What To Watch For In Conference Tournaments

Image credit: Oklahoma State ace Jensen Elliott (Photo courtesy of Oklahoma State)


: 12 teams in Durham, N.C., Tuesday to Sunday
TV: Championship game on ESPN2 on Sunday at noon ET. All other games on ACC Network Extra.
No. 1 seed: Louisville (43-13, 21-9): The Cardinals won another ACC title and have a top-eight overall seed in the NCAA Tournament locked up. Just another strong spring for Dan McDonnell and Louisville.

Teams with something to gain

Florida State (35-20, 17-10): With 17 ACC wins and a sixth-place finish in the standings, Florida State should be safely in the NCAA Tournament. But its RPI of 50 makes things a little bubbly. A win in Durham would lock it up.

Georgia Tech (38-16, 19-11): The Yellow Jackets are on the bubble for a top-eight overall seed in the NCAA Tournament. Winning the ACC Tournament would lock that up, but even advancing to the semifinals would be beneficial.

Miami (38-17, 18-12): After missing the NCAA Tournament the last two years, the Hurricanes have a chance to host a regional. They need a good showing to hold on to that spot.

North Carolina State (41-15, 18-12): The Wolfpack moved into pole position to host a regional with a series win at North Carolina over the weekend. Now, they’re looking to hang on to that spot with a solid showing in Durham.

Virginia (32-22, 14-16): The Cavaliers finished strong to push their RPI into the top 45 and their conference record almost to .500. They may have done enough already, but a win in Durham would help sew it up.

Wake Forest (30-25, 14-16): The Demon Deacons missed a chance to play their way in last weekend at Clemson. Now, with an RPI of 57, they’ll need to at least reach the semifinals to get to regionals.

American Athletic

: Eight teams in Clearwater, Fla., Tuesday to Sunday
TV: Championship game on ESPNews on Sunday at noon ET. All other games on the American Digital Network.
No. 1 seed: East Carolina (42-13, 20-4): The Pirates won their first AAC title going away, finishing seven games ahead of second-place Cincinnati. They should already solidly be a top-eight overall seed in the NCAA Tournament, but winning at least one game in Clearwater would help their cause.

Teams with something to gain

Central Florida (34-20, 11-13): The Knights’ series win against Houston last weekend pushed them closer to the NCAA Tournament bubble. Their RPI is up to No. 44, and they’re nearly .500 in conference play. But they’ll need to win a couple games in Clearwater to bolster their resume.

Houston (32-22, 12-12): The Cougars should be fine. They finished .500 in the league and rank No. 40 in RPI. But if their AAC Tournament stay is brief and the bubble starts tightening, they may feel the squeeze. That’s all avoidable with a decent showing this week.

Big 12

: Eight teams in Oklahoma City, Wednesday to Sunday
TV: Championship game on Fox Sports Networks on Sunday at 2 p.m. ET. All other games on Fox College Sports.
No. 1 seed: Texas Tech (36-15, 16-8): The Red Raiders nipped Baylor for the Big 12 title on the final day of the regular season, boosting their resume to be a top-eight overall seed. Texas Tech can feel good about its positioning now, but it hasn’t won more than one game in the Big 12 Tournament in the last five years and another quick exit could leave it vulnerable if a team such as Georgia Tech or Oklahoma State wins a title this week.

Teams with something to gain

Oklahoma (33-21, 11-13): The Sooners are on the bubble right now as a result of their losing conference record and 4-11 mark against top-50 opponents. They may well grab a bid—they have a top-40 RPI—but winning a few games this week would be a big help to that end.

Oklahoma State (32-17, 14-9): The way the Cowboys have finished the season has put them on the host line and now has them in the mix for a top-eight overall seed. They’re eighth in RPI but with just 32 overall wins and a third-place finish in the conference, they still have some work to do. A Big 12 Tournament title would certainly do it, but a deep run may also suffice.

West Virginia (34-18, 13-11): The Mountaineers have been on the hosting bubble for more than a month now. They have the RPI—they rank No. 15—but their 13-11 Big 12 mark and 7-9 record against top-50 opponents aren’t as impressive. With a deep run in Oklahoma City, West Virginia has a chance to improve its position.

Big Ten

: Eight teams in Omaha, Wednesday to Sunday
TV: All games, including Sunday’s championship game at 2 p.m. ET, broadcast on Big Ten Network.
No. 1 seed: Indiana (36-19, 17-7): The Hoosiers won the Big Ten title on the final day of the regular season, completing a sweep of Rutgers to pass Michigan in the standings. Indiana ranks No. 31 in RPI, making it a longshot to host a regional, but if it can add a Big Ten Tournament title to its collection, it could well find itself in the mix.

Teams with something to gain

Illinois (36-17, 15-9): The Illini finished third in the standings but have the conference’s best RPI at No. 22. That means that with a Big Ten Tournament title, Illinois could still host a regional. There’s probably no margin for error, but with the way the Illini have been playing, it’s possible.

Michigan (38-16, 16-7): The Wolverines lost their last two series to drop out of first place in the Big Ten standings. Michigan ranks No. 48 in RPI and it’s fine now and probably will be regardless, but a 0-and-2 in Omaha is unadvisable. It’s 4-10 record against top-50 opponents is not good, and if its RPI drops below 50, Michigan could end up closer to the bubble than it ought to be.


: 12 teams in Hoover, Ala., Tuesday to Sunday
TV: Championship game on ESPN2 on Sunday at 3 p.m. ET. All other games on SEC Network.
No. 1 seed: Vanderbilt (45-10, 23-7): The Commodores rolled to the SEC title and are locked into one of the top two seeds in the NCAA Tournament. To get the top seed, Vanderbilt may have to pass UCLA for the top spot in RPI, which would require a couple wins in Hoover or UCLA losing games this weekend at Oregon, which is less likely.

Teams with something to gain

Auburn (32-23, 14-16): The Tigers picked up an important win Saturday at Louisiana State to get to 14-16 in conference play. That, combined with its top-20 RPI, is likely good enough to get in. But a win Tuesday against Tennessee in the first round would solidify Auburn’s position.

Florida (33-23, 13-17): The Gators clawed their way back into the bubble discussion with a sweep at Missouri to end the regular season. They rank No. 25 in RPI, which is good, but probably not good enough to make the field without a win Tuesday. Every year is different, but the precedent for teams with 13-17 conference records getting into the NCAA Tournament is not good, even with solid RPIs. So, beating Texas A&M is crucial for Florida.

Louisiana State (34-22, 17-13): The Tigers have a lot of things going for them on their hosting resume—17 SEC wins, a fifth-place finish in conference and a 19-14 record against top-50 opponents. But they also rank No. 21 in RPI, and that number is typically not good enough for an SEC team to host. LSU needs to beat South Carolina on Tuesday and then maybe win one more game to solidify its spot as a host.

Missouri (34-21-1, 13-16-1): Getting swept by Florida pushed Missouri back down to the bubble. And, like the Gators, the Tigers need to win Tuesday when they open the SEC Tournament against Mississippi. At 13-16-1 in the SEC, a 10th-place conference finish, 10-16-1 against top-50 opponents and a 13-15-1 mark away from home isn’t going to cut it. The Tigers need to make some noise in Hoover.

Tennessee (38-18, 14-16): Like Auburn, Tennessee is probably fine. If anything, it may be in a better position, thanks to its No. 11 RPI. But a win Tuesday against Auburn would eliminate the doubt, which would probably be welcome for a program that hasn’t made regionals since 2005.

Texas A&M (36-19-1, 16-13-1): The Aggies upset Arkansas to put them firmly in the hosting conversation. They have a lot of metrics working for them, but they probably need to do a little bit more after finishing sixth in the standings. A&M went on a run last year in Hoover to play its way into the NCAA Tournament, and a repeat performance this week would see it play its way into a hosting spot.

Comments are closed.

Download our app

Read the newest magazine issue right on your phone