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These major-conference teams' NCAA hopes may depend on a strong showing in their respective conference tournaments
The wave of Florida State fans spilled onto the court on March 1 with 1.7 seconds left on the clock. They couldn't wait for the game to end, but who could blame them? The Seminoles were about to upset the No. 1 team in the nation, Duke. But more important, the impending 79-74 win would greatly boost Florida State's case for an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament.
The Seminoles came into the game having just suffered an ugly 72-61 loss at Virginia Tech, and at 7-7 in the ACC, they looked NIT bound. But after beating the Blue Devils and then ending the regular season with a 67-64 win over Miami on Sunday, the Seminoles (19-8, 9-7 in league play) have greatly enhanced their chances with the selection committee. Still, to eliminate any doubt, Florida State has to win two games in this week's ACC tournament. As the No. 5 seed, that would mean beating No. 12 Wake Forest on Thursday in the opening round and then No. 4 N.C. State, the Seminoles' opponent if they make it to the quarterfinals.
Of course, Florida State is not alone in having a tenuous claim to one of the 34 at-large bids. Here are other major-conference teams that could still use a good showing in their league tournaments so that they can rest easy on Selection Sunday.
The Orange finished the regular season on a three-game losing streak, including an inexplicable 108-69 thumping at DePaul. But Syracuse meets the Bearcats (19-11, 8-8) on Wednesday in the Big East tournament, guaranteeing a win for one of them. Unfortunately, national No. 1 Connecticut then awaits.