Bracketology 101: 9th Lesson

The regular season is winding down and championship week is upon us. Welcome to March Madness.

We are already in Championship Week in the Mid-Majors, which means that teams who compiled great regular season records--Liberty (25-6), UC-Irvine (25-5), Belmont and Murray State (25-4), Wofford (26-4) will be in serious jeopardy of making the NCAA tournament if they lose this week.

Is that fair?

Of course, not, especially when you see teams such as Oklahoma and TCU both included in almost everyone's projected brackets despite having lost 10 games in Big 12 competition.

The team with the most to be would appear to be Wofford. The Terriers finished the Southern Conference season with an 18-0 record, have won 17 games in succession and have a NET (the primary measuring stick of stats by the NCAA selection committee) ranking of 14.

Normally, that would be an automatic lock for a team from conferences with more prestige. Teams, for example, such as Buffalo from the Mid-American Conference and Nevada from the Mountain West can afford to lose in their conference tournaments and still make the field.

Wofford?

Southern Conference?

Don't bet on it.

And here's the other issue. Wofford has not ducked competition. Their non-conference schedule includes, North Carolina, Kansas, South Carolina and....Oklahoma.

They lost to North Carolina by 11, lost​ to Kansas by 25, but beat South Carolina by 20.

And they lost to Oklahoma by 11, which is important, since it could come down to a decision to pick either Wofford or Oklahoma for an at-large slot.

Wofford's fate will be decided, starting on Friday.

Here's how some of the other conferences look in terms of contenders, pretenders and trends.

Atlantic Coast Conference

The ACC should have two No. 1 seeds--Duke and Virginia, with North Carolina an outside contender. It could have 9 teams, if Clemson can make a final push.

Atlantic Sun

Liberty or Lipscomb. You make the call. It won't be both. Or it could be neither. The two teams split during the regular season--winning at each other's court.

Big 12

Battle at top between Kansas, Kansas State and Texas Tech. Battle at bottom (of tournament contenders) between Texas, TCU and Oklahoma. All of them could make it.

Big East

Wide open tournament. Villanova getting second wind, Marquette stumbling a bit. Both are in. St. John's should be as well. Fourth slot is the key. Watch out for Xavier, which has won 5 straight.

Big Ten

Top 3 of Purdue, Michigan, Michigan State solid. As are Iowa, Maryland and Wisconsin. Ohio State and Minnesota are in bubble land.

Big West

Best team in college basketball in the state of California this season may be UC-Irvine.

CAA

Hofstra won the regular season title, but Billy Coen did a great job in bringing in Northeastern to a second place finish. Tournament is at Charleston, which poses a problem for both Hofstra and Northeastern.

Ivy

Harvard may win its second consecutive Ivy regular season title and not make it to the NCAA tournament. Ivy tournament is at Yale (it was at Penn last season). Harvard coach Tommy Amaker has done one of his best coaching jobs in guiding the Crimson to the top.

MAAC

Play in game-candidate at No. 16 seed. Conference leader Iona is 14-15 right now.

Mountain West

Utah State clinched an at-large slot with its win over Nevada last week. Nevada is locked in regardless.

OVC

Murray State and Belmont in battle that should be decided in the next 10 days. Belmont won only meeting between the two teams (by 13 at Murray State), but Belmont also lost twice to Jacksonville State. Upset alert.

Pac-12

Two bid league. Arizona State and Washington are pulling away from the pac (sic). If someone else wins Pac-12 tournament, ASU could get squeezed out.

SEC

Two tiers. LSU, Tennessee and Kentucky are a cut above everyone else. League could get 8 teams, maybe 9 if South Carolina makes a run in Nashville.

West Coast Conference

Is this finally Gonzaga's year. The Zags should be the No 1 seed in the tournament if they win the WCC. They beat Duke by two, lost to Tennessee by three and North Carolina by 13. Bad news is that they might find one of them in their region in the West.

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