Utah Valley Chattanooga Basketball

2013 Great West Tournament preview


Who plays a conference tournament for win an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament isn’t the final prize? Why, the Great West Conference does.

The five-team conference of schools that span from Utah to New Jersey will hold their own version of mini-March Madness starting today with a three-round affair. We at College Basketball Talk are equal opportunity bloggers, so whether we’ll see the tournament champion in the Field of 68 or not, the conference deserves attention.

Two teams will be forced to win three games in three days if they want the title, while three others need only two.

There is a bid to the CollegeInsider.com Tournament on the line. So that’ll have to suffice.

(CLICK HERE to browse through all of our conference tournament previews)


Where: Chicago (Jones Convocation Center at Chicago State)

When: March 14-16

Final: March 16, 8:30 p.m. EST (CSU-TV, as well as online streaming HERE.)

Favorite: New Jersey Institute of Technology

With a 16-12 overall record and a 6-2 conference record, the Highlanders hold the top seed in the tournament. They enter winning five of their last six games. Jim Engles team does have wins over Army and South Carolina State out of conference.

And if they lose?:

Texas Pan-American could be the culprit. The Broncs handed NJIT a loss in their regular season finale on Saturday. UTPA holds the two seed in the tournament with a 16-15 overall record and a 5-3 conference mark.


Houston Baptist handed NJIT their only other conference loss and sit as the four seed in the tournament. The Huskies are 12-16 overall and 3-5 in the conference.


Chris Flores, NJIT – He’s the Great West’s leading scorer at 17.2 points per game and can get buckets from anywhere on the floor(es…yea, had to do it).

Brandon Provost, Texas-Pan American – Leads the Broncs with 14.8 points per game, third in the league. He also makes them at a 44-percent clip.

Ben Aird, Utah Valley – Second in the conference in scoring at 15 points per game and leads the conference with nine rebound per game.

Art Bernardi, Houston Baptist – Leads the Huskies in points (14.5 per game) and rebounding (6.9 per game).

CBT Prediction: NJIT. It’s got to be tough knowing that regardless what happens, a win in the conference title game still ends your season, but the Highlanders can take solace in the fact that they are one of the few teams that won their final game of the season, should they take the title back to Newark.

Follow David Harten on Twitter at @David_Harten

POSTERIZED: Wyoming’s Josh Adams takes flight

Josh Adams
Associated Press
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Not only is Wyoming senior guard Josh Adams the lone returning starter from a team that won the Mountain West tournament last season, but he’s also one of college basketball’s best dunkers. And if anyone may have forgotten about his jumping ability, Adams put it on display Saturday during the Cowboys’ win over Montana State.

After splitting two Montana State players at the top of the key Adams attacked the basket, dunking with two hands over a late-arriving help-side defender. If you’re going to rotate over, have to do it quicker than that.

Video credit: Wyoming Athletics

Defensive progress will determine No. 4 Iowa State’s ceiling

Monte Morris
Associated Press
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Even with the coaching change from Fred Hoiberg to Steve Prohm, No. 4 Iowa State remains one of the nation’s best offensive teams. Given their skills on that end of the floor many teams find it tough to go score for score with the Cyclones, and that’s what happened to Illinois in Iowa State’s 84-73 win in the Emerald Coast Classic title game.

Georges Niang scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, with Monté Morris adding 20, nine rebounds and six assists and Abdel Nader 18 points as the Cyclones moved to 5-0 on the season. The three-pointers weren’t falling in the second half, as Iowa State shot 0-f0r-12, but they shot 19-for-24 inside of the arc to pull away from a team that lost big man Mike Thorne Jr. late in the first half to a left knee injury.

Illinois’ loss of size in the paint opened things up offensively for Iowa State, and the Cyclones took advantage. But where this group grabbed control of the game was on the defensive end of the floor, and that will be the key for a team with Big 12 and national title aspirations.

Nader took on the responsibility of defending Illinois’ Malcolm Hill (20 points) in the second half and did a solid job of keeping the junior wing in check, with that serving as the spark to a 12-2 run that put the game away. There’s no denying that the Cyclones can put points on the board; most of the talent from last season is back and the productivity on that end of the floor hasn’t changed as a result. Niang’s one of the nation’s best forwards, and both Morris (who now ranks among the country’s best point guards) and Nader have taken significant strides in their respective games.

Iowa State will add Deonte Burton in December, giving them another option to call upon. Front court depth is a bit of a concern, as Iowa State can ill afford to lose a Niang or Jameel McKay, but there’s enough on the roster to compensate for that and force mismatches in other areas.

But the biggest question for this group is how effective they can become at stringing together stops. Illinois certainly had its moments in both halves Saturday night, but Iowa State also showed during the game’s decisive stretch that they can step up defensively. The key now is to do so consistently, and if that occurs the Cyclones can be a threat both within the Big 12 and nationally.