CTC Day Three: A West Coast Pigtail

Is there a chance the the WCC is actually underrated these days?  When Gonzaga was becoming almost as cliche for an underdog as Cinderella, the thing that was lost on people was that, yes, it was a great story of a small program having big-time success, but it wasn’t as Hollywood as it sounds.  In the beginning it was everything you’d think, but after a few years of success The Zags had a great coach who wasn’t going anywhere and, more importantly, they had BY FAR the most resources and best facilities in the WCC, so it would have taken a, forgive me, Gonzaga-ish upset in the WCC tournament for them not to make the tournament.  But, now, with the building up of several programs to try and compete with the Zags and the theft of BYU from the M-West, this conference is, all of a sudden, really, really good.  And, Gonzaga’s success is probably a lot more impressive these days than it was in the days of Matt Santangelo, Dan Dickau, Adam Morrison, and Robert Sacre (…wait, Sacre’s still there?!?).  Well, this year, they decided to add a pigtail round to their already interesting double-bye format, giving us even more intrigue and originality in the tournament brackets this year.  Well, that pigtail game is tonight, before we will add two new teams to the field in each of the next three nights.

Championship Picks
5 for #1 St. Mary’s (Alexi, Bry, J, Primm, Teddy)
11 for #2 Gonzaga
1 for #3 BYU (Gross)
1 for #4 Loyola Marymount (Mac)

Biggest Upsets
R1 – #9 Santa Clara (Bry, Dave, Lohse, Lynch, Mac, RSmith, Teddy)
R2 – #9 Santa Clara (RSmith)
QF – #6 San Diego (RSmith)
SF – #5 San Francisco (Dave)

Previous CTC Champs
2011 – Bry*
2010 – Lynch
2009 – Ina*
2008 – Waters

#8 Portland vs. #9 Santa Clara
Santa Clara, picked 5th in the preseason and finished 8-5 in the non-conference has had an absolute nightmare of a conference season, finishing an embarrassing 0-16, 3 games behing 8th-place Portland.  But, the Broncos have been playing better as of late and the Pilots have lost 6 in a row themselves.  The winner of this game will get #5 San Francisco tomorrow night in the second round.  7 people went with the mild upset tonight (Bry, Dave, Lohse, Lynch, Mac, RSmith, and Teddy).  RSmith has the most at stake, as he has Santa Clara winning tonight and tomorrow over San Fran.  Nobody has Portland going any further than Round 2.

CTC Day Three: The Patriot League Appetizer

The grizzled CTC fans know that the Patriot League tournament is like a three-course meal, as opposed to the all-you-can-eat buffets of most of the conference tournaments that often give you 8 games in 36 hours and things like that.  The 4-part appetizer round is tonight.  We will get a semifinal double-header on Saturday as the entree, followed by the championship dessert a week from today.  The week-long tournament is always a nice break from the intensity of some of these big ones.

Championship Picks
7 for #1 Bucknell (Doogan, Gersh, Lil Lohse, Primm, Rikey, RDoc, RSmith)
10 for #2 Lehigh
1 for #3 American (Scoot)

Biggest Upsets
QF – #8 Navy (Waters)
SF – #4 Holy Cross (Alexi, Bry, Dave, Gross, J, Lynch, Teddy, Waters)

Previous CTC Champs
2011 – Gross*
2010 – Teddy
2009 – Alexi
2008 – Doogan

#1 Bucknell vs. #8 Navy
The Bison win another PL title, but it wasn’t easy, as they struggled down the stretch a little bit.  But, a title is a title and they have to be considered the favorites coming into the tournament, which is why it is a bit surprising that only 7 of the 18 people picked the Bison to take the title (only 9 even have them reaching the finals).  Waters even went for the huge upset pick by taking winless Navy to win this game tonight.

#2 Lehigh vs. #7 Colgate
If you’ve never heard of C.J. McCollum, well, find a way to see him play.  He has has already become the all-time leading scorer in Lehigh history and he’s only a junior.  He has major-conference talent and a low-minor personality of hustle and humility.  The guy is worth finding a Lehigh game on your 900 cable channels and watching.  Anyway, the Mountain Hawks take on a bad Colgate team that only won two PL games all year – both against Navy.  No one took the bait on Colgate tonight, as everyone has Lehigh.  In fact, 10 of the 18 people have the Mountain Hawks (the #2-seed) winning this tournament.

#3 American vs. #6 Army
American has contended all year, but their youth has really held them back in some big spots.  They take on a feisty Army team that beat Holy Cross and took Lehigh to overtime this year.  Surprisingly, only one person (Waters – the true “Patriot,” with his picks of Army and Navy) went with Army in what could be a tempting upset pick.  This game is biggest for Scoot, who has American winning this tournament.

#4 Holy Cross vs. #5 Lafayette
Holy Cross, the hottest team in the PL entering the tournament, did itself no favors with a very slow start to conference play and couldn’t finish higher than 4th place.  They take on an up-and-down Lafayette team in the quarters tonight, with a likely shot at #1 Bucknell awaiting the winner in the semis.  16 people like the 4-seed over the 5-seed in this one, as only Mac and Primm took a shot at a mild upset.  Neither of them have Lafayette beating Bucknell in the semis.  However, Holy Cross would be a huge loss for the EIGHT people (Alexi, Bry, Dave, Gross, J, Lynch, Teddy, Waters) who have them reaching the finals.  Though, interestingly, all eight have them losing to Lehigh when they get there.

CTC Day Three: The Murray State Invitational Tips Off Tonight

The Murray State conference, also known as the Ohio Valley, gets underway tonight with an opening round double-header.  The OVC was way ahead of the curve on this increasingly popular double-bye style tournament to give added advantage to their best regular season teams, while still bringing in the crucial revenue from a conference tournament.  Tonight’s double-header pits the bottom 4 qualifying teams for the right to reach the quarters tomorrow night. 

In CTC, this is yet another conference that has been dominated by J recently, as he has won back-to-back OVC titles.  Teddy was the one that went a little crazy here with Jacksonville St. going to the finals.  Tonight’s action has two games where the field is completely split 9 to 9 on BOTH games.  So, despite being a first round, this is a potentially big night in the CTC.

Championship Picks
15 for #1 Murray St.
0 for #2 Tennessee St.
3 for #3 Morehead St. (Gersh, RSmith, Waters)

Biggest Upsets
R1 – #8 E. Kentucky (Bry, Doogan, Gross, J, Lynch, Primm, RSmith, Teddy, Waters)
QF – #7 Jacksonville St. (Alexi, Dave, Doogan, J, Lohse, Teddy)
SF – #7 Jacksonville St. (Teddy)

Past CTC Champs
2011 – J
2010 – J
2009 – Ina
2008 – Waters

#5 SE Missouri St. vs. #8 E. Kentucky
SEMO had a really good start to the year, but limped to the finish line, costing themselves not only a double-bye, but the single-bye, as well.  E. Kentucky barely qualified for the tournament, having to beat E. Illinois on the last day of the regular season just to qualify for the OVC tournament.  The winner of this game will move to the quarters to face 4th-seeded Tennessee Tech.  The 18 entries this year are evenly split on this one, as 9 people (Bry, Doogan, Gross, J, Lynch, Primm, RSmith, Teddy, and Waters) took the upset shot on EKU.  Lynch has the most at stake with his upset pick, as he has EKU winning today and tomorrow.  3 people (Lil Lohse, Mac, and Scoot) have SEMO reaching the semis.

#6 Austin Peay vs. #7 Jacksonville St.
The other opening round game tonight pits two teams that were left for dead at various points this season, only to rebound with some impressive basketball late in the year.  Austin Peay entered conference play with a 3-11 record against, albeit a somewhat tough non-conference schedule, and then proceeded to drop their first 4 conference games and it looked like they were dead and buried.  But, they recovered to win 8 of their last 12 conference games to finish 8-8 and grab the 6-seed.  Jacksonville St. was even more forgotten, picked next-to-last in the conference in the preseason, they were making the prognosticators look good, starting 1-6 in conference play.  But, they really hit their stride down the stretch and finished 8-8 in conference, safely into the tournament.  And, just to add to the CTC OVC drama, this game, just like the other one is split right down the middle, with 9 people supporting Austin Peay and 9 supporting JSU (Alexi, Dave, Doogan, Gersh, J, Lil Lohse, Lohse, Lynch, and Teddy).  In fact, 6 people (Alexi, Dave, Doogan, J, Lohse, and Teddy) actually have JSU beating #3 Morehead St. tomorrow night and reaching the semis.  J and Teddy have gone even further, picking the Gamecocks to reach the OVC title game.

CTC Madness Alert: Coastal Carolina Goes Down in the Quarters

#7 VMI dominated #2 Coastal Carolina this afternoon in the Big South quarters, with some major implications.

J and Lohse are HUGE winners here, as not only do they hit a big upset, but they both keep alive a finalist and have a shot for another huge payday tomorrow if VMI can do it once again.

The biggest losers in this are Dave, Lynch, Primm, Teddy, and Waters, who become the first 5 to lose a champion in the 2012 CTC.

Scoot and Mac, who have Campbell winning this tournament are probably happy because they, conceivably, now have an easier road to the finals…if they can survive the upset bug of their own.

The big win puts Lohse and J 1&2 in the overall standings, with 40 and 34 points, respectively.  Rikey falls to a distant 3rd with 30.

CTC Day Three: Tipoff in the A-Sun

The Atlantic Sun conference is always a favorite of the CTC because it is usually the first time we get one of those neutral-court quadruple-headers.  This year, however, the A-Sun decided to split up the quarters into back-to-back double-headers to try and provide an additional slight advantage to the top two seeds (an extra day off between the quarters and semis).  So, today we get a day-night double-header featuring the top two teams in this conference in quarterfinal action.  As for the CTC, this conference has been dominated by J, winning the outright titles in 2008 and 2009, and then a share of the 2011 crown.

Championship Picks
11 for #1 Belmont
5 for #2 Mercer (Bry, Dave, Doogan, Lil Lohse, RDoc)
2 for #3 USC-Upstate (J, Primm)

Biggest Upsets
QF – #8 Jacksonville (Bry)
SF – #5 N. Florida (Bry)

Past A-Sun Champs
2011 – Dave/J
2010 – Bry
2009 – J
2008 – J

#1 Belmont vs. #8 Jacksonville
All around the A-Sun, teams were probably rooting against the Jacksonville Dolphins to make this tournament.  Picked 2nd, behind Belmont, in the preseason, the Dolphins were absolutely terrible for three months, but started to figure it out down the stretch.  They needed to win 4 of their last 6 conference games (including a win @ETSU and home against Mercer) just to have a chance to make the A-Sun tournament.  They got help down the stretch, as Stetson faded and Jacksonville got in on a complicated tiebreaker over Stetson, whose season ended.  Now, the Dolphins are as alive as anyone in this conference, but they are saddled with a first-round matchup against the league champion Belmont Bruins.  Belmont has everybody back from a NCAA 13-seed last year, so they are more than ready to defend their title.  But, this quarterfinal might be a tough place to start.  Bry is the only one crazy enough to take Jacksonville in this one – going for the huge haul (yes, I lost my mind picking this bracket – happens about once a year).  Everyone else has Belmont, with 10 people taking the Bruins to go all the way.

#2 Mercer vs. #7 Lipscomb
One of the A-Sun storylines missed this year because Belmont has been so good again is just how good Mercer has been this year.  An excellent non-conference season gave way to a decent conference season, so let us not be too hasty to just hand this tournament to the favorites.  Lipscomb has had a down year, by their standards, but a win here could really help their crosstown arch-rivals in Belmont.  Lynch and Waters are going to the huge upset here with Lipscomb.  Bry, Dave, Doogan, Lil Lohse, and RDoc all have Mercer winning this tournament.

CTC Day Three: Big South Quarterfinal Preview

This is the first year that the Big South has had an opening round, so after Monday’s games, we’ve now reentered familiar territory down in the South – an 8-team tournament.  A slew of people nailed both first-round games, so this tournament is still anybody’s game.  And, possibly the best part about this is that we finally get some afternoon hoops to make a dreary workday a little bit brighter.

#1 UNC-Asheville vs. #8 High Point
The preseason pick to win this league came through, and came through pretty handily.  UNC-Asheville, who won this tournament last year, as the #2-seed, returns just about its whole team this year ready to defend its title.  Led by one of the most underrated backcourts in all of college hoops (J.P. Primm and Matt Dickey), the Bulldogs start their postseason tonight against 8th-seeded High Point, who survived their opening round game with Gardner-Webb on Monday.  High Point has been up and down this year, but they have shown up for some big games this year.  While they were swept by Asheville, they did beat C.Carolina on the road, Charleston-Southern at home, and swept Winthrop.  As for the picks, everyone has UNC-Asheville winning this game, and most have them winning the tournament.  The biggest High Point fan tonight would be Dave, who is the only one not to have Asheville making the finals.

#2 Coastal Carolina vs. #7 VMI
They said it couldn’t be done, but VMI actually played a little bit of defense on Monday night.  Or, maybe Radford is just that bad and couldn’t break 55 against a high school team.  But, either way, the Keydets won the opening round game, setting up a date with the 2nd-seeded Chanticleers.  This is a make it or break it game for J and Lohse here, as they both have VMI not only beating CCU, but winning again in the semis to reach the Big South finals.  Dave, Lynch, Primm, Teddy, and Waters all will be rooting hard for the Chanticleers, as they all have them as their Big South champ.

#3 Campbell vs. #6 Winthrop
The Fightin’ Camels of Campbell, in their inaugural year in the Big South, nearly made quite the splash, as they were in contention for the regular season title all year long.  A slight fade in the end dropped them to third place, but they are a dangerous 3-seed.  Winthrop – maybe the most well-known Big South team to the casual fan – has struggled the past couple of seasons, but still has a decent recruiting-base to pull from and, arguably, the best facilities in the conference, so they should be able to get back to prominence.  They were 8-10 in conference this year, but they are young and started playing better at the end of the year.  This young talent was enough to sway 6 people (Dave, Doogan, Lynch, Primm, Teddy, and Waters) to take an upset shot here against the Camels.  Doogan is their biggest supporter, as he has them in the finals.  The biggest Campbell fans are Mac and Scoot, who pegged them to take this title.

#4 Charleston-Southern vs. #5 Liberty
Easily the best game of the Big South tournament to date will be the 4-5 matchup in Charleston tonight.  CSU was the brightest surprise of the Big South season this year, as they were in contention for most of the season.  Liberty started incredibly slow, but caught fire late, winning their final 5 conference games, including an impressive sweep of Coastal and Campbell over the weekend.  The Flames did come into Charleston on February 9th and grab a 1-point win, so they’ve proven they can do it.  Gersh, Lynch, Mac, RDoc, RSmith, Scoot, Teddy, and Waters all went with Liberty in a mild upset in this one.

CTC Overall Standings: Through Day Two

While it may seem joyless to go 6-for-6 when all 6 were won by picking favorites, Rikey (the defending champ), can at least know that he’s the only one that did so.

OVERALL STANDINGS:
1). Rikey (30)
2). Bry, Primm, Waters (27)
5). Doogan, Lohse, Lynch, Mac, RDoc, RSmith, Scoot, Teddy (24)
13). Alexi, Dave, Gross, Lil Lohse (21)
17). Gersh, J (18)

CTC: A Chalky Horizon

The first round of the Horizon League tournament is in the books, and the chalk holds again.  There have now been 6 CTC games, with the higher-seeded teams winning all 6.  But, for those who crave MADNESS, have no fear.  With the neutral-court tournaments about to start, we should get a nice dose of madness.

#3 Detroit 80 – #10 Loyola (IL) 71
The Horizon’s hottest team took out the Horizon’s worst team in a game that wasn’t quite as close as the final score may indicate.  This win was big for Dave, Gross, and Lohse because it kept alive their champion.  No one had Loyola winning this game, so we all got 6 points.

#4 UW-Milwaukee 68 – #9 Illinois-Chicago 55
This game was 29-8 at one point, so it was never in question.  And, again, no one picked this upset, so we all got 6 points.  Lil Lohse is the happiest with this result, as he has Milwaukee winning the title.

#5 Butler 70 – #8 Wright St. 52
A one-point game at halftime got real ugly, real fast in the second half, as the three-time defending Horizon champs live to fight another day.  Doogan, Gersh, J, and Teddy all missed on what would have been a nice upset pick.  Doogan took the biggest hit here, as he Wright St. making the semis.

#6 Youngstown St. 77 – #7 Green Bay 60
In the biggest swing game of the CTC thus far (11 people had Green Bay, 7 had YSU), the Penguins of Youngstown St. prevail and move on to the quarters on Friday night to face Detroit.  The big losses here are J, Lil Lohse, and Lynch, who had Green Bay in the semis (Lil Lohse actually had them in the finals).  Teddy is the happiest with this result, as he has the Penguins winning again on Friday.

DAY TWO and
HORIZON SCORES (with prior titles):
24 – Bry (’11*, ’09), Primm, Rikey, RSmith, Waters (’08)
18 – Alexi, Dave, Doogan (’10*), Gross, Lil Lohse, Lohse, Lynch, Mac, RDoc, Scoot, Teddy (’10*)
12 – Gersh, J

CTC Day Two: Look to the Horizon

The Day One festivities are over, and the Big South takes a day off to travel, and a couple more tournaments start tomorrow, but for tonight, the Horizon League takes center stage with four opening round games.  A truly fascinating year in the Horizon, as the league continues to get better and better and we can probably (finally) officially say that this league (and the MVC) have officially passed the Mid-American as the 2 best mid-majors in the Midwest.

As of writing this, there are 15 Horizon submissions.  Here are the championship picks:

  • 8 for #1 Valpo
  • 4 for #2 Cleveland St. (Gersh, J, Lynch, and Teddy)
  • 2 for #3 Detroit (Gross and Lohse)
  • 0 for #4 UW-Milwaukee
  • 1 for #5 Butler (RSmith)

As for tonight’s games, no one is going for the really big upsets, as everyone has #3 Detroit and #4 UW-Milwaukee holding serve tonight.  However, 4 people (Doogan, Gersh, J, and Teddy) like #8 Wright St. to beat #5 Butler, and the majority (9 people) have #7 Green Bay in the mild upset of #6 Youngstown St.  Only Bry, Doogan, Rikey, RSmith, Teddy, and Waters have YSU.  Obviously, the games tonight are very important for Gross, Lohse, and RSmith, who put their Horizon champion pick on the line tonight.

As for some Horizon history, this conference has required a perfect bracket to win it in each of the past two years.  While the CTC has been around for well over a decade, the “recorded history” goes back four years.  Waters won the first Horizon title on record in ’08.  Bry took the ’09 title.  And, then in each of the past two years, a perfect bracket was required for this title.  Doogan and Teddy both ran the table in 2010, while Bry went 9-for-9 last year.

CTC: Big South First Round

The CTC kicked off last night with two pretty good games, both close wins by the favorites.  #7 VMI held off #10 Radford, 55-53, while #8 High Point outlasted #9 Gardner-Webb, 60-53.

10 of the 19 contestants hit both games.  Only RSmith hit neither.  J and Lohse can breathe a big sigh of relief, as their finalist pick, VMI, survived its first-round game.  The Keydets will now move on to the quarterfinals tomorrow night against 2nd-seeded Coastal Carolina.  High Point takes tonight off before travelling to #1 UNC-Asheville tomorrow in the quarters.

BIG SOUTH SCORES:
6 – Doogan, Gersh, J, Lohse, Lynch, Mac, Rikey, RDoc, Scoot, Teddy
3 – Alexi, Bry, Dave, Gross, Lil Lohse, Primm, Waters
0 – RSmith

* – these are, obviously, also the Overall Standings and the Day One scores, so congrats to the 10 people who can add a quick and easy Day One championship to their trophy case.