Just in case you can’t wait for the NCAA basketball tournament to start March 18 (March 16, if you’re obsessed with college ball enough to watch the play in game), there is plenty of good hoops action this week.
Conference tournaments offer nearly as much excitement because automatic bids are on the line and the teams are familiar with one another.
Already in conference tourney play, we’ve seen St. Mary College upset the No. 14 Gonzaga Bulldogs to earn an auto-bid; top-seeded MAAC stalwart Siena survived a scare versus Fairfield, prevailing in overtime; and No. 12 Butler won its 20th game in a row to win the Horizon conference.
This is the time of year when smaller conferences get some attention. As this piece is written, ESPN is covering the Robert Morris-Quinnipiac game – thanks for proving my point with your Northeast Conference coverage ESPN.
This week the large conferences tee off as well.
The Big East Conference is stacked and its tournament will be no-doubt be competitive. Already today, Marquette survived St. John’s scare. The Golden Eagles won 57-55. Georgetown likely eliminated Southern Florida from the NCAAs with a 69-49 win. The Hoyas reward? They play Syracuse tomorrow.
The Big 10 Conference tournament is intriguing with the top four teams (Ohio St., Purdue, Michigan St. and Wisconsin) looking fairly equal on paper.
The SEC tournament begins tomorrow with top-seeded Kentucky lineup across the bracket from the dangerous Vanderbilt.
With Duke, Maryland, Florida St. and Virginia Tech earning first-round byes, the ACC has several intriguing late matchups.
The point is people who enjoy the NCAA basketball tournament can get the same satisfaction a week earlier by watching conference tournaments. It gives small conferences a spotlight and it pits high-profile rivals against one another with post-season ramifications.
Be sure to sign-up for the I Am Sportacus NCAA bracket contest. See if you can beat I Am Sportacus writers Anthony Iozzo and Josh Smith. Whoever, records the highest score will win the opportunity to contribute a post to the blog – sound off on whatever you’re passionate about or what’s on your mind. Check out the I Am Sportacus Facebook fanpage for more details, which will be posted soon.