NCAA March Madness Predictions: Our Conference Tournament Projections
I can almost taste it. The next Sunday is Selection Sunday. Don’t panic. Greg Gumbel will be our guide soon.
It is hard to believe that we will have plenty of basketball from now until the bracket is revealed, but that’s the beauty of March. The second weekend of conference tournament play is here. Who will advance? Who will fall and barely miss the NCAA Tournament? Will the bubble burst?
There are still 17 conference tournaments that begin this week, highlighted by the six major conferences in Division I. Will Purdue cap off a brilliant season and win the Big Ten? Could Kansas earn the top overall seed in the NCAA Tournament? Will we see madness in Madison Square Garden for the Big East tournament?
We’ve simulated each tournament thousands of times using TRACR (our Team Rating Adjusted for Conference and Roster) to generate our bracket predictions. TRACR, which we also have for college football, is a net efficiency metric that calculates a team’s points per possession on both sides of the ball, adjusted by the team it plays. The model rewards teams that do well against good teams and punishes those that do poorly against weaker squads.
In case you missed it, check out the projections at the bottom of this page from the tournaments that begin last week.
Click below to skip to the conference:
American Athletic Conference / Atlantic Coast Conference / Atlantic 10 / Big 12 / Big East / Big Ten / Big West / Conference USA / Ivy League / MAAC / MAC / MEAC / Mountain West / Pac-12 / Southeastern Conference / SWAC / WAC
American Athletic Conference (March 9-12 at Fort Worth, Texas)
Houston (No. 1) has the best chance of winning its conference tournament than any other team in Division I, which makes sense. The Cougars are TRACR’s top team, ranked No. 1 in the AP Poll, and only one other team ranks inside TRACR’s top 50 in the conference – Memphis (27th).
Perhaps Memphis can pull off the upset after nearly doing it at home on Sunday before Jamal Shread’s buzzer-beater won it for the Cougars. A win there would have secured the Tigers’ spot in March. I think they are in win or lose, but it would be good for them to pick up a win against the winner of UCF (51st) and SMU (142nd). The Knights could put their chances in jeopardy, as Johnny Dawkins’ squad has played better lately.
This is likely a two-bid league unless someone other than Houston or Memphis wins it. TRACR finds that unlikely. Once again, this is a top-heavy conference that is dominated by Kelvin Sampson’s Cougars.
Atlantic Coast Conference (March 7-11 at Greensboro, North Carolina)
Miami (47th) won the ACC, but TRACR projects fourth-seeded Duke (18th) to come out on top. The Blue Devils have won six in a row, but they did lose to the top three seeds at one point this season. The Hurricanes have had a fantastic stretch as well. Virginia (43rd) has recovered slightly with two home wins after two bad losses on the road.
I am quite curious to see how Clemson (34th) fares. The Tigers have the second-highest chance of winning the tournament, per TRACR, and have a somewhat easy route to the semifinals. They just lost to the Cavaliers on the road, but this came before winning by 25 at NC State. If the Wolfpack (48th) can survive against the winner of Virginia Tech (69th) and Notre Dame (140th), we’ll get a great quarterfinal between NC State and Clemson. The winner of that one might go on to dance, and the loser the NIT. Our model currently has NC State in and Clemson as a first four out.
Jeff Capel has done a tremendous job this season at Pittsburgh (67th), but he’ll have his toughest challenge to date in the ACC tournament. The Panthers seemed to have an NCAA Tournament bid secured before losing to Notre Dame and Miami. The Panthers still should be in at 14-6 in the conference, but an early loss in the second round might put them on the bubble. They can still lose to Duke in the quarterfinals and dance.
This will be the final ACC tournament for Mike Brey, who is leaving after 23 seasons with Notre Dame. It will be interesting to see who the Irish might land in the offseason. Oklahoma’s Porter Moser may be the top pick. Having Notre Dame back in tournament contention will help revive the ACC after a few dormant seasons.
Atlantic 10 (March 7-12 at Brooklyn, New York)
There will be 14 games in this tournament, but unfortunately, it appears that only one team will make the NCAA Tournament. This was quite a disappointing season for the Atlantic 10, with no teams impressing in nonconference play.
Dayton (57th), TRACR’s projected champion, lost all three of its games in the Maui Invitational in November and later lost to Virginia Tech by 28. VCU has won six in a row but was not that impressive in nonconference play. Saint Louis (83rd) had the experience that made it a favorite to win the conference, but the Billikens have been inconsistent. The conference added Loyola Chicago (228th) this season, but the Ramblers finished last.
Perhaps the A10 gets two teams in if VCU loses, but that may not be the case.
Big 12 (March 8-11 at Kansas City, Missouri)
Kansas (No. 8) is likely a top seed in the NCAA Tournament and can be the No. 1 overall seed with a conference tournament title. The Jayhawks won the title last season and went on to a national title. It could happen again.
Their biggest blocker is Texas (No. 7), which has the highest chance of winning the tournament, per TRACR. The Longhorns are coming off a 16-point win over the Jayhawks at home on Sunday after losing two straight on the road. Perhaps Texas will struggle away from home, but we shall see.
I am quite curious to watch a rematch between Baylor (24th) and Iowa State (25th) in the quarterfinals. The Cyclones went into Waco and beat the Bears by 15 on Saturday. Baylor is currently projected as a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament, but another big loss to Iowa State could drop it to a 3 or even a 4. Iowa State, which has alternated between a 5 and 6 seed, could jump to a 4 with a win.
This has been the best conference in Division I and could get seven of the 10 teams into the NCAA Tournament. Could a Big 12 team win the national title for the third year in a row? There are multiple teams in this conference with championship potential.
Big East (March 8-11 at New York, New York)
Yes, I miss the old Big East, but this tournament will be just as exciting as cardiac Kemba or the 70-minute mash.
Perhaps this one is as exciting thanks to the revival of UConn basketball. The Huskies (No. 2) have had struggles but also signs of brilliance. They’ve won eight of their last nine, with the only loss coming by three points on the road against Creighton (10th). This is the same UConn team that dominated nonconference play, winning every game by double digits. When the Huskies began the season 14-0, only one win was not decided by double digits – an eight-point win over Villanova (52nd).
The Huskies will play Providence (56th) in the Big East tournament for the first time since 1998. They beat the Friars by 18 on Feb. 22.
This has been a top-heavy conference this season, so UConn will have company. Creighton (10th) could be dangerous, while Xavier (14th) beat UConn twice this season. And we have not even mentioned Marquette (16th), which won its first outright regular-season Big East title in school history and second overall.
These four teams all are in TRACR’s top 20, but UConn stands out from an overall perspective. I also would not rule out Seton Hall (45th) and Villanova (52nd) as darkhorse teams. The Pirates finished the season with a 24-point win against Providence on the road. The Wildcats have beaten both Xavier and Creighton.
Also, is the Patrick Ewing era over yet? Georgetown (181st) finished dead last once again and has lost its last two games by a combined 60 points. The Hoyas are 13-49 over their last two seasons and are not selling tickets.
Big Ten (March 8-12 at Chicago, Illinois)
Purdue (11th) might be able to coast to a Big Ten title, but Maryland (12th), Michigan State (15th) and Indiana (29th) might have something to say about that. The Hoosiers swept the regular-season series with the Boilermakers, but have somewhat struggled lately. The Terrapins have lost two straight to teams that they should have beaten. Michigan State’s defense has slipped a bit, but here’s one thing to know: The Spartans are shooting 57.6% (49 for 85) from beyond the arc over their last four games. Perhaps they can shoot their way past Purdue.
How many teams from the Big Ten will make it to the NCAA Tournament? Wisconsin (49th) has been on the bubble for about a month and will need to beat Ohio State (59th) and maybe even Iowa (28th) to get in. Penn State (54th) is starting to heat up and just beat Maryland at the buzzer, but it will likely have to beat Illinois (32nd) to dance.
Michigan (33rd) versus Rutgers (40th) might be the most important game in any major conference tournament. Both desperately need a win. The Wolverines have played better after beating the Scarlet Knights on the road right before playing in three consecutive overtime games. Unfortunately, they went only 1-2 in those OT games. They also had awful nonconference losses to Arizona State (80th) and Central Michigan (345th).
Rutgers, on the other hand, has been in a freefall. The Scarlet Knights have lost six of their last eight, including losses to Nebraska (84th) and Minnesota (151st) at the buzzer. This team has gone from a potential 6 or 7 seed in the NCAA Tournament to possibly being out. A win against Michigan will secure its chances, while a loss will put them on the bubble.
Northwestern (36th) won a school-record 12 Big Ten games and is the No. 2 seed in the tournament after it was projected to finish 12th in the conference. The Wildcats have had an incredible season that will result in their second NCAA Tournament appearance in school history. Chris Collins should easily be the Big Ten Coach of the Year and be considered for the award on the national level.
Big West (March 7-11 at Henderson, Nevada)
UC Irvine (119th) won the league with UC Santa Barbara (121st), but the Anteaters won both regular-season matchups to get the first seed. There is a chance, however, that they’ll get knocked off by the winner of Cal State Fullerton (135th) and Hawai’i (141st).
UC Irvine could land a 13 seed in the NCAA Tournament depending on how this tourney goes, but it will likely go as a 14 seed. Any other team that wins it will be a 14 or 15 seed.
Conference USA (March 8-11 at Frisco, Texas)
Florida Atlantic (26th), which went 28-3 in the regular season and won its last four by an average of 24.8 points, could land an 8 or 9 seed in the NCAA Tournament by winning the CUSA tournament. Its three losses were relatively close as well.
But what if the Owls do not with the tournament? Will they get in as an at-large seed? My guess is yes. They were on the cusp of being ranked in the AP Poll and are 26th in TRACR. They do have tough competition, especially against North Texas (42nd) and UAB (55th). The Blazers were one of those three teams to beat Florida Atlantic in the regular season.
Conference USA has had success in the NCAA Tournament. UAB was a dark horse last season before having to play Houston in the first round. In the 2021 NCAA Tournament, North Texas upset Purdue as a 13 seed. The Mean Green upset Western Kentucky in the tournament championship last season.
Ivy League (March 11-12 at Princeton, New Jersey)
This is such an interesting conference tournament because it’s by far the smallest and it’s hosted by Princeton. While Yale (75th) is still a favorite, Princeton (122nd) may sneak by on its home court. Penn (120th) could pose a challenge as well.
Yale has won nine of its last 10 games, including two victories over Princeton. A title would likely give the Bulldogs a 12 or 13 seed in the dance.
MAAC (March 7-11 at Atlantic City, New Jersey)
Once again, Iona (61st) dominated the league during the regular season and has a high chance of advancing to the NCAA Tournament. However, don’t forget that the Gaels were knocked out in the quarterfinals last year, thus paving the way for Saint Peter’s to win the conference tournament. We all know what happened after that.
Unfortunately, Saint Peter’s (307th) is not expected to make another miracle run.
Can Rick Pitino make it to the NCAA Tournament yet again? Will Iona upset a team and ignite the madness? Iona is sandwiched between Missouri and VCU in TRACR, for perspective. This is a good, efficient team that no team will want to play in the first round.
MAC (March 9-11 at Cleveland, Ohio)
*(…to the tune of the 1960’s Batman theme* MAC-tion! MAC-tion! Dadadadadadadada… MAC-tion!“)
Holy James Naismith, it’s time for the MAC tournament! Toledo (78th) is the top seed and has slightly less than a 50% chance to win the title. The seeding in this tournament almost matches TRACR’s projections, with Toledo having the best odds, second-seeded Kent State (92nd) right behind them, and Akron (100th) having the third-best chance.
Toledo has won 15 straight games, tied with Oral Roberts for the longest active winning streak in the nation. Will that streak break? Find out later this week – same MAC time, same MAC channel.
MEAC (March 8-11 at Norfolk, Virginia)
The MEAC might have some drama, as TRACR projects second-seeded North Carolina Central (204th) to win the conference. The Eagles might be challenged by Howard (253rd), which won the regular season title, and Norfolk State (248th), which hosts the tournament.
The winner of this tourney will likely be in one of the First Four games as a 16 seed.
Mountain West (March 8-11 at Las Vegas, Nevada)
Like the Big Ten tourney, the Mountain West tournament will be one to watch because it will be interesting to see how many teams will make the NCAA Tournament. San Diego State (23rd) is a lock. Boise State (53rd) is likely to join them. What about Nevada (77th)? How about Utah State (30th)? The Aggies rank high in TRACR but the Wolf Pack have bigger wins.
Nevada will have to win its quarterfinal meeting against San Jose State (105th) to be considered and might need to win one more to dance. Utah State has won five straight – four by double digits – and may have to take Nevada’s spot to get in.
The Mountain West is a combined 0-8 since the 2019 NCAA Tournament, so the committee might not put four teams in. Utah State seems to have the edge over Nevada, but we shall see.
Pac-12 (March 8-11 at Las Vegas, Nevada)
The Pac-12 is extremely top-heavy and may finish with only three teams in the NCAA Tournament. Make no mistake, however, UCLA (No. 4) and Arizona (13th) both have Final Four potential. It is likely that one of them wins the Pac-12 Tournament, though USC (39th) could surprise some.
Arizona State (80th) has been on the bubble and might make it thanks to its road win over the Wildcats, but losses on the road to UCLA and USC hurt its chances. The Trojans have had some tough losses, though should be in barring a collapse in the conference tournament.
Oregon (41st) has won three straight after losing three in a row. Could the Ducks make a run to the tournament? Dana Altman has had historical success in the NCAA Tournament and the committee could add them in one of the First Four games.
Southeastern Conference (March 8-12 at Nashville, Tennessee)
Tennessee (No. 3) is TRACR’s top team in the SEC, but the Volunteers have lost Zakai Zeigler for the rest of the season. They also went just 11-7 in conference play and thus missed a chance at one of the top four seeds in the conference tournament. They’ve struggled and could fall to a 4 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Who knows what Alabama (No. 5) may do in either tournament?
How about Texas A&M placing second in the conference, though? The Aggies are 8-1 since the start of February with wins over Tennessee, Alabama and Missouri (60th). Can they continue their hot streak? Credit Buzz Williams for leading them to 15-3 in conference play and helping his squad go from a possible NIT team to a lock in the NCAA Tournament.
I have criticized Kentucky’s offense and defense at some point this season, but John Calipari appears to have things under control. Ranked 17th in TRACR, the Wildcats have won five of their last six, including a 32-point win over Auburn (31st). Their only loss in this stretch was by two points to Vanderbilt (72nd), another team that has played better basketball of late. Though they are seeded third in the SEC Tournament, the Wildcats could easily win the title and do damage in the NCAA Tournament.
Mizzou fans may question why its beloved team is so low in TRACR. The Tigers have won four in a row, but they’ve been blown out by better teams. They’ve lost by 28 to Kansas, 18 to Texas A&M, 21 to Alabama and 33 to Auburn. Though they have great wins against Tennessee and Iowa State, it has not been enough to compete in SEC play. A potential meeting with the Vols in the quarterfinals doesn’t bode well either.
SWAC (March 8-11 at Birmingham, Alabama)
The SWAC is the worst conference in the country with an average rating of minus-18.3. For comparison, the Big 12 is the best conference with an average rating of 22.7. Big difference in talent here.
Alcorn State (290th) is the top seed in the conference, though TRACR tabs second-seeded Grambling State (211th) as the favorite. The Tigers are 9-0 since the start of February and have won each of their last four games by double digits.
The winner of this tournament will be a 16 seed in the First Four.
WAC (March 7-11 at Las Vegas, Nevada)
Sam Houston (88th) and Utah Valley (97th) are teams to watch folks. Sam Houston has outscored opponents by 14.9 points per game – the second most in Division I behind only Houston (19.5). The Bearkats opened their season with a win on the road against Oklahoma (38th) and later went on to win at Utah (74th). Utah Valley just beat Stephen F. Austin (188th) by 44 points and has wins over Oregon (41st) and BYU (66th).
If either wins the conference tournament, expect them as a possible Cinderella during March Madness. Southern Utah (136th), though, could spoil both of their chances.
Click below to skip to the conference:
America East / Atlantic Sun / Big Sky / Big South / Colonial Athletic / Horizon / Missouri Valley / Northeast / Ohio Valley / Patriot League / Southern / Southland / Summit League / Sun Belt / West Coast
America East Conference (March 4-11 at Higher Seed)
This conference has yet to determine the final seeding for all teams, but we know that Vermont (130th in TRACR) won the regular season and will be the one seed while UMass Lowell (116th) will be No. 2. This will also be an interesting tournament since the pairings are reseeded after the first round and the higher-seed team plays at its home court every time.
Vermont will have home-court advantage the entire tournament, but UMass Lowell has been a slightly better team overall. The Catamounts have won 11 straight, but the River Hawks went 7-1 in February while outscoring opponents by an average of 15.6 points (the one loss was to Vermont). They split their regular season meetings, with the home team winning each time.
UMass Lowell or Vermont would likely get a 14 or 15 seed if it was to win the conference tournament. Any other team would likely be a 16 seed.
Atlantic Sun Conference (Feb. 27-March 5 at Higher Seed)
This tournament began on Monday with Queens (262nd) beating Florida Gulf Coast (211th) 61-55 and Bellarmine knocking out North Florida 76-74. The Royals will face Kennesaw State (159th) in the quarterfinals, while the Knights take on Liberty (85th). This was a big Monday for monarchies and feudalism.
Kennesaw State (159th) and Liberty (85th) finished at the top of the conference during the regular season, though the Owls won the only matchup by seven points at home. That gave them the top seed in the tournament. Liberty, however, is a much better team. These games will be played at the sites of the higher seed, so home-court advantage can be huge for the Owls.
Kennesaw State has never made the NCAA Tournament, while Liberty has made two of the last three tourneys. The winner will likely get a 12 or a 13 seed in the tournament. Both teams have a bye, making it tougher for any other team to win this one.
Big Sky Conference (March 4-8 at Boise, Idaho)
This tournament will be played at Idaho, but the Vandals (335th) have not been good this season.
Montana State (153rd) and Eastern Washington (154th) are right next to each other in TRACR, but the Bobcats have a slightly better chance to dance after beating the Eagles at home on Monday. Eastern Washington won its first 16 conference games before recently losing to Idaho State (253rd) and Montana State.
The winner will likely receive a 14 or a 15 seed in the bracket.
Big South Conference (March 1-5 at Charlotte, North Carolina)
No love for the Blue Hose (347th), but UNC Asheville (147th) and Longwood (151st) are the two best basketball teams here per TRACR. Both are the most efficient teams and will play weaker squads in the quarterfinals of this tournament.
Radford’s (197th) matchup with Winthrop (215th) could be a fun one, though. The winner of that showdown could be a threat in the conference tournament.
The winner of this league might be a 15 seed, but it could also end up being one of the 16 seeds not headed to Dayton for the First Four.
Colonial Athletic Association (March 3-7 at Washington, D.C.)
The CAA has one of the larger tournaments with 13 teams competing. The top four teams get byes. Hofstra (93rd) and Charleston (49th) both finished 16-2 in conference play, but the Pride get the No. 1 seed after beating the Cougars on the road in January.
Still, this is a Charleston team that was ranked in the AP Poll in January. After losing two straight, the Cougars have won seven in a row while outscoring opponents by an average of 24.0 points. One could make the argument that if Charleston does not win its conference tournament it could still get an at-large bid. That seems unlikely, but it will depend on how it performs.
If the Cougars win, they could get a 12 seed, maybe even an 11 seed. If Hofstra wins, it will likely be a 13 seed. Any other team that wins the tournament would likely be a 15 or 16 seed. TRACR projects that there’s a 94.5% probability that either the Cougars or Pride will win this one. So it will be disappointing if one of them does not make it – both have had great seasons.
Horizon League (Feb. 28-March 7 at Indianapolis, Indiana)
This is quite a polarizing league, with some quality teams like Youngstown State (126th) and some teams that have been at the very bottom in Division I play like Green Bay (361st) and IUPUI (359th).
The Penguins clearly have the advantage, but one team that could be worth watching is Milwaukee. The No. 2 seed has played many teams close, going 12-4 in games decided by single digits. The Penguins are a much better team when healthy, however, as shown by their 29-point win against Milwaukee on Feb. 16.
The winner of the tournament will get a 15 or 16 seed.
Missouri Valley Conference (March 2-5 at St. Louis, Missouri)
Arch Madness will not be the same without Loyola Chicago, which moved to the Atlantic 10 after trips to the NCAA Tournament in 2018, 2021 and 2022.
Bradley (63rd) earned the top seed and has the highest TRACR ranking in the conference, but the Braves have some tough competition on the road to the final – especially a possible meeting against Belmont (111th) or Indiana State (95th). They lost both of their meetings with Belmont by less than four points.
Drake (66th) has an easier road to the final, giving the Bulldogs a slightly better chance of winning the tournament. Drake or Bradley could be one of those 12 seeds to watch out for in the NCAA Tournament.
Northeast Conference (March 1-7 at Higher Seed)
Remember how I said that the winner of a conference tournament gets an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament? Well, it’s true… but it’s complicated.
Merrimack (285th) has the highest chance of winning the Northeast Conference tourney, but it’s ineligible to play in the NCAA Tournament as it has not been in Division I play for long enough (it joined in 2019-20). Thus, if the Warriors do win the conference tournament, the runner-up would go to the NCAA tourney. This gives Fairleigh Dickinson (291st) a much better chance to punch a ticket to the dance. Truly a tough scene for fans of the American Civil War.
With an average TRACR of minus-17.9, this is the second-worst conference in Division I behind the SWAC (-18.5) as only two teams are currently above .500. Whoever wins (or at least makes it to the final against Merrimack) will be one of the First Four teams as a 16 seed.
Ohio Valley Conference (March 1-4 at Evansville, Indiana)
In 2011, my friend and I were watching Morehead State (207th) versus Louisville in the NCAA Tournament in the middle of high school French class. Thank goodness we were able to go to the computer lab that day. My French teacher caught us and said “Eugene (my French name)! Benoît! Qu’est-ce que tu fais?” But then he looked at the score and said, “Oh God, I have Louisville in my Final Four” and proceeded to watch the rest of the game with us.
March Madness brings out the best in us.
Though it might not be as good as it was in the Kenneth Faried days, Morehead State is back as one of the favorites to win the Ohio Valley. This is one of those awful triple-bye structured brackets, so it is quite likely that either the Eagles or Tennessee Tech (275th) dance. SIU Edwardsville (243rd) is ranked second in the conference in TRACR but has the sixth seed in the tournament and thus will need to win four games in order to advance. Dumb.
The winner is likely a 16 seed, maybe a 15 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Patriot League (Feb. 28-March 8 at Higher Seed)
Colgate (105th) is the favorite once again after playing in each of the last three NCAA Tournaments. Unfortunately, the Raiders are 0-5 all time in the tourney. However, they’re 17-1 since Dec. 30 this season, with the one loss coming by one point.
If it’s not Colgate, it might be Navy (143rd), which has had a tremendous second half of the season. The Midshipmen have gone 10-2 since an 8-10 start, holding opponents to 57.5 points per game. Daniel Deaver has been the catalyst, averaging 19.1 points over eight games in February.
Colgate and Navy met over the weekend, with the Raiders winning by four. The tournament winner is likely a 14 seed.
Southern Conference (March 3-6 at Asheville, North Carolina)
No love for the military schools this time around. But after one of the most heartbreaking endings to a season last year, Furman (88th) looks to dance for the first time since 1980.
The Paladins and Samford (121st) are the top two seeds, but UNC Greensboro (112th) is quite the threat. The Spartans have shot 41.9% from 3-point range over the last six games. The defense is solid too, ranking 57th in defensive TRACR. The winner of this tournament could get a 14 seed or be bumped to a 15 seed.
Southland Conference (March 5-8 at Lake Charles, Louisiana)
The seeding for this tournament is still being decided, though we know that Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (177th) is the top seed. Northwestern State (208th) is likely the second seed barring a surprising loss to UIW (343rd). This is one of those silly triple-bye tournaments, so that second seed is huge.
The winner is likely a 16 seed in the NCAA Tournament, maybe a 15.
Summit League (March 3-7 at Sioux Falls, South Dakota)
Oral Roberts (86th) made an incredible run to the Sweet 16 in 2021, but this might be the best NCAA basketball team in school history – or at least second behind the 1974 team that made it to the Elite Eight.
Max Abmas is back for his senior season. Connor Vanover, a transfer from Arkansas, is a 7-foot-5 defensive force who averages 3.1 blocks! Oral Roberts is a fun team to watch, and it would be a shame if it fails to win the tournament. The Golden Eagles went undefeated in conference play, while their four losses overall were all against good opponents. This is theirs to lose.
The committee could reward Oral Roberts with an 11 seed, but it might fall to a 12 or 13 seed. If the Golden Eagles do not win, the team that makes it will be a 14 or 15 seed.
Sun Belt Conference (Feb. 28-March 6 at Pensacola, Florida)
This is a crazy large conference tournament. The lower-seeded teams could potentially have to play five games to win it. Either way, it could be four games in the span of five days for teams without a bye.
Marshall (83rd) is the third seed but it has the highest probability of winning the tournament, per TRACR. The top four teams get a bye, and the Thundering Herd have an easier route than top-seeded Southern Miss (117th), which might play South Alabama (90th) in the quarterfinals or even James Madison (99th) in the semis.
Speaking of which, South Alabama could be a sleeper pick. The Jaguars finished 9-9 in conference play due to a rough start, but they’re 8-2 since Jan. 28 and beat Southern Miss by 31 on Feb. 16. However, they will need to win four tourney games in order to dance.
Seeding for this conference will depend heavily on who comes out on top, but the winner will likely be a 13 or 14 seed in March.
West Coast Conference (March 2-7 in Las Vegas, Nevada)
This is such an interesting conference to have the triple-bye format.
Gonzaga (No. 7) and Saint Mary’s (11th) are clearly the best teams in the conference as well as two of the best in the nation. The format is set up, so they’ll likely meet in the championship. That being said, don’t you want your conference to have more teams in the conference tournament? If it was a normal format, maybe a one-bye round for the top two, it would give teams like Santa Clara (75th) and BYU (68th) a much better shot at dancing.
It might come down to a quantity versus quality debate. Perhaps the West Coast doesn’t want its best teams exhausted by a conference tourney ahead of the NCAA Tournament.
Gonzaga might bump to a two seed as it goes after another men’s Final Four appearance, but it will likely end up a third or fourth seed. Saint Mary’s might be a No. 4 seed, though it will probably be seeded fifth or maybe even sixth.
Bubble teams according to bracketology will pray for one of these two to win the WCC.