March Madness 2023: League tourneys set to shape NCAA field
(AP) - March Madness is coming up fast. Here is what to know along with some key games to watch and who’s on the bubble ahead of Selection Sunday for the NCAA Tournament:
All eyes will be on the conference tournaments this week:
— The ACC Tournament starts things off March 7-11 in Greensboro, North Carolina.
— The Big 12 Tournament will be March 8-11 in Kansas City, Missouri.
— The Big Ten Tournament will be March 8-12 in Chicago.
— The Big East Tournament will be March 8-11 in New York.
— The Pac-12 Tournament will be March 8-11 in Las Vegas.
— The SEC Tournament will be March 8-12 in Nashville, Tennessee.
Sweet 16 weekend will see games in New York City (East Region), Las Vegas (West), Kansas City, Missouri (Midwest), and Louisville, Kentucky (South).
Where is the Final Four? In Houston, on April 1, with the championship game on April 3.
Basketball aficionados, take note: The women’s NCAA Tournament will hold its Final Four in Dallas, a four-hour drive up the road from Houston.
Who’s going to win the national championship? With the regular season over, the betting favorites as of this week to reach the Final Four are Houston, Alabama, Kansas and UCLA, according to FanDuel Sportsbook. That differs from the top teams in the NCAA’s initial seed watch, which had Purdue in the top four, not UCLA. All of this matches many of the teams in the AP Top 25, too.
These teams are already going dancing after landing their league’s automatic bid: Kennesaw State (26-8, Atlantic Sun), UNC Asheville (27-7, Big South), Fairleigh Dickinson (19-14, Northeast), Drake (27-7, Missouri Valley) and Southeast Missouri State (19-16, Ohio Valley).
Virginia Tech (18-13): The Hokies open play in the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament in Tuesday’s first round against Notre Dame and almost certainly need a title run for the league’s automatic bid. The good news? The Hokies were a bubble team last year and pulled a surprise four-games-in-four-days run to the program’s first ACC title, wrapping up with a win against Final Four teams North Carolina in the semifinals and Duke in the finale.
Montana State (23-9): With top-seeded Eastern Washington’s loss on a last-second basket in the Big Sky Conference Tournament, the second-seeded Bobcats are now the favorite to secure the league’s automatic bid for a second straight year. They beat Northern Colorado on Sunday to earn a day off before facing the Sacramento State-Weber State winner in Tuesday’s semifinals. Another march through the tournament would mark the program’s fifth all-time NCAA bid.
GAME(S) TO WATCH
Vermont vs. Binghamton, Tuesday 7 p.m. ET (ESPN+): The Catamounts (21-10) have the top seed and homecourt advantage for the America East Tournament for the sixth time in seven years. They won their tournament opener Saturday to earn a trip to Tuesday’s semifinals to face Binghamton. Two more wins would put Vermont in the NCAAs for the ninth time, all coming since 2003, and second year in a row.
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