Continuing on from part one, here are the other “lesser” conference tournament preview and predictions. Once again, sorry for all the favorite predictions but hey, they’re favorites for a reason.
The Patriot League Tournament: March 3-11
To start part two of the lesser tournaments is the always fun Patriot League. The longest tournament with one of the most drawn out schedules and a title on a…. Wednesday night? For a bad league you’d think they’d want some buzz and have the game on Sunday/Monday? Similarly, to the Atlantic Sun, the lower seed will host the game, so advantage Colgate.
Colgate comes into the tournament as 1-1.5 favorites to win the tournament, showing the close nature of the Patriot League. Boston University, the three seed, is 4.2-1 and American is the two seed at 4.75-1 to win it all. I hate to do it, but after sweeping both American and BU in the regular season, home and away, there will be no problems for the Raiders doing what they’re supposed to do. Currently mocked as a 14 seed, Colgate’s prize in addition to a banner in their gym, is to be Duke’s tune up game. Go Raiders.
The Northeast Conference Tournament: March 4-10
This is one of the trickier tournaments to predict based on how even the conference was all season. The top seed gets to play the worst team left each round, and with the top four teams advancing to the second-round last night, there are some pretty nice matchups in the second round. Additionally, Merrimack won the regular season title in their first ever Division 1 season, and since its their first season they can’t be in either of the tournaments which really is a shame as they were balling this year.
The favorite is actually the two seed, Saint Francis (PA) with 1.7-1 odds, with top seeded Robert Morris right behind them with 1.9-1 odds to win the tournament. This is the first time where there’s been a favorite with this high of odds suggesting a closely fought game. I’m backing St. Francis to get the job done as their only recent losses are to Robert Morris in a game where they couldn’t score on a 1-foot rim, and against Merrimack who doesn’t count in this tournament. Go Red Flash.
The Southern Conference Tournament: March 6-9
Finally, we have the Southern Conference tournament, the one with the nicest schedule. There are three teams that are head and shoulders above the rest and if East Tennessee State loses a close one in the final, the Southern Conference could sneak two teams into March.
Having one of the more underrated teams, I really am glad I bought ESPN+ to see these first three rounds.The East Tennessee State Buccaneers are the favorites and top seed coming in with 1.4-1 odds to win the automatic berth. Currently pegged to be a 12 seed, they could still sneak in with a loss in the title game as I said before, but they will obviously be dying to win this game. When you only lose by 12 points on the road vs #1 Kansas AND you beat LSU on the road, you gain respect. They swept three seed UNCG and split the series with two seed Furman. Furman also took Auburn to overtime on the road and lost by only three points, another good showing for the Southern Conference. They have been given 3-1 odds to win the tournament and University of North Carolina Greensboro has been given 3.2-1 odds. Barring an upset it will be ETSU vs the winner of Furman/UNCG. I will take ETSU all day as they will be one of the more popular upset picks, similar to Murray State over Marquette last season. Go Buccaneers.