Set Your Tivo: 03.13.10Posted by THager on March 13th, 2010
***** – quit your job and divorce your wife if that’s what it takes to watch this game live
**** – best watched live, but if you must, tivo and watch it tonight as soon as you get home
*** – set your tivo but make sure you watch it later
** – set your tivo but we’ll forgive you if it stays in the queue until 2012
* – don’t waste bandwidth (yours or the tivo’s) of any kind on this game
CUSA Championship – UTEP vs. Houston – 11:30 am on CBS (***)
The Miners have been one of the most underrated teams in the country this season, but if they can finish their run through the Conference USA tournament, they could be looking at a #5 of #6 seed in the NCAA tournament. They have now won 16 games in a row, and they will face a mediocre Houston team that is just 18-15 on the year. UTEP is the more talented team, as they rank twelfth in defensive efficiency, but they have had some trouble against the Cougars this year. The Miners won the most recent matchup, but finished the game just 2-18 from the three-point line. In the first contest in January, Houston actually won 75-65 thanks to 11-20 shooting from beyond the arc. UTEP’s Achilles heel has been their free throw shooting, and if Houston doesn’t beat up on themselves (they have a 1.4/1 assist to turnover ratio) the Cougars have a chance to steal a bid.
America East Championship – Boston University vs. Vermont – 12:00 pm on ESPN2 (***)
A few weeks ago, Boston University looked as if they had no business being in the NCAA tournament. At the end of January, the Terriers stood at just 11-11, and were struggling in the America East conference. However, BU won eight of their last nine games, and has earned a shot to dance with a 70-63 upset over top seeded Stony Brook in the semifinals. There has been a few days rest from the semifinal game until today, so they will be more rested than most teams during championship week. Vermont is an equally hot team, as they are 10-1 in their last 11 games, but they have had close calls against the Terriers this season. In February, Vermont won in Boston 76-75, and it took Evan Fjeld’s layup with nine seconds left to seal the victory. The largest lead for either team in the second half was just five points, and Vermont could not stop John Holland, who finished with 29 points. Holland shoots 85% from the line this season, and if the Terriers can grab a lead heading into the closing minutes, free throw shooting could become a factor. However, in their first matchup, BU got five points from their bench, while six Catamounts combined for 22 points, and Vermont ran away with a 20 point victory. Vermont is 9-2 at home this year, and they look strong heading into this game.
MEAC Championship – South Carolina State vs. Morgan State – 2:00 pm on ESPN2 (***)
Morgan State is by far the best team in the MEAC, and the most likely candidate to pull off an upset in the tournament this season. Nevertheless, they are going to have to get past a dangerous SC State team before they can secure their bid. The Bulldogs were just 18-13 on the year, but they actually beat Morgan State on the road in their most recent matchup. The Bears shot just 22% from the three point line, and SC State’s Jason Flagler had 24 points in the 71-68 victory. The first game was a different matter, as Morgan State won by 15 points despite another poor shooting performance. The Bulldogs do not rank among the top 250 teams in either offensive or defensive efficiency, while Morgan State ranks a relatively high #125 in offensive efficiency. If South Carolina State continues to have more turnovers than assists, as they have this whole season, they have no chance of winning this game.
Southland Championship – Stephen F. Austin vs. Sam Houston State – 4:00 pm on ESPN2 (***)
This game will pair the top two teams in the Southland Conference, but Sam Houston State is the clear favorite in this game. The Bearkats (no spelling error) rank #57 in offensive efficiency, and average over 80 points per contest. However, the Lumberjacks held them to just 57 points in their January 9 showdown. Corey Almond, Sam Houston State’s second leading scorer at 15.8 points per game, had just two points on the night. However, thanks to 2-16 shooting from the Lumberjacks, Sam Houston State escaped with a 66-57 win. Stephen F. Austin’s leading scorer is Eddie Williams, who averages 13.7 points per game and shoots a ridiculous 53% from the field. If he can get hot, and his teammates are able to shoot better from beyond the arc, the Lumberjacks might pull an upset.
Big 12 Championship – #1 Kansas vs. #9 Kansas State – 6:00 pm on ESPN (*****)
This will likely be Kansas State’s last chance to avenge their disappointing finishes against the Jayhawks this season. It took a Sherron Collins bucket in the closing seconds for KU to pull away in the first game, and the Wildcats led a golden opportunity slip at Allen Fieldhouse a few weeks ago. The score was tied with just over 17 minutes left, but KSU went over eight minutes without a field goal in an 82-65 loss. Beating Kansas for 40 minutes is so difficult because they are among the nation’s best teams in both offensive (#2) and defensive (#4) efficiency. If Kansas State is to have a chance in this game, Jamar Samuels will have to bounce back from three rough games in his last four outings. Besides a 27 point effort against Oklahoma State, Samuels had a combined 14 points in the three games, which will not get it done against a Kansas team that excels in the Big 12 tournament. Marcus Morris, who is KU’s third leading scorer, had only two points against Texas A&M in his last outing, and if he struggles against the Wildcats, Kansas State’s chances will improve drastically.
MAC Championship – Ohio vs. Akron – 6:00 pm on ESPN2 (***)
This neutral site game will feature a huge dark horse in the MAC, as Ohio (ninth in the conference at 7-9) has defeated Kent State and Miami (OH) to earn a spot in the title game. Akron, who finished the regular season at 12-4 in the conference, has just one player who averaged in double digits, and leading scorer Brett McKnight only averaged 10.4 points per game. With such a poor offense, the Bobcats used their solid defense, ranked #108 in defensive efficiency, to win close games. Akron won both matchups against the Bobcats this season, including an uncharacteristic 91-88 doubt overtime win. Had Ohio not missed 17 of its 36 free throw attempts, they probably would have won the game. The first game was equally close, as Akron was leading Ohio by just one point with five minutes left when the Bobcats went on a four minute scoreless streak. If the Bobcats can avoid shooting themselves in the foot, they have a great chance to pull a huge upset and make it to the NCAA tournament.
WAC Championship – San Diego State vs. UNLV – 7:00 pm on Versus (****)
The Mountain West commissioner could not be happier with the result of the conference tournament, as the MWC like went from a possible two bid conference to probably a four bid conference. These two bubble teams pulled some monumental upsets to get to the championship game, as UNLV defeated BYU 70-66, and San Diego State upset New Mexico 72-69. Although both teams are likely in, this game will ensure that at least one of them will automatically receive their bid. The Aztecs rely mainly on a trio of forwards for their offensive production, while UNLV uses a guard heavy lineup, so it will be interesting to see what kind of mismatches there will be out on the court tonight. These teams split the pair of games on the season, as UNLV won 76-66 in the first game thanks to 2-16 shooting from beyond the arc by the Aztecs. The tables turned in the second contest, as SDSU pulled away with a 10 victory due to UNLV’s 3-17 shooting from the three point line. The smaller UNLV lineup usually shoots better, and with 1.4/1 assists to turnover ratio and the home crowd behind them, UNLV should wrap up their ticket to the big dance.
SWAC Championship – Texas Southern vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff – 8:30 on ESPNU (***)
Texas Southern has won their last five games, but finished the regular season ranked just fifth in the SWAC. Arkansas-Pine Bluff finished a solid 14-4 in the conference, but had trouble against the Tigers this season. It took overtime for Arkansas-Pine Bluff to defeat Texas Southern in the most recent matchup, and in the first game, Texas Southern pulled off the 70-67 upset by limiting the Golden Lions to 2-14 shooting from the three point line. Both of these teams have way more turnovers than assists, which is something the winner of this game will have to stop if they want to have any success in the NCAA tournament. These teams also shoot poorly from the free throw line, so the winner of this game could be determined by the squad that plays the most fundamentally sound basketball.
Big East Championship – #6 West Virginia vs. #22 Georgetown – 9:00 pm on ESPN (*****)
There is no doubt that the Big East tournament is the best conference tournament to watch, and this year has been no exception. West Virginia has played in back to back thrillers, while Georgetown is running on fumes. The Hoyas has won four games in a row, but they have played three games in three days, and they may not have much left in the tank anymore. West Virginia, who has only played two games in the tournament, has won six consecutive games and might be able to grab a top seed in the tournament with a win. These teams only had one head to head matchup this year, an 81-68 win by West Virginia at the beginning of March. The Hoyas used three bench players in the game, while the Mountaineers used eight reserves on senior night. Several of those players only received playing time because of the festivities, but if West Virginia can use more fresh legs tonight, they might be able to wear down an exhausted Georgetown team.