CBI 2013: Top Tournament Contenders Heading into Quarterfinals

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CBI 2013: Top Tournament Contenders Heading into Quarterfinals
Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

Eight teams remain in search of the College Basketball Invitational championship. Although the tournament is being played outside of the spotlight due to the NCAA tournament, it's still a chance to win a postseason title and that shouldn't be taken lightly.

The only major surprise of the opening round was Houston knocking out Texas. The Longhorns had enough talent to make a deep run, but they are a young group and that haunted them throughout the season. Their exit opens the door for other teams to contend.

With the in mind, let's examine the top three contenders in the CBI as the teams prepare for the quarterfinals. For a look at the tournament schedule and results, visit the official site.

 

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1. Purdue Boilermakers

Don't be deceived by Purdue's sub-.500 record. That's what happens when an average team plays in the tough Big Ten Conference. All the games against the top-tier opponents like Indiana and Michigan helped prepare them for the postseason pressure.

The Boilermakers feature a very solid trio of top scorer Terone Johnson, interior threat A.J. Hammons and sharpshooter D.J. Byrd. All three of them also average more than four rebounds per game, a category where the team ranks 12th nationally.

It doesn't matter what angle you analyze it from, Purdue looks like the most complete team in the tournament. The Boilermakers have three reliable scorers, are above average defensively and can rebound. That's why they are the favorites right now.

 

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

2. Richmond Spiders

Richmond is a dangerous team simply because it has so many good shooters. Four different players are averaging in double figures, led by Darien Brothers at over 14 points per game, and the Spiders are knocking down more than eight threes per game.

In a short tournament like the CBI, having so many scoring options is a huge advantage. All it takes is for a couple of them to get hot over the next three games for Richmond to go on a run. A win over VCU earlier in the season shows the upside.

The biggest concern, and the main reason the Spiders aren't in the top spot, is rebounding. They rank near the bottom of Division I in boards per game, which leaves them vulnerable, especially in a potential matchup with Purdue.

 

Cooper Neill/Getty Images

3. Wyoming Cowboys

The Cowboys' season could have been a lot more memorable if they didn't lose Luke Martinez to suspension. The talented guard was leading the team in scoring at over 14 points per game while shooting 42 percent from beyond the arc.

They are still contenders without him, though. Wyoming still has three offensive threats in the likes of Leonard Washington, Derrious Gilmore and Larry Nance Jr. Gilmore and Nance combined to score 45 points in the opening-round win.

As long as the Cowboys remain aggressive on the defensive end, it's impossible to count them out. They force opponents to play at their slow pace, which helps limit the impact of the Martinez loss and should keep them in every game.

 

Keep track of all the NCAA tournament action with the live bracket or follow along by filling out the printable bracket as the event rolls on. Also, watch all the exciting NCAA tournament games with March Madness Live.

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