While 13 Conference Championship games took centre stage on Saturday, four conferences held their semifinals today in advance of Sunday title games.
With the semis out of the way in the ACC, Atlantic-10, SEC and Big Ten, here’s a quick look at the final four games to be played before the bracket is unveiled later on Selection Sunday…
ACC Championship: Miami vs. UNC – 1 p.m.
Both the Hurricanes and Tar Heels can be assured of hearing their names called on Selection Sunday regardless of what happens in the ACC title game, and admittedly, this game should mean a little more to Miami. The Hurricanes are looking for the first ACC tournament championship in school history and should also still be in contention for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. An impressive victory over North Carolina on Sunday could be killing two birds with one stone.
SEC Championship: Florida vs. Mississippi – 1 p.m.
The Gators should feel pretty confident about grabbing a top-four seed somewhere in the bracket on Sunday, but an SEC tournament title may just be enough to get as high as a No. 2 seed. As for Ole Miss, they were probably the bubble team that benefited the most this weekend and should have a tournament berth locked up by now, but a win over Florida in the SEC championship game and an automatic bid rather than an at-large bid could very well be the difference between whether the Rebels have to play in the “First Four” round or not. If Mississippi loses on Sunday and grabs an at-large bid, they’ll likely be one of the four lowest seeded at-large teams, and will therefore be sent to a play-in game on Tuesday or Wednesday. If Ole Miss beats Florida and wins the SEC’s automatic bid however, they should comfortably avoid being one of the four lowest seeded automatic bid teams, since those are usually tournament winners from very weak conferences.
Atlantic-10 Championship: Saint Louis vs. VCU – 1 p.m.
On the surface, this game looks like the ugly cousin compared to the three other Conference Championships set to tip on Sunday, but make no mistake, this is a matchup of two legitimate tournament teams and two of the most underrated teams in the country at that. The top two seeds in the Atlantic-10 tournament are a combined 52-13 this season, with the Billikens currently ranked 16th in the AP and Coaches polls and the Rams in the top-25 of the RPI rankings.
Big Ten Championship: Wisconsin vs. Ohio State – 2:30 p.m.
The last time these two teams met, the Badgers put a 22-point spanking on the Buckeyes in Wisconsin, but Ohio State did split the season-series with a win earlier in the year and the Buckeyes do come into this game the 10th-ranked team in the country, so I doubt we’ll see a repeat of that February blowout. While the “first to 100 points” rule usually comes through in the NBA, the first to 50 may emerge victorious in this matchup, as the losing team in the first two meetings between Wisconsin and Ohio State this season scored 49 points.