Monday, March 4, 2019 4:01 PM | CBN
Alas, it’s early March and conference tournaments are on the horizon. We begin today, this 4th of March, with the A-Sun while the Big South begins tomorrow, and more and more tournaments will be getting started soon after. I just want to give some bold predictions and highlight players who need to carry their teams to a conference championship.
I’m going to start off by stating that Georgetown will participate in the Big East Championship. While the field has not yet been announced, I am confident that Patrick Ewing’s Hoyas will be playing for an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament on March 16th. How about some Big East conference tournament history? The last time the Big East Championship featured both the 1 and 2 seeds was the 2003-04 season… That was 15 years ago! This tournament has had so much parity that picking Georgetown to compete in the Championship is no shock at all. Sure the Hoyas are tied for third in the conference right now but you could make the argument that they are the 5th or 6th best team in the conference. Remember in 2011 when Cardiac Kemba was born, UConn played 5 games in 5 days and won the tournament as a 9 seed. You had a 6th seeded Xavier team reach the finals in 2015. The Big East is super competitive from top to bottom and that’s what makes this tournament at Madison Square Garden one of the best sports events in the world. I think the only elite team in this conference is Marquette and them and Georgetown could be on opposite sides of the bracket. Jessie Govan a senior big man for the Hoyas is averaging 18.3 PPG and 7.8 RPG, he hasn’t participated in the NCAA Tournament and I’ll bet he’s determined to make it and taste the Big Dance one time. The last time Georgetown made the NCAA Tourney was in 2014-15 when it fell to Utah in the Round of 32. James Akinjo runs the point for the Hoyas and he’s averaging 12.9 PPG and 5.3 APG. My favorite comparison for Akinjo is Kemba Walker. I’m telling you Akinjo can handle the ball and dribble so well that it reminds me of Kemba crossing dudes up. Watch out for Akinjo to hit some big shots and or be a key factor in big plays throughout the Big East Tournament. I’ll even go as far as to say this... Georgetown wins the Big East Tournament. Why not?
We’ll move on to the Southern Conference. This really is one of my favorite conferences this season due to the great play of Wofford, UNCG, ETSU, and Furman. Wofford who is ranked in the top 25 and just went 18-0 in conference play is the favorite to win the SoCon tournament. The Terriers have clinched an at-large bid thanks to running the SoCon gauntlet, picking up a road win at South Carolina by 20, and having zero bad losses. Wofford’s losses this season are to North Carolina, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Mississippi State. Top competition. The SoCon bracket was already set with Wofford the 1 seed, UNCG the 2 seed, Furman the 3 seed, and ETSU the 4 seed. I’ll be shocked if those four aren’t all playing in the semi-finals on March 10th. That would feature Wofford/ETSU and UNCG/Furman. Two incredible matchups. Wofford beat ETSU both times, 79-62 at home and 78-76 in OT on the road. UNCG and Furman split, UNCG won at home 89-79 and Furman won at home 67-57. I’ll take Wofford to beat ETSU by a score of 76-70 featuring a 27+ point performance from the one and only, Fletcher Magee. I’ll then take Furman to beat UNCG, 68-67. Jordan Lyons a junior guard is going to hit a buzzer beater three and send Furman to the conference championship! Book it. Wofford and Furman. One playing for 21-0 record in conference, the other playing for their NCAA Tournament lives. What a matchup. Wofford won 59-54 at home and 72-64 on the road. Furman is a really good team and I’m rolling with the March Magic after a buzzer beater three to reach this conference championship. Furman beats Wofford 69-65. Furman and Wofford both reach the NCAA Tournament. Please, this is what we need! Two threats from one loaded mid-major conference get the chance to dethrone numerous teams in the NCAA Tournament.
Let me introduce you to the legend, Mike Daum. Two-time Summit League Player of the Year. Averaging 22.4 PPG and 9.0 RPG in his career, 25.6 PPG and 11.7 RPG this season. The Dauminator should be able to carry South Dakota State to the NCAA Tournament. I think Daum and the Jackrabbits defeat 6 seeded South Dakota in the finals. And we’ll see Mike Daum dance in the NCAA Tournament one last time. This man Mike Daum didn’t get the respect throughout his career that a legend deserves. Next up, Chris Clemons of Campbell. The leading scorer in the country. Clemons is getting 30.1 PPG this season and adds 5.1 RPG and 2.9 APG at just 5’9”. Clemons has dominated Big South tournament games in years past but unfortunately he and the Camels have never cut down the nets. Hopefully that changes this year as this reporter believes Campbell beats 2 seeded Radford in the championship. Clemons is a stud and this sport needs to see one of the greatest scorers in College Basketball history play in the round of 64 just once. Would be great to see Clemons try to carry Campbell to a massive upset win in the NCAA Tournament. By the way, Daum like Clemons is also top 10 in all time points scored! Next guy we need to see in the NCAA Tournament? Obi Toppin of Dayton. This kid is a monster! He’s averaging 14.3 PPG and 5.7 RPG, Obi shoots 67.6% from the field. The freshman stands at 6’9” and will be drafted into the NBA whenever he chooses to enter the draft. So here’s the thing, NBA scouts will want Obi in the NCAA Tournament this season. They’ll want to see him play against the very best competition. Now I don’t know how well Obi will play in the NBA but I’d love to see him play just one more year of college basketball. He’s a high flyer that throws down some sick dunks, gets big blocks, and works hard to get tough layups to fall. I love watching Obi and think he could be the next great mid-major player if he stays. A trip to the NCAA Tournament this year could help that case or end that case. Who knows… I just hope Dayton wins the A-10 tournament and we see Obi thrive in the Round of 64 and possibly beyond. The A-10 regular season has not ended yet but I just wanted to get this out there! Other players include Ja Morant, Jalen Pickett, Justin Wright-Foreman, Markis Mcduffie, and Charles Bassey among others. It’s March and this is when life truly begins.