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Conference Tournaments: March Madness is Here!

Mar 04, 2019 EST

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There are 32 conference tournaments in Division I men’s basketball again this season. Here’s a quick look at where and when each are.

With 32 conference tournaments in Division I, that means 32 bids to the NCAA Tournament are automatic and the selection committee chooses the other 36. There is no limit on the number of at-large teams the committee may select from one conference. Selection Sunday is March 17.

Also keep in mind that the NCAA has dumped the RPI system this year for the new NCAA Evaluation Tool, or NET. The major factor with the NET is Team Value Index, which is based on game results and factors the result, the game location and outcome. It also takes into account net efficiency (offensive efficiency minus defensive efficiency), winning percentage, adjusted winning percentage and scoring margin (capped at 10 points per contest), according to

If you are wondering, Gonzaga is the No. 1 NET team as of this writing – the Zags also happen to be No. 1 in both polls. They seem almost a lock to be a No. 1 seed in the West Region for the Big Dance.

Here’s a look at each tournament, where and when in alphabetical order. The best day of the conference tournament schedule is March 16 with 13 title games/bids going out: America East (11 a.m., ESPN2), MEAC (1 p.m., ESPN2), Mountain West (6 p.m., CBS), Big 12 (6 p.m., ESPN), SWAC (6 p.m., ESPNU), Big East (6:30 p.m., Fox), MAC (7:30 p.m., ESPN2), Big Sky (8 p.m., ESPNU), ACC (8:30 p.m., ESPN/Raycom), C-USA (8:30 p.m., CBSSN), Southland (9:30 p.m., ESPN2), Pac-12 (10:30 p.m., ESPN), WAC (10:30 p.m., ESPNU)

  • American: FedExForum/Memphis, Tennessee, March 14-17

Cincinnati is the defending tournament champion but Houston will be the favorite this year as the Cougars have just one overall loss this season as of this writing and are ranked No. 4 in the NCAA’s NET ratings, easily the best of any non-Power 5 Conference school.

  • ACC: Spectrum Center/Charlotte, North Carolina, March 12-16

Virginia is the defending tournament champion, but surely Duke will be favored this year presuming superstar freshman Zion Williamson is back from his injury by then. Duke last won it in 2017. The ACC Tournament champion is all but a lock for a No. 1 seed in the Big Dance.

  • America East: Campus sites, March 9, 12, 16
  • Atlantic 10: Barclays Center/Brooklyn, New York, March 13-17
  • Atlantic Sun: Campus sites, March 4-10

The first conference tourney to get under way, this figures to be a two-team battle between Lipscomb and Liberty, the top two seeds. Lipscomb is the defending champion, knocking off two-time reigning champion Florida Gulf Coast in the title game.

  • Big East: Madison Square Garden/New York, New York, March 13-16

Defending national champion Villanova is the reigning winner, but the Wildcats might not even be ranked entering the tournament this year. Marquette looks to be the team to beat and likely will be the top seed.

  • Big Sky: CenturyLink Arena/Boise, Idaho, March 11-16
  • Big South: Campus sites, March 5-10
  • Big 12: Sprint Center/Kansas City, Missouri, March 13-16

Kansas’ amazing streak of 14 straight Big 12 regular-season titles could come to an end, but the Jayhawks likely will be favored considering this is essentially a home tournament. They are also defending champions. West Virginia has made the past three Big 12 Tournament finals, but this year’s Mountaineers are terrible.

  • Big Ten: United Center/Chicago, March 13-17

The Big Ten Tournament had to be held early last year because it was at Madison Square Garden, which also hosts the Big East Tournament. Thus, the Big Ten had to get theirs out of the way first. Michigan won its second straight title last year and likely will be favored here, slightly over Michigan State.

  • Big West: Honda Center/Anaheim, California, March 14-16
  • Colonial: North Charleston Coliseum/North Charleston, S.C., March 9-12
  • Conference USA: Ford Center at The Star/Frisco, Texas, March 13-16

Old Dominion is a fairly new member of C-USA and hasn’t won the tournament but will be the favorite as regular-season champion. Don’t overlook the Monarchs for an upset in the Big Dance as they own a victory at Syracuse and over VCU this year.

  • Horizon League: Campus sites & Little Caesars Arena (semifinals and finals)/Detroit, March 5-12
  • Ivy League: Lee Amphitheater/New Haven, Connecticut, March 16-17
  • MAAC: Times Union Center/Albany, New York, March 7-11
  • MAC: Campus sites & Quicken Loans Arena (quarterfinals through finals)/Cleveland, March 11, 14-16
  • MEAC: Norfolk Scope Arena/Norfolk, Virginia, March 11-16
  • Missouri Valley: Enterprise Center/St. Louis, March 7-10
  • Mountain West: Thomas & Mack Center/Las Vegas, March 13-16

Could Nevada earn a No. 2 seed out West for the NCAA Tournament by winning the Mountain West tourney? The Wolf Pack certainly will be the team to beat.

  • Northeast: Campus sites/March 6, 9, 12
  • Ohio Valley: Ford Center/Evansville, Indiana, March 6-9

This might be the most exciting non-Power 5 Conference tournament because it features Murray State and sophomore superstar Ja Morant – yet the Racers might not even be favored because Belmont, Austin Peay and Jacksonville State are all very good as well. Murray State, which lost its only meeting to Belmont this season, is the defending champion.

  • Pac-12: T-Mobile Arena/Las Vegas, March 13-16

Could the Pac-12 get just one bid to the Big Dance, and that’s the winner here? That’s very possible with No. 25 Washington the only conference school currently ranked. The Huskies probably would get an at-large bid if they don’t win this tournament, which they will be favored to do, but the likely only other school with a shot is Arizona State.

  • Patriot: Campus sites, March 5, 7, 10, 13
  • SEC: Bridgestone Arena/Nashville, Tennessee, March 13-17

Kentucky has won the SEC Tournament each of the past four years and will be favored for a fifth even with how good both LSU and Tennessee are. Right now, ESPN has Kentucky as the fourth No. 1 seed in the Big Dance.

  • Southern: U.S. Cellular Center/Asheville, North Carolina, March 8-11
  • Southland: Leonard E. Merrell Center/Katy, Texas, March 13-17
  • Summit: Denny Sanford Premier Center/Sioux Falls, South Dakota, March 9-12
  • Sun Belt: Lakefront Arena/New Orleans, March 12-17
  • SWAC: Campus sites/Bill Harris Arena (semifinals and finals)/Birmingham, Alabama, March 12, 15-16
  • WAC: Orleans Arena/Las Vegas, March 13-16

New Mexico State has won this two straight and six of the past seven years and will be heavily favored again as regular-season champion.

  • West Coast: Orleans Arena/Las Vegas, March 7-12

What could possibly stop Gonzaga from winning this for seventh straight season and 18th overall? Only major injury.


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