The local men begin their conference tournament season. Villanova will go into the Big East Tournament as the number one seed and look towards solidifying a top seed in the NCAA Tournament. Penn is not involved in a conference tournament, but the Ivy League is still undecided as Harvard and Yale will meet in a one game playoff to decide the tournament representative. Here is a look at the conference tournament for each of the city schools.
Big East – Villanova #1 Seed
Villanova enters the tournament in Madison Square Garden as the regular season champion, and the top seed in the conference playoffs. The fourth ranked Wildcats in both national polls sport a 29 -2 record and went 16 – 2 in the Big East. Villanova tips off at Noon in Thursday in a quarterfinal round game against the winner of the Seton Hall seeded 8th and the 9 seed Marquette. The winner advances to the semifinals where either St. John’s or Providence awaits.
Villanova is a lock to get a bid to the NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats should earn a number one seed to the NCAA Tournament by winning the Big East. They need to come in focused and keep playing on a high level. This team need not be reminded of an early exit in the Big East Tournament that they suffered last year at the hands of Seton Hall. Villanova was sent home shy of the Sweet Sixteen in last year’s NCAA by not being on top of the game at the end of the season. Expectations are that such a letdown will not happen this year.
American Athletic Conference – Temple #4 Seed
Temple has been given the fourth seed in the tournament based on conference tiebreakers. The Owls finished the regular season tied for third place with Cincinnati. The Bearcats got the third seed due to their wins against SMU and Tulsa. The Owls will open play against Memphis, who had the tiebreaker advantage over Connecticut, on Friday at Hartford in the quarterfinal round. Temple won the regular season meeting at Memphis 61 – 60. Should the Cherry and White advance they would face the regular season champion and number one seed in the tournament, SMU coached by Larry Brown. SMU will face the winner of the 8/9 game between East Carolina and UCF.
Temple owns a 22 – 9 record. The Owls will need a tournament win or two to solidify a bid to the NCAA Tournament as the are a “bubble” team at present.
Atlantic 10 – La Salle #9 Seed Saint Joseph’s #10 Seed
La Salle has been awarded the #9 seed and will face UMass in a second round matchup at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn. The game is scheduled for a noon tip-off on Thursday. The winner will advance to the quarterfinal round to face the top seeded Davidson Wildcats. La Salle (16 – 15, 8 – 10) lost both season games against UMass. At the Gola Arena the Minutemen won 71 – 65, then defeated the Explorers 66 – 59 in Amherst.
Saint Joseph’s will meet the 7th seeded Bonnies of St. Bonaventure at 6:30 on Thursday. The winner faces the 2 seed, Dayton Flyers in the quarterfinals. St. Bonaventure swept Saint Joseph’s in the season series. The Bonnies won 71 – 60 in Olean and won in overtime at the Hagan Arena 70 – 60. The Hawks (13 – 17, 7 – 11) are the defending champions.
Both teams will need to win the conference tournament to get an automatic bid to the NCAA’s. If not, both teams will await a call from the NIT or other post-season tournaments.
Colonial Athletic Association – Drexel
The Dragons season ended with a loss to the College of Charleston 56 – 48. Drexel had an injury filled season and ended the year with an 11 – 19 record.