The 2022 NCAA Tournament, affectionately known as the “March Madness,” is less than two weeks away from kicking off. Yet many teams’ hopes of reaching the Big Dance still rely on the upcoming conference tournaments.
Conference tournament winners can receive automatic bids into the tournament, while other teams on the bubble can raise or lower their stock depending on their postseason performances. For other powerhouse teams, the conference tournament is merely a tune-up before they get ready to compete for a national title.
Here is a peek at which conference tournaments will provide the best watch over the next week and a half.
Atlantic Coast Conference
The ACC’s regular-season title has already gone to the #4 Duke Blue Devils. They have a 26-4 (16-3) record at the time of publication. Coach Mike Krzyzewski’s final season in charge of his program appears to be on track for a grand conclusion, one that could come all the way at the end of the tournament.
Setting aside Duke’s dominance, the ACC Tournament is going to be of the utmost importance to a few bubble teams: Wake Forest, one of the Last Four Bye schools, Virginia Tech, in the Next Four Out, and the University of Virginia, not currently in the picture.
All three have had impressive results this season. They still have realistic chances of making the tournament if they can win a couple of games. UVA will face the toughest road and might need to win the whole tournament to reach March Madness.
Wake Forest simply needs to avoid a collapse and win their first game. Virginia Tech probably needs to win two contests and close their season by winning 11 of 12 games. The Hokies have great metrics, so they are the most likely team currently not in the tournament to make it in.
Big East Conference
The Big East, despite not being included in the Power Five conferences, currently has the second-most represented conference in the latest edition of Joe Lunardi’s bracketology, only trailing the Big 10. The #9 Providence Friars are the highest-ranked squad in the conference. However, a recent two-point loss to the #11 Villanova Wildcats should at least flip these around in next week’s rankings.
Aside from the two favorites, the UConn Huskies, Marquette Golden Eagles, Creighton Blue Jays, and Seton Hall Pirates will all provide massive obstacles for any team hoping to win the conference title. The Big East has beat up on itself all season. There should be no shortage of upsets and close matches in the conference tournament.
If one team deserves the advantage, it is Villanova; they have one of the best rosters and have a dominant coach in Jay Wright. However, they are far from a guarantee to take home the hardware.
The SEC Conference Tournament is going to be a great watch for the neutral fan and a gut-wrencher for the loyalist. All of the Auburn Tigers, Kentucky Wildcats, Tennessee Volunteers, Arkansas Razorbacks, and Alabama Crimson Tide would say that they have the brightest future in March Madness. Unranked squads like the Florida Gators and LSU Tigers could upset a few of those teams.
Auburn and Kentucky will be favored to square off in the conference title game. Sadly, neither one has been a model of consistency lately.
The SEC Conference Tournament will be a great watch. Not because of how it will shake up March Madness, but because it will have massive seeding implications depending on which heavyweight beats the other. This should be the conference tourney with the highest amount of quality and most intriguing matchups across every round.
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