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March 2, 2008

Rivals.com conference tournament primer

MORE: Expert picks: Conference tournaments | NCAA automatic bids

CURRENT TOURNAMENTS
All league teams contend in tournaments except where noted in "format" section. All times listed are Eastern.
AMERICA EAST (TOURNAMENT SCOREBOARD)
When: March 7-9, 15
Where: First, second and third rounds in Binghamton, N.Y. Best remaining seed hosts final.
TV: Final is on ESPN2 at noon.
Regular-season champ: Maryland-Baltimore County.
NCAA bids: 1.
The buzz: The league will get one NCAA bid. UMBC, which is looking for its first NCAA appearance, won the regular-season title by three games and would host the league tourney final if it makes it that far. The Retrievers have won nine of their past 10, with the loss coming by one point at second-place Hartford in the regular-season finale. When the teams met in Baltimore, the Retrievers won by a point. Sixth-seeded Boston U. has won six of its past eight – including a 29-point home blowout of Hartford – and is the dark horse. The bad news for the Terriers is that their first-round tourney foe is Albany, which swept them this season.
Expert picks: Huguenin–UMBC; McClellan–UMBC; Skwara–UMBC.
ATLANTIC 10 (TOURNAMENT SCOREBOARD)
When: March 12-15.
Where: Atlantic City, N.J.
TV: Final is on ESPN at 6 p.m.
Format: 12 of league's 16 teams qualify.
Regular-season champ: Xavier.
NCAA bids: 2-4.
The buzz: The league will get at least one NCAA bid and could get as many as three. Xavier won the regular-season title by three games and is an NCAA lock. Second-seeded Temple, third-seeded Massachusetts, fifth-seeded Saint Joseph's and eighth-seeded Dayton have at least minuscule at-large hopes. Dayton – which beat Louisville and Pitt early in the season – has been hurt by an injury to star freshman Chris Wright. The forward is expected to be in uniform for the tournament opener against Saint Louis, but whether he plays will be a game-time decision. Temple and St. Joe's need to at least get to the tourney final to have an at-large shot. Dayton needs to win at least twice (which would entail beating Xavier in the second round) to have a shot. UMass needs to win at least once – and maybe twice – to feel good about itself on Selection Sunday. This league will be one of the most closely watched by other bubble teams.
Expert picks: Huguenin–Xavier; McClellan–Xavier; Skwara–Saint Joseph's.
ATLANTIC COAST (TOURNAMENT SCOREBOARD)
When: March 13-16.
Where: Charlotte, N.C.
TV: Final is on ESPN at 1 p.m.
Regular-season champ: North Carolina.
NCAA bids: 4-6.
The buzz:North Carolina and Duke split their two regular-season meetings this season, and if the seeding plays out in the ACC Tournament Tyler Hansbrough and the Tar Heels will have an opportunity to break that tie with the Blue Devils. Click here for the ACC tournament preview.
Expert picks: Huguenin–Maryland; McClellan–North Carolina; Skwara–Duke.
BIG 12 (TOURNAMENT SCOREBOARD)
When: March 13-16
Where: Kansas City, Mo.
TV: Final is on ESPN at 3 p.m.
Regular-season champ: Texas/Kansas.
NCAA bids: 4-6.
The buzz: Kansas and Texas met in last season's Big 12 Tournament final, with the Jayhawks taking home the championship. If Bill Self's bunch pulls off a similar feat this season KU will still have an opportunity to claim a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Click here for the Big 12 tournament preview.
Expert picks: Huguenin–Texas; McClellan–Kansas; Skwara–Kansas.
BIG EAST (TOURNAMENT SCOREBOARD)
When: March 12-15
Where: New York.
TV: Final is on ESPN at 9 p.m.
Format: 12 of league's 16 teams qualify.
Regular-season champ: Georgetown.
NCAA bids: 6-9.
The buzz: Georgetown won last year's regular-season and tournament titles and could repeat that feat this season. But Louisville was the hottest Big East team at the end of the season, beat the Hoyas at home and lost by three in D.C., so a rematch in the final would be a grudge match worth watching. On the other hand, the most important game of the tourney may be the first one as Syracuse battles Villanova. The loser's NCAA bubble will surely burst. Click here for a complete preview.
Expert picks: Huguenin–Louisville; McClellan–Notre Dame; Skwara–Georgetown.
BIG TEN (TOURNAMENT SCOREBOARD)
When: March 13-16
Where: Indianapolis.
TV: Final is on CBS at 3:30 p.m.
Regular-season champ: Wisconsin.
NCAA bids: 4-5.
The buzz: Four Big Ten teams – Wisconsin, Purdue, Indiana and Michigan State – are NCAA locks. Ohio State bolstered its case with season-ending victories over Purdue and Michigan State. Thad Matta and the Buckeyes likely earn an at-large bid barring a first-round exit in this week's Big Ten Tournament. Click here for the Big Ten tournament preview.
Expert picks: Huguenin–Wisconsin; McClellan–Wisconsin; Skwara–Purdue.
BIG WEST (TOURNAMENT SCOREBOARD)
When: March 12-15
Where: Anaheim, Calif.
TV: Final is on ESPN2 at 11 p.m.
Format: Eight of league's nine teams qualify. No. 1 and No. 2 seeds get byes until semifinals, and No. 3 and No. 4 seeds get first-round byes.
Regular-season champ: UC Santa Barbara.
NCAA bids: 1.
The buzz:The league will get one NCAA bid. There was a three-way tie for first in the regular season between Cal State Fullerton, Cal State Northridge and UC Santa Barbara, and UCSB was given the No. 1 seed via tiebreakers. UCSB swept Fullerton and split with Northridge. Fullerton and Northridge split their two games. Fullerton and Northridge win with offense, while UCSB is the league's best defensive team. Northridge is the second seed, and it and UCSB get byes into the tourney semifinals. A dark horse is fifth-seeded UC Irvine. The Anteaters have won six of their past eight, including wins in that span over UCSB and Northridge.
Expert picks: Huguenin–UC-Santa Barbara; McClellan–Cal State Fullerton; Skwara–UC-Santa Barbara.
CONFERENCE USA (TOURNAMENT SCOREBOARD)
When: March 12-15
Where: Memphis.
TV: Final is on CBS at 11:30 a.m.
Regular-season champ: Memphis.
NCAA bids: 1-2.
The buzz: The league will get at least one NCAA bid. Memphis won the regular-season title by four games (the Tigers were one of two teams nationally to go unbeaten in conference play; Davidson was the other) and is the prohibitive favorite to win the league tournament. Making matters worse for teams hoping to upset the Tigers: The C-USA Tournament is on Memphis' home court. Memphis is playing for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tourney. It's hard to fathom any other league team getting an NCAA bid, though second-seeded UAB is a long shot. The Blazers need to get to the tournament final, then have a lot of things elsewhere go their way. An aside: C-USA was the only league to have both an unbeaten team and a winless team (Rice) in league play.
Expert picks: Huguenin–Memphis; McClellan–Memphis; Skwara–Memphis.
MID-AMERICAN (TOURNAMENT SCOREBOARD)
When: March 12-15
Where: Cleveland.
TV: Final is on ESPN2 at 7 p.m.
Regular-season champ: Kent State.
NCAA bids: 1-2.
The buzz: The league will get at least one NCAA bid. Kent State won the regular-season title and the Golden Flashes are in a position to receive an at-large bid if they lose in the tournament final – and maybe even the semifinals. No one else has an at-large shot. Kent State lost three conference games, and is guaranteed to play one of those teams (Bowling Green or Toledo) in the second round. Western Michigan, which won the MAC West title, is seeded second and has won nine of its past 11. The Broncos lost by nine at Kent State in the teams' only meeting. Third-seeded Akron is the other team to watch.
Expert picks: Huguenin–Kent State; McClellan–Kent State; Skwara–Akron.
MID-EASTERN ATHLETIC (TOURNAMENT SCOREBOARD)
When: March 10-15
Where: Raleigh, N.C.
TV: Final is on ESPNU at 1 p.m.
Regular-season champ: Morgan State.
NCAA bids: 1.
The buzz: The league will get one NCAA bid. Morgan State, coached by former California head man Todd Bozeman , won the regular-season title by three games and comes in having won 13 of its past 14 (the one loss was a one-pointer in overtime). Both teams that beat Morgan State in league play are in the other half of the bracket. Sixth-seeded Florida A&M – which won the league tournament in upset fashion last season – is a team to keep an eye on here. The Rattlers have won six of their past seven, including that one-point win over Morgan State. Seventh-seeded Coppin State, while awful early in league play, has won eight of its past nine. The loss in that stretch was by four points at Morgan State. Coppin State would play second-seeded Hampton in the second round, and Coppin beat the Pirates by 17 in late February.
Expert picks: Huguenin–Morgan State; McClellan–Morgan State; Skwara–Morgan State.
MOUNTAIN WEST (TOURNAMENT SCOREBOARD)
When: March 12-15.
Where: Las Vegas.
TV: Final is on Vs. at 7 p.m.
Regular-season champ: Brigham Young.
NCAA bids: 1-3.
The buzz: The league will get at least two NCAA bids and could get three. BYU won the regular-season title by two games and is an NCAA lock. UNLV finished second and is the tournament host. The Runnin' Rebels were 17-2 at home this season, with the losses to Louisville and Arizona. UNLV is in good shape for an at-large bid, assuming it doesn't lose in its opening tourney game. New Mexico is the other team in the hunt for an at-large bid. The Lobos probably need to make it to the tourney final to have a legit shot, though they did beat UNLV early this month. Fifth-seeded Air Force, which has won four of six, is the dark horse. The Falcons' deliberate attack can cause problems for foes.
Expert picks: Huguenin–UNLV; McClellan–UNLV; Skwara–New Mexico.
PACIFIC-10 (TOURNAMENT SCOREBOARD)
When: March 12-15.
Where: Los Angeles.
TV: Final is on CBS at 6 p.m.
Regular-season champ: UCLA.
NCAA bids: 4-6.
The buzz: The well-balanced UCLA Bruins are the clear favorite. Stanford is the one team UCLA doesn't want to see in the final after Stanford outplayed the Bruins for 39-plus minutes at Pauley Pavilion last week. USC is young but appears to be peaking at the right time, and Washington State has teh experience and defense to be a major factor. Click here for a complete preview.
Expert picks: Huguenin–UCLA; McClellan–UCLA; Skwara–UCLA.
SOUTHEASTERN (TOURNAMENT SCOREBOARD)
When: March 13-16.
Where: Atlanta.
TV: Final is on CBS at 3 p.m.
Regular-season champ: Tennessee.
NCAA bids: 4-6.
The buzz: Tennessee has been the class of the league all season. Bruce Pearl's bunch is still a heavy favorite according to the league's coaches despite an embarrassing SEC tournament record: No Tennessee team has reached even the semifinals since the conference split into divisions in 1992. Is this the Volunteers year? Click here for the SEC tournament preview.
Expert picks: Huguenin–Mississippi State; McClellan–Tennessee; Skwara–Tennessee.
SOUTHLAND (TOURNAMENT SCOREBOARD)
When: March 13-14, 16.
Where: Katy, Texas.
TV: Final is on ESPN2 at 1 p.m.
Format: Eight of league's 11 eligible teams qualify. Top two teams in each division are guaranteed spots, plus next four with best record, regardless of division.
Regular-season champ: Stephen F. Austin.
NCAA bids: 1.
The buzz: The league will get one NCAA bid. Stephen F. Austin is the No. 1 seed by virtue of its win over Lamar, and each went 13-3 in league play. SFA – which won at Oklahoma and San Diego in December – comes in having won 10 of its past 11. The Lumberjacks play aggressive defense and hold foes to 38.6 percent shooting. The good news for the Lumberjacks is that two of the teams that beat them in conference play this season are in the other half of the bracket and the other team didn't qualify for the tourney. Lamar prefers a fast pace but comes in having lost two of its past three. If the Cardinals would have won either of those two games they would have been the No. 1 seed. Fourth-seeded Southeastern Louisiana is the sleeper. The Lions have won four of their past five (including a win over Lamar), beat third-seeded Sam Houston State in their only meeting and lost by three to Stephen F. Austin.
Expert picks: Huguenin–Stephen F. Austin; McClellan–Stephen F. Austin; Skwara–Stephen F. Austin .
SOUTHWESTERN ATHLETIC (TOURNAMENT SCOREBOARD)
When: March 12-15
Where: Birmingham, Ala.
TV: Final is on ESPNU at 6 p.m.
Format: Eight of league's 10 teams qualify.
Regular-season champ: Alabama State.
NCAA bids: 1.
The buzz: The league will get one NCAA bid. Alabama State won the regular-season title by three games and is the only league team that's above .500 overall. The Hornets come in having won seven of their past eight, and the last team to beat them – Alcorn State – didn't even make the league tournament. Alabama State is seeking its third NCAA bid this decade. One of the Hornets' starters is F Joel Bosh, the brother of NBA star Chris Bosh. Second-seeded Mississippi Valley State has won six in a row and split with Alabama State during the regular season. Third-seeded Alabama A&M has won 10 of 12 but lost twice to Alabama State this season.
Expert picks: Huguenin–Alabama State; McClellan–Alabama State; Skwara–Alabama State.
WESTERN ATHLETIC (TOURNAMENT SCOREBOARD)
When: March 11, 13-15.
Where: Las Cruces, N.M.
TV: Final is on ESPN2 at 9 p.m.
Regular-season champ: N.M. St./Boise St./Nevada/Utah St.
NCAA bids: 1.
The buzz: The league will get one NCAA bid. There was a four-way tie for first in the regular season between Boise State, Nevada, New Mexico State and Utah State, and Utah State was given the No. 1 seed via tiebreakers. Utah State was the only one of the four to have at least one victory against each of the others. In addition, each team had at least one sweep of another of the quartet (Utah State and Mew Mexico State swept Boise State, which swept Nevada, which swept New Mexico State). New Mexico State is the tourney host. It was 7-1 at home in league play this season, losing only to Nevada. New Mexico State comes in having won eight of nine. Nevada comes in having won four of five. Utah State comes in having won five in a row, and Boise has won five of its past seven.
Expert picks: Huguenin–Utah State; McClellan–New Mexico State; Skwara–New Mexico State.
TOURNAMENTS COMPLETED
ATLANTIC SUN (TOURNAMENT SCOREBOARD)
Tournament champ: Belmont.
Final: Belmont 79, Jacksonville 61: Recap, Box score
COLONIAL ATHLETIC ASSOCIATION (TOURNAMENT SCOREBOARD)
Tournament champ: George Mason.
Final: George Mason 68, William & Mary 59 : Recap, Box score
BIG SOUTH (TOURNAMENT SCOREBOARD)
Tournament champ: Winthrop.
Final: Winthrop 66, UNC-Asheville 48: Recap, Box score
BIG SKY (TOURNAMENT SCOREBOARD)
Tournament champ: Portland State.
Final: Portland State 67, Northern Arizona 51: Recap, Box score
HORIZON (TOURNAMENT SCOREBOARD)
Tournament champ: Butler.
Final: Butler 70, Cleveland St. 55: Recap, Box score
METRO ATLANTIC (TOURNAMENT SCOREBOARD)
Tournament champ: Siena.
Final: Siena 74, Rider 53: Recap, Box score
MISSOURI VALLEY (TOURNAMENT SCOREBOARD)
Tournament champ: Drake.
Final: Drake 79, Illinois State 49: Recap, Box score
NORTHEAST (TOURNAMENT SCOREBOARD)
Tournament champ: Mount St. Mary's.
Final: Mount St. Mary's 68, Sacred Heart 55: Recap, Box score
OHIO VALLEY (TOURNAMENT SCOREBOARD)
Tournament champ: Austin Peay.
Final: Austin Peay 82, Tennessee State 64: Recap, Box score
PATRIOT LEAGUE (TOURNAMENT SCOREBOARD)
Tournament champ: American
Final: American 52, Colgate 46: Recap, Box score
SOUTHERN (TOURNAMENT SCOREBOARD)
Tournament champ: Davidson.
Final: Davidson 65 , Elon 49: Recap, Box score
SUMMIT LEAGUE (TOURNAMENT SCOREBOARD)
Tournament champ: Oral Roberts.
Final: Oral Roberts 71, IUPUI 64: Recap, Box score
SUN BELT (TOURNAMENT SCOREBOARD)
Tournament champ: Western Kentucky.
Final: Western Kentucky 67, MTSU 57: Recap, Box score
WEST COAST (TOURNAMENT SCOREBOARD)
Tournament champ: San Diego.
Final: San Diego 69 , Gonzaga 62: Recap, Box score



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