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Conference Tournament Previews: ACC, Big 12, Pac-12, and Mountain West

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Most of the major conference tournaments tip off on Wednesday. Conference expansion and the move to more Saturday championship games has brought tournament ball into mid-week. For the major conferences, it begins when the ACC starts its new double bye format at 1 p.m. tomorrow, followed soon after by the Pac-12. By night time, 19 games will have been played in the nine major conferences that will have multiple top 8 seeds in the NCAA Tournament. Only the Big Ten remains as a holdout, starting on Thursday.

Here is a preview and primer of the matchups and what is at stake in four of those conferences: Atlantic Coast, Big 12, Pac-12, and Mountain West. The Big East, American, SEC, Big Ten, and Atlantic 10 will come tomorrow.

ATLANTIC COAST CONFERENCE

When: March 12 – 16
Where: Greensboro, North Carolina
Format: Double bye, with the top 4 seeds waiting until Friday to tip
Seeds/Matchups: #1 Virginia, #2 Duke, #3 Syracuse, and #4 North Carolina, two byes; #5 Pittsburgh vs. winner of #12 Wake Forest/#13 Notre Dame; #6 Clemson vs. winner of #11 Georgia Tech/#14 Boston College; #7 NC State vs. winner of #10 Miami/#15 Virginia Tech; #8 Florida State vs. #9 Maryland.

Tournament Outlook, for all teams that could earn at-large bids

Jabari Parker slam against Maryland-b

Virginia: #1 seed still in play, with an ACC Tournament title. Likely playing for a #2 seed, but could fall to a #3 if they do not reach the championship game.

Duke: Probably ended #1 seed hopes with loss to Wake Forest, playing for a 2 seed in Greensboro.

Syracuse: could bounce back to a #2 seed with a tournament run, or fall to a #4 with an opening game loss.

North Carolina: Could get #3 consideration with a title, otherwise likely locked into the 4/5 range.

Pittsburgh: Are they right on the bubble? They should be safely in, because while they haven’t beaten the top 4 seeds (0-6, average loss by 5 points), they have won a high percentage against everyone else, and have a great record versus the bubble and NIT type teams they should be compared against (7-2, +11.8 points per game). However, the committee could use that 0-6 against them. An early loss and they are in trouble. Another loss to North Carolina will have them nervous, and probably in Dayton if they make it. A win over North Carolina and beyond, and they are certainly in.

Florida State: Like Pitt, they have not broken through against the top teams. Unlike Pitt, they are on the outside now. A win over Virginia is a must, and I think a North Carolina/Pitt win is as well. Accomplish that, and I think they jump into the tournament.

Nick Johnson against OregonPAC-12 CONFERENCE

When: March 12 – 15
Where: Las Vegas, Nevada
Format: Top 4 seeds get a bye
Seeds/Matchups: #1 Arizona, #2 UCLA, #3 Arizona State, #4 California; #5 Colorado vs. #12 USC; #6 Stanford vs. #11 Washington State;  #7 Oregon/#10 Oregon State; #8 Utah/#9 Washington.

Tournament Outlook, for all teams that could earn at-large bids

Arizona: should be locked into a #1 seed.

UCLA: plenty of movement possible, anywhere between a #5 and #7 seed.

Arizona State: Likely targeted for a #7/#10 or #8/#9 matchup, but a Pac-12 title could change that.

Oregon: They have played themselves in after a rough stretch. Now playing to improve the seed, and get above an 8 with another deep run like last year.

Stanford: In, but a loss to Washington State would put them right on the cut-line.

Colorado: Like Stanford, likely in, but a bad loss to USC would not be good. The committee might then take a closer look at how they have played since losing Spencer Dinwiddie. (7-7, outscored by 26 points in conference play).

California: They have been playing themselves out in recent weeks, but the win over Arizona has them still in the conversation. They are close enough that a loss to Colorado would almost certainly knock them out. A win over Colorado and a good performance in a loss against Arizona would have them right on the line.

Image (1) Steve-Alford-UCLA-594x395.jpg for post 262379

MOUNTAIN WEST CONFERENCE

When: March 12 – 15
Where: Las Vegas, Nevada
Format: Top 5 seeds get a bye
Seeds/Matchups: #1 San Diego State, #2 New Mexico, #3 Nevada, #4 UNLV vs. #5 Wyoming; #6 Boise State vs. #11 San Jose State; #7 Fresno State vs. #10 Air Force; #8 Utah State vs. #9 Colorado State.

Tournament Outlook, for all teams that could earn at-large bids

San Diego State: Can get a #3 seed, but likely need a tourney win to hold on to it.

New Mexico: There’s a giant mass of teams that are in the 5 to 7 seed range. New Mexico is one of them. Tourney results could determine that order.

All other teams are hoping that what happens in Vegas moves on to the tournament, because none will get an at-large. 

Andrew Wiggins half-court shot at Baylor-b

BIG 12 TOURNAMENT 

When: March 12 – 15
Where: Kansas City, Missouri
Format: Top 6 seeds get a bye
Seeds/Matchups: #1 Kansas, #2 Oklahoma, #3 Texas vs. #6 West Virginia, #4 Iowa State vs. #5 Kansas State;  #7 Baylor vs. #10 TCU; #8 Oklahoma State vs. #9 Texas Tech.

Tournament Outlook, for all teams that could earn at-large bids

Kansas: What to make of the Embiid situation? Kansas should solidly be a 2 seed, unless Kansas lays an egg and the committee decides to seed them down.

Iowa State: More realistically, a #4 seed, though could get to a #3 seed by winning the tournament.

Oklahoma: The Sooners could rise to a #4 seed with a tourney title, otherwise targeted for a #5 or #6 seed. 

Rick Barnes Justin Bieber

Texas: Texas is in that large group of teams ranging between a 5 and 7 seed. A loss to West Virginia could drop them to  a dreaded 8/9 game, where they might have to play one of Justin Bieber’s other favorite teams in the third round.

Oklahoma State: They’ve played much better since Marcus Smart returned. I would say they are in the 9 seed range. A win over Kansas and Iowa State or Kansas State, though, and they could shoot up.

Baylor: Similar to OSU, they could change their seeding with a deep run. Right now in the 9 or 10 range.

Kansas State: Also in the 9 or 10, and also able to make a jump in seeding with wins in Kansas City.

West Virginia: Likely needs to win the tournament to make the NCAA tournament. Could at least be in the conversation at 5 p.m. on Sunday if they reach the final, with consecutive wins over Kansas, Texas, and Oklahoma.

 

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