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March 2, 2010
Bid Thieves
More Conference Tournament Projections

by Ken Pomeroy

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Today we look at the four conference tournaments getting underway this week where at-large bids could be doled out. (If you missed yesterdayís introduction to the log5 method, read here.) The regular-season champs of the MVC, CAA, Horizon, and WCC are to varying degrees on the at-large board of nearly everybodyís brackets. The analysis here shows that the chance of at least one of those teams needing to go the at-large route is 91 percent. So if your team is currently one of the ďlast four in,Ē they still have some work to do. The bubble figures to get a bit more crowded by the time these tourneys are complete.

CAA: March 5-8, all games in Richmond, VA

Seed                   Qtrs    Semis    Final    Champ
  1  Old Dominion       100     94.6     60.9     45.7
  5  VCU                95.0    80.1     35.6     24.4
  2  Northeastern       100     72.7     52.0     19.2
  3  William & Mary     100     62.9     23.5      5.1
  7  Hofstra            74.7    23.8     12.9      2.8
  6  Drexel             73.0    31.2      9.7      1.7
  4  George Mason       100     18.8      2.8      0.8
  9  UNC Wilmington     65.3     4.1      0.6      0.1
  10 Georgia St.        25.3     3.5      1.0      0.09
  11 James Madison      27.0     5.8      0.9      0.07
  8  Towson             34.7     1.2      0.1      0.01
  12 Delaware            5.0     1.1      0.06     0.007

Old Dominion is very good, but VCU is not far behind and Iím not incorporating any home-city advantage here. While the Rams didnít snag a first round bye, they basically got one anyway by drawing Delaware on Friday. Donít rule out Northeastern either. Nkem Ojougboh and his fellow Huskies get to hang out on the nice side of the bracket while VCU and ODU sort out their issues in the semis.

Horizon League: March 2, 5, 6 & 9, first round on-campus, semifinals at Butler, finals at higher seed

Seed                   Qtrs    Semis    Final    Champ
  1  Butler            100     100       94.3     80.0
  2  Wright St.        100     100       81.4     17.3
  3  Green Bay         74.0    41.6       9.5      0.9
  4  Milwaukee         81.9    59.3       4.0      0.9
  7  Detroit           60.4    36.1       5.6      0.5
  5  Cleveland St.     69.4    26.0       1.4      0.3
  6  Valparaiso        39.6    15.4       2.9      0.2
  10 Youngstown St.    26.0     6.9       0.7      0.02
  8  Loyola Chicago    30.6     9.7       0.2      0.02
  9  Illinois Chicago  18.1     5.0       0.08     0.004

Nobodyís asking me to be conference commissioner, but if I were running a mid-level conference that consistently produces an at-large quality team as its regular-season champ, I would make my tournament a little more friendly to the rest of the league. The Horizonís double-bye system makes a Wright State vs. Butler final extremely likely. Thatís not so bad because Wright State is the second-best team in the conference, but giving Butler a first round game against Detroit would increase the chances of a multi-bid Horizon. As it stands now, Butler is the most prohibitive favorite in any conference tournament in the nation.

Missouri Valley: March 4-7, all games in St. Louis

Seed                  Qtrs   Semis    Final    Champ
  1  Northern Iowa    100     83.4     66.5     46.2
  2  Wichita St.      100     61.5     39.4     18.6
  3  Illinois St.     100     68.2     30.4     12.0
  7  Missouri St.     86.0    36.9     21.2      8.7
  4  Creighton        100     52.5     14.1      5.4
  5  Bradley          100     47.5     11.9      4.3
  6  Indiana St.      100     31.8      8.8      2.2
  9  S. Illinois      63.9    12.3      6.0      2.2
  8  Drake            36.1     4.3      1.5      0.4
  10 Evansville       14.0     1.5      0.3      0.03

Northern Iowa has apparently locked up an at-large bid, which is a good thing because they have a bit of work to do during Arch Madness to come away with one of the automatic variety. Thereís no obvious challenger, although Missouri State is an interesting case. The Bears lost 11 games this season, but only one by double digits, and they bring the conferenceís best offense to the Scottrade Center.

West Coast: March 5-8, all games in Las Vegas

Seed                 Qtrs     Semis    Final    Champ
  1 Gonzaga           100      100      89.9     52.4
  2 St. Mary's        100      100      68.8     35.1
  3 Portland          100      87.0     30.2     11.1
  4 San Francisco     100      49.4      4.5      0.6
  5 Loyola Marymount  83.5     47.3      5.5      0.9
  6 San Diego         61.6      9.2      0.8      0.09
  7 Santa Clara       38.4      3.8      0.2      0.02
  8 Pepperdine        16.5      3.4      0.3      0.01

The WCC continues to use its patented stepladder approach to deciding a conference champion. One canít dismiss Portlandís chances of knocking off Saint Maryís, but barring that there is going to be a third installment of Gonzaga vs. the Gaels next Monday. There may not be an at-large bid waiting for the SMC (especially given the dim prospects of ODU and Northern Iowa), so theyíll have a little more incentive. However the Zags have dominated the previous 142 possessions between the two, despite the near equivalence of each teamís play in all other games.

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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