Two teams that went winless in the conference season won in the opening conference tournament game. DePaul went 0-18 in Big East play yet managed to upset Cincinnati on Tuesday. On Wednesday Air Force beat Colorado State despite going 0-16 in the Mountain West regular season. These are the types of things that happen this time of year as a favorite can often overlook a team at the bottom of the conference, even if the favorite seemingly should have serious motivating factors.
Much of the bubble intrigue has focused on the Big Ten, where as many as eight teams could get into the NCAA tournament. Although the Big Ten does not have the top heavy powerhouse teams that some of the other conferences have, the depth has warranted that type of consideration. The Big East gets a lot of attention and could even have three #1 seeds but according to the Sagarin ratings the Big Ten is the stronger league this season, second in the nation just behind the ACC. Minnesota and Michigan did their part to get into the dance with wins on Thursday, barring a major upset Penn State should beat Indiana, which might be enough to get in. Two teams that seemed safe last week, Wisconsin and Ohio State may face more importance on their game Friday as the loser might end up last in the pecking order for the conference with all the other bubble teams taking wins.
A pair of teams that everyone knew was very talented, but that grossly underachieved in the season have emerged in the conference tournaments with the do-or-die mentality finally sparking some strong play. Kansas got a lot of help in becoming the #1 seed in the Big 12 tournament so it should not be considered a shocking upset by any means but Baylor has delivered two impressive efforts. The Bears were a ranked team early in the year and appeared to be a certain postseason squad but completely fell flat in Big 12 play. The Bears are showing up now and will need to keep the wins coming. Southern Mississippi is another team that was expected to fare much better in Conference USA and is starting to show up in the conference tournament despite coming from a deep seed. It will be asking a lot to make a run for the automatic bid for either team, but stranger things have happened, like last season when Georgia made a surprise run through the SEC tournament.