March Madness 2013 Bracket Predictions: Conferences Sure to Win Big on Sunday

Timothy RappFeatured ColumnistMarch 15, 2013

ANN ARBOR, MI - MARCH 10:  Cody Zeller #40 of the Indiana Hoosiers drives around Mitch McGary #4 of the Michigan Wolverines during the second half at Crisler Center on March 10, 2013 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Indiana won the game 72-71.(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

While the stories of the day on Selection Sunday are always about seeding and which bubble teams got snubbed, there is always a bit of conference bragging rights that comes into play.

Which conference got the most teams in? Which conference has the most No. 1 or No. 2 seeds? And was there a mid-major conference that shook up the board and will send as many teams into the tourney as the bigger BCS conferences?

This year, there will be plenty of conference bragging rights to go around, with two clear elite conferences and a mid-major that will make serious noise in March Madness. Let's break down the conferences sure to be the biggest winners on Selection Sunday.


Big East

Once again, the Big East should lead the field in teams dancing, with Louisville, Georgetown, Marquette, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Notre Dame, Villanova and Cincinnati more than likely dancing this season.

Really, the only team out of that group that could be in danger of being left out is Cincinnati, a team that didn't help itself by losing 62-43 to Georgetown in the Big East tournament. Cincinnati's 4-9 record against the RPI Top 50 isn't great, but a strength of schedule of 25, RPI of 45 and 22-10 record all bode well for the Bearcats.

Villanova should also be safe. With an RPI of 51, a strength of schedule of 21, a 5-7 record against the RPI Top 50 and three wins against Top Five teams, the Wildcats have a very impressive resume. Plus, they won their opening game in the Big East tourney, likely the last piece of an already solid resume.

I would be very surprised if the Big East doesn't get those eight teams into the tournament.


Big Ten

The Big East should get the most teams into the tournament, but there isn't a better conference in the land—or, at least, one with more elite teams—than the Big Ten. Four teams (Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State) were ranked in the Top 10 of the AP poll heading into the conference tournament.

Wisconsin and Illinois should be locks as well, while Minnesota should be sitting pretty with a 20-11 record, RPI of 24, the second-toughest schedule and a 5-8 record against the RPI Top 50 (including wins over Indiana and Michigan State).

Yes, losing to Illinois in the Big Ten tournament—and it was a tough loss, as the team fell 51-49—means it still might have to sweat a little. But I'd be very surprised if Minnesota doesn't get in.

As for Iowa, well, only a Big Ten tournament championship was going to get it through. I don't expect that the Hawkeyes will be dancing.


Mountain West

The Mountain West may not get in as many seeds as the Big East or Big Ten, but the mid-major conference absolutely deserves to get five teams into the dance.

New Mexico, UNLV, Colorado State and San Diego State should all be locks. And in my opinion, Boise State really deserves a spot as well, even if it is sitting firmly on the bubble.

The Blue Turfs (that should really be the school nickname, am I right?) didn't help themselves by losing to San Diego State in the Mountain West tournament, leaving them to hope there aren't any major upsets at the other tourneys.

Boise State has a solid resume, with a record of 21-10, an RPI of 44, strength of schedule of 61 and 4-7 record against the RPI Top 50, including a big non-conference win against Creighton. The Broncos are on my "last four in" list at the moment, but I think they've earned a tourney bid.


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