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Bracketology/Bowls Expert

Look ahead: regular season comes to a close for 15 conferences

It's the beginning (of March) and the end (of the regular season). Fifteen conferences will wrap up conference play this week, and the first conference tournaments will begin on Tuesday.

Here is a by-conference look at what is happening this weekend:

ACC: Miami can clinch the top seed in the ACC tournament with a win at Duke. There is a chance that Ryan Kelly might finally return for the Blue Devils.

A-10: Butler is at VCU in a big game for both teams but more so for VCU, which can lock up a spot in the NCAA tournament with a win. Also, fading bubble teams Charlotte and UMass hit the road for must win games.

Atlantic Sun: Mercer clinches the league title and top seed in the conference tournament with a win at Stetson. A loss opens the door for Florida Gulf Coast to share the title and possibly steal the top seed.

Big 12: Kansas and Kansas State start the day tied for first. The Jayhawks host West Virginia. KSU is at Baylor, the Bears really needing the win to keep their tournament hopes alive. Iowa State has a chance to pick up its best road win of the year at Oklahoma, which needs the win as well for its somewhat thin tournament resume.

Big East: Cincinnati hosts Connecticut as the skidding Bearcats hope to get things going in a good direction again. Bubbler Villanova has a chance to add a big win to its resume at Pittsburgh on Sunday. Louisville is at Syracuse, loser of two straight, and Marquette hosts Notre Dame in games in which NCAA tournament seeding could be impacted.

Big South: High Point has already clinched the North Division, and Charleston Southern can clinch the South with a win on Saturday. If CSU loses, it could create a three-way tie in the division. And if High Point loses as well, there could be a four-way overall tie.

Big Ten: Michigan's loss at Penn State not only eliminated the Wolverines from the conference title chase for all intents and purposes but calls into question whether this team has hit a wall. They only looked good once in February, which was the win over Illinois. They host Michigan State on Sunday in a must-win game if they are to have any hope of a top-four seed in the B1G tournament and the day off that comes with it. Right now, they look like they have a better chance of finishing 10-8 than 13-5. I will be at the game on Sunday.

Big West: Long Beach State can clinch the title and top seed with a win at UC Irvine on Saturday night.

MAAC: Niagara clinches the title with a win over St. Peter's. If the Purple Eagles lose, they will tie with at least the winner of the Rider-Canisius game and possibly Loyola also.

MAC: Akron secures the top seed in the conference tournament with a win at Buffalo.

MVC: Wichita State is at Creighton in a winner-take-all game for the Valley title. It's also important for each team's at-large hopes as they are both on the bubble.

Pac-12: California hosts Colorado in a game of teams in the bottom half of the bracket. Arizona is at UCLA with both teams fighting to stay with Oregon in the conference race.

SEC: Kentucky, Tennessee and Ole Miss take their bubble hopes on the road. The Wildcats are at Arkansas, which never loses at home. Tennessee is at Georgia, which already beat the Vols at home. Ole Miss travels to in-state rival Mississippi State. Also, Florida hosts Alabama, which is on the fringe of the bubble but can certainly make a stronger case for itself with a win at Gainesville.

Southland: Stephen F. Austin hosts Northwestern State in a battle for sole possession of first place heading into the final week of the season.

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