Conference tourneys set to start
The conference tournament season will begin March 4th. Winners of these tournaments receive the league’s automatic qualifying bid to the NCAA tournament. This is always an interesting time as for many of these teams the league championship is the only path to the tournament. Several leagues, about 22 actually are one bid leagues usually. If some team besides the favorite wins, they may end up taking a bid from some at large team. That is if the conference favorite is good enough for an at large.
There are three mid major teams and conferences that may cause some bracket upheaval.
The Mid American conference with Buffalo as the favorite is one to watch. If a Bowling Green or Toledo win the tournament, Buffalo would get an at large bid. Buffalo has a good resume, keyed by a win over Syracuse.
The Southern Conference will be a great tournament. Four teams are good enough to win the whole thing; Wofford, North Carolina Greesboro, East Tennessee State and Furman. Wofford is a virtual lock for an at large baring a big collapse at the end of the season and an early upset in the tourney. Furman with a win over Villanova has received a lot of discussion as a possible at large. UNCG also is on the radar. Not only should you watch to see who wins but the team that advances to the final may be in discussion for a seed.
The Atlantic Sun conference has two teams in Liberty and Lipscomb who are quality teams. Lipscomb is in the discussion for an at large bid. The two teams have split their regular season meetings. The Bison have the only chance to lose and make the NCAA.
Major conferences also may play a part in the at large process.
The Pac 12 is a league to watch. Washington is the leader at the moment. They are believed to be an at large team, but they do not have any quad 1 wins at the moment. No guarantees for the Huskies. If a team other than Washington or Arizona State win the conference tourney, then an at large bid will be lost for some other team. Not sure the Pac 12 will end up with three teams but it is a possibility.
Conference tournament season is here. Tune in… they all matter.