Monday, March 6, 2006

Monday, March 6th Championship Preview

Prediction Record: 481-243

UNC-Wilmington vs. Hofstra (7:00, ESPN): The Colonial Athletic Association title game might have the most impact on the at-large field of any game until Wednesday. The winner will breathe easy for a week, while the loser will sweat with George Mason until Sunday evening. Hofstra beat George Mason for the second time in two weeks to reach the finals, while UNC-Wilmington handled Northeastern fairly easily. The Pride have won 12 of 13 and might have the most balanced offense in the league. Antoine Agudio and Loren Stokes comprise the best wing duo you will find in the conference. Both are excellent scorers who can carry the Pride on any given night. Carlos Rivera is a decent point guard who can shoot the ball, while Aurimas Kieza is a solid forward who is primarily a long-range shooter. Adrian Uter is an excellent presence in the paint, as he is one of the best rebounders and shot-blockers in the league. On the other side, the Seahawks have also won 12 of their last 13, but they have an excellent defense. The backcourt duo of T.J. Carter and John Goldsberry is one of the best in the league, while forward Todd Hendley is the main man up front. UNCW is deep and balanced, and has several role players capable of stepping up and producing. Forwards Mitch Laue and Beckham Wyrick are two very solid frontcourt performers. Prediction: Hofstra 67, UNC-Wilmington 64

Gonzaga vs. Loyola Marymount (9:00, ESPN): The West Coast Championship is going to be followed by every bubble team in the country. If Gonzaga doesn't win, that means they will take one of the available at-large bids away from a hopeful team on the fence. Loyola Marymount is going to do everything to try and burst bubbles. Gonzaga leads the conference in scoring offense and are second in scoring defense. The Bulldogs, as one would guess, are ranked near the top of several statistical categories in the WCC. Adam Morrison is one of the top two players in the country, and has been an unbelievable played all season. He is likely to win the national scoring title, as well. J.P. Batista is an excellent post player who can dominate a game and carry his team to victory, while Derek Raivio is a solid three-point shooter who plays defense and distributes the ball well. Sean Mallon is a good role player who leads a deep group of players who contribute but don't get much publicity. Loyola Marymount is a solid team that can give the Zags a run. Matthew Knight is the best player in the WCC outside of Gonzaga, in my opinion. He averages close to a double-double per game and can carry LMU. Guards Brandon Worthy and Wes Wardrop form one of the best backcourts in the league as well, while Chris Ayer is a very solid big man up front. Prediction: Gonzaga 76, Loyola Marymount 70

Iona vs. St. Peter's (9:00, ESPN2): The MAAC championship will feature one team that was one of the favorites to get there (Iona) and another that had to pull a couple of upsets to reach the title game (St. Peter's). Iona is the highest-scoring team in the league and also have one of the best defenses. Steve Burtt and Ricky Soliver form one of the best backcourts in all of mid-major basketball, while Kiril Wachsmann is a very good rebounder and a solid scorer down in the paint. St. Peter's has one of the highest-scoring players in NCAA history in Keydren Clark. Who wouldn't want to see him end his career in the Big Dance? Todd Sowell averages a double-double on the interior, while Raul Orta and Kaimondre Owes are solid producers in the backcourt. Prediction: Iona 80, St. Peter's 71

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