Conference Tournament Look-Ahead
Following is a late-February look at the major "board" conferences and their chances of sending multiple entries to the NCAA Tournament. We've divided the teams into three categories--Solid, Looking Good, and Bubble.
Solid is self-explanatory. Looking Good teams can expect an NCAA invitation as long as they don't slump badly in the next few weeks. Bubble teams, however, remain at the mercy of the Tourney Committee, and desperately need every win to keep their Big Dance hopes alive.
Keep in mind that nearly every Division I team can qualify for an automatic Big Dance berth by winning its conference tournament. In the meantime, as always, remember that the number of upsets in conference tournaments can alter the look of the Big Dance.
Also included below are conference tourney sites and dates; Conference Power Rankings (thru Feb. 20); and last year's postseason participants, including NCAA, NIT, CBI, and CIT action.
ACC--Solid...Miami-Florida, Duke, NC State. Looking Good...North Carolina. Bubble...Maryland, Virginia. Conference Power Rating-4th. Notes...Tourney March 14-17 at Greensboro Coliseum, Greensboro, NC. Last year...NCAA-5 (North Carolina-Elite Eight, NC State-Sweet 16, Florida State-3rd round, Duke-2nd round, Virginia-2nd round); NIT-1 (Miami-Florida-2nd round).
ATLANTIC TEN--Solid...Butler, VCU. Looking Good...Saint Louis, La Salle. Bubble...Temple, Charlotte, UMass. Conference-7th. Notes...Tourney March 14-17 at Barclays Center, Brooklyn, NY. Last year...NCAA-4 (Xavier-Sweet 16, Saint Louis-3rd round, St. Bonaventure-2nd round, Temple-2nd round); NIT-4 (UMass-semifinals, Dayton, La Salle, Saint Joseph's); CBI-1 (Butler-semifinals).
BIG EAST--Solid...Syracuse, Marquette, Louisville, Georgetown, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati. Bubble...Villanova, St. John's. Conference-3rd. Notes...Tourney March 12-16 at Madison Square Garden, New York City, NY. Last year...NCAA-9 (Louisville-Final Four, Syracuse-Elite Eight, Cincinnati-Sweet 16, Marquette-Sweet 16, Georgetown-3rd round, South Florida-3rd round, UConn-2nd round, Notre Dame-2nd round, West Virginia-2nd round); NIT-1-(Seton Hall-2nd round), CBI-1 (Pittsburgh-Champs).
BIG TEN--Solid...Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Wisconsin. Looking Good...Illinois. Bubble...Iowa, Minnesota. Conference-1st. Notes...Tourney March 14-17 at United Center, Chicago, IL. Last year...NCAA-6 (Ohio State-Final Four, Indiana-Sweet 16, Michigan State-Sweet 16, Wisconsin-Sweet 16, Purdue-3rd round, Michigan-2nd round); NIT-3 (Minnesota-2nd place, Iowa-2nd round, Northwestern-2nd round).
BIG XII--Solid...Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma State. Looking Good...Oklahoma. Bubble-Iowa State, Baylor. Conference-5th. Notes...Tourney March 13-16 at Sprint Center, Kansas City, MO. Last year...NCAA-5 (Kansas-2nd place, Baylor-Elite Eight, Iowa State-3rd round, Kansas State-3rd round, Texas-2nd round).
BIG WEST--Conference tourney champ will be only Big Dance rep. Conference-20th. Notes...Tourney March 14-16 at Honda Center, Anaheim, CA. Last year...NCAA-1 (Long Beach State-2nd round); CIT-2 (UC Santa Barbara, CS Fullerton).
COLONIAL--Conference tourney champ will be only Big Dance rep. Notes...Tourney March 9-11 at Richmond Coliseum, Richmond, VA. Last year...NCAA-1 (Virginia Commonwealth-3rd round); NIT-1 (Drexel-Quarterfinals); CIT-2 (Old Dominion-Quarterfinals, Georgia State).
CONFERENCE USA--Solid...Memphis. Bubble...Southern Miss. Conference-11th. Notes...Tourney March 13-16 at BOK Center, Tulsa, OK. Last year...NCAA-2 (Memphis-2nd round, Southern Miss-2nd round); NIT-2 (Marshall, UCF); CIT-1 (Rice-Quarterfinals).
HORIZON--Bubble...Valparaiso, Detroit. Conference-12th. Notes...Tourney first round March 5 at campus sites; quarters and semis March 8-9 at home of regular-season champion, also the number one seed; Final March 12 at home of highest-remaining seed. Last year...NCAA-1 (Detroit-2nd round); NIT-2 (Cleveland State, Valparaiso); CBI-1 (Butler-Quarterfinals); CBI-(UW-Milwaukee).
MID-AMERICAN--Looking Good...Akron. Bubble...Ohio. Conference-17th. Notes...Tourney first round March 11 at campus sites; quarters, semis, and Final March 13-16 at Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, OH. Last year...NCAA-1 (Ohio-Sweet 16); NIT-1 (Akron); CIT-3 (Buffalo-2nd round, Bowling Green, Kent State).
MISSOURI VALLEY--Solid...Wichita State, Creighton. Bubble...Indiana State, Northern Iowa. Conference-9th. Notes...Tourney ("Arch Madness") March 7-10 at Scottrade Center, St. Louis, MO. Last year...NCAA-2 (Creighton-3rd round, Wichita State-2nd round); NIT-2 (Illinois State-2nd round, Northern Iowa-2nd round); CBI -1 (Evansville); CIT-2 (Drake-2nd round, Indiana State).
MOUNTAIN WEST--Solid...New Mexico, Colorado State, UNLV, San Diego State. Bubble...Boise State, Air Force, Wyoming. Conference-2nd. Notes...Tourney March 12-16 at Thomas & Mack Center, Las Vegas, NV. Last year...NCAA-4 (New Mexico-3rd round, Colorado State-2nd round, San Diego State-2nd round, UNLV-2nd round); CBI-2 (TCU-2nd round, Wyoming-2nd round).
PAC 12--Solid...Arizona, Oregon. Looking Good...Colorado, UCLA. Bubble...Arizona State, Cal. Conference-6th. Notes...Tourney March 13-16 at MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas, NV. Last year...NCAA-2 (Colorado-3rd round, Cal-First Four); NIT-4 (Stanford-Champs, Washington-Semifinals, Oregon-3rd round, Arizona); CBI-2 (Washington State-2nd place, Oregon State-3rd round).
SEC--Solid...Florida. Looking Good...Missouri. Bubble...Ole Miss, Alabama, Kentucky, Arkansas, Tennessee. Conference-8th. Notes...Tourney March 13-17 at Bridgestone Arena (home of NHL Predators), Nashville, TN. Last year...NCAA-4 (Kentucky-Champs, Florida-Elite Eight, Vanderbilt-3rd round, Alabama-2nd round); NIT-4 (Tennessee-2nd round, LSU, Mississippi State, Ole Miss).
SUN BELT--Looking Good...Middle Tennessee. Conference-14th. Notes...Tourney March 8-11 at Summit Arena, Hot Springs, AR. Last year...NCAA-1 (Western Kentucky-2nd round); NIT-1 (Middle Tennessee-Quarterfinals); CIT-1 (UL-Lafayette).
WEST COAST--Solid...Gonzaga. Bubble...Saint Mary's, BYU. Conference-10th. Notes...Tourney March 6-11 at Orleans Hotel Arena, Las Vegas, NV. Last year...NCAA-3 (Gonzaga-3rd round, BYU-2nd-round, Saint Mary's-2nd round); CBI-1 (San Francisco).
WAC--Bubble...Louisiana Tech. Conference-13th. Notes...Tourney March 12-16 at Orleans Hotel Arena, Las Vegas, NV. Last year...NCAA-1 (New Mexico State-2nd round); NIT-1 (Nevada-Quarterfinals); CIT-2 (Utah State-2nd place, Idaho-2nd round).