CAA, MAAC, WCC, SoCon: Conference Tournament Preview

Jesse Kramer@Jesse_KramerCorrespondent IMarch 5, 2010


First Round—Mar. 5, Richmond, VA

No. 8 Towson vs. No. 9 UNC-Wilmington

I am picking Towson in this game because the Tigers finished the season playing well, while UNC-Wilmington finished with losses in four of its last five games. Towson even beat William & Mary on the road in its second to last game.

Towson, 69, UNC-Wilmington 66

No 5 VCU vs. No. 12 Delaware

Delaware has no chance in this game. The Blue Hens have lost their last six and VCU has won three of its last four and has much more talent.

VCU 83, Delaware 63

No. 7 Hofstra vs. No. 10 Georgia State

Hofstra just beat Georgia State by 13 points last week. Charles Jenkins, averaging 20.4 points per game, had a big game against the Panthers. Jenkins will likely have another big game and lead Hofstra to the quarterfinals.

Hofstra 76, Georgia State 65

No. 6 Drexel vs. No. 11 James Madison

Drexel has trouble with taking advantage of other team's poor defense. The Dragons rely on their defense to stop the opponent. James Madison is better at exploding on offense. Forward Denzel Bowles will have a big game for the Dukes since Drexel does not have strong big men, and he will lead James Madison to a first round upset.

James Madison 67, Drexel 63

Quarterfinals—Mar. 6, Richmond, VA

No. 8 Towson vs. No. 1 Old Dominion

Old Dominion will dominate Towson. The Monarchs already beat Towson twice with ease, and this game won't be any different.

Old Dominion 79, Towson 60

No. 4 George Mason vs. No. 5 VCU

George Mason clearly had the better overall regular season. However, VCU was playing great at the end of the season and George Mason was really struggling. Due to the Patriots recent struggles, VCU will win this very even match.

VCU 76, George Mason 73

No. 2 Northeastern vs. No. 10 Hofstra

Somehow, Hofstra beat Northeastern on the road. This was clearly a fluke since Hofstra lost to some pretty bad teams during the year and Northeastern beat some really good teams. Also, Northeastern won by 20 at Hofstra. The Huskies have much better stats, so they will win fairly easily.

Northeastern 74, Hofstra 58

No. 3 William & Mary vs. No. 11 James Madison

William & Mary was getting back to where it was early in the season in the final weeks of the regular season. If William & Mary was playing the way it was a month or so ago, James Madison would have a shot. Since William & Mary has been improving and finding itself, James Madison will not stand a chance.

William & Mary 84, James Madison 63

Semifinals—Mar. 7 Richmond, VA

No. 1 Old Dominion vs. No. 5 VCU

VCU only lost by three points to Old Dominion in the regular season finale. Before this, the Rams had won three straight. Old Dominion has also been playing well recently. Old Dominion has that extra power on its team to push itself past VCU and to the championship.

Old Dominion 75, VCU 71

No. 2 Northeastern vs. No. 3 William & Mary

William & Mary won the single regular season meeting, 53-52. This was a game where Northeastern had won 15 out of its last 16. William & Mary is a shooting team, and perimeter defense could be the weakest part of Northeastern's great defense, although the three-point defense is still around average. What makes me hesitant to take Northeastern is that it already lost to William & Mary when the Tribe shot 5-of-25 from three-point range. It is hard to think that the Tribe will shoot worse than this.

William & Mary 68, Northeastern 63

Championship—Mar. 8, Richmond, VA, ESPN2

No. 1 Old Dominion vs. No. 3 William & Mary

Old Dominion swept the season series with William & Mary. Old Dominion has the balance to get around this pesky William & Mary team. The biggest factor is Old Dominion is a better rebounding team. 

Old Dominion 67, William & Mary 60


First Round—March 5, Times Union Center (Siena College)

No. 8 Loyola (MD) vs. No. 9 Manhattan

Of course I am biased towards Manhattan. Regardless, I think they have a very good chance to win this game. The Jaspers got swept by Loyola in the regular season, but both games were very close. In the second game, Manhattan head coach dumbly sat Rico Pickett, the MAAC's leading scorer, for almost the whole game. 

The stats actually slightly favor Manhattan. The key in this game will be Manhattan's defense applying pressure on Loyola, who turns the ball over a lot.

Manhattan 67, Loyola (MD) 61

No. 7 Canisius vs. No. 10 Marist

It will be impossible for Marist to win this game. The Red Foxes are just so bad. Marist's one win came at home against Manhattan, who is also pretty horrible. Marist already lost to Canisius by 15 points twice this season.

Canisius 70, Marist 55

Quarterfinals—March 6, Times Union Center (Siena College), MSG

No. 3 Iona vs. No. 6 Niagara

Iona swept Niagara in the regular season, winning at Niagara by three and at home by 17. Iona will win this game because the Gaels have been better away from home. Iona is 10-6 away from home. Two of the six losses came during close games in the Old Spice Classic to Florida State and Baylor. Niagara is 8-11 away from home. This, in addition to Niagara struggling against Iona, is enough to say Iona will win this game.

Iona 67, Niagara 60

No. 1 Siena vs. No. 9 Manhattan

Manhattan and Siena games generally remain close in the conference tournament. Based on the history and the fact that Manhattan played Siena close the whole game at home and for about 30 minutes on the road, Manhattan should be able to stay close with Siena for a good chunk of this game, and then fall behind.

Siena 81, Manhattan 68

No. 2 Fairfield vs. No. 7 Canisius

Fairfield finished the season with wins in four of its last five to take second place in the MAAC. Canisius struggled in the final month of the season and ended up finishing in seventh place after having hopes of finishing in fifth. 

Derek Needham and Frank Turner will provide a great matchup in the backcourt. Anthony Johnson will most likely have a big game for Fairfield, considering that Canisius does not have any good big men. 

Fairfield 80, Canisius 69

No. 4 St. Peter's vs. No. 5 Rider

St. Peter's plays best in slow-tempo games. In both meetings this year, Rider managed to control the tempo. While Rider was slumping, St. Peter's squeaked out a win. When Rider started to figure things out later in the season when it rematched the Peacocks, it picked up the win. Rider will thrive off of the up-tempo game. The Broncs must control the tempo to win.

Rider 71, St. Peter's 62 

Semifinals—March 7, Times Union Center (Siena College), MSG

No. 1 Siena vs. No. 5 Rider

Rider has no chance at beating Siena. Rider lost by 22 to Siena at home, and by 26 on the road. Siena is too athletic and talented for Rider.

Siena 84, Rider 66

No. 2 Fairfield vs. No. 3 Iona

Again, Iona's success on away from home will come up big. It will be tougher for Iona to beat Fairfield, just because Fairfield is a better team. Jonathan Huffman and Alejo Rodriguez will need to stay out of foul trouble for the Gaels so that Iona can limit Anthony Johnson as much as possible. If Alejo Rodriguez stays out of foul trouble, Iona wins. If he gets into foul trouble, the Gaels lose. Just since Iona generally fouls a lot, Rodriguez will most likely need to sit out more than needed at some point because of fouls.

Fairfield 74, Iona 68

Championship—March 8, Times Union Center (Siena College), ESPN2

No. 1 Siena vs. No. 2 Fairfield

Fairfield stuck close with Siena in both meeting this year. The Stags only lost to the Saints by eight at home, and by two on the road. Siena will win this game the same way it beat all the other MAAC teams throughout the year—it will use its athleticism and overall better talent to tire out the Stags and pull away late if the game stays close. These Siena Saints do not want this season to end upsetting a big team.

Siena 83, Fairfield 75


First Round—March 5, Orleans Arena

No. 5 Loyola Marymount vs. No. 8 Pepperdine

Loyola Marymount should handle Pepperdine easily. Pepperdine is in the middle of an 11-game losing streak, including a 16-point loss to the Lions. This should be no match for Loyola Marymount.

Loyola Marymount 78, Pepperdine 59

No. 6 San Diego vs. No. 7 Santa Clara

This game will go to San Diego. The Toreros tend to lose big when their opponent shoots well from three-point range. Santa Clara only shoots 29.5 percent from beyond the arc.

San Diego 61, Santa Clara 53

Quarterfinals—March 6, Orleans Arena

No. 4 San Francisco vs. No. 5 Loyola Marymount

Loyola Marymount finished the season red hot. The Lions picked up wins over Gonzaga and Portland, and then won an easy one at San Diego. To end the three-game streak, the Lions lost a close game at St. Mary's. Since Loyola Marymount has been so hot, I am taking them in this game.

Loyola Marymount 77, San Francisco 72

No. 3 Portland vs. No. 6 San Diego

This should be no match for Portland. The Pilots already beat San Diego twice this season and have big advantages on paper. The Pilots are overall a much better team.

Portland 78, San Diego 61

Semifinals—March 7, Orleans Arena, ESPN2

No. 1 Gonzaga vs. No. 5 Loyola Marymount

All of the pressure will be on Gonzaga in this game. Not only are the Zags the No. 1 seed, but they also lost to Loyola Marymount just a few weeks ago. Despite the Zags losing at Loyola Marymount, I do not think they will lose again on the neutral site. Gonzaga has a potentially explosive offense and the Lions don't play such great defense.

Gonzaga 85, Loyola Marymount 73  

No. 2 St. Mary's vs. No. 3 Portland

Portland made an appearance in the top 25 in the season, before quickly falling out. This should be a good, close game, but Omar Samhan of St. Mary's will have a big game down low and take St. Mary's to the championship game.

St. Mary's 84, Portland 75

Championship—March 8, Orleans Arena, ESPN

No. 1 Gonzaga vs. No. 2 St. Mary's

Gonzaga swept the season series with St. Mary's. Both teams finished the season winning their final three WCC games. St. Mary's will play on the inside, while Gonzaga will counter on the outside. Gonzaga is a better shooting team whose best players are guards. St. Mary's has good guards, but the star is Omar Samhan who averages 21.5 points per game and 11.1 rebounds per game. 

Gonzaga should be able to control St. Mary's once again in a pretty close game. Elias Harris and Robert Sacre should do a good enough job providing some balance on offense and some solid defense on Samhan.

Gonzaga 84, St. Mary's 79


First Round—March 5, Bojangles Coliseum 

No. 3S Davidson vs. No. 6N Elon

Davidson will undoubtedly win this game. The Wildcats are clearly down this year, but not down enough to lose to the worst team in the conference.

Davidson 74, Elon 63

No. 4N UNC-Greensboro vs. No. 5S Furman

This belongs to Furman. UNC-Greensboro's very poor defense will give Furman's sharpshooters room for big games.

Furman 70, UNC-Greensboro 65

No. 4S Citadel vs. No. 5N Samford

Samford has really been struggling since late January. The Bulldogs are good shooters, but their style of offense keeps them from getting open looks and scoring. Citadel's key wins over Charleston and Appalachian State make me think that it will win this game.

Citadel 68, Samford 58

No. 3N Chattanooga vs. No. 6S Georgia Southern

Georgia Southern's one win away from home was against Samford. The Eagles play well with the home crowd behind them, but they won't have any home-court advantage in this game. The Eagles will be able to stay in the game for a while since Chattanooga's mediocre defense should give them some good looks.

Chattanooga 78, Georgia Southern 69

Quarterfinals—March 6, Bojangles Coliseum

No. 2N Western Carolina vs. No. 3S Davidson

Western Carolina was at the top of the mid-majors in early January. A loss to Georgia Southern set it back a little and then a three-game losing streak in February put the Catamounts in real trouble. Western Carolina was playing better towards the end of the season and Davidson was having a few troubles. Western Carolina looks a little better on paper and it will move to the quarterfinals in a close game.

Western Carolina 87, Davidson 78

No. 1S Wofford vs. No. 5S Furman

This should be an easy win for Wofford. The Terriers already beat Furman twice by double digits this season. Both times, the Terriers' defense was very good and Furman could not get too many good looks.

Wofford 75, Furman 63

No. 1N Appalachian State vs. No. 4S Citadel

Appalachian State is the one seed from the north only because all the good teams in the SoCon are in the south. Citadel would have been in the run for a one seed in the north if it was in that division. The Bulldogs already won at Appalachian State and the fact that Citadel did pretty well in the north division shows that it is a more competitive team. 

These two teams match up well as two good defensive teams. Citadel should win this game in a close, low-scoring match.

Citadel 50, Appalachian State 47

No. 2S Charleston vs. No. 3N Chattanooga

Charleston dominated the season series against Chattanooga, winning by 12 at home and by 24 on the road. This is a rematch of last year's conference championship game, and there is no doubt that this time, Charleston will win this game and go to the semifinals. 

Charleston 83, Chattanooga 61

Semifinals—March 7, Time Warner Cable Arena, Sport South

No. 1S Wofford vs. No. 2N Western Carolina

Wofford lost to Western Carolina in the single meeting in the regular season. This was back in early December when Western Carolina was red hot and Wofford was having some struggles. Wofford has not lost since dropping one 70-68 at Charleston on January 22. Wofford has slight advantages in terms of stats, and the Terriers will not let this season end in the semifinals.

Wofford 74, Western Carolina 69

No. 2S Charleston vs. No. 4S Citadel

Charleston and Citadel split the season series, both teams winning once by single digits. Citadel does not have the athleticism to put up with Charleston for 40 minutes while playing its third game in three days.

Charleston 74, Citadel 64  

Championship—March 8, Time Warner Cable Arena, ESPN

No. 1S Wofford vs. No. 2S Charleston

This is a game that cannot be missed. These are two great mid-majors who would be battling for a NCAA Tournament bid. Charleston was robbed last year by Chattanooga, and the Cougars are hungry to get what they feel they deserve. Wofford beat Charleston by six in the second to last game of the season to take first place. The Terriers only lost to Pitt by three in the season opener, and would go on to win at Georgia and at home against South Carolina in OOC play. Wofford knows that there is a chance for an upset if it can win the championship and make an appearance in the NCAA Tournament.

Both teams have been playing very well since January. Wofford's one loss in 2010 came at Charleston. Charleston's one loss in the last five games came at Wofford. A rivalry has brewed up between these teams.

Wofford has the slim advantages in stats. One of Wofford's weaknesses in turnovers. When the Terriers turn the ball over, they struggle. Luckily for them, Charleston is not a good defensive pressure team. Wofford has big advantages in rebounding and defense. This will be enough to close the game down the stretch and send the Terriers to the tournament for the first time in school history in a SoCon classic.

Wofford 78, Charleston 75

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