Conference Call: Final Week for Many Mid-Major Conferences
For many of the smaller conferences, this is the final week of play before conference tournaments begin. This means a final push to secure a tournament berth or a valuable seeding position.
Let’s take a look at how some of the smaller conferences are shaking out as well as tournament dates and sites.
The storyline in the America East comes down to Wednesday's matchup between league leading Stony Brook (12-2) and second place Vermont (11-3).
If the Seawolves win, they win the conference outright and secure the top seed for the conference tournament. A Catamount win would make the final weekend of conference play interesting, especially for tiebreaking and seeding purposes.
The first round (8 vs. 9), quarterfinals, and semifinals of the nine team America East tournament (March 4, 6-7, 13) will be played in Hartford, with the championship final played at the campus of the highest-remaining seed after the semifinal round.
In the Atlantic Sun, the top eight teams in conference play automatically qualify for the conference tournament in Macon, GA (March 3-6). The teams participating have already been decided. However, a lot still needs to be determined in terms of seeding, as well as the conference champion.
Co-leaders Campbell and Jacksonville, both 12-5, will meet in Jacksonville on Thursday. The winner will have a leg up heading into the final weekend, while the loser will drop into a potential three-way tie for second place with Belmont and Lipscomb.
The top two seeds would receive a day of rest (if they win, of course) between quarterfinal and semifinal games in the conference tournament, giving extra incentive for one of the top two positions.
The top six teams advance to the conference tournament in the Big Sky (March 6, 9-10), with the top two seeds receiving first-round byes.
First-round games will be played at the sites of the No. 3 and No. 4 seeds. The semifinals and championship will be played at the home of the regular-season champion, Weber St.
Northern Colorado is in control of the No. 2 seed with only a game at last place Sacramento St. remaining. The final spot is still up for grabs between Portland St., Idaho St., and Eastern Washington.
Coastal Carolina (13-3) leads the Big South by a game over Winthrop (12-4) and two games over Radford (11-5) with two games remaining. The Chanticleers host Liberty and VMI to close out their schedule, while Winthrop and Radford play next Saturday.
The top eight teams qualify for the Big South tournament (March 2, 4, 6) with the top four seeds hosting first-round games. The No. 1 seed will host the semifinals, with the finals being played at the highest remaining seed.
Colonial Athletic Association
The CAA will go right down to the wire in the last week. Old Dominion and Northeastern are tied atop the conference at 13-3. William and Mary and George Mason are tied for third at 11-5, while VCU and Drexel sit at 10-6.
Old Dominion finishes out conference play at Georgia St. then hosts VCU. Northeastern will host Hofstra with their regular season finale at George Mason. Northeastern holds the tiebreaker by virtue of its win over Old Dominion in their only meeting.
Since all 12 teams qualify for the conference tournament in Richmond, VA (March 5-8), the top four seeds will get first round byes.
Butler has run away from everyone in the Horizon League. The seeding is the only thing that remains to be decided.
All 10 teams qualify for the conference tournament, with the top two seeds receiving an all important double bye into the semifinals.
Wright St. currently holds a one game lead over Wisconsin-Green Bay for the No. 2 seed. Both teams finish up conference play on the road. Wright St. must travel to both Youngstown St. and Cleveland St. while Wisconsin-G.B. plays Illinois-Chicago and Loyola (IL).
Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference
The MAAC title and top seed belongs to Siena. However, the Saints can’t afford a loss the rest of the way if they have any at-large hopes. Siena finishes up conference play with games at Rider and home against last place Marist.
The No. 2 seed is up for grabs as Iona and Fairfield are tied for second at 11-5, while St. Peter’s sits a game behind at 10-6. The Gaels and Stags will battle each other Friday at Fairfield while the Peacocks are on the road at Marist. These three will finish up conference play on Sunday with Iona at St. Peter’s while Fairfield hosts Niagra.
The 10-team MAAC tournament will be held in Albany, NY (March 5-8).
Missouri Valley Conference
After an impressive BracketBuster weekend, the MVC will finish up conference play this week. Northern Iowa has clinched the conference title and the top seed in the tournament, which will be held in St. Louis, MO (March 4-7).
The rest of the standings still need to be decided. Wichita St. (11-5) is a game ahead of Illinois St. for the second spot. Wichita St. should have the advantage playing Bradley (8-8) on the road and then hosting Southern Illinois (6-10), while the Redbirds face Indiana St. (8-8) at home before traveling to Northern Iowa.
Quinnipiac’s 87-79 win at Robert Morris on Saturday tightened things up in the Northeast Conference. However, the Colonials still own a one game lead over the Bobcats with two games to go.
Robert Morris must travel to Wagner and Mount St. Mary’s while Quinnipiac hosts Monmouth before finishing up on the road at Fairleigh Dickinson.
The top eight teams qualify for the conference tournament (March 4, 7, 10) with all games played at the home of the higher seed. After the quarterfinals, the teams will be reseeded so the highest remaining seed plays the lowest remaining seed in the semifinals.
Ohio Valley Conference
The top two teams in the OVC will meet Thursday when unbeaten Murray St. will go on the road to Morehead St. (13-3). These two teams last played on Dec. 5 with the Racers having little trouble in an 86-56 win.
The top eight teams advance to the conference tournament in Nashville, TN (March 2, 5-6). After the quarterfinal round, the teams will be reseeded, if necessary.
Bucknell and Lehigh sit atop the Patriot League at 8-4 with two games remaining. The two teams will meet up on Wednesday when the Bison visit the Hawks. The winner should be in great shape for the all important top seed.
In the Patriot League tournament (March 3, 7, 12), the top four seeds will host the quarterfinal games, with semifinal games played at the two highest remaining seeds. The championship will be played at the site of the highest remaining seed.
The top two teams in each division of the Southern Conference will receive first-round byes in the conference tournament to be held in Charlotte, NC (March 5-8).
Appalachian St. has secured the top seed in the North Division while W. Carolina has grabbed the No. 2 seed. The top two seeds in the South Division will be determined Thursday when co-leaders Wofford and Charleston meet at Wofford.
The eight team Summit League tournament will be held in Sioux Falls, SD (March 6-9) and the top seed will be Oakland. The Grizzlies have had little trouble in the Summit, with their only loss coming to IUPUI.
The teams competing in the tournament have all been decided, while the only factor to be determined is the seeding. The top two seeds will receive an extra day between quarterfinal and semifinal games.
The top three seeds in the Sun Belt receive a first-round bye in the conference tournament. The 13 team tournament will be held in Hot Springs, AR (March 6-9)
Three teams, Troy, Middle Tennessee, and North Texas, all sit at 11-5, while Western Kentucky, Florida Atlantic, Arkansas St., and Louisiana-Lafayette are a game behind with two games to go in what should be a wild final week.
West Coast Conference
The WCC tournament is scheduled March 5-8 in Las Vegas, NV. The tournament format is rather unique in which the top two seeds are rewarded with double byes.
The opening round will consist of two games between the bottom four seeds. The winners will advance to the quarterfinal round against the Nos. 3 and 4 seeds. The winners of the quarterfinal matchups will battle the top two seeds in the semifinals, with the winners meeting in the championship.
Gonzaga is in the driver’s seat with games against Santa Clara and San Francisco remaining. Second place belongs to St. Mary’s, who will host Pepperdine and Loyola Marymount to finish out the season.
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