[Moderated by Matt Jones]
Welcome to the KSR/KSR College Championship Week Challenge. Over the next 10 days, posts will go up on KSRCollege.com that are conference tournament “previews” of each of the 30 conference tournaments in the NCAA. Each day’s post will go up the day before the Tournament begins (with one exception) and you will have until the opening tip of the first game to get your winner picks in. All you do is log into your account and post a comment in the comment section with the winner. It is that easy.
Things You Should Know:
The Horizon League tournament is a 10-team tournament. The top 2 seeds receive byes through the first 2 rounds until the semifinals, meaning they only have to win 2 games to win the championship. Games in the first round begin tomorrow at 7:00pm and are held at the home court of the better-seeded team. The quarterfinals and semifinals will be held March 2nd at the home court of the #1 seed, with the championship being held at the home court of the best remaining seed. Semifinal games on March 3rd will be shown on ESPNU, and the championship on Tuesday, March 6th will be shown at 9:00pm on ESPN.
Last Year’s Tournament:
In 2011, #2 seed Butler defeated #1 seed UW-Milwaukee 59-44 in Milwaukee to win the championship.
Conference Standings and Tournament Bracket:
Everyone knows about Butler and their historic NCAA Tournament runs the past 2 seasons, however this is not the same Butler team without Shelvin Mack and Matt Howard. The Bulldogs won 5 in a row before dropping their final regular season game at #1 seed Valparaiso, a loss that dropped them from #2 to #5 in the conference standings, a big loss in this tournament format.
The favorite in the tournament is #1 seed Valparaiso, who comes in with a 14-4 record in conference. The Crusaders (21-10) are coached by Bryce Drew, who has some NCAA Tournament history of his own, went 7-1 against the 2-5 seeds in this tournament with their lone loss coming at home against #4 UW-Milwaukee. Unlike most good mid-major teams, they do not rely on any one player to lead the way, instead focusing more on a balanced attack with 6 players scoring 7.5ppg or more, led by junior forward Ryan Broekhoff with 14.8ppg.
Another team to watch out for is #2 seed Cleveland State, who’s season has been highlighted by their season-opening 71-58 at Memorial Coliseum over Vanderbilt. The Vikings (22-9) are an experienced team with 3 of their 4 seniors averaging over 10ppg. #3 seed Detroit (18-13) is led by sophomore PG and former McDonald’s All-American Ray McCallum Jr. who chose to bring his 15.1ppg to Detroit to play for his father, who is the Head Coach.
Of course any discussion about the Horizon League will start and end with 5th seeded Butler, who have been the darlings of the NCAA Tournament the last 2 seasons. The Bulldogs (18-13) have begun “rebuilding” so to speak, with a much more youthful lineup than they’ve shown in the past. One thing I’ve learned the last 2 years is that betting against Butler in March is something you should do with caution, considering that as early as last year they struggled mightily within the Horizon League before running through the conference tournament and the first 5 rounds of the NCAA Tournament.
If your already rich, and don’t feel like winning $1,000 pick either Illinois-Chicago or Loyola-Chicago to win this tournament. More than likely you will lose, considering they have gone a combined 4-32 in conference play this year. After that, I would say you have a chance picking any of the top 5 seeds. Personally, I’d take Cleveland State over Butler in the title game.
**Make your picks below in the comment section, picks for this tournament are due in by 7:00pm tomorrow night
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