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Five Teams to Root for in Conference Tournaments

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Here are 5 teams for Kentucky fans, and fans of all bubble teams, to be rooting for this week in conference tournaments (in alphabetical order):

1. Akron (MAC): After the indefinite suspension of Akron starting PG Alex Abreu, the MAC could be a one-bid league regardless of what happens. Just to be safe, however, UK fans and all fans of bubble teams should be rooting for Akron. The Zips are 23-6 with an RPI of 53 and have an outside chance of an at-large bid. Ohio, the 2-seed in the MAC tournament, only has an RPI of 74 and isn’t much of a threat to earn an at-large bid. Akron could sneak in the tournament if they show just enough competence this week without their starting guard to win at least one game, even without a league tournament title. UK fans should root for Akron to win the MAC, or at least lose badly in their first game to ensure they don’t get an at-large bid.

2. Bucknell (Patriot League): You should be rooting for Bucknell Wednesday night as it hosts Lafayette in the Patriot League finals. Bucknell is the regular season champion of the Patriot League and the Bison are 26-5 with an RPI of 51. Lafayette (19-14) will be playing in its final game if it losses Wednesday, but if Bucknell losses, the Patriot League could be a two-bid league.

3. Louisiana Tech (WAC): 1-seed Louisiana Tech (25-5, RPI 46) and 2-seed Denver (21-8, RPI 57) are the favorites and the WAC could be a 2-bid league regardless of what happens this week, but Louisiana Tech is clearly the best candidate for an at-large bid, so you should be rooting for them over Denver or anyone else in the WAC tournament.

4. Memphis (C-USA): Memphis, owning a 27-4 record and RPI of 16, is the heavy favorite and a lock for an at-large bid. Southern Miss could possibly be a second at-large team from Conference USA with a record of 21-8 and RPI of 35. To be most safe, UK fans and other tournament hopefuls should be pulling for Memphis to win the league tournament. If Memphis doesn’t win, than Southern Miss would be the best alternative to capture the tournament crown. The best case scenario would be if Southern Miss loses its first game and Memphis cruises to easily win the tournament, which may ensure that C-USA only gets one team into the tournament. Memphis went undefeated in conference play during the regular season, so lets hope that continues.

5. Valparaiso (Horizon):  Regular-season champ Valparaiso (24-7, RPI 60) is unlikely to receive an at large bid if it loses its conference championship game Tuesday against Wright State. However, as small as Valpo’s chances would be of receiving an at-large bid, Wright State has no chance of dancing unless it wins Tuesday. Wright State owns a 21-11 record and an RPI of only 142, so UK fans and anyone on the bubble should definitely be rooting for Valparaiso.

Hopefully, the Cats just take care of business on Friday night, and none of this will likely mean anything to Kentucky.

Article written by John Wilmhoff

Former beer vendor, college mascot and ESPN editor. This spring, you can also find me blogging about the Reds on Follow me on Twitter: @JohnWilmhoff

12 Comments for Five Teams to Root for in Conference Tournaments

  1. Matt
    4:42 pm March 11, 2013 Permalink

    These kind of posts are interesting and exactly what fans are looking for leading up to the tourney. Keep up the good work.

  2. Tbob1993
    4:51 pm March 11, 2013 Permalink

    Shouldn’t MTSU be on that list? I am cheering for Western regardless, we need to earn it by winning Fri. night anyway!

  3. mudcreekmark
    4:57 pm March 11, 2013 Permalink

    Southern Miss is in. Why would they not be in at 35 RPI?

  4. Rural Juror
    5:04 pm March 11, 2013 Permalink

    2 – it’s kinda hard to root for a team that isn’t playing in the game. It’s FIU vs. Western tonight after FIU beat MTSU in the semifinals.

  5. John Wilmhoff
    5:07 pm March 11, 2013 Permalink

    Southern Miss’ best wins are probably Georgia and Denver, so that is why I say that it’s possible they could be left out with a first-round loss. You are right though that they are likely in.

    2)MTSU lost to FIU, so that might be an extra bid that will burst someone’s bubble.

  6. Biglaw Dawgin'
    5:11 pm March 11, 2013 Permalink

    1 – agreed.

    I would add that UK needs to win the SEC, not only to take the at-large factor out of the committee’s hands, but to prevent Alabama, Tennessee, or Ole Miss from stealing one (or up to 3) spots. Although not likely, if those teams get to the semi-finals/finals, beating UK, UF, and Missouri on the way, we could be looking at 2 or 3 more teams from the SEC in the tourney.

  7. mudcreekmark
    5:14 pm March 11, 2013 Permalink

    This is good work John!!! Can you list some teams that didn’t win their tourny or got beat before they had a chance to win their tourny that may get a bid. MTSU is an example. What is their RPI and what kind of chance do they still have of making the tourny and taking away a possible spot that we need.

  8. tbob1993
    5:16 pm March 11, 2013 Permalink

    Dang, I didn’t realize that I was going to get to cheer against Little Rick tonight! Even better!

  9. tbob1993
    5:19 pm March 11, 2013 Permalink

    MTSU RPI is 28th

  10. John Wilmhoff
    5:20 pm March 11, 2013 Permalink

    Mark, will do my best to wrap all of that up in the night post tonight. And Davidson, although not included here but in the post above this, is another team to root for.

  11. mudcreekmark
    5:33 pm March 11, 2013 Permalink

    MTSU is in then if their RPI is that high. We have put ourselves in this position and we may have to win the SEC tourney to get in. The SEC was as weak as I’ve have ever seen it and now we have 2 teams in and 5 on the bubble. I think the SEC should get 4 teams max and that is pushing it.They gave the Big East a bunch last year that didn’t deserve it and we see how that played out.

  12. Mc
    8:51 pm March 11, 2013 Permalink

    Rpi is a joke.