western on the spot this week. The underpinnings of the Wildcats’ resume are beating Michigan State and not absorbing any bad losses. They might need more than that. A loss to Minnesota to open the league tournament would be crippling.
Big West: Long Beach State is the overwhelming favorite in the one-bid league.
Conference USA: Memphis and Southern Mississippi are likely at-large teams, with Memphis much more secure. Anyone else will need to win the tournament, which happens to be played at Memphis. Good luck with that.
Mid-american: The last three MAC tournament champs won an average of 8.7 league regular-season games, so expect some more bedlam. Akron, Buffalo and Ohio were the top regular-season teams and will chase the conference’s one bid.
Mid-eastern: Savannah State is the top seed and Norfolk State is talented, but this is one-bid territory.
Mountain West: There are three exceptionally secure at-large teams (New Mexico, San Diego State and UNLV) and another in decent shape (Colorado State). If all win in the quarterfinals, the possibility of a bid thief will be extinguished.
Pac-12: Who knows what will happen. Only one team (California) probably can flop and hope to earn an at-large nod, and the Golden Bears aren’t particularly overwhelming. Arizona, Oregon and regular-season champ Washington still have work to do.
Southeastern: The conference tournament is anti-climactic; Kentucky went 16-0 in the regular season and should coast. Mississippi State could use a win to feel safe, while Mississippi and even Tennessee are on the fringe of the atlarge conversation.
Southland: Texas-arlington lost its attempts for a perfect conference regular season, but the Mavericks remain a strong possibility for the league’s lone bid. Pat Knight’s Lamar team also could be an interesting possibility.
Southwestern Athletic: Mississippi Valley won the regular season. The league’s winner looks like it will receive a ticket straight to Dayton for one of the play-in games.
Western Athletic: Hard to believe it’s been five years since Nevada reached the NCAA tournament. The Wolf Pack is the top seed, with New Mexico State also a contender for a single berth.