Championship Week is fun for hoops fans because it’s a chance for all of the smaller conferences to get their chance in the spotlight. But this week is also important because the major conference tournament showdowns will go a long way toward determining the field of 68.
And the seeding in it.
Here is a look at some of the top storylines for the six BCS conferences as everyone starts jostling for New Orleans and the Final Four in earnest.
Duke and North Carolina split their regular season meetings so far, and a rematch in the ACC final could determine a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Don’t discount Florida State though, which defeated both of those teams and just missed out on a share of the league title.
North Carolina State and Miami are the two bubble teams to watch. Neither can afford a first-round loss to inferior opponents. For either team to definitely play itself in, two wins are required.
The story here is that this will be the last Big East tournament in the conference’s familiar configuration, so emotions will be running high. All eyes will be on defending national champion Connecticut.
Coach Jim Calhoun is back from back surgery and the Huskies look like they're back too, blitzing DePaul 81-67 in the first round Tuesday afternoon. A similar win last season started UConn on its legendary run to that NCAA title — won in Houston.
South Florida and West Virginia are also sweating it out. Meanwhile Syracuse might still have a No. 1 NCAA Tournament seed even if it loses its first game.
Kansas and Missouri potentially could meet up for a third time in the championship game. Considering their first two contests, that would be something, especially with a potential No. 1 NCAA seed up for grabs.
Five teams seem like sure tourney things, especially after Iowa State got another huge resume win over Baylor last weekend. Texas seems to be on the wrong side of the bubble as we speak, but a win over Iowa State in its first Big 12 tourney game could change that.
Many people feel like the Big Ten is the best league in the nation this year, and, after a three-way tie for the regular-season title, the tourney is up for grabs. Ohio State’s clutch win on Sunday over Michigan State will have the Buckeyes' confidence brimming for a Final Four run.
Will this be the year that Northwestern makes the Big Dance for the first time in history? The Wildcats have to beat Minnesota in their first Big Ten Tournament game, and, considering their 8-10 conference record, probably need a second-round win over Michigan as well.
It’s hard to fathom, but the once-proud Pac 12 is staring at the distinct possibility that only the tournament winner will make the field of 68. Who deserves at-large consideration?
Washington backed into the league's regular season title but its RPI is a weak 57. California has the league’s best RPI, but like most of the other conference members, its record is terrible against quality opponents.
As tumultuous as things have been for UCLA this season, the Bruins' win Saturday over Washington has them dreaming of the postseason.
Other than Kentucky’s dominance, there has been nothing remotely predictable about the SEC this season. Tennessee grabbed the No. 2 seed in the conference tourney despite an RPI in the seventies. Alabama’s rollercoaster season seemed to have been going in the right direction until the Crimson Tide tanked at Mississippi last weekend.
And Mississippi State, which is loaded with talent, is trying to claw its way back from a five-game losing streak in February.
It should be fun to watch, so enjoy it. When next we talk, we’ll know who’s in the field of 68.