Beyond the Top 25 - A College Hoops Weekly
by Taylor Jordan - Strike Point Sports - 2/28/2012
It’s more or less the final weekend in the regular season. You’ll see some of the mid-major leagues begin their conference tournaments in the next week or so, and this last week in February pretty much wraps up the schedule in terms of a full load of games.
Around this time is when it starts to get a bit tricky for a college basketball handicapper. The underachievers normally come out of the woodwork to surprise folks and create that early March Madness feeling with their last-second push to sneak into the Big Dance.
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League tournaments with weird afternoon tip times combined with neutral court gyms and consecutive days of action make for an interesting atmosphere. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a wonderful time in the sport. However, it creates some flustered chaos throughout the ranks of picking winners and weeding through the matchups these next 10 days or so before Selection Sunday
Here is a deeper look at the notable teams on the Outside of the Top 25:
Drexel, 25-5 Straight Up (18-10 Against The Spread)
Yeah, I would say it is about time we recognize the CAA champs. It is, after all, the Year of the Dragon. And for these Dragons, they did well to outlast both VCU and George Mason and soar to the top of the league this season. It genuinely will be interesting to see where and how this talented team gets seeded. For me, I think they could be a poor man’s Murray State and a possible Sweet 16 threat.
Weber State, 23-4 (12-11-2 ATS)
This Big Sky program may not be the most well-known outside the Top 25, but the Wildcats locked up the regular season crown and are the favorites to represent the conference in the NCAA Tournament, so we should get to known them better. Leading scorer Damian Lillard pours in nearly 25 per game for his team (winners of seven straight).
Gonzaga, 23-5 (12-15-1 ATS)
Mark Few has probably come to grips with his team not winning the regular season WCC this season. But I still think this is a strong and dangerous team. A potential third meeting this season against the Gaels in the conference tournament would be a delightful matchup and must-see television.
Virginia, 21-7 (14-8-1 ATS)
Despite losses in three of their last five, the Cavs remain in the top-tier in the ACC standings and should do well to finish the season strong and wrap up a respectable tournament seed for their overall efforts this campaign. Defense is their forte, and that should do wonders for them in March. However, as great as their top attribute is you can’t help but look at them as a glass-half-empty team because of their lack of scoring.
Middle Tennessee State, 25-5 (18-10 ATS)
Props are to be awarded to the Blue Raiders, who have won all season long. They ran away with the Sun Belt. But it will be interesting to follow this conference tournament mainly to see if Middle Tennessee State can hold off any big dreamers trying to sneak into the NCAA Tournament. It would be a tough and long Sunday of waiting if they were upset and tried to rely on an at-large bid that likely won’t come.
VCU, 25-6 (16-13-1 ATS)
The most well-known commodity in the Colonial this season wasn’t the best. Drexel took that honor but the Rams still did well to put forth a very strong season. They’ll have plenty to say in the conference tournament, but the NCAA Tournament looks to be in their future regardless of the postseason league results. A one-point loss at George Mason several weeks ago is all that separates this team from a 14-game winning streak.
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