There are currently 12 teams that are undefeated in conference play. This is not an easy task, regardless of the conference strength. Obviously, it’s much easier in the Big Sky than it is in the ACC, but it’s still a mountain that’s difficult to climb. I want to take a look at these teams and try to guess what lies ahead for the tournament.
First, in an effort to keep this at readable length, some of these teams are in conferences that will send 1 team to the show. This is also my yearly reminder that the regular season champion should get the automatic bid, not the conference tournament champ.
Vermont (America East), FGCU (Atlantic Sun), Montana (Big Sky), Penn (Ivy), ETSU, Southern), Louisiana (Sun Belt), and NMSU (WAC) all need to win their conference tournaments. The regular season will hold exactly zero sway when it comes time for the committee look at the at-large teams. This isn’t to say they don’t belong, it’s just the way it will be.
Cincinnati (AAC): UC still has 2 games against Wichita. The Shockers have not been impressive lately. If UC runs the table, they could potentially end up with a 1 seed. They’re sitting comfortably at a 2 right now.
Rhode Island (A-10): The Rams are a bit of a surprise team right now. They still have matchups with Davidson and Richmond, but on paper, they look to win out. This is where coaching comes up big for a team like URI. Keep these kids focused; not an easy task.
Virginia (ACC): No one goes undefeated in the ACC, right? UVA has a very good shot to do this. No games pose a big threat down the stretch, but it’s still the ACC. Louisville and Notre Dame could pull upsets.
Purdue (B1G): The Big Ten isn’t an easy conference at all. Purdue is on an extremely impressive run. Their next 2 games are OSU and MSU. If they make it past these 2, the proverbial table may very well be run. A 2-point win against Rutgers today proves that they were looking ahead to these games.
Saint Mary’s (WCC): Saint Mary’s and Gonzaga have both been the teams to beat in the WCC the last several years. They have one more game against each other this season. If Mary’s beats the Bulldogs again, I don’t see them not going undefeated.
So there you have it. 12 teams left, how many survive? Although it’s always an impressive feat, once the tournament starts, it’s all a wash. 68 teams are 0-0 and have to win 6 (possibly 7) games in a row against tough competition. It is, hands down, the best time of the year for sports fans. I got home from Vegas 13 hours ago, I’m so ready to go back for March Madness. Enjoy the games and get your #VegasVibe on.