10 NCAA Basketball Teams With the Most to Lose During Conference Tournaments
The Teams Who Have A Lot Riding on the Conference Tournaments
Sadly, the college basketball season is coming to an end, but it’s not all bad for college basketball fans. The conference tournaments and NCAA tournament are still to come. The month of March is fantastic if you are a huge fan of college hoops. Keep in mind that the conference tournaments and March Madness may be separate, but they are still linked.
The latest version of Joe Lunardi’s bracketology for ESPN shows the following teams as the No. 1 seeds for the NCAA Tournament.
Arizona — lost to Oregon on the road today (Mar. 8)
Kansas—lost to West Virginia on the road today (Mar. 8)
The following teams are on the bubble according to Lunardi’s bracketology.
Last Four Byes:
Last Four In:
First Four Out:
Florida StateNext Four Out:
There are a various reasons the conference tournaments are important. Some teams know their only shot at making the NCAA tournament is to win their conference tournament. The 31 conference champions receive automatic bids to the big dance. The Ivy League does not have a conference tournament, so their regular season champion (Harvard this season) receives the 32nd automatic bid. Other teams are on the bubble and need to perform well in their conference tournament just to make the NCAA tournament; some are vying for a No. 1 seed while others are just trying to improve their seeding.
All of that raises a question. Which teams have the most to lose during conference tournaments? Do teams vying for a No. 1 seed have the most to lose, or do the bubble teams? Is it a mixture that depends on the team and where it currently stands?
Click through to see the 10 teams I feel have the most to lose during the conference tournaments.
10. Wichita State
True, it might be weird to have an undefeated team that right now is projected as a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament on this list, but the Shockers are 33-0 and want to bring that undefeated record into the NCAA tournament. To do that, they must win the Missouri Valley Conference tournament. In addition, if the Shockers fail to win the Missouri Valley tournament, there would be a lot of people claiming they are undeserving of a one seed due to playing in the MVC. Wichita State is on a mission to prove people wrong. They are obviously in the NCAA tournament no matter what, but they want to rip through their conference tournament and then make it back to the Final Four like they did a year ago.
I previously wrote about five things that the Hoyas had to do to make the tournament. Lunardi currently has them listed as one of the Next Four Out in his bracketology. Georgetown beat Creighton on March 4 which was a quality win, but they lost to Villanova today (March 8). If the Hoyas hope to get into the NCAA tournament, they will need to win the Big East tournament to receive the automatic bid (unlikely) or at the very least make a deep run if they want to have any shot at being an at-large bid.
The Catamounts are leading the America East Conference and are the clear favorites to win their conference tournament. While the Catamounts aren’t invincible and Stony Brook or Albany may have a shot, it would be shocking if Vermont didn’t win the America East tournament. If Vermont somehow fails to win the America East Tournament and the automatic bid, there is a good chance they are on the outside looking in come NCAA tournament time.
The Jaspers are a team that could potentially make a run in the NCAA tournament, but first they need to get in to the Big Dance. They won’t receive an at-large bid so their only hope of crashing the party is to win the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC).
Lunardi currently has Iona listed as a 13 seed. The Gaels are the favorite to win the MAAC, but the Manhattan Jaspers could spoil that. If Iona fails to win the MAAC tournament, it is very doubtful they would receive an at-large bid.
5. High Point
Lunardi currently has High Point as a 16 seed in his bracketology. High Point is certainly one of the few contenders that could win the Big South Conference tournament, but they will have to beat or outlast VMI and Coastal Carolina to do so. No team from this conference will receive an automatic bid, so winning the conference tournament is of paramount importance. If High Point wants to get into the Big Dance, they must win their conference tournament.
Toledo, Buffalo and Western Michigan are probably the true contenders to win the Mid-American Conference (MAC) tournament. With the MAC tournament being weird in that the No. 1 and 2 seeds receive triple byes and the three and four seeds receive double byes, it mean it is exponentially easier to win the MAC tournament as one of the top four seeds. The MAC tournament is in Ohio and I think Toledo is the favorite to win it. If they fail to do so, they will not make the NCAA tournament. They need to win the automatic bid to get in to the Big Dance.
The Bears are one of two teams with a realistic shot at winning the Atlantic Sun Conference (Florida Gulf Coast is the other). The Bears were the favorites to win the conference automatic bid last year, but then Florida Gulf Coast surprised everyone and ended up advancing their way to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA tournament. This conference will not have an at-large bid, so if the Bears want into the Big Dance, they need to first win their conference tournament.
2. Florida Gulf Coast University
The Eagles are essentially in the same spot as the Mercer Bears. They must win the Atlantic Sun Conference tournament if they hope to be dancing in the NCAA tournament for a second-straight year. The only reason I have them ranked one ahead of Mercer is because everyone knows the name Florida Gulf Coast after they advanced to the Sweet 16 last year, dunking over their opponents.
1. North Carolina Central
The Eagles, currently a 15 seed according to Lunardi, are definitely the best team in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC). If the unthinkable happens and another teams wins the MEAC tournament, the Eagles will not be dancing in March. If they win, they are in -- it’s that simple.