On Tuesday night, five teams won conference tournament titles, with four qualifying for the 2023 edition of the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament as a result. The one who didn’t is Northeast Conference champion Merrimack which edged tournament rep Fairleigh Dickinson, 67-66, which means the Warriors will enter their first season of tourney eligibility as the defending regular-season and conference tournament champs.
The quartet of qualifiers include a Gonzaga team that was already an NCAA lock (and a 77-51 winner over Saint Mary’s, another at-large squad) and Charleston and Oral Roberts teams that would have had a long wait had they each fallen yesterday evening. The Cougars were pushed by rivals UNCW before ultimately prevailing, 63-58, in the CAA final. There was no such drama at the Summit League final in Sioux Falls, where the Golden Eagles vaporized North Dakota State, 92-58. The fourth qualifier is Horizon champ Northern Kentucky, who edged Cleveland State, 63-61.
After today’s bracket, I’ll preview what’s ahead in conference tournaments on this Wednesday—with three auto bids up for grabs and a handful of bubble games to monitor.
- 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 Tuesday’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: Michigan (38)
Bids By Conference
23 single-bid conferences
A whopping 15 conferences will be in action today, with both the Big West and WAC taking today off before resuming with their respective quarterfinal rounds on Thursday. Three of those will determine their 2023 NCAA Tournament reps, while the other 12 are either beginning or entering the second round.
You can find information about all of these games at Conference Tournament Central, which has a chronological schedule at the top of the page.
First, let’s look at the three finals—an increase of two over the total on previous years, thanks to the Southland and Big Sky moving their tournaments up.
- First, the Southland’s (5 p.m., ESPN2) stepladder bracket did its job, setting up a matchup of the top two seeds, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and Northwestern State. The Islanders are looking to repeat as champs, while the Demons last qualified in 2013. This evening’s winner is likely to be seeded on the 16 line, though they may need a few breaks to avoid Dayton.
- One of those breaks might very well come in the Big Sky (11:30 p.m., ESPN2), where the 9th seed, 12-22 Northern Arizona meets No. 2 Montana State in the title game. While the Lumberjacks would be destined for the First Four if they earn their first bid since 2000, the defending champion Bobcats should at least equal last season’s 14.
- In between is the traditional Selection Week Wednesday final, the Patriot League showdown between sixth-seeded Lafayette and Colgate (7:30 p.m., CBSSN). The Raiders are looking for a fourth title in five seasons (2020) and a fourth NCAA trip a row. Lafayette’s last appearance came in 2015. The Leopards, at 11-22, are another First Four squad should they win, while the Raiders are likely to end up as a 14 or 15.
Turning our attention to the at-large picture, while there are 20 games scheduled in the seven multi-bid conference tournaments that are in play today, just seven of them feature bubble teams (New Mexico’s collapse has the Lobos out of the picture). Here’s what’s at stake in each of them.
- approx. 2:30 p.m. (ESPN): Georgia Tech vs. Pittsburgh: The Panthers’ loss at Miami pushed them out of a top-four seed right into an opportunity to record a defeat that has the potential to pop their bubble. However, a win would give Pitt the opportunity to pick up a late key win over Duke in the quarterfinals.
- 6:30 p.m. (BTN): Ohio State vs. Wisconsin: The Badgers finished three games behind those tied for second in the Big Ten and a mere game behind the Rutgers and Penn State teams who avoided this round. Still, a loss to the Buckeyes would be curtains for Wisconsin’s chances, given its poor metrics. Victory, however, would bring an opportunity to defeat Iowa for a third time.
- 7 p.m. (ESPN2): Boston College vs. North Carolina: With a loss to the Eagles, the Tar Heels will become just the second team of the multi-bid era to fail to reach the field after topping the preseason AP poll. On the other hand, a win would set up a UNC-Virginia rubber match in the quarters.
- 7 p.m. (ESPNU) Texas Tech vs. West Virginia: The Mountaineers should be fine win or lose, but falling to Kansas in the quarterfinals would be preferable to dropping the opener to the Red Raiders.
- approx. 9:30 p.m. (ESPN2) Virginia Tech vs. NC State: The winner gets Clemson to cap off the Thursday night session in Greensboro. That could very well be a bubble elimination game should the Wolfpack get past the Hokies. But hey, playing Virginia Tech is preferable to Notre Dame—at least in the event of a loss. Kevin Keatts’ squad has yet to record a Quad 3 or 4 loss, which is a key differentiator for its profile. A game against the Fighting Irish would have served as chance to pick up a late Q3 loss.
- approx. 9:30 p.m. (ESPNU): Oklahoma vs. Oklahoma State: A third Cowboy win over the Sooners would give Oklahoma State a third shot at Texas in Thursday’s quarterfinals. A loss would send Mike Boynton’s club to the NIT.
- approx. 11:30 p.m. (Pac-12 Networks): Oregon State vs. Arizona State: A loss to the 11-20 Beavers would end the Sun Devils’ hopes, but a win would set up an all-bubble quarterfinal with USC for late Thursday night.
I will be back tomorrow with a fresh bracket—one that will see me finally have time to scrub for the first time this week—along with a preview of what’s to come. I suspect there will also be some bubble talk at some point.