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2013 CBI Preview: Home On the Range?

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Expect a lot of home teams to succeed in the opening round of the College Basketball Invitational, but not all of them. Especially not Wyoming, who fell apart without Luke Martinez, but will play bonus basketball anyway.

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Generally speaking, in these lower post-season tournaments, the matchups are made and the better of the two teams is given a home game that rewards them for their performance during the season.

So what is Wyoming doing here?

The Cowboys, including the conference tournament, went 5-13 in conference play and lost six of their last seven games. Not the kind of "finish strong" year that is normally rewarded with a post-season birth.

I suppose we can cut the 'Pokes a break, since theirs was a tale of two seasons. They went 13-0 in non-conference play, scoring victories over Denver, Colorado and Illinois State. And then things went haywire. Apparently, a couple of nights before their last non-conference game, starting guard Luke Martinez got into a fight and broke his right ring finger, which put him out for at least a month recovering.

But that wasn't it. It later surfaced that Martinez kicked a defenseless man in the face during the brawl and that became a charge of aggravated assault and battery, for which he was obviously suspended indefinitely and may cost him 10 years behind bars.

The Cowboys were a shell of their former selves, pulling off a home upset of San Diego State but otherwise losing 13 of their last 18 games, eight of them by at least a dozen points.

This is all a roundabout way to say that Lehigh, CJ McCollum or no, is probably one of the few teams in the CBI that is highly likely to succeed on the road. Wright State and Bryant should be able to handle Tulsa and Richmond (respectively) as visitors, as should Charleston and Santa Clara have little issue dispatching of George Mason and Vermont.

Western Illinois traveling to face Purdue, as well as Texas visiting Houston are the two tougher calls. The first pits a good team from a bad conference against a bad team from a very good conference, which is a wash on paper. The latter features a bad team from a good conference travelling (but not very far) to face a mediocre team from a mediocre conference. I'm tempted to go with the big schools here, mainly because in a draw, talent wins.