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