Yet in terms of altering the fates of potential at-large teams around the country? There’s probably only one who can really make life miserable for those programs in the next two nights.
That’s on top of a double-dip of good news from borderline tournament teams over the weekend. Murray State won the Ohio Valley. Loyola Chicago won the Missouri Valley. Those are two fewer decisions placed in the NCAA basketball committee’s hands, much to the delight of teams scrambling for the final spots in the field.
Navy reaches first Patriot League title game since 2001 by edging Boston U. in OT
(For what it’s worth, Murray State would have snagged an at-large berth had it lost to Morehead State in the OVC final. Loyola Chicago would have been in for an interesting wait with a loss to Drake to close out Arch Madness).
A rundown of what to look for on Monday throughout the conference tournament landscape …
West Coast semifinals: (Gonzaga vs. San Francisco, 9 p.m., ESPN; Saint Mary’s vs. Santa Clara, approx. 11:30 p.m., ESPN2). The most relevant at-large games of the night will be played in Las Vegas. San Francisco (24-8) helped itself immensely with a victory over BYU in Saturday’s quarterfinals. Beating Gonzaga would polish off the Dons’ at-large resume. Meanwhile, at-large lock Saint Mary’s (24-6) will look to avenge a Feb. 8 loss at Santa Clara (21-10).
Bracket impact: San Francisco can effectively remove all doubt about its at-large credentials with a victory. And Saint Mary’s will be a popular team in certain precincts; the Gaels can eliminate the last true potential bid-snatcher in the WCC, Herb Sendek’s Broncos.
Southern title game (Chattanooga vs. Furman, 7 p.m., ESPN): The top two seeds have reached the SoCon final in Asheville, N.C., and one of Division I’s best one-bid leagues should have an exceptional end to its season. Chattanooga (26-7) swept the season series from the Paladins and will try for its first NCAA berth since 2016 behind guard Malachi Smith, the league player of the year.
The wait’s been longer for Furman (22-11), which bagged a victory over Louisville back in November when everyone thought that was impressive. The Paladins last made the NCAA field in 1980.
Bracket impact: It’s one-bid territory no matter who wins, and both teams rank in the top 80 of the NET. Either team could find itself as a No. 12 seed (Chattanooga is the more likely candidate) and emerge as a chic upset pick next week.
Sun Belt title game (Georgia State vs. Louisiana-Lafayette, 7 p.m., ESPN2): The first magical run of this March belongs to eighth-seeded Louisiana-Lafayette (16-14), which came to Pensacola, Fla., with a losing record and has won three times in four days — including defeats of regular season champ Texas State and No. 4 seed Troy.
They have to deal with the third-seeded Panthers (17-10), who have won nine in a row and swept Louisiana-Lafayette in the regular season. Veteran guards Corey Allen and Kane Williams lead Georgia State, which is seeking its fourth NCAA berth since 2015.
Bracket impact: Whoever wins is going to wind up on the No. 15 or No. 16 line.
Colonial semifinals: The two regular season co-champions made it out of the CAA quarterfinals on a day when the team in home threads uniformly got off to slow starts on offense. Top seed Towson (25-7) will meet fifth-seeded Delaware (20-12) a week after completing a suspended game against the Blue Hens, while second-seeded UNC Wilmington (22-8) will meet sixth-seeded College of Charleston (17-14), which plays at the fastest pace in the country according to KenPom.com.
Bracket impact: Towson has a chance to wind up as a No. 12 or (more likely) a No. 13 seed as it chases its first NCAA berth since 1991. That drought contrasts to the three remaining teams, who have combined for four NCAA trips since 2014.
Horizon League semifinals: After two campus-site rounds last week, the Horizon scene shifts to Indianapolis. The top four seeds all held serve and advanced, with top seed Cleveland State (20-9) facing Wright State (19-13) and regular season co-champ Purdue Fort Wayne (21-10) meeting Northern Kentucky (19-11).
Bracket impact: Negligible. Cleveland State is the only team remaining in the tournament with a top-200 NET ranking, and whoever wins this league will be a candidate for an opening round game in Dayton.
Summit League semifinals: South Dakota State (28-4) is two victories from polishing off a perfect run through the conference, and it must go through in-state rival South Dakota (19-11) in the semifinals. Oral Roberts (19-11) — led by 2021 tournament hero Max Abmas — faces North Dakota State (22-9) in the second game.
Bracket impact: No Division I team has ever won 29 games and missed the tournament. South Dakota State doesn’t have a Quadrant 1 victory, so it would be an unorthodox at-large pick if it came to that, and its Quad 2 defeats of Washington State and Stephen F. Austin aren’t against likely tournament teams. Still, a win for the Jackrabbits on Monday might give the committee something to think about if they fall in the final.
2022 Big Ten tournament bracket and schedule: Illinois and Wisconsin are top seeds
Last four included: Wake Forest, SMU, VCU, Rutgers
First four on the outside: Wyoming, BYU, Florida, Dayton
Next four on the outside: Oklahoma, Indiana, Texas A&M, Oregon
Moving in: Georgia State, Jacksonville, Loyola Chicago, Michigan
Moving out: Jacksonville State, Northern Iowa, Texas State, Wyoming
Conference call: Big Ten (8), Big East (7), Big 12 (6), SEC (6), ACC (5), American Athletic (3), Mountain West (3), Pac-12 (3), West Coast (3), Atlantic 10 (2)
West vs. East, South vs. Midwest
(1) WEST COAST/Gonzaga vs. (16) BIG WEST/Long Beach State
(8) Seton Hall vs. (9) San Diego State
(5) LSU vs. (12) SUMMIT/South Dakota State
(4) Texas Tech vs. (13) SOUTHERN/Chattanooga
(3) Tennessee vs. (14) IVY/Princeton
(6) Iowa vs. (11) MISSOURI VALLEY/Loyola Chicago
(7) OHIO VALLEY/Murray State vs. (10) Creighton
(2) ACC/Duke vs. (15) ATLANTIC SUN/Jacksonville
2022 Big East bracket and schedule: Villanova, Providence, Connecticut are the favorites
Once wobbly at 12-7 entering February, Seton Hall has won eight of 10 entering the Big East tournament to solidify its postseason standing. Sweeps of Creighton and Xavier in the second half of league play surely helped. … Texas Tech drops down a line after a weekend loss to Oklahoma State. Consider this an excuse to mention Oklahoma State went 8-10 in the Big 12 with three overtime losses despite being ineligible for the NCAA tournament and losing Cade Cunningham from a year ago. …
Loyola Chicago will make the eighth NCAA tournament appearance in program history and third since 2018 after winning the Missouri Valley tournament. The Ramblers were back to their old selves in Arch Madness, allowing just 151 points in three games. … Murray State has won 20 in a row and could very well end up on the No. 6 seed line. The Ohio Valley champions’ most notable victory came Dec. 10 at Memphis.
(1) PAC-12/Arizona vs. (16) NORTHEAST/Bryant-HORIZON/Cleveland State winner
(8) Michigan State vs. (9) Iowa State
(5) Alabama vs. (12) SMU/Wake Forest winner
(4) BIG EAST/Providence vs. (13) COLONIAL/Towson
(3) BIG TEN/Illinois vs. (14) WESTERN ATHLETIC/New Mexico State
(6) Texas vs. (11) San Francisco
(7) Colorado State vs. (10) Miami
(2) SEC/Auburn vs. (15) SUN BELT/Georgia State
Iowa State is this year’s version of what Missouri was last year — an owner of oodles of high-end victories, but a team that could be dumped a line or two below where those triumphs might suggest. The Cyclones are 9-7 in Quadrant 1 games but also finished 7-11 in the Big 12. … Wake Forest better not lose its first ACC tournament against the survivor of Tuesday’s Boston College and Pittsburgh matchup in Brooklyn. The Demon Deacons don’t have much oomph to their resume, which stands out more with other teams (think Memphis, Michigan and North Carolina) improving their profiles. …
2022 ACC tournament bracket and schedule: Duke is No. 1 seed
San Francisco checks a lot of boxes. The Dons are 7-2 on the road, rank in the top 50 of all six metrics on the NCAA’s team sheets and are 9-7 against the top two quadrants after handling BYU in what might have been a play-in game. … The leader in true road victories among power conference teams is … Miami? It’s true. The Hurricanes have 10 of them. It’s a lot easier to argue Jim Larranaga’s team into the field than out of it.
Fort Worth, Texas
(1) BIG 12/Baylor vs. (16) SWAC/Alcorn State-SOUTHLAND/Nicholls State winner
(8) Marquette vs. (9) Notre Dame
(5) AMERICAN ATHLETIC/Houston vs. (12) CONFERENCE USA/North Texas
(4) Arkansas vs. (13) AMERICA EAST/Vermont
(3) Villanova vs. (14) METRO ATLANTIC/Iona
(6) Southern California vs. (11) Michigan
(7) MOUNTAIN WEST/Boise State vs. (10) TCU
(2) Purdue vs. (15) BIG SOUTH/Longwood
Baylor heads into the Big 12 tournament with a five-game winning streak, four of them coming against likely tournament teams. The Bears took down Kansas, Texas and Iowa State in an eight-day stretch to close the regular season. … It’s going to be frustrating trying to guess how the committee will seed Houston, which is well-regarded universally in the metrics but is 1-4 in Quadrant 1 games. If the Cougars lose in the American Athletic tournament, a No. 6 or No. 7 seed might be a fair treatment. …
Was probably behind the curve a bit on recognizing Michigan’s worthiness for an at-large slot. The Wolverines played a stellar schedule, are just one game under .500 away from Ann Arbor and have five Quadrant 1 victories. Winning at Ohio State to close the regular season helped. Knocking off Indiana in the Big Ten tournament would probably lock things up. … Longwood smashed Winthrop in the Big South final to claim its first Division I tournament berth. The Lancers have won 22 of 24 since the start of December.
Fort Worth, Texas
(1) Kansas vs. (16) MID-EASTERN ATHLETIC/Norfolk State
(8) North Carolina vs. (9) Memphis
(5) Connecticut vs. (12) Rutgers/VCU winner
(4) UCLA vs. (13) MID-AMERICAN/Toledo
(3) Wisconsin vs. (14) BIG SKY/Montana State
(6) Saint Mary’s vs. (11) Xavier
(7) Ohio State vs. (10) ATLANTIC 10/Davidson
(2) Kentucky vs. (15) PATRIOT/Colgate
At Mike Krzyzewski’s final home game, generations of Duke stars turn out to say goodbye
It’s hard for a victory at this time of year to have as much impact as North Carolina’s upset of Duke on Saturday will have for the Tar Heels. Before then, Carolina had a lot of wins but few of value, and was going to have to rely almost solely on quantity to get into the field. The qualitative value of the triumph at Cameron Indoor Stadium was significant. … Still think VCU’s road record (9-2) is going to help carry the day for the Rams, but losing at Saint Louis didn’t help and there’s less margin for error in the Atlantic 10 tournament than there would have been otherwise. …
Xavier drubbed Georgetown to avoid a loss it absolutely could not take. The Musketeers probably need to knock off Butler in their Big East tournament opener to avoid an anxious few days leading into Selection Sunday. … Ohio State is just about out of games to lose, but its late slide has put it in a precarious spot. A quick exit in the Big Ten tournament could drop the Buckeyes into an 8/9 game.