers, a game that could prove critical takes place on 2/27 as Winthrop and Radford conclude the regular season against eachother, with Radford holding a two-point overtime victory over the Eagles earlier in the year. The other battle in the Big South is at the bottom of the league where Virginia Military Institute (5-11) fighting off Gardner-Webb (5-12) for the final spot in the tournament.
The Horizon League also gets underway on March 2nd. Butler, a top-25 team all season has clinched the #1 seed with a 17-0 record. The battle is for the 2nd seed and the second bye into the semifinals. Wright State (11-5) and Wisconsin-Green Bay (10-6) split the season series. Both teams have two games remaining, Wright State plays at Youngstown State (2-14) on 2/25 and at Cleveland State (9-7) on 2/27. Green Bay also has two remaining games on the road, with Illinois-Chicago (2-14) on 2/25 and Loyola-Illinois (5-11) on 2/27. The all important second bye could very well come down to what happens on the final day of the regular season.
The final tournament to start on March 2nd has very little to shake out besides seeding. In the Ohio Valley Murray State (16-0) is the conference’s top team. At the bottom, Tennessee-Martin has been eliminated from contention. One other team will see their season come to an end early, Southeast Missouri State (3-13) must win vs. Tennessee State (5-11) on 2/25 to avoid being that team joining the Skyhawks watching the OVC tournament.
The Atlantic Sun tips off on March 3rd, the only thing for sure is that Florida Gulf Coast and South Carolina-Upstate (ineligible) will be joined by Stetson (eliminated) on the sidelines. With two games left Campbell (13-5) is deadlocked with Jacksonville (13-5), the two teams meet on 2/25 and a Campbell win would give the Camels a season sweep of the Dolphins and the top seed. Lurking right behind those two are Lipscomb (12-6) and Belmont (12-6) who are ready to pounce should Campbell or Jacksonville slip up.
Much like the Atlantic Sun, the Patriot League has four teams within a game of eachother as the season winds down. Bucknell (8-4) and Lehigh (8-4) are in the cat bird’s seat, the two teams finish their season series on 2/24 with Bucknell winning the first game 81-76 in OT. Lafayette (7-5) is nipping at their heels having already split their two games with Bucknell and Lehigh. But the team who may be in the best position to play spoiler would be Navy (7-5) having gone 4-0 against the league’s two top teams this season. So before the calendar flips to March and the madness ensues, there is plenty to sort out for the first two days of post-season play.