Playing for position (cont.)
Posted: Friday March 2, 2007 4:18PM; Updated: Friday March 2, 2007 4:55PM
The ACC Tournament got underway on Thursday, and if the regular season is any indication, it should be an interesting weekend. The conference has six teams that will likely be playing beyond the weekend and could produce a pair of No. 1 seeds. No doubt, unbeaten Duke has the overall-top seed wrapped up. Barring an early slip in the conference tournament, North Carolina should follow.
You'd be hard-pressed to find a conference that produced more surprises this season. Oklahoma was expected to roll through the Big 12 once again, but Texas A&M had something to say about that. A&M is the top seed this year. Should they win the conference tournament, the Aggies have a chance to improve their NCAA placement as well. In a conference that saw former bottom-dweller Oklahoma State move up in the standings and the Longhorns drop, anything can happen.
So far, the Big East is projected to have more teams than anyone in the NCAA tournament. And why not, they've got four teams in the Top 25 and two more receiving votes. Regular-season champ Connecticut could certainly solidify itself as a No. 1-seed with a good showing. As one of the last teams projected, South Florida seems to have the most on the line, though. A win or two could make the difference between playing and watching the action in the Big Dance.
There's not much chance of this conference getting more than three teams in, but Ohio State is still playing for a top seed. The Buckeyes would have a strong case if they were to win the regular-season and conference tournament titles.
With four teams knotted in second place, the Mountain West Conference is as close as any. Despite the parity within the Mountain West, it's unlikely the league will get more than a couple of teams -- if that many -- into the NCAA tournament. There are a couple that could argue they belong, though.
In addition the regular-season title, BYU has a win at Stanford on its resume, not to mention a 21-7 record. New Mexico has won eight of its last 10 and can point to a non-conference win against Texas. TCU already has 20 wins and the Horned Frogs' nine losses include three top-10 teams. They lost at Georgia and Maryland and dropped a neutral-site game against George Washington.
Tennessee likely has a No. 1 seed wrapped up. The Lady Vols play a tougher schedule than anyone, and they won every SEC game. Other teams, however, have a chance to improve seeding as well as their chances to make the field of 64. Despite a 6-8 conference record, Auburn is looking to prove it belongs in the field of 64. It wouldn't be the first time that a team reached the NCAAs with a losing record in conference play. The Tigers were one win shy of that ever-so-important mark of 20 victories. They didn't get it, though. Even with an RPI of 43, that first-round slip against South Carolina on Thursday could prove costly.