Let The Madness Begin
A couple of the lesser college conferences already have finished their basketball tournaments and that is fine. No one could be happier than the staff here (meaning me) that Radford University won the Big South and Murray State took the Ohio Valley crown, putting both in the NCAA Tournament.
The Big Ten Tournament is also over, with Michigan having made enormous strides in winning it for the second straight year.
Included in that run was a victory over rival (and former No. 2) Michigan State.
The meat of conference tournament play will come at you in a rush. It’s heeeeere.
The Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament begins on Tuesday and it has three contenders not only for that championship but the national one as well in top-seeded Virginia, second-seed Duke and sixth-seed North Carolina. Those three have won the last four ACC tournaments. We’re stretching it a bit to put UNC in the chase for the national title, but you just never know with the Tar Heels.
The stacked Big 12 hits the court on Wednesday. Kansas is the top seed after winning the conference for the 14th straight year, but a late loss to Oklahoma State puts the onus on the Jayhawks to go out and earn a No. 1 seed in the Big Dance. They could play OSU in the second round of the Big 12 tourney. West Virginia plays intense defense but lacks a scorer.
The Big East, which features Villanova and Xavier, also tips off on Wednesday. Either of those could make the Elite Eight and Villanova could go further. The Pac-12, featuring Arizona, USC and UCLA, also gets going Wednesday. Utah could be the dark horse.
The conference conflagrations set the tone for Selection Sunday and the 68-team field (there’s a four-team play-in in Dayton, Ohio) that sets up the real madness. Then, in that first nutty week, it’s just wall-to-wall ball.
Sadly, many chicken wings and beers will give their lives on the altar of sports bars that we may enjoy this bounty on many large screens. Appreciate their sacrifice. And order your fries extra crispy.
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