Monday, March 7, 2011

Championship Week

This week can often be just as fun as the NCAA tournament, as most teams are fighting to extend there season.  There is one simple way to get in to the NCAA tourney now: keep on winning.  If you win the conference tournament, you're in to the Big Dance.  The regular season is used completely for seeding for these tournaments and there are always some surprises.  In recent history, we have seen teams (Georgia), who had terrible regular seasons, but got hot in the conference tournament (SEC), and clinch a berth in the NCAA tourney.  Here are a few teams that might not make the tournament with an at-large bid, but could cause some damage in their respective conference tournaments.

ACC:  Maryland Terrapins (18-13, 7-9)  The Terps are struggling right now, but are a team that can challenge anybody.  They have played Duke tough both times they've faced them this season, and have been competitive vs. Va Tech, UNC, and Boston College.  They will not make the tournament this year, unless they pull out an unlikely ACC conference tournament victory.  Maryland must play through its inside game to succeed.  Jordan Williams averages 17 points a game to go along with his 11.6 rebounds.  He is the star of the team and he must get the ball in the post in order for Maryland to win.  They take on NC State in the first round and if they can win that game, they will face off against Duke.  

Big Ten: Penn State (16-13, 9-9): The Nittany Lions are not flashy or even that offensively talented, but they have the ability to control the pace of the game.  This allows them to compete in a very good conference.  They have losses to Ohio State by 3, Purdue by 1, and Michigan by 3.  They have beaten Minnesota twice, and have a favorable schedule in the Big Ten tournament.  If they beat Indiana in the first round, then they would take on Wisconsin in the quarterfinals.  Penn State matches up well against Wisconsin, beating them once this year at home and losing by 10 on the road.  

Mountain West: New Mexico (20-11, 8-8).  The Lobos have had an interesting season, considering they have 11 losses, but only one blowout loss.  They have given SDSU fits both times they lost to them, and they even  have beaten BYU twice this season.  This is another team that needs to play down low more, given they have a talented big man in Drew Gordon.  Gordon has been a force this season despite missing the first ten games of the year.  He is averaging a double-double and he can play the pick and roll with talented point guard Dairese Gary, who averages 5.5 assists per game.  UNM plays Colorado State in the first round and will likely take on BYU in the semi-finals if they reach there.

Big 12: Baylor started the year well, winning its first 7 games, but has struggled mightily since then.  They finished the regular season at 7-9 in the Big 12.  Everybody knows they have talent, but they're inability to find a more consistent offense has hurt their hopes of entering the Big Dance.  Senior LaceDarius Dunn averages just under 20 points a game and can score in a variety of ways.  He must go off in the Big 12 tournament in order for Baylor to earn a berth into the tournament.  Baylor is in a position that they do not have to necessarily win the Big 12 tournament to get in to the NCAA tourney, but they must win at least 2 or 3 games.  They take on Oklahoma on Wednesday, and then would face Texas if they win.  Both are must wins for the Bears, but it wouldn't hurt them to enter the finals of the Big 12 tournament.  

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