Championship Week Preview- Big South, Ohio Valley, Horizon
As the big boys continue to play their regular season games, the “lil guys” will start their conference tournaments. Today marks the start of the Big South, Ohio Valley and Horizon League Conference Tournaments.
BIG SOUTH PREVIEW
Bubble Teams- None
3 Players to Watch
Art Parakhouski (Radford)- Just named the Big South player of the year for the 2nd consecutive season. He led the conference in scoring (21.6 ppg), rebounds (13.2), and field goal percentage (58.3%). His rebound average ranks 2nd nationally, and he is a legitimate NBA pro prospect.
Joseph Harris (Coastal Carolina)- Although he is undersized at the power forward position at 6’5, Harris managed to average 14.8 ppg and 9.6 rpg (2nd in conference).
Chad Gray (Coastal Carolina)- The transfer from South Carolina made a significant impact in his first season with the Chanticleers. A nice complement to Joseph Harris. Averages 14.1 ppg and shoots over 50% from the field
Projected Championship Game- 1. Coastal Carolina (26-5) (15-3) vs 2. Radford (19-11) (13-5)
Coastal Carolina has been a dominant defensive club all season long. They led the conference in scoring defense (59.0), field goal percentage (48.5), scoring margin (+15.5), field goal defense (37.7), three-point field goal percentage (37.2), three-point defense (27.7) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.22). The question is who will be able to guard the 6’11 Art Parakhouski. Coastal Carolina’s tallest players up front are just 6’7 and 6’5.
Radford is by far the tallest team in the Big South. The aformentioned Parakhouski is 6’11, while their two other forwards are both 6’8. The two teams split during the regular season. Coastal Carolina was 15-1 at home. Their only loss was to Radford.
Prediction– Coastal Carolina gets to play the game on their home floor. This gives them the advantage and the victory.
Projected NCAA Tournament Seed– Coastal Carolina (15)
OHIO VALLEY PREVIEW
Bubble Teams– None
3 Players to Watch
Kenneth Faried (Morehead State)- The league’s top defender and rebounder (13.0 rpg). He is a precense in the middle blocking and constantly altering shots. He can also put the ball in the bucket (16.8 ppg).
Wes Channels (Austin Peay)- Channels will try to guide the Governors to their 4th consecutive OVC Championship Game. Channels averaged 17.0 ppg and 3.0 apg.
Bj Jenkins (Murray State)- Leads the 1st place Racers in scoring (10.6 ppg). 8th in the conference in assists (3.4 apg).
Projected Championship Game- 1. Murray State (27-4) (17-1) vs 2. Morehead State (21-9) (15-3)
This would be the dream matchup of the conference, both teams pulled away from the other teams in the conference standings. Murray State is a very balanced team, 5 players average over double-figures in scoring. The Racers led the conference in scoring and scoring defense.
Morehead State’s success revolves around the production of Kenneth Faried. Like I stated earlier, he is a beast inside the paint. Maze Stallworth can score on the perimeter, and Brandon Shingles is a solid point guard. Morehead State will try to win the OVC for the 2nd consecutive season.
Prediction- Murray State, the key will be to stop Faried. Murray State has a solid inside precense in Tony Easley. I believe Easley will contain Faried enough, while the Racers overall team play will be too much for Morehead State.
Projected NCAA Tournament Seed- Murray State (13)
HORIZON LEAGUE PREVIEW
3 Players to Watch
Gordon Hayward (Butler)- A 6’8 wing who can do it all, and just a sophomore. He was named the League’s player of the year. Thought about heading to the NBA after his freshman season. He averaged 15.8 ppg and 8.5 rpg this season.
Matt Howard (Butler)- Won Player of the Year honors last season. He scored 12.0 ppg and pulled down 5.3 rpg.
Rahmon Fletcher (Green Bay)- A scorer who is very proficient from the outside. A pesky defender who ranked 3rd in the league in steals. Averaged 16.6 ppg and 3.1 apg.
Projected Championship Game- 1. Butler (26-4) (18-0) vs 3. Green Bay (20-11) (11-7)
Butler, obviously, is the dominant favorite in this tournament. However, the Bulldogs have been vulnerable in the Conference Championship Game the past couple seasons. They have lost 2 of the last 3 Championship Games (07 to Wright State, 09 to Cleveland State). Last year’s defeat came at home in Hinkle Fieldhouse.
Green Bay has one of the best backcourts in the Horizon League. They are led by Rahmon Fletcher and Bryquis Perine. The Phoenix shoot over 38% from 3 pt range.
Prediction– Butler, I don’t see the Bulldogs losing another Championship Game. They have a target on their backs, but they are simply too talented.
Projected NCAA Tournament Seed– Butler (6)