Yesterday I took a look at some of the conference tournaments that will complete on Saturday. Here I will preview a few more of them where at large bids are really not at stake.
Horizon: The Horizon league gives a massive advantage to its top teams. The #1 and #2 seeds receive a double bye into the semifinals. In addition, the semifinals and finals are played on the home court of the #1 seed. This will be the 10th year the Horizon has gone to this format, and only once did a team not in the top 2 seeds advance to the NCAA Tournament. Cleveland State appeared to be the favorite just a couple weeks ago, but since then have sputtered. I give Valpo the slight edge due to the home court advantage. Bryce Drew has the Crusaders playing extremely well. They’ve already defeated Cleveland State at home, and I think they can do it again. A Valpo-Cleveland State Final would be very exciting.
Patriot: All games in the Patriot League tournament are played on the campus of the higher seed. The last time the #1 seed in the Patriot tournament did not advance to the big dance was back in 2005. Teams really seem to relish the home court advantage in the Patriot league. Crotistics has Bucknell as the #1 team, and adding home court advantage to that just increases the odds of success. I think Bucknell will get it done and return to the NCAA Tournament this year. Lehigh did defeat Bucknell at home this year, so they could be a sleeper team in the Patriot.
West Coast: I’m not sure if the West Coast Conference went in the right direction with their step ladder approach this year. With 9 teams in conference this year, the 8/9 seed would have to win 5 games to make the NCAA Tournament. Although there are some great teams in this tournament (Gonzaga, Saint Mary’s, BYU), they all more than likely have locked up an at large berth. The one team to keep an eye on is Loyola Marymount. Although they would need to win 3 games to win the tournament, this has been done before, most recently in 2008 when San Diego won as the #3 seed and then upset UCONN in the tournament. More than likely the results of this tourney will only matter for seeding, as the likelihood of any of the top 3 not winning is very remote.