Patriot League And MVC: Conference Tournament Preview
Quarterfinals—Mar. 3, hosted by higher seed
No. 1 Lehigh vs. No. 8 Army, SE2
This game should have separation throughout. The Mountain Hawks have handled Army pretty easily twice this season. The Mountain Hawks have four players scoring in double digits, and this will be too tough for the Army defense.
Lehigh 79, Army 64
No. 2 Bucknell vs. No. 7 Holy Cross, CBSC
Holy Cross is 2-13 on the road. However, this record is a little deceiving since most of the Crusaders' road losses have been close games. Holy Cross and Bucknell split the season series, with each team winning on its home floor. Both teams play a similar style of basketball, and this should set up for a good matchup. In the end, Bucknell has the better team and it will be able to squeak out a victory against a pesky Holy Cross squad.
Bucknell 69, Holy Cross 65
No. 3 Lafayette vs. No. 6 Colgate, LSN
Colgate and Lafayette split the regular season series. Although Lafayette had a much better year overall, this game will probably end with an upset. Lafayette's poor defense will allow Colgate, who shoots 37.1 percent from three-point range, to light it up. Six Colgate players shoot 34.5 percent or better from beyond the arc.
Colgate 75, Lafayette 68
No. 4 American vs. No. 5 Navy
American's team is not nearly as strong as last year's. The Eagles are not too consistent and, most likely, they will not be able to take advantage of Navy's poor defense. American has two good three-point shooters, and its only hope will be for these two to light fire.
Navy 71, American 60
Semifinals—Mar. 7, Hosted by higher seed, CBS CS
No. 1 Lehigh vs. No. 5 Navy
Lehigh has an offense that is explosive at times. The Mountain Hawks scored 91 points twice this year. On the other hand, Navy has poor defense. The reason for Navy having a solid year is that they too have an explosive offense. This will be a high-scoring game and the difference will be Lehigh's better three-point shooting. The Mountain Hawks shoot 39.8 percent to the Midshipmen's 35 percent. Unless the Lehigh shooters are off in this game, the result will be a slim victory for Lehigh.
Lehigh 88, Navy 84
No. 2 Bucknell vs. No. 6 Colgate
Colgate has a slim advantage in all major stats except for free throw shooting, where Bucknell is about five percent better. One of Colgate's big weaknesses is turnovers. The Raiders will have an easier time in this game because Bucknell does not play tough, pressure defense.
Colgate 72, Bucknell 67
Championship—Mar. 12, hosted by higher seed, ESPN2
No. 1 Lehigh vs. No. 6 Colgate
Lehigh is too good to lose to Colgate at home. The Mountain Hawks have already handled the Raiders twice, both times beating them by double digits.
Lehigh 77, Colgate 66
First Round—Mar. 4, Scottrade Center (St. Louis University)
No. 8 Drake vs. No. 9 Southern Illinois
Southern Illinois' defense will be able to stop Drake's offense just enough. Drake is a good three-point shooting team, but Southern Illinois' perimeter defense has been improving in the second half of the season.
Southern Illinois 72, Drake 66
No. 7 Missouri State vs. No. 10 Evansville
Missouri State has already beaten Evansville twice by double digits. Evansville has really struggled away from home and will not be able to stay close with a Missouri State team that was one of the hottest teams in the country early in the year.
Missouri State 81, Evansville 60
Quarterfinals—Mar. 5, Scottrade Center (St. Louis University), MVC TV
No. 1 Northern Iowa vs. No. 9 Southern Illinois
Northern Iowa's outstanding defense will be enough to ward off the tough Southern Illinois offense. Northern Iowa will not let Southern Illinois get hot.
Northern Iowa 59, Southern Illinois 49
No. 4 Creighton vs. No. 5 Bradley
It is hard to tell who has the advantage in this game. Since Creighton swept the season series, I am giving them the edge.
Creighton 78, Bradley 70
No. 2 Wichita State vs. No. 7 Missouri State
Missouri State and Wichita State played in two very close games in the regular season. This will be more of the same. The Shockers and the Bears match up well, and this should be an exciting game.
Wichita State 70, Missouri State 65
No. 3 Illinois State vs. No. 6 Indiana State
Illinois State was on a big winning streak before a close loss at Northern Iowa to end the regular season. When Illinois State lost to Indiana State, it was in the middle of a big slump. When the Redbirds were hot, they beat Indiana State.
Illinois State 72, Indiana State 63
Semifinals—Mar. 6, Scottrade Center (St. Louis University), MVC TV
No. 1 Northern Iowa vs. No. 4 Creighton
Creighton has Kenny Lawson Jr., who can put up with Northern Iowa's post players on offense and defense. But otherwise, Northern Iowa has the advantage. Northern Iowa is a great shooting team and is also outstanding on defense.
Northern Iowa 66, Creighton 56
No. 2 Wichita State vs. No. 3 Illinois State
Wichita State's struggles late in the season make me think that a hot Illinois State team will be able to top them in the semifinals. Wichita State and Illinois State split the season series and match up well on paper. This should be a great game, and anybody who has access to MVC TV should watch this.
Illinois State 79, Wichita State 75
Championship—Mar. 7 Scottrade Center (St. Louis University), CBS
No. 1 Northern Iowa vs. No. 3 Illinois State
The fact that Illinois State was so hot and almost beat Northern Iowa on the road on senior night makes me think that the Redbirds will be able to win. They are now playing their best basketball and have a strong enough offense and defense that they can hold off Northern Iowa, sending two teams from the MVC to the NCAA Tournament.
Illinois State 69, Northern Iowa 65
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