College

Full Court Press: It’s Conference Tourney Time!

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(Photo by Tom Horak - Double G Media)

(Photo by Tom Horak – Double G Media)

It is March and that means it’s all about the college basketball madness. The conference tournaments have just begun and we are about to embark on one of the great months for all you college sports enthusiasts. Believe me we will be in store for a bunch of buzzer beaters, upsets and Cinderella stories – which makes this season so very special.

I love the ACC and Big East Conference tournaments playing in the Big Apple, but not too crazy about the two competing for the fans same sports dollar. Actually, last year the ACC had a very successful run in D.C. and I would have preferred to see them remain in our nation’s capital.

Anyway, all eyes will be looking in on Albany, NY where King Rice, Justin Robinson and Monmouth will be looking to secure a spot in the big dance by winning the MAAC Tournament. It is ‘must win’ territory for the top-seeded Hawks as the MAAC is, unfortunately, a one bid league and the Hawks must take care of business.

Not a surprise though that Monmouth was well represented at the Annual MAAC Awards banquet. Robinson was named MAAC Player of the Year for the second consecutive season, while Rice earned MAAC Coach of the Year for the second year in a row. Austin Tilghman was named MAAC Sixth Player of the Year.

Monmouth opens the tournament tonight against No.9 Niagara (7 p.m. on ESPN3).

The Palestra

There is a sense of anticipation and perhaps some anxiety as the Ivy League looks forward to having their inaugural conference tournament on Saturday and Sunday March 11-12 at The Palestra in Philadelphia, Pa.

No surprise that Princeton is alone at the top of the standings with a 12-0 record. The Tigers have clinched their 27th Ivy League championship and first since 2011. Princeton and Harvard (10-2) have earned berths in the tournament and Yale is one win shy of securing the third spot. The final spot will come from either Penn or Columbia.

Princeton and Harvard play this evening in a game that could be a preview of the tournament final (ESPNU at 5 p.m.). The ESPN family of networks will broadcast all tournament games. In addition, Westwood One will be the exclusive network radio partner of the tournament.

Westwood One will have coverage of all three games of the men’s tournament, including both semifinals, on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. and Sunday’s championship game at 12 p.m. The network will also broadcast Sunday’s Women’s championship game, which is set for 4 p.m.

Nationally Speaking

Who will be the top four seeds in the tournament?

I remain bullish on Kansas, North Carolina, Villanova and Louisville with perhaps either UCLA or Oregon squeezing into the top four with a win in the PAC-12 conference tournament.

I am really down on teams like Maryland, Xavier, Creighton, Michigan State and Michigan.

Recently I have seen Miami and Virginia Tech in person and they are both capable of making it to the Sweet 6 or Great 8. Butler is certainly peaking at the right time and they have legitimate talent to make a nice run. Ditto for Tony Bennett’s Virginia Cavaliers who have found some new life from the perimeter with freshman phenom Kyle Guy nailing three’s.

Tip of the hat to both Virginia and Boston College for showing real class in recent jersey retirement ceremonies which I had the privilege to attend. The Hoos hoisted Malcolm Brogdon’s jersey to the rafters before the Miami game. Boston College retired the jerseys of Big East greats John Bagley and Dana Barros during halftime of a recent home game with Virginia Tech.

Are you kidding me!

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing as I was watching the recent post game rant of Baylor’s women’s basketball coach Kim Mulkey. Thankfully she subsequently backed-off from her defensive statements. Baylor has some huge problems to deal with in their football program and with a bunch of sexual assault instances – times have not been good in Waco.

The last thing the college needs is some overpaid and ego-driven coach trying to defend the Baylor brand.

Keep shooting…. see you next week….

Follow Bob on Twitter for all the latest in college hoop happenings, game highlights, features and more: @WhitneyBob

Bob Whitney

Bob Whitney

Bob is a college basketball columnist here at DoubleGSports.com. He also covers Yale football and the Connecticut Sun of the WNBA.
Bob Whitney

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