2 Weeks Till Madness: It's Already Begun!
Welcome back! Two weeks away from the tip-off of the First Round of the 2022 NCAA Tournament, and the Madness has begun early! Let's check out a breakdown of all the conference tournaments that begin or have begun this week, the main storyline you should be checking out, and any potential bubble games we've got left.
Conference Tournaments This Week
Before I get into this, let me first emphasize that pretty much all of the conferences that are tipping off their tournament this week are one-bid leagues. Despite plenty of talent all the way through, most of these conferences are still developing into leagues that could get multiple bids in the near future.
NEC (Feb 28-Mar 8)- After Bryant snatched the regular season championship right out of Wagner's hands, the Seahawks will look to make their 13-0 start in conference play worth it. Without a conference tourney championship, any sort of postseason for Wagner may be just out of reach (unless you care about the CBI).
Atlantic Sun (Mar 1-Mar 8)- Who will emerge to take down Liberty before they win their fourth consecutive championship?
Horizon League (Mar 1-Mar 8)- We've got some regular season co-champions in the Horizon this year via Cleveland State and Purdue-Fort Wayne, so it will be interesting to see who pushes who into the NIT. Also, I love their bracket format, so watch this one and see if it should be implemented in your own favorite conference.
Patriot League (Mar 1-Mar 9)- Will Navy's defense, ranked 44th in efficiency by KenPom help carry the Midshipmen past Colgate, or will John Carter Jr. have to also put up career high scoring performances?
Ohio Valley (Mar 2-Mar 5)- I want to say that Belmont has a chance, but after going 0-4 against Murray State and Morehead State, I just don't think there's too much to root for here. Also, the bracket format in this conference all but guarantees one of the top two seeds winning. Lame.
Big South (Mar 2-Mar 6)- Could Gardner-Webb sneak into the tournament by taking down the ever-dominant Winthrop?
Missouri Valley (Mar 3-Mar 6)- It's the Valley vs. the Ramblers as Loyola-Chicago looks for one final MVC title before heading to the A-10 next year. They'll be fighting an uphill battle as the four-seed against some of the best teams we've ever seen from Drake, UNI, and Missouri State.
Sun Belt (Mar 3-Mar 7)- With the top five seeds separated by just 3.5 games in the standings, THIS may be the mid-major tournament to watch this year. It's anyone's game.
WCC (Mar 3-Mar 8)- Bad bracket design (See OVC). Sim to Gonzaga and St. Mary's punching their tickets.
SOCON (Mar 4-Mar 7)-Will Samford have a chance to exact revenge on Chattanooga, who stomped out their hot streak this past weekend?
CAA (Mar 5-Mar 8)- Another shared conference regular season championship, this time between Towson and Wilmington. Will they duke it out in the final, or will Hofstra find some way to sneak into the mix?
Summit League (Mar 5-Mar 8)- South Dakota State completed their 18-0 run in the conference regular season, but can they keep the momentum alive and punch their ticket to the big dance?
America East (Mar 5-Mar 12)- Who can stop Vermont? It definitely won't be Stony Brook, who has been unceremoniously banned from any postseason play following their decision to move to the CAA.
Bubble games to watch this week (bubble team in bold)
6:30-Dayton at Richmond
8:30-St Bonaventure at VCU
8:30-UConn at Creighton
9:00-NC State at Wake Forest
9:00-Iowa at Michigan
10:00-Oregon at Washington