Championship Week in College Hoops

Who will be cutting down the nets this week?

We are now a little over six days away from the selection show and some tickets are already officially punched. This weekend Murray State, Creighton, UNC Asheville and Belmont won their conferences, as favorites. Now lets go through the conferences and see who is on their way to the big dance:

ACC: The top two seeds UNC and Duke are in position to compete for a #1 seed if they can win the ACC. Virginia and FSU are both in, but can improve their seeding with a run in the tournament. NC State and Miami are currently on the outside looking in, but favorable first round match ups, and winnable second round games will give each the opportunity to play their way back in the field in Atlanta this week. Maryland, Virginia Tech and Clemson could be NIT bound if they perform well during the tournament.

America East: Vermont and Stony Brook will play for the conference championship this week, securing the league’s only bid.

Atlantic 10: St. Louis and Temple are the top two seeds for the A10 tourney and are solidly in the tournament. Xavier is currently on the bubble and can’t afford a bad loss. They could still make it with a semi-final loss to St. Louis. If someone else wins the conference then they would steal a bid from the bubble.

Big 12: Everyone is pretty comfortable in the Big 12 this week. The only team with concerns is Texas, who currently sits on the good side of the bubble. Iowa State and Texas play in the second round, where a victory for the Longhorns would solidify their position, and a loss for the Cyclones wouldn’t push them out.

Big East: This tournament will have a lot of effect on the bubble this year. The Big East has 10 teams in contention for bids, but a lot of bubble teams. UConn and Seton Hall must win their first round games against lesser competition or else they could fall out the field from the bad loss. The other teams should be protected from bad losses with byes, but if one of the lower seeds did break through they could knock out teams like Cincinnati, West Virginia, or South Florida.

Big West: Weber State and Montana are the prohibitive favorites and will face off in finals if they both make it through their semifinal match ups tonight.

Big 10: Northwestern and Purdue face critical first round match ups against Nebraska and Minnesota, losses would likely push they out of the tournament while a win could be enough to dance. Ohio State is primed for a top 2 seed along with Michigan State,  but they could be pushed off the 1-seed lines even with a tournament title.

Big West: Long Beach State is the huge favorite to win this conference, but they lost their first and only conference game last week. LB State probably needs to win the tournament to make the big dance despite an pretty impressive resume and a team that really passes the eye-test.

CAA: VCU and Drexel will be playing for the conference championship tonight, but the loser will really have to sweat it out on Sunday. At this point I don’t think the loser will get in, but you never know. Last year VCU wasn’t going to make it and they did, and made it all the way to the final four.

CUSA: Memphis and Southern Miss seem pretty comfortable right now, and would both feel good if they made it to the CUSA championship. They want to avoid some potential bad losses, but I expect to see both selected on Sunday.

Horizon: Valpo and Detroit will play for the conference championship, but neither has an at-large shot. Valpo comes in playing quite well and are the favorites. A 14 or 15 seed seems like a good guess for the winner.

IVY: Harvard is waiting on the outcome of the Princeton-Penn game. If Penn falls Harvard will get the bid, if not they will have a one-game playoff after splitting the season series.

MAAC: Iona was a favorite to win the conference but they got upset yesterday and are now likely NIT bound. Loyola-Maryland and Fairfield will play for the championship now and are looking at about a 15 seed.

MAC: Akron is the conference favorite but this is a one-bid league. Akron would get an NIT bid if they fail to win the conference.

MEAC: Savannah State and Norfolk State are the favorites in this one-bid league, Savannah State would earn an NIT bid if they fail to win the conference. The winner will likely get a 16 seed.

MWC: This conference could get four bids, but Colorado State needs to win their first round matchup against TCU. A second round loss to SD State would not hurt them, but a win there would seal them a bid in my opinion.

NEC: Wednesday Long Island, the favorite, and Robert Morris will battle for the conference championship with a likely 16 seed on the line.

Pac 12: This tournament could be very interesting. A bid steal here is very possible with the relative weakness of the conference. Arizona, Washington, Oregon and California are in the mix for at-large bids. Cal and Washington can probably afford to lose earlier than the others, but aren’t guaranteed a bid either. Oregon and Arizona need a run deep into the tournament to earn back that at-large bid. The four teams are the top four seeds and really would be silly to lose a second round game to a lower seed. In the end I think the league will get 2 bids, but which two teams I do not know.

Patriot: Lehigh and Bucknell will battle for the bid on Wednesday night with the Bison as the favorites. Bucknell could earn a 14 seed with a victory.

SEC: Kentucky, Alabama, Vanderbilt, Florida and Mississippi State all are currently in, but the Bulldogs seem the most precarious right now. If they fall early in the tournament they could fall out and might need at least one if not two wins to feel decent about their chances. Tennessee has suddenly emerged after finishing second in the league, but they still have a lot of work to do. They might need to win the SEC tournament, but a run to the finals would give the committee plenty to think about.

SoCon: The big favorite Davidson will play Western Carolina for the title and with a victory could earn a seed as high as 12 or 13. The Wildcats seem dangerous come March but a loss in this one would keep them out of the big dance.

Southland: Texas-Arlington is the favorite to win this tourney which starts Wednesday and the winner will likely get a 16 seed.

SWAC: The weakest conference in the country was dominated by Mississippi Valley State and the winner of the tournament will likely play in Dayton in the first four games.

Summit: Oral Roberts is in the semi’s and might have to get through an underrated South Dakota State squad to reach the tournament. They could earn a 13 seed next week.

Sun Belt: Middle Tennessee dominated all year but was shocked by Arkansas State yesterday. They will now go to the NIT, and the new favorite is third seeded Denver.

WCC: St. Mary’s and Gonzaga will jockey for seeding position in the conference final. BYU should feel pretty good about earning a seed as well in this three bid league.

WAC: Nevada and New Mexico State are the favorites in the WAC but both teams are out of contention for an at large bid. The conference tournament starts on Thursday.

Check back later on for an updated Bracketology to follow…

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