While ESPN’s real “Championship week” doesn’t begin for another week, conference tournaments begin tonight as the Atlantic Sun gets started! Schools will begin to live their dream by punching tickets to the Big Dance. With two weeks till the final decisions are made, here is what the bracket looks like.
At this point, nothing is safe, well maybe nothing except Virginia being a 1-seed. Kansas locked up at least a share of their 14th straight Big 12 title, and Xavier has the inside track at the regular season Big East title after Villanova lost in OT at Creighton. My list of potential 1 seeds includes all 4 teams on the 2-line, Michigan State, Duke, North Carolina, and Purdue, as well as Auburn. Here is the bracket in a separate tab. And here is the running 1-80.
As for our Cincinnati area teams…
Xavier – Xavier played just one game this week and took care of business on the road at Georgetown. A win that won’t turn heads, but they did what they needed to do. As for conference foe Villanova, they did not, as mentioned previously. Nova lost in overtime and now the Big East runs through the Cintas Center with a week to play. If Xavier wins at home vs. Providence (who beat them the first time) and at Depaul, they will be the one seed at Madison Square Garden. It will be a first for the Musketeers.
Cincinnati – After two straight losses, Cincinnati responded this week by dismantling UCONN and taking down Tulsa. For the Bearcats to move up on the seed line, in my opinion, it will take winning out, including the AAC Tournament. This would give them a win, or two, over Wichita State. It certainly isn’t a lock that they would move up though, with a weak conference and lack of marquee wins.
Northern Kentucky – While Xavier got put in the place to win their regular season, the Norse from across the river cemented their spot as Horizon League Regular Season champs by beating UIC and IUPUI, as well as Wright St losing to IUPUI. The Raiders beat the Norse twice, but NKU finished 15-3 to WSU’s 14-4. The Norse will begin their quest for a 2nd straight tournament berth on Saturday in the Horizon League quarterfinals.
Here is the breakdown for each conference with at large bids in the bracket
ACC: Virginia, Duke, North Carolina, Clemson, NC State, Miami, Florida St, Virginia Tech, Syracuse
AAC: Cincinnati, Wichita St, Houston
A10: Rhode Island, St. Bonaventure
Big 12: Kansas, Texas Tech, West Virginia, Oklahoma, TCU, Kansas St, Texas
Big East: Villanova, Xavier, Creighton, Seton Hall, Providence, Butler
Big 10: Michigan St, Purdue, Ohio St, Michigan
Pac 12: Arizona, Arizona St, USC, Washington
SEC: Auburn, Tennessee, Kentucky, Florida, Missouri, Texas A&M, Alabama, Arkansas
WCC: Gonzaga, St. Mary’s