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March 11, 2008
Conference Tournament Previews
Conference USA, Mountain West, Atlantic 10, Big East, Pac-10

by Ken Pomeroy

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All five of these tournaments tip off Wednesday. As always, all figures listed are the chances of a team getting to a particular round based on log5 computations, with the rightmost column indicating its chances of winning the tournament.

Conference USA

                     Qtrs Semis Final Champ
1  Memphis            100  98.5  95.8  91.2
2  UAB                100  64.7  40.1   3.5
3  Houston            100  69.9  32.9   2.3
7  Tulsa             86.7  34.1  17.6   1.1
4  Central Florida    100  59.2   2.3   1.0
5  Southern Miss     93.3  40.5   1.3   0.5
6  UTEP              87.7  29.3   9.2   0.4
8  Marshall          62.1   1.1   0.4   0.1
9  Tulane            37.9   0.4   0.1   0.02
10 East Carolina     13.3   1.2   0.2   0.003
11 SMU               12.3   0.8   0.05  0.0005
12 Rice               6.7   0.3   0.001 0.00005

Format: All games at Memphis, March 12-15.
Most likely championship matchup: UAB at Memphis (38%)

You think there's parity in college basketball? Not in C-USA. Rice's chance of winning this tournament is about 1 in 2 million, while Memphis' is 10 in 11. The sleeper here, if there can be one, is Tulsa, whose only losses in February and March were on the road to Memphis, UAB and Houston. Maybe head coach Doug Wojcik can inspire his troops with tales of how he singlehandedly led Navy to the Elite Eight in 1986.

Mountain West

                     Qtrs Semis Final Champ
2 UNLV                100  93.5  51.1  32.9
1 BYU                 100  92.7  70.1  30.7
3 New Mexico          100  73.1  39.8  26.3
4 San Diego St.       100  70.0  22.7   5.5
6 Utah                100  26.9   8.6   3.7
5 Air Force           100  30.0   5.5   0.7
7 TCU                 100   6.5   0.6   0.1
8 Wyoming            70.6   6.2   1.5   0.1
9 Colorado St.       29.4   1.1   0.1   0.004

Format: All games at UNLV, March 12-15.
Most likely championship matchup: BYU at UNLV (36%)

The MWC tourney is rarely kind to the top seed, and this year's edition figures to be no different. Yet again, we have a team that went winless in conference play, but Colorado State's chance of making a run seems realistic compared to Rice's. The best game of the first round is New Mexico/Utah, two underseeded and inconsistent teams that played a pair of last-possession games during the regular season.

Atlantic 10

                     Qtrs Semis Final Champ
1  Xavier             100  84.8  71.8  59.6
5  Saint Joseph's    79.7  63.1  16.5   9.2
3  UMass              100  54.7  29.8   8.3
2  Temple             100  60.3  30.6   8.2
8  Dayton            79.8  14.2   8.1   4.2
10 Duquesne          75.5  34.4  15.9   3.8
6  Charlotte         52.3  24.2  12.3   3.1
11 Rhode Island      47.7  21.0  10.2   2.4
4  Richmond           100  27.0   2.5   0.6
12 Fordham           20.3   9.9   0.9   0.2
7  La Salle          24.5   5.2   1.1   0.1
9  Saint Louis       20.2   1.0   0.3   0.06

Format: All games at Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City, N.J., March 12-15.
Most likely championship matchup: Xavier vs. Temple (22%)

Wow, take Xavier off the board and the true character of the A-10 comes out. Seeds seemingly mean nothing in a league of evenly matched teams. It wasn't too long ago that this conference was George Washington and a bunch of incredibly slow-paced teams. That has changed with Travis Ford, Jim Baron and Ron Everhart entering the league's coaching ranks. With a lot possessions and the potential for mass chaos, the A-10 should put on an exciting event. I was planning on devoting a few words to Duquesne and their unusual style at some point, but their play never allowed it. Maybe they can get it going on the Boardwalk. Having a one-in-six chance to reach the final game is as good as you'll see for a ten seed.

Big East

                     Qtrs Semis Final Champ
1  Georgetown         100  77.7  49.1  27.3
2  Louisville         100  75.5  45.2  26.2
6  Marquette         90.4  55.8  28.7  15.4
4  UConn              100  55.2  24.3  10.5
3  Notre Dame         100  42.8  17.1   7.2
5  West Virginia     81.6  41.3  18.4   8.1
7  Pitt              81.2  23.0   8.6   3.1
9  Syracuse          60.9  15.3   5.7   1.7
8  Villanova         39.1   6.9   1.9   0.4
12 Providence        18.4   3.4   0.6   0.09
10 Cincinnati        18.8   1.6   0.2   0.02
11 Seton Hall         9.6   1.4   0.2   0.02

Format: All games at Madison Square Garden, March 12-15.
Most likely championship matchup: Georgetown vs. Louisville (22%)

The Big East won't be a cakewalk for any team, which is what happens when you have five solid teams that are similar in strength. I believe Marquette would be the first team to go 4-0 in two different conference tourneys if they were to pull this off. Back in '97, they won the CUSA Tourney by winning four games in four days.

Pacific 10

                     Qtrs Semis Final  Champ
1  UCLA               100  89.4  73.0   53.7
3  Washington St.     100  73.9  42.5   17.3
2  Stanford           100  58.5  30.3   11.2
4  USC                100  66.0  17.5   7.7
7  Arizona           96.8  41.4  18.6   5.8
6  Oregon             100  26.1   8.5   1.8
5  Arizona St.        100  34.0   5.7   1.6
8  Washington        51.3   5.6   2.0   0.5
9  California        48.7   5.1   1.8   0.4
10 Oregon St.         3.2   0.08  0.002 0.00004

Format: All games at Staples Center, Los Angeles, March 12-15.
Most likely championship matchup: UCLA vs. Washington State (31%)

Washington State is developing into a decent sleeper in the real tournament. They'll get a bit of an audition this week in L.A. UCLA is coming in with a two-game losing...er, winning streak, but its last homestand provided enough evidence that it isn't invincible. Oregon State, by the way, has a one in 2.4 million chance to win this thing. They went 0-18 in the Pac-10 with only two of those defeats by single digits. However, they are still trying and were competitive in recent games against Arizona State and Oregon for 25-30 minutes. They would have the gratitude of bubble teams everywhere if they could take down Arizona in the first round.

Ken Pomeroy is an author of Basketball Prospectus. You can contact Ken by clicking here or click here to see Ken's other articles.

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