Tonight, the 8 vs. 9 game of a temporarily expanded NEC Tournament—the first of 302 single-elimination contests scheduled between Monday, February 28th and the start of the 2022 NCAA Tournament Selection Show on Sunday, March 13th—tips off what I hope will be the first “normal” Championship Fortnight since March 2019.
Of these 302 games, the overwhelming majority of them—191—will truly be “win or go home” affairs—part of one of the tournaments that will determine the representative for one of the 22 likely one-bid conferences. So, before I jump into the details of what’s changed in the world of conference tournaments since 2021, for those of you who are only interested in seeing teams clinch bids, I give you ...
AKA a chronological listing of all 32 Division I conference title games with tip time and TV info. All times are Eastern!
Saturday, March 5 (1 Bid)
- OVC: 8:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
Sunday, March 6 (2 Bids)
- Big South: 12 p.m. (ESPN2)
- MVC: 2 p.m. (CBS)
Monday, March 7 (2 Bids)
- SoCon: 7 p.m. (ESPN)
- Sun Belt: 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
Tuesday, March 8 (6 Bids)
- ASUN: 5 p.m. (ESPN2)
- CAA: 7 p.m. (CBSSN)
- Horizon League: 7 p.m. (ESPN)
- NEC: 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
- Summit League: 9 p.m. (ESPN2)
- WCC: 9 p.m. (ESPN)
Wednesday, March 9 (1 Bid)
- Patriot League: 7:30 p.m. (CBSSN)
Thursday, March 10 and Friday, March 10 (0 Bids)
Saturday, March 12 (15 Bids)
- America East: 11 a.m. (ESPN2)
- MEAC: 1 p.m. (ESPN2)
- MAAC: 4 p.m. (ESPNU)
- Big 12: 6 p.m. (ESPN)
- Mountain West: 6 p.m. (CBS)
- SWAC: 6 p.m. (ESPNU)
- Big East: 6:30 p.m. (Fox)
- MAC: 7:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
- Big Sky: 8 p.m. (ESPNU)
- ACC: 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)
- Conference USA: 8:30 p.m. (CBSSN)
- Pac-12: 9 p.m. (Fox)
- Southland: 9:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
- WAC: 10 p.m. (ESPNU)
- Big West: 11:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
Selection Sunday, March 13 (5 Bids)
- Ivy League: 12 p.m. (ESPN2)
- Atlantic 10: 1 p.m. (CBS)
- SEC: 1 p.m. (ESPN)
- American Athletic: 3:15 p.m. (ESPN)
- Big Ten: 3:30 p.m. (CBS)
Who’s Still Playing (And Eligible)?
Even though the Division I ranks have swelled to 358 teams for 2021-22 (and more are on the way!), with just 302 conference tournament games scheduled, several teams have to sit this year’s postseason out. And there are still others who will participate without being eligible for the NCAA or NIT.
- The America East (field of 8 out of 10 teams), Big 12 (9 of 10), Colonial Athletic (9 of 10) have each excluded one member due to some flavor of sanctions. While Oklahoma State will not play in Kansas City due to an NCAA postseason ban, both Stony Brook (America East) and James Madison (CAA) are de facto eliminated from the NCAA Tournament because they’ve been barred for competing for conference postseason honors due to pending realignment moves. The Horizon League was set to do the same to Missouri Valley-bound UIC, but reversed its decision. However, the eighth-seeded Flames must travel to ninth-seeded Milwaukee for their first-round game, as they gave up their rights to host conference championship events for the remainder of UIC’s Horizon League tenure.
- The America East Playoffs only feature eight teams because the conference is one of a handful that limits participation based on the regular season standings. The other five conferences that play with a reduced field are the Ivy League (4 of 8), Mid-American (8 of 12), Ohio Valley (8 of 10), Southwestern Athletic (8 of 12), and Summit League (8 of 9 full Division I members).
- The Conference USA Tournament will feature all 14 teams, not just 12, which means the event will start on Tuesday, March 8 in 2022.
- The NEC also expanded its tournament to include all nine full Division I members for this year. However, transitional member Merrimack is ineligible until the 2023-24 season, so the Warriors will sit the postseason out. Three other teams find themselves in a similar position UC San Diego (Big West, eligible in 2024-25), St. Thomas (Summit, 2025-26), Dixie State, and Tarleton State (both WAC, both 2024-25).
- On the other hand, a pair of ASUN members, Bellarmine (2024-25) and North Alabama (2023-24), along with WAC member Cal Baptist (2022-23) will participate in their respective conference tournaments despite being ineligible for either an NCAA or NIT bid. If the Lancers win the WAC title, the regular-season champion will get the automatic bid. If either ASUN team wins, the eligible team eliminated last qualifies (with the higher seed having priority if two or more teams are knocked out in the same round).
For starters, we are back to 32 conference tournaments this year, thanks to the return of the Ivy League after its absence for the 2020-21 season. Harvard’s Lavietes Pavilion will host the fourth edition of Ivy Madness—two years after originally scheduled to do so. Of course, the Crimson will not participate in the tournament (for the first time in the event’s short history), a fate sealed by a one-point home loss to Princeton on Sunday.
- The Atlantic 10 returns to a neutral site after playing on campus in 2021, but with the ACC playing in the conference’s usual arena, the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, the A 10 will take over Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C.
- The Big South also moved its tournament to a neutral site for 2022—Bojangles Coliseum in Charlotte, North Carolina. That’s the original Charlotte Coliseum downtown, not the arena where the Hornets play nearby or the now demolished second Charlotte Coliseum.
- The Big Ten will play in Indianapolis this year, as the conference alternates between Gainbridge Fieldhouse and Chicago’s United Center.
- The Big West plays in the Las Vegas area for the second straight year, but at the new arena in Henderson and not the Mandalay Bay as was the case in 2021.
- The SEC heads to Tampa’s Amalie Arena for a single year before resuming its typical residency in Nashville.
- The America East, ASUN, Northeast, and Patriot League Tournaments will be played exclusively on the home floors of the higher seeds. It’s the same story for the first two rounds of the Horizon League Tournament, which concludes at Indiana Farmers Coliseum in Indianapolis.
- The American Athletic, Big 12, Big East, Big Sky, Colonial Athletic, Conference USA, Metro Atlantic, Mid-American, Mid-Eastern Athletic, Missouri Valley, Mountain West, Ohio Valley, Pac-12, Southern, Southland, Southwestern Athletic, Summit League, Sun Belt, West Coast, and Western Athletic will all play in the same site as in 2021. In most cases, that’s a longtime venue.
- However, the WAC Tournament deserves an asterisk here. Thanks to its expanded field of 10 and a stepladder bracket format, it begins on Tuesday night with a pair of first-round games. There’s a slight problem; however, as the WAC’s usual venue, the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas is booked for that night’s WCC final. So, the WAC will open at the Mandalay Bay Arena before shifting to the Orleans from Wednesday through Saturday.
There aren’t too many changes to how you’ll actually watch 2022’s conference tournament lineup. It’s still a great time to subscribe to ESPN+ short-term if you cannot get enough early-round action. ESPN+ and ESPN3 added the MEAC to its formidable lineup of postseason elimination action, leaving just the CAA on subscription service FloSports.
Otherwise, since it’s an even-numbered year, Fox Sports takes the fourth Pac-12 quarterfinal, second semifinal, and championship game from ESPN. The first two games will air on FS1 in the late night Eastern Time window on the Thursday and Friday before Selection Sunday, while the title game will follow the Big East tilt on the Fox network on Saturday night.
As usual, Conference Tournament Central is your one-stop shop for scores, brackets, updated schedules, tip times, and TV info. You can also access each conference’s primer/results page from the 2022 Conference Tournaments Hub.