Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Conference Tournament Pool -- Monday Recap, Tuesday Preview

Four more dancers got their tickets Monday night, gentlemen. Chattanooga, VCU, Siena and Gonzaga all are going to the NCAA Tournament. Ed Price, Yohan Sengamalay, Paul Canino and Greg Lester are making very small amounts of money because of it.

Six tournaments saw action Monday. Eight will play Tuesday, including three title games and four sets of first-round games. Ed Price is currently leading everything -- total points, most champs and total prize money -- but there's a loooong way to go. Only eight of the 30 champs have been crowned, and 15 of the 30 tournaments have yet to tip off.

Let's get right to the rundown:

After two days off, the Horizon League plays its final Tuesday night, with top-seeded Butler hosting third-seeded Cleveland State. Dan Graziano, who is so far 0-for-8 picking champions in this pool (making it feel like the college bowl pool all over again), has a perfect score of 14 points so far in the Horizon bracket. If Butler wins, that'll give Dan a perfect score of 18 and the $1 prize. However, should Cleveland State win, Sal Sabatino would get the $1 with a score of 17, since he is the only one who picked Cleveland State to win this tournament.

Western Kentucky took out North Texas and South Alabama upset Arkansas-Little Rock to set up Tuesday night's final between the top seed and the No. 6. Steve Politi and Yohan Sengamalay each have scored 16 out of a possible 19 points so far. (Yohan just caught Steve by picking the South Alabama upset of UALR.) Yohan is one of eight people who have Western Kentucky winning this tournament. Steve was one of two who picked Little Rock. So, if Western Kentucky wins the final, Yohan will get four more points and Steve will not, and Yohan will get the $1 Sun Belt prize. If South Alabama wins the final, nobody will get any points, and Steve and Yohan will split the $1 prize.

VCU wallops George Mason in the final. Nino, Ed and Greg all picked VCU to win the tournament. But thanks to Georgia State's victory over Delaware in the first round, Nino scored 19 out of a possible 22 points while Ed and Greg scored only 18. Thus, Nino wins a picture of George Washington. Good on ya, Nino.

The instant-classic double-overtime semifinal victory over Rider appeared to catch up with the gutty Purple Eagles of Niagara, who ran out of gas and lost to host Siena in the MAAC final Monday night. Sal, Chris, Ed, Yohan and Greg all had Siena winning the tournament, but Yohan had the best overall bracket with 18 points to Ed's 17. Fairfield's quarterfinal victory over Manhattan was the difference. Yohan gets $1.

Chattanooga is dancing, having beaten Charleston in the suprisingly Davidson-free Southern Conference final. Ed Price was the only one to pick Chattanooga to win this tournament, and he will be rewarded with a shiny new dollar, having scored 13 out of 22 points in a bracket where nobody really distinguished himself. Especially Stehpen Curry.

Boooooo-ring. Gonzaga wins again. Patty Mills played one-handed and had no chance. Ten people picked Gonzaga to win, but only Greg Lester and Paul "Nino" Canino had perfect WCC brackets, correctly picking all seven games for a perfect score of 16. Greg and Nino each get 50 cents for their outstanding efforts on this front.

Yeah, you may have forgotten about the Big Sky, which kicked off in the middle of the night Saturday and then took two days off. It resumes Tuesday night with semifinal matchups between (1) Weber State/(4) Idaho State and (2) Portland State/(6) Montana State. Nine people have Weber State winning this. Yohan has Portland State. Chris and Greg had Montana, which lost in the first round. There remains a chance of a five-way split of the Big Sky prize money -- if Weber State and Portland State win in the semis, and Weber wins the title, Sal, Steve, Nino, Rob and Ed would each get 20 cents. You have to be rooting for that, right? I mean, unless you're Yohan, who gets the whole buck if Idaho State beats Weber in the semis or if Portland State wins the whole thing.

North Dakota State and Oakland coasted into the Summit League final Monday night and will face off Tuesday for the league's automatic bid. If North Dakota State wins, Ed and Steve split the money. If Oakland wins, Mark and Greg split it. If Oral Roberts can somehow convince God to award the title to his team even though it lost to South Dakota State in the first round, I think Yohan gets the money. But if that happens, we've all got bigger problems.

The Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference begins its tournament Tuesday with two of its three first-round games -- Hampton/Delaware State and Howard/Florida A&M. The other first-round game will be held Wednesday, which is also the day the quarterfinals start. No idea why that makes any sense. Anyway, still awaiting picks from Rob and Jon for this tournament at this writing, so I'm not saying who everybody picked, but it suffices to say that top-seeded Morgan State is well regarded.

Hawaii and Fresno State face off in the play-in game of the Western Athletic Conference tournament Tuesday. The winner gets to play top-seeded Utah State when the quarterfinals begin Thursday. Again, still awaiting two sets of picks here.

Four first-round games Tuesday in the Mid-American Conference tournament: (5)Akron/(12)Toledo, (6)Kent State/(7)Northern Illinois, (7)Central Michigan/(10)Eastern Michigan (directional rivalries rule!) and (8)Western Michigan/(9)Ohio. Winners join the top four seeds in Thursday's quarterfinals.

The granddaddy of them all, baby. A 16-team steel cage match tips off this afternoon with four first-round games. Remember, the teams playing today at Madison Square Garden, if they are to win this tournament, must win five games in a five-day span. Good luck, suckers. Sure am glad I didn't go to one of those schools. Oh wait...
(9) Cincinnati vs. (16) DePaul
(10) Notre Dame vs. (15) Rutgers
(11) Seton Hall vs. (14) South Florida
(12) Georgetown vs. (13) St. John's
Still can't say who picked whom to win, with Rob and Jon still delinquent, but know that of the 10 brackets I've received so far, there are five different predicted champions. Nothing like the Big East, fellas.

Ed Price: 141
Yohan Sengamalay: 129
Greg Lester: 128
Steve Politi: 127
Chris Sabatino: 127
Rob Biro: 124
Paul "Nino" Canino: 122
Jon Graziano: 121
Sal Sabatino: 119
Mark Feinsand: 118
Jim Graziano: 113
Dan Graziano: 106

CHAMPIONS PICKED CORRECTLY (of a possible 8 so far)
Ed Price: 5
Greg Lester: 4
Jon Graziano: 3
Chris Sabatino: 3
Sal Sabatino: 3
Steve Politi: 3
Mark Feinsand: 2
Yohan Sengamalay: 2
Paul "Nino" Canino: 2
Rob Biro: 1
Jim Graziano: 0
Dan Graziano: 0

Ed Price: $2
Paul "Nino" Canino: $1.50
Mark Feinsand: $1
Steve Politi: $1
Yohan Sengamalay: $1
Greg Lester: $0.50
Chris Sabatino: $0.50
Sal Sabatino: $0.50

Happy Holidays, y'all. If I can get through this day without slipping into a coma, we should be okay. Of course, SEVEN tournaments tip Wednesday, so no promises.

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