Saturday, February 28, 2009

I love brackets (but not this year's mid-major ones)

This is a bit of a bummer.

Siena lost on Friday Night, crushing their NCAA at large hopes and rendering much of my pandering moot. Next weekend is perhaps the most irrelevant set of mid-major conference tournaments ever. While in past years we’ve debated 6 MVC teams, 4 CAA teams, and multiple teams from many other mid-majors, there are basically only 3 teams worth keeping an eye on next weekend: Gonzaga, Butler, and Creighton. Those are the only teams that can lose and still make it as an at-large. If you are a panicked bubble team and want to make sure none of the mid-majors become multi-bid leagues, root strongly for those teams.

Creighton and Northern Iowa each won on Saturday to split the MVC regular season title. Northern Iowa won the tie-breaker and will be the number one seed in the MVC tournament. Here’s the MVC Tournament Bracket. Games start on Thursday Night.

Butler won on Saturday and clinched the Horizon league title outright. Although Butler clearly has a much stronger NCAA profile than the rest of the league, I’m not convinced that they will win the Horizon tournament. Several Horizon teams have played close games against Butler if not beaten them outright this year. Here’s the Horizon Tournament Bracket. Games start on Tuesday Night. As discussed in previous years, the Horizon league slots its first and second place teams into the semifinals, so Butler only needs to win twice to win the tournament. That means only two days of panicked box-scoring watching for bubble teams, Saturday Night and the following Tuesday.

The WCC also slots its two best teams into the semifinals. Portland entered Saturday with a chance at one of the two double byes, but lost in overtime. That means both league favorite Gonzaga, and “the team formerly starring Patrick Mills” St. Mary’s are slotted in the semifinals. St. Mary’s can definitely steal this tournament, but probably doesn’t have enough strength for an at large bid right now. Here’s WCC tournament central. Games start on Friday, but the key games are next Sunday and a week from Monday when Gonzaga will be in action.

The other tournaments will still be fun next weekend (Davidson in the Southern Conference, VCU and Senior Eric Maynor in the CAA, VMI and its high scoring offense in the Big South, Louisville killer Western Kentucky in the Sun Belt, and yes Siena in the MAAC), but with no national implications, I'm finding it hard to get excited.