Every Single Damn Thing You Need To Know About Conference Tournaments This Week
Folks, it's the most glorious time of the year. The weather turns a little bit but we don't notice because we're inside watching basketball for 14 hours a day. I say it all the time, conference tournament week is my favorite week of the season. Just every single team in action, millions of games, win or go home. It's awesome. So with that in mind let's get into it. Quick preview, picks, storylines, every single thing you need to know for the week.
Already qualified for NCAA Tournament
Louisiana, Furman, Fairleigh Dickinson, Kennesaw State, UNC-Asheville, Drake, SEMO
Conference Finals Today:
UNC Wilmington vs Charleston (CAA), NKU vs Cleveland State (Horizon), Oral Roberts vs North Dakota State (Summit), Gonzaga vs St. Mary's (WCC)
Everyone who likes a bubble team should be cheering hard for Charleston and Oral Roberts. Just give them the auto bid so we don't have any talk about if they should be in or not - Charleston especially.
Locks: Miami, Duke, Virginia
Right side of the bubble: NC State, Pitt
Bubble teams: UNC, Clemson
Thoughts: The ACC sucks. No way to put it. There's not a national title contender team here. I like Miami a lot but they can't defend anyone. They need to combine with Virginia somehow. Let Virginia play defense and Miami play offense and they may be onto something. Obviously UNC is the story here. They need to at least get to the semis and I don't know if that's enough to make the NCAA Tournament. It sucks that the intrigue for the ACC Tournament is at an all-time low. Maybe Boeheim will piss off Greensboro again.
Big East Tournament
Locks: Marquette, Xavier, UConn, Creighton
Right side of the bubble: Providence
Bubble teams: No one
Thoughts: Fuck yes. The Big East Tournament at MSG is always awesome. Then you look and see UConn vs Providence tomorrow? That's going to be mayhem. That crowd is going to be unreal. I already know what everyone is talking about here. Villanova. Can they make a run with Justin Moore back and looking better because of that? I don't know. They have a brutal draw having to play Creighton and then Xavier if seeds hold. They are on the better side because UConn is hot + at the Garden. Marquette is still somehow underrated despite winning the conference. Providence needs to win. People started talking about them missing the Tournament and I don't see it. They are currently a 10 seed in Bracket Matrix. But a win over UConn seals them in.
Big 12 Tournament
Locks: Kansas, Baylor, Iowa State, Texas, TCU, Kansas State
Right side of the bubble: West Virginia
Bubble team: Oklahoma State
Easily the best Tournament all week. The conference is loaded top to bottom. There's not a bad team. Shit, it looked like Iowa State was ready to pack it in this season and then kicked Baylor's ass on the road. Every team here can win. I'm not even lying. Oklahoma can get hot. TCU and Kansas State are two of the most fun teams in the country. Baylor's guards are as elite as elite gets. Kansas is still Kansas. If there's one tournament to watch, watch this one.
Locks: Purdue, Indiana, Michigan State, Northwestern (seriously), Maryland, Illinois, Iowa
Right side of the bubble: Good luck
Bubble: Rutgers, Penn State, Wisconsin, Michigan
Good luck with this tournament. Basically Purdue and then a bunch of teams. That's how it looked all year and it's starting to look even more like that. Every time you think Indiana is ready to run away being the 2nd best team in the conference they lose to Northwestern. You think Illinois is figuring it out and then they do something stupid. It's a pretty wide open tournament mostly because a team will eventually just press Purdue for 40 minutes and turn their guards over. But here it's Rutgers, Penn State, Wisconsin and Michigan. Four teams between 11 seeds and first four out. Some has to win and that Rutgers/Michigan game is basically a play-in.
Locks: Alabama, Texas A&M, Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri, Arkansas
Right side of the bubble: Auburn
Bubble teams: Mississippi State
This is setting up to likely be weird. Remember last year A&M made the run to the finals and had a shot to win and steal the bid. I don't think that will happen this year from the 8/9 game but Alabama is suspect right now. They haven't looked right since the Brandon Miller news broke and while they've won, they've been down in every game. You have a big time 7/10 game in Arkansas/Auburn and one of those teams could make the finals and no one would bat an eye. Vandy has found themselves popping up on the bubble a little bit now and two wins could put them firmly on the bubble. Kentucky isn't healthy and the question is what happens with Cason Wallace here. A&M is figuring shit out and has probably the best guards in the conference right now.
Locks: UCLA, Arizona
Right side of the bubble: USC
Bubble teams: Arizona State
Can they just give us Arizona vs UCLA and move on? No one gives a shit about this tournament outside of that. Now that said, I want to see how UCLA looks without Jaylen Clark. He got hurt Saturday night and that is massive. He's one of the best defenders in the country and a real catalyst to UCLA being national champs. They make look a little disjointed over this tournament as they figure out roles and minute allocation without him. Other than that, again, who gives a shit?
Mid-major Teams to watch
Toledo (MAC), Utah Valley (WAC), Iona (MAAC)
Arguably the most important mid-major conference
The C-USA Tournament is vital for any bubble team. FAU is going to be an at-large team even if they lose. They are currently projected as an 8 seed meaning mayhem would have to happen for them to miss the tournament completely. Now they could very well lose. You have UAB and North Texas there. But now is when we start looking for bid stealers. This is it. This is the one where you could turn a one bid league quickly into two.
Weird conference tournaments
This is basically the AAC and A-10. They aren't mid-majors but they aren't high majors. The AAC should be Houston running through. They are the best team in the country and yeah I know they lost to Temple and beat Memphis on the buzzer, it doesn't really matter. This is another one where you just want Houston to run through if you're a bubble team. The A-10 though is intriguing. It's a one-bid league because it grossly underachieved - most notably Dayton. It's also one where I could see 5 teams winning.
Sneaky fun tournament
We already cashed: Kennesaw State (+275) and Louisiana (+300). Lost Indiana State (+700) and Youngstown State (+155).
Here's what I have for the week, lines all from Barstool Sportsbook:
Marquette, Big East (+350)
TCU , Big 12(+650)
Zona, Pac-12 (+150)
Howard, MEAC (+300)
Fullerton, Big West (+500)
Fordham, A-10 (+1400)
Penn, Ivy (+400)
PS: Check out Titus' first show previewing some of the Tournaments: