It’s almost March and almost conference tournament play. Conference tournament play is where teams stock both rises and falls. Teams can play their way into the NCAA tournament field with either an automatic bid or by improving their resume. They also could fall off the radar completely.
A loss in a conference tournament could end a team’s NCAA tournament hopes once and for all. Here are a few teams that have the most on the line moving into conference tournament play.
Conference play is a preview of the NCAA tournament. It’s a time where teams in power conference play can play three to five games in as many days. Conference play is sometimes more competitive than the NCAA tournament due to the familiarity teams have with each other.
In some cases, teams are seeing each other for the third time this season. Seeing a team three times makes it very competitive cause teams know each other so well. Conference play is important for teams trying to find an identity and for gaining momentum.
Teams like UConn led by Kemba Walker come to mind. Not only did they play their way into the tournament by winning the Big East that season, they ended up running the table and winning the NCAA tournament. They won 11 straight games and became the hottest team in college basketball at the perfect time.
Needing some help
St. Bonaventure: Well the Bonnies need a little help. They are 22-6 overall and 12-4 in conference and are second to only Rhode Island in the Atlantic 10. The Bonnies need to at least advance to the A-10 championship game, if not win the conference tournament.
The loss that hurt them the most so far was against 19-12 Niagara on opening night. The team is led by Jaylen Adams and Matt Mobley, who are two of the top scorers in the conference. They are +7.7 this season in point differential and allow less than 70 points per game this season.
UCLA: The Bruins need to do some work in the Pac-12 tournament. Right now the Bruins resume is lacking a ton of wow factor. Two bad loses that they have are against the same team, Colorado.
The one impressive thing for UCLA is they are 3-0 against the top two teams in the conference in Arizona and Oregon. If UCLA can find a way to get to their conference tournament championship, win or lose, they could build a good enough resume through that and find themselves on the right side of the bubble come selection Sunday.
Playing to the top
Ohio State: The Buckeyes have been in and out of the top 25 all season. They are the No. 2 team in a very solid Big Ten. The Buckeyes have a very solid resume and only have two average loses to the Penn State. With the Big Ten getting stronger top to bottom, there is a chance that the Buckeyes could run the table and possibly contend for a one seed in a region.
All they need to do is win games against Purdue and Michigan State and even Michigan (they have beaten all of these teams already), and the committee has to take the Buckeyes seriously.
Auburn: Maybe the biggest surprise this season has been Auburn. They have six wins against the RPI top 50 and are the one seed heading into the SEC tournament. The Tigers are 3-0 against the RPI top 25 and have a 17-5 record against the RPI top 150 overall. They have a record of 24-5 overall and only have one bad loss to South Carolina.
They continue to lead the way in a very balanced conference that could get as many as eight teams into the NCAA tournament. If the Tigers can run through the gauntlet that is the SEC and win the entire conference tournament as well as the regular season, it would be hard to put them anywhere but in a one seed position.
March is almost here
Well it’s almost tournament time. Whether it’s conference tournaments or the NCAA tournament, the best time of year for college basketball fans is finally here. March is a time for teams to rise and other teams to fall. Pretenders fade and the true contenders emerge.
March is a magical time where cinderellas dance and the tougher teams find a way to win. The most exciting time for college basketball is almost among us, so sit back and enjoy the ride.
Featured image from USA Today.
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