Sunday saw the American Athletic and Big Ten wrap up their respective regular seasons.
- Jamal Shead deprived Memphis of a marquee win in the final seconds, as Houston turned its winning streak up to 11 heading to Fort Worth.
- The Big Ten bid picture only got more muddled, as Penn State topped Maryland, 65-64; Illinois failed to close out Purdue, 76-71; Iowa fell at home to Nebraska, 81-77; Indiana handed Michigan its second OT loss this week, 75-73; Wisconsin survived its visit to the Barn, defeating Minnesota by a 71-67 margin; and Northwestern took down Rutgers at the RAC, 65-53.
- Those results helped to set up some intriguing Wednesday and Thursday matchups in a conference that saw 11 of its 14 members finish between 12-8 and 9-11 in conference play. Even the first round sees Wisconsin, one of the last four in today’s field, taking on Ohio State, which has won two of its last three, in an important matchup before Thursday’s second round. The two games set for that round sees a virtual elimination game between struggling Rutgers and a seemingly snakebit Michigan squad and an opportunity for Penn State to defeat Illinois for a third time this season, a result that would both push the Nittany Lions closer to safety and the Fighting Illini closer to the cut line.
- Three teams secured their conference’s automatic bids on Sunday afternoon. UNC Asheville started the day off by rallying to top Campbell, 77-73, in the Big South final. Drake dominated Bradley right out of the gate at Arch Madness, to claim the Missouri Valley title, 77-51. Then, Kennesaw State added an ASUN Tournament title to its best-ever regular season by topping Liberty, 67-66.
- So far, Bradley (MVC), Eastern Washington (Big Sky), Morehead State (OVC), and Southern Miss. (Sun Belt) are the conference tournament No. 1 seeds who have already been relegated to the NIT. The Eagles are the latest, as they got dumped out of the Big Sky Tournament in Boise by a Northern Arizona miracle buzzer-beater.
- Monday’s schedule is the first comprised solely of conference tournament games. While Furman and Chattanooga will meet in a rematch of last season’s thrilling Southern Conference final (7 p.m., ESPN) and Louisiana meets a surging South Alabama squad in the Sun Belt final (7 p.m., ESPN2), bubble teams will need to pay attention to two sets of semifinals. The CAA starts at 6 p.m. on CBSSN with top-seeded Hofstra meeting UNCW, with Charleston‘s matchup Towson in the second semi tipping at around 8:30. The Cougars edged the Tigers by two after OT on the road on New Year’s Eve and defeated them in their penultimate regular-season outing, 83-75, on February 23rd at TD Arena. If the Cougs drop this one, they will have an anxious wait until Sunday afternoon.
- In the WCC, fans of bubble teams need to root hard for Saint Mary’s to take down BYU (9 p.m., ESPN) and Gonzaga to drop San Francisco (11:30 p.m., ESPN2) in tonight’s semifinals. In the unlikely event that both upstarts win tonight, the WCC will be guaranteed to be a three-bid league.
- Conference logos indicate auto bid holders. If a team has secured its league’s auto bid, the conference logo will appear next to the team logo. If a team is just the regular-season champ/highest seed remaining in the conference tournament, the logo will remain on the right.
- Numbers in red squares indicate team’s position in the bracket’s top 16 (top four seed lines).
- Colors next to seed numbers indicate bracket movement: yellow (new), green (seed up), red (seed down) relative to Sunday’s bracket.
Graphics by Chris Dobbertean using logos from either SportsLogos.net, Wikimedia Commons, or the institutions’ websites.
Highest-ranked NET exclusion: Nevada (36)
Highest-ranked KenPom exclusion: Nevada (39)
Bids By Conference
23 single-bid conferences
Ins and Outs (2, 0 at-large)
New Entrants: Drake (MVC), Montana State (Big Sky)
Out For Now: Bradley (MVC), Eastern Washington (Big Sky)
Expect a minor Tuesday update, provided nothing goes haywire in the WCC semifinals.