For some of the real college basketball die hards and hoop heads out there, March Madness is great, but the only thing that is better is championship week. In this wild week, all of the conferences across the country hold their championship tournaments, and all of those automatic qualifying positions are handed out for the NCAA Tournament. The 2012 conference tournaments are already underway, and here’s a schedule you can keep handy to help guide you through all the action before the action.
A handful of conference championships have already been handed out by midweek, as tournaments for some smaller conferences got underway quickly. The only conference which doesn’t have a tournament is the Ivy League, and so the regular season winner gets the conference’s automatic bid. This year, that goes to Harvard, the first time in over 60 years since they’ll be in the big dance.
Other tournaments which have already wrapped up include the Colonial Tournament, which was won by VCU, ensuring they don’t miss the cut on the bubble for this year’s tourney. Detroit won the Horizon League Tournament, Loyola won the Metro Atlantic title, Belmont won the Atlantic Sun, Saint Mary’s defeated Gonzaga in the West Coast Tournament, and Davidson, Murray State and South Dakota State won their respective tournaments.
One huge surprise took place in the Sun Belt Tournament, as the 15-18 Western Kentucky Hilltoppers defeated North Texas in the finals. That has a lot of bubble teams under added duress, as that’s an unexpected berth right there, and it will likely eat up an extra spot that would have gone to a non-automatic qualifying team.
The conference tournament that brings in perhaps the most eyes of any is the Big East Tournament, which always has great action in Madison Square Garden. Beginning on March 6th, that will wrap up on Saturday the 10th after a whirlwind couple of days featuring many of the best programs in the country.
The ACC Tournament takes place from March 8th through 11th in Atlanta, and everyone there is waiting for the seemingly inevitable third clash this year between UNC and Duke. The Big 12 Tournament takes place in Kansas City from March 7th through the 10th, and the SEC Tournament, which everyone assumes will go straight to Kentucky, takes place in New Orleans from Marc 8th through 11th. The Pac-12’s tournament isn’t going to get too many people excited, as it was a terrible year for the conference, but it’s held in Los Angeles from March 7th through the 10th.
So, all of this leads up to Selection Sunday, which is just days away now on Sunday, March 11th. Obviously all of the conference championships and tournaments will need to be completed by then. As mentioned, some of the tournaments will wrap up earlier that afternoon, so it’s a hectic time and it’s wire to wire action and drama for college basketball fans.
Don’t wait until the official beginning of March Madness to get in on the fun for yourself. Sit back over the next few days and enjoy all of the dozens of conference tournaments and championships. You’ll get some more great hoops action, and you’ll get to know all of the teams better, giving yourself a better chance to see some success with your tournament brackets once March Madness gets underway.