The ACC, Atlantic-10, Big Ten and SEC took centre stage this afternoon to close out the pre-tournament portion of the NCAA schedule.
Here’s a quick rundown of how those four conference champhionship games finished and what it means for the teams involved.
ACC Championship: Miami 87, UNC 77
The Hurricanes will always be known for their football tradition, but this Miami basketball team delivered the school’s first ACC tournament championship and there are surely some who believe they should be rewarded with the school’s first ever No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. I still think that’s a stretch, but Miami should be a solid No. 2 with as good a chance to win it all as anybody.
Atlantic-10 Championship: Saint Louis 62, VCU 56
I mentioned yesterday that this was a matchup of two of the most underrated teams in the country, and with the conference title now in hand, 16th ranked Saint Louis should be a top-5 seed somewhere in the bracket. As for VCU, don’t sleep on the Rams, who should be a darkhorse pick to upset some higher seeds and make a run.
SEC Championship: Mississippi 66, Florida 63
Ole Miss probably nailed down their tournament berth by advancing to the SEC Final, but emerging from this game victorious means so much more than just their first SEC crown in 32 years. Had the Rebels lost today and earned an at-large bid as a bubble team, they likely would have been one of the four lowest seeded at-large teams and therefore would have had to play in the “First Four” round on Tuesday or Wednesday. Instead, with the automatic bid, Mississippi all but assures themselves direct entry into the traditional 64-team field that tips off on Thursday and Friday, as there will surely be four lower seeded automatic bids from much weaker conferences than the SEC.
For Florida, the loss meant one sad Gator (just look at the poor guy, with his little hat on).
Big Ten Championship: Ohio State 50, Wisconsin 43
The Buckeyes won the Big Ten title game over the Badgers in expected low scoring fashion. As I had mentioned yesterday, the losing team in the first two meetings between Ohio State and Wisconsin this season scored just 49 points, so this really was a case of first to 50 wins. With their third Big Ten tournament win in the last four years, the Buckeyes should be in line for a No. 2 seed when the bracket is unveiled momentarily, while Wisconsin can probably expect a 5-6 seed.