Previewing conference tournaments that begin Tuesday
All games at Madison Square Garden
Favorite: Georgetown. It won’t be easy, heck the Hoyas just lost to Villanova and earlier this season lost to South Florida, but they’re playing really well most of the time as evidenced by their big victory over Syracuse Saturday. If opponents can contain Otto Porter, the Hoyas could have trouble.
Contenders: Louisville, Syracuse, Marquette, Notre Dame, Pitt. This tournament should be loaded with close games and maybe a few overtimes. Syracuse is the mystifying team. The Orange are a talented group that seem to be fading fast. Marquette doesn’t measure up talent-wise but no team plays harder. Louisville is streaky and if they find their groove, they’ll win. Pitt is at the bottom of this list but still a contender. The Irish need to keep Jack Cooley out of foul trouble and hit some outside shots.
Long shot: Cincinnati. The physical Bearcats play great defense, just have trouble finding the basket.
All games in Las Vegas
Favorite: New Mexico. The Lobos have great inside-outside balance and are decent defensively plus they’ll avoid UNLV until the final.
Contenders: UNLV, San Diego State, Colorado State. Vegas is the most talented team in the field but the Fightin’ Tarks have been held back by an unfortunate injury to Mike Moser and chemistry issues. San Diego State just isn’t as good as its been the last few years but Jamal Franklin is a great player and the Aztecs are deep. Colorado State has had a surprising season; they’re well-coached and rebound as well as any team in the country.
Long shot: Boise State. Coached by former Gonzaga assistant Leon Rice the Broncos have surprised some teams this season.
All games in Las Vegas
Favorite: Louisiana Tech. The Fightin’ Malones slipped at the end of the season, losing their final two regular-season games on the road at New Mexico State and Denver. They were undefeated before that. These Malones play like Nolan Richardson’s old Arkansas teams, pressing full-court the whole game and chucking up shots as quick as possible. It’s very entertaining and great to see.
Contenders: New Mexico State, Denver. Both these teams hold recent decisions over LaTech. Denver is a true contrast to LaTech, playing the Princeton style under Joe Scott.
Long shot: Texas Arlington. The Mavericks have 10 road wins this year, a nice total.
Prediction: Louisiana Tech
- Michael Vega
- Mark Blaudschun
- Nancy Marrapese-Burrell