March Madness Predictions 2011: Who Did Enough in the Conference Tournaments?
Conference tournaments are most important to the teams still trying to get in.
Don't tell that to the regular-season champs, though.
Other than Pitt and Xavier, the regular-season champs from the top conferences have held serve. Kansas, Duke, Florida, BYU/San Diego State, Ohio State and Arizona were going to the tournament, regardless. But they have managed to put themselves in a position to win the conference tournament as well.
For Kansas and Duke, it represents another crack at a bitter rival, bragging rights and possibly a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. Similarly, the others are looking to move up as much as possible before Mar. 13.
Other teams were looking for a win or two to bolster their resumes and be sure that their names are called on Selection Sunday.
Here is a look at some of the teams that appear to have accomplished just that.
Penn State Nittany Lions
Has Talor Battle led the Nittany Lions to the promised land?
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After a 9-9 season in conference that has included some decent wins, Penn State may have earned a ticket to the NCAA tournament with wins over Wisconsin and Michigan State in the Big Ten tournament.
Neither of the wins were pretty, but a win is a win and the Nittany Lions will face top-seed Ohio State tomorrow for the Big Ten championship.
This is a very tough call but again, they beat Michigan State and Wisconsin twice each. Their RPI is 42 and climbing, they have five top 50 wins and a SOS of five.
Tim Hardaway Jr. after a big three against Illinois
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Season-ending wins at Minnesota and at home to Michigan State, coupled with a first-round Big Ten tournament win over Illinois, may have sealed the deal for the Wolverines.
Michigan fought back from a big halftime deficit to beat a stumbling Illini squad, 60-55.
The win gave the Wolverines 20 wins on the season and six wins over top 50 RPI opponents. This should be enough to get John Beilein back to the Big Dance.
Alec Burks is hoping the Buffs have done enough
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After defeating a hot Kansas State team for the third time this season, Colorado has reason to be optimistic about getting called on Selection Sunday.
A win over Kansas would have iced it, but they came up a little short. Still, six top 50 RPI wins and 21 wins overall should be enough to get the Big 12 a sixth team into the NCAA tournament.
It is hard to see some of the other bubble teams having an edge on the Buffs.
Michigan State Spartans
Kalin Lucas torched Purdue for 30 points in an upset win
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Another March, another Michigan State run.
After a narrow escape against an improving Iowa team, the Spartans laid waste to No. 9 Purdue in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten tournament and virtually guaranteed their rightful spot in March Madness.
One game doesn't necessarily fill the bandwagon, but another one puts them into the conference tourney final and gives them 20 wins on the year.
Alabama Crimson Tide
Did Mitchell and company punch their ticket?
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Consecutive wins over Georgia, one to end the regular season and one in the quarterfinals of the SEC tournament, assure the Tide of one thing.
They'll be picked over Georgia.
Other than that, their situation is still a little tenuous. Early-season losses to Iowa and St. Peter's (although St. Peter's will be attending the party) are dogging them.
Although their overall RPI is not good (77th), they do have a 4-3 record versus top 50 opponents, something they are hoping is looked upon favourably by the selection committee.
Jerai Grant looks skyward for some divine intervention.
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In what could have essentially been a NCAA tournament play-in game, the Tigers thrashed Boston College.
What this has accomplished is similar to what Alabama has done.
Clemson has guaranteed themselves consideration over B.C. Neither team has done much against top 50 RPI foes, as the Tigers are 0-5 and the Eagles 1-5.
If Clemson makes it, they will likely be playing Tuesday in Dayton.