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Sully's Court: Previewing Atlantic Sun, NEC, OVC, Patriot, WCC

Posted by Joe Sullivan, Globe Staff  March 6, 2013 09:52 AM

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Conference tournament previews continue with the ones that begin play Wednesday.

Atlantic Sun
All games in Macon, Ga. at Mercer.
Favorite: Mercer. The Bears are seeded first and playing on their home court, where they are 13-0 this season. This should be a formality.
Contenders: Florida Gulf Coast, Stetson (The Hatters, the nickname alone would be great for the NCAA Tournament).
Long shot: East Tennessee. The Buccaneers are the most traditional program in this conference and are still capable of putting together three good games.
Prediction: Mercer

All games at higher seed
Favorite: Robert Morris. The Colonials took charge late in the season, winning eight of their last nine, to take the regular-season title and will have home court throughout.
Contenders: Bryant, Wagner, Quinnipiac, LIU. It’s really evenly matched.
Long shot: St. Francis of New York. The Fightin’ Rossinis hold a victory over Robert Morris.
Prediction: Bryant. It’s been a spectacular season for the Bulldogs, although they faded a bit at the end. They just have to win the final in Coraopolis, Penn.

Ohio Valley
All games in Nashville at Municipal Auditorium
Favorite: Belmont. The Bruins won the regular-season title in their first season in the league. They’re not on their home court, but they’re in their hometown and get a bye into the semifinals. They’re deep, smart and accurate shooters.
Contenders: Murray State, Eastern Kentucky. Murray is one of the most disappointing teams in the country, but the Racers are the most talented team in the tournament. Underachievers deluxe.
Long shot: Tennessee State. The Tigers are also playing in their hometown.
Prediction: Murray State. Issiah Canaan puts together a great three-game sequence and carries the Racers to another OVC title.

Patriot League
All games at higher seeded team
Favorite: Bucknell. The Bisons hold victories over LaSalle, Kent State, George Mason, and Niagara and dropped a two-pointer at Missouri. They’re led by the best big man in the league, Mike Muscala.
Contenders: Lehigh, Lafayette. Lehigh will most likely be missing injured point guard C.J. McCollum. If he can play, it makes the Mountain Hawks a real contender.
Long shot: Army. The Cadets were over .500 for the first time since 1984-84, they’re dangerous.
Prediction: Bucknell.

West Coast
All games in Las Vegas
Favorite: Gonzaga. In case you haven’t heard, the Zags are ranked No. 1 in the country. They should win because they’re the best team, they get a bye into the semifinals and these are neutral court games, but there is competition.
Contenders: Saint Mary’s, BYU. Either one is capable of pulling off the upset, but they’ll have to deal with each other first.
Long shot: Santa Clara. Kevin Foster could shoot the Broncos to victory.
Prediction: Gonzaga.

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