By Andrew Kahn
America’s unofficial holiday, March Madness, has arrived. Conference tournaments, which served as an excellent warm-up to the NCAA Tournament, wrapped up this past weekend. Some of the more dominant teams took care of business while other leagues produced surprise winners. A great weekend of hoops culminated in Sunday’s selection show. With the field set, the real madness can begin.
The fourth One
Undefeated Wichita State is obviously on an incredible roll, but another top seed enters the NCAA Tournament nearly as hot. The Florida Gators have won 26 straight after winning the SEC Tournament on Sunday. Arizona, despite losing the Pac-12 final, predictably earned a one seed. The final spot was up for grabs, and Virginia snatched it thanks to its ACC double dip — the Cavs took the regular season crown and beat Duke in yesterday’s tournament final.
Michigan would have claimed that final one seed had it not lost Sunday’s Big Ten championship to Michigan State. In the first non-regular season matchup between the intra-state rivals, the Spartans looked as good as they have all season. The one-time No. 1 team in the country dealt with injuries all season but is peaking at the right time. Despite getting a four seed in the Big Dance, the Spartans are the favorites to emerge from the East Region.
No love for Louisville
Another four seed that has caught fire in March is Louisville. The Cards have won 12 of their last 13 after winning the first-ever AAC tournament on Saturday night. The reward for the defending national champs? A four seed in a loaded Midwest Region that also includes Wichita, Michigan, and Duke. Louisville’s seeding was one of the more puzzling moves by the selection committee this year.
Life on the bubble
Providence won the Big East title over Creighton on Saturday night. The win put the Friars in the Tournament field. North Carolina State lost on Saturday but just getting to the ACC semis was enough to earn an at-large bid. Teams on the wrong side of the bubble included SMU (23-9) and Green Bay (24-6).
Cajuns’ crazy weekend
The only way to guarantee a spot in the field is to win your conference tournament and that’s exactly what Louisiana-Lafayette did last weekend. The Ragin’ Cajuns did it in thrilling fashion, beating Western Kentucky 73-72 on Saturday and top-seeded Georgia State 82-81 in overtime on Sunday to win the Sun Belt. They drew a 14 seed and will play Creighton in the first round.
Andrew Kahn is a contributor to CBS Local Sports who also writes for Newsday and The Wall Street Journal. He writes about college basketball and other sports at AndrewJKahn.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at @AndrewKahn
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