March Madness is coming up fast. Here is what to know, along with some key games to watch and who’s on the bubble ahead of Selection Sunday for the women’s NCAA Tournament:
Eight conference tournament championship games were played over the weekend, leaving 24 more this week to determine the remaining automatic qualifiers for the NCAA Tournament. There will be nine conference title games on Saturday and five more on Sunday, the day the full 68-team NCAA bracket is revealed.
– The Big 12 Tournament begins Thursday in Kansas City, Missouri, with the championship game Sunday.
– No. 4 Virginia Tech (27-4) won the ACC Tournament in Greensboro, North Carolina.
– No. 2 Iowa (26-6) won the Big Ten Tournament in Minneapolis.
– No. 20 Washington State (23-10) won the Pac-12 Tournament in Las Vegas.
– No. 1 South Carolina (32-0) won the SEC Tournament in Greenville, South Carolina.
WHO ELSE IS IN
Saint Louis (17-17, Atlantic 10), Gardner-Webb (29-4, Big South), Tennessee Tech (22-9, Ohio Valley) and Chattanooga (20-12, Southern).
Selection Sunday is March 12, when brackets for First Four games (March 15-16) and first- and second-round games (March 17-20) are set at multiple sites across the country.
Sweet 16 weekend brings a twist this year for the women’s teams: There will be two regional sites instead of four, with Greenville, South Carolina, and Seattle each hosting eight teams.
Where is the women’s Final Four? In Dallas, where the semifinals are March 31 and the championship game is April 2.
As it happens, the men’s Final Four is a four-hour drive down the road in Houston that same weekend.
Who’s going to win the national championship? The betting favorites as of this week to reach the Final Four are defending national champion South Carolina, Indiana, UConn and Iowa, according to FanDuel Sportsbook. The NCAA’s most recent seeding prediction is a little different – Stanford and Utah instead of UConn and Iowa – and the top quartet in the AP Top 25 poll is: South Carolina, Iowa, Indiana and Virginia Tech. So buckle up!
West Virginia (19-10) had lost five of seven games before finishing the regular season with a three-game winning streak. Another win or two at the Big 12 Tournament would likely leave no question about getting into the NCAA Tournament. Dawn Plitzuweit is in her first season with the Mountaineers. She took South Dakota to the last three NCAA tourneys, reaching the Sweet 16 last season.
Arkansas (21-12) opened the SEC Tournament with a win over Missouri but lost 93-66 to top-ranked undefeated defending national champion South Carolina in the quarterfinals. The Razorbacks now wait to see if they will make their third consecutive NCAA Tournament, something they last did from 2001-03.
GAMES TO WATCH
Besides the tournament championship games Tuesday in the Horizon League, Summit League and West Coast Conference:
Kansas (19-10) vs. TCU in a first-round game at the Big 12 Tournament on Thursday. The Jayhawks beat TCU in the regular-season finale Saturday and are still trying to ensure consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances for the first time since 2012-13.
Ivy League semifinal games Friday: Princeton (21-5) vs. Penn, and Columbia (23-4) vs. Harvard. The games will be played at Princeton, where the top-seeded Tigers beat Penn 71-52 last week to win their 13th game in a row and clinch a share of their fifth consecutive Ivy League regular-season title. Co-champ Columbia has a five-game winning streak since losing to Princeton on Feb. 4. The Ivy League title game is Saturday.