Just Getting Started

March 6, 2010

As I returned Friday night from my vacation in Chicago, I knew that I wouldn’t have much time to rest. Conference tournament time is upon us, and Saturday presented us with three more automatic bids to join Cornell as teams that punched their ticket to the Big Dance (Cornell won their league on Friday, and the Ivy League regular season champion receives the automatic bid to the tournament).

As I watched the conference tournament finals on TV today, I thought about what seeds these teams will earn, as well as the chances they have of upsetting a higher seed in the NCAA tournament. In my next few entries, I will share with you my thoughts on these topics. I will try to predict which seed these small and mid-major conference teams will get, their likelihood of being a Cinderella, and whether or not any other teams from their respective conferences will make the Dance as well.

Ivy League

Automatic Bid: Cornell
Projected Seed: 12, possibly an 11
Probability of Being a Cinderella: Good

This team has the capability of beating the best teams in the nation (as we saw in their close game against Kansas earlier this season). They are a good three point shooting team, which allows them to score at will. The problem with this team will be setting the pace; if they let the opposing team dictate the pace of the game, then the Big Red are in trouble. If this team shoots the ball well during the tournament, don’t be surprised to see them upset someone in the first round, and possibly make it to the Sweet 16.

Big South

Automatic Bid: Winthrop
Projected Seed: 15 or 16
Probability of Being a Cinderella: Unlikely

Winthrop has been a dangerous team in the NCAA tournament before. In their last appearance (in 2008), they upset Notre Dame as a 13 seed. In 2006, they were two seconds away from upsetting Tennessee as a 15 seed. However, those years the Eagles were the best team in their conference all year long. This year, they were not. If they can keep the score low, then they have a chance to upset a top seeded team. However, most top seeded teams are going to score more than 60 points a game, which is what Winthrop will try to limit the opposition to if they want a chance to win.

Atlantic Sun

Automatic Bid: East Tennessee State
Projected Seed: 16
Probability of Being a Cinderella: Very Unlikely

No 16 seed has ever beaten a number 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. Of course, ETSU has not officially been given a 16 seed, but since that is my prediction, I am also predicting that they will not win their game. Much like Winthrop, ETSU were underdogs to win their conference tournament (they were a 5 seed). That being said, the Buccaneers should take in the experience and be happy to be playing the in NCAA tournament.

Ohio Valley

Automatic Bid: Murray State
Projected Seed: 12 or 13
Probability of Being a Cinderella: Decent

This team will scare whoever is unlucky enough to draw them in the first round. The Racers are an extremely unselfish team (5 players average double-digits in scoring), which will make it hard for whomever is playing them to prepare to stop their offensive attack. If the Racers can spread the scoring load out among multiple players as they have done all season, then they will be a nightmare for teams to face.

I will be doing something similar to this for the other small and mid-major conferences as the automatic bids continue to pour in this week. Although I will not be doing this for the larger conferences, I will still mention top stories concerning them.

– K. Becks

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