NCAA Conference Tournament Week: Previewing the A-Sun, OVC and Patriot League

Adrian FedkiwAnalyst IIIMarch 2, 2011

OKLAHOMA CITY - MARCH 18:  CJ McCollum #3 of the Lehigh Mountain Hawks drives against the Kansas Jayhawks during the first round of the 2010 NCAA men's basketball tournament at Ford Center on March 18, 2010 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Yesterday marked the official start of the postseason as the Big South and Horizon League kicked off their conference tournaments.

Today things get a bit more interesting as two of the more underrated "mid mid-major" conferences tip-off in the Ohio Valley and Atlantic Sun conferences.



Bubble- None



1. Belmont 27-4 (19-1) vs 2. East Tennessee State 21-10 (16-4)

This is going to be an interesting tournament.  Belmont has the great record, but any of the top four seeds (Belmont, ETSU, Jacksonville, Lipscomb and Mercer) can win this thing.

Belmont has now won four A-Sun regular season titles since 2006.  Belmont and ETSU have prior NCAA tournament experience over recent years.  Jacksonville lost in back-to-back Atlantic Sun Championship Game appearances in 2008 and 2009.  Lipscomb has a dominant big man in Adnan Hodzic, and Mercer gets to play on their home floor.

PREDICTION- Belmont, they've been the most consistent team all season long.

Projected Tournament Seed- Belmont (13)

Player to Watch- Adnan Hodzic (Lipscomb)- The 2010 Atlantic Sun Player of the Year is seven points shy of becoming the fifth player in league history to reach 2,000 points.



Bubble- None



1. Murray State 23-7 (14-4) vs 2. Morehead State 22-9 (13-5)

Murray State and Morehead State are destined to meet in the Championship Game this coming Saturday.  It's been the game that everyone's projected since the beginning of the season.

PREDICTION- Morehead State, but the Championship Game should be a classic.

Projected Tournament Seed- Morehead State (14)

Player to Watch- Kenneth Faried (Morehead State)- I first set eyes on Faried two seasons ago in 2009 as Morehead State went on to win the OVC Title.  Faried controlled everything on the floor without scoring.  He's a fantastic interior defender, rebounder and shotblocker.



Bubble- None



2. American 21-8 (11-3) vs 4. Lehigh 15-14 (6-8)

I'm looking at a possible semifinal clash between Bucknell and Lehigh.  Lehigh's the reigning Patriot League champ and if C.J. McCollum can get on a roll, there's no reason why he can't lead the Mountain Hawks to another Patriot League Title.  He's that talented.

As for Bucknell, they do have the Player of the Year in Mike Muscala.  With Muscala and McCollum as only sophomores, these two could take the Patriot League to a new level in the upcoming years.

PREDICTION- Lehigh, my man crush for McCollum is clearly evident.

Projected Tournament Seed- Lehigh (16)

Player to Watch- C.J. McCollum (Lehigh)- McCollum averaged 21.8 points and 7.8 rebounds per game during the regular season.  He changes speeds and is silky smooth with the ball in his hands.