It's the second week ofin college basketball, as the NCAA Tournament bubble comes into focus and Cinderellas begin to emerge ahead of Selection Sunday on CBS. There are bids at stake, bragging rights on the line and trophies to be hoisted for those with the mettle to withstand a single-elimination format that requires consecutive days of play.
For college basketball as a whole, the best is yet to come with the NCAA Tournament. But for many teams, this week marks the end of the line, unless they are able to conjure some magic and secure their conference's automatic bid to the Big Dance. Accordingly, there are sure to be memorable finishes and heroic individual performances born out of desperation in pursuit of league tournament titles.
There is plenty at stake for the nation's top teams as well. A conference tournament title can solidify or improve NCAA Tournament seeding in a significant way. Teams that haven't been at their best in recent weeks also get the chance for a final tune-up before their seasons are on the line next week. There are always memorable moments and thrilling finishes this week in college basketball. It's March, after all, and the madness is here.
Our experts made their picks for who will win each of the major conference tournaments. Odds courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook
American Athletic Conference Tournament
Breakdown: Houston is the No. 1 seed for the AAC Tournament, but the Cougars are not the league's hottest team. That distinction belongs to No. 3 seed Memphis, which just completed a regular season sweep of Houston on Sunday. That win marked 10 in the last 11 games for the Tigers, who are still on Palm's bubble but have a little bit of breathing room now. The team with the most at stake is No. 2 seed SMU, which finds itself among the "Last Four In" CBS Sports Bracketology Expert Jerry Palm's projected NCAA Tournament field entering the league tournaments.
Odds to win American Athletic Conference Tournament
|Tulane Green Wave||+2000|
|Wichita State Shockers||+4000|
|East Carolina Pirates||+15000|
|Tulsa Golden Hurricane||+15000|
|South Florida Bulls||+20000|
Breakdown: The NCAA Tournament fate of several ACC teams hangs in the balance this week during a conference tournament with big-time bubble implications. Aside from top-seeded Duke, no one in the conference is projected to be better than a No. 10 seed in the Big Dance, according to Palm. No. 6 seed Virginia and No. 7 seed Virginia Tech are in desperation mode. No. 3 seed North Carolina and No. 4 seed Miami may want to avoid bad losses to avoid some discomfort on Selection Sunday. Then there are those Blue Devils. After taking a 94-81 loss against arch rival UNC in coach Mike Krzyzewski's final home game, surely Duke will be motivated to cut down some nets to cap its final ACC Tournament under a coaching legend.
Odds to win ACC Tournament
|Duke Blue Devils||-125|
|North Carolina Tar Heels||+550|
|Virginia Tech Hokies||+900|
|Wake Forest Demon Deacons||+1000|
|Notre Dame Fighting Irish||+1000|
|Florida State Seminoles||+6000|
|Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets||+12500|
|Boston College Eagles||+12500|
|NC State Wolfpack||+12500|
Big East Tournament
Breakdown: After sending just four teams to the past two NCAA Tournaments, the Big East is positioned to potentially send seven squads to this year's Big Dance. However, the status of No. 8 seed Xavier looms large entering the conference tournament. The Musketeers have dropped seven of their past nine and have dropped to bubble status in Palm's Bracketology. Otherwise, the league appears to have six locks, led by No. 1 seed Providence and No. 2 seed Villanova. The Wildcats won both regular season meetings against Providence and finished with two more league victories than the Friars. But PC technically won the regular season title because of its better league winning percentage following COVID-19 related disruptions that limited it to just 17 conference games. There is nothing Villanova fans would love more than to see their team complete a three-game sweep of the Friars and prove the Big East still runs through 'Nova.
Odds to win Big East Tournament
|Marquette Golden Eagles||+700|
|Seton Hall Pirates||+1000|
|St. John's Red Storm||+2500|
|DePaul Blue Demons||+15000|
Big Ten Tournament
Breakdown: If the final Sunday of regular season action in the Big Ten was any indication, the league tournament may be downright nutty. Wisconsin lost out on an outright league title by losing at home to last-place Nebraska, which allowed Illinois to secure the No. 1 seed after a dramatic win over Iowa. With Michigan and Rutgers among Palm's "Last Four In" and Indiana among the "First Four Out" entering the week, there is a ton at stake. Fittingly, the No. 9 seed Hoosiers and No. 8 seed Wolverines square off in a second round game on Thursday with massive implications.
Odds to win Big Ten Tournament
|Illinois Fighting Illini||+350|
|Ohio State Buckeyes||+1200|
|Michigan State Spartans||+2500|
|Rutgers Scarlet Knights||+3500|
|Minnesota Golden Gophers||+25000|
|Penn State Nittany Lions||+25000|
Big 12 Tournament
Breakdown: The Big 12 is among the least bubbly conferences entering the week. It appears to have six NCAA Tournament locks and no one else with even a reasonable case for bubble status. But it's March, which means that chaos could be in store just when all looks calm. Seeing No. 7 seed Oklahoma, No. 8 seed Kansas State or No. 9 seed West Virginia make a little noise wouldn't be stunning. K-State beat No. 3 seed Texas Tech and No. 4 seed Texas in consecutive games during January and has been on the wrong end of numerous close games during league play. While no. 1 seed Kansas and No. 2 seed Baylor are the clear favorites, the parity of this league means anything can happen.
Odds to win Big 12 Tournament
|Texas Tech Red Raiders||+300|
|TCU Horned Frogs||+2200|
|Iowa State Cyclones||+2500|
|Kansas State Wildcats||+7500|
|West Virginia Mountaineers||+10000|
Breakdown: Last season's Pac-12 Tournament produced one of March's unexpected surprises, as Oregon State ran through the league tournament and then reached the Elite Eight after entering the month squarely on the wrong side of the NCAA Tournament bubble. Does the conference have another Cinderella in store this season? No. 4 seed Colorado could fit the bill. The Buffs have won seven of their last eight, including a 16-point win over No. 1 seed Arizona on Feb. 26. They will likely need to win the league tournament in order to reach the Big Dance since the top-seeded Wildcats, No. 2 seed UCLA and No. 3 seed USC are the only Pac-12 teams on track for automatic bids. No. 5 seed Oregon also has the talent to make a run, but the Ducks have lost five of their last six.
Odds to win Pac-12 Tournament
|Washington State Cougars||+3000|
|Arizona State Sun Devils||+6000|
|Oregon State Beavers||+25000|
|California Golden Bears||+30000|
Breakdown: The top-six seeds in the SEC Tournament are all locks for the NCAA Tournament. After that, it's a free-for-all, which makes Thursday's second round game between No. 8 seed Texas A&M and No. 9 seed particularly intriguing. Both are on Palm's bubble, and while the Gators are in better shape, the Aggies have won five of their last six. Both need a victory, and whoever wins figures to give No. 1 seed Auburn a battle in Friday's quarterfinals. Auburn, No. 2 seed Tennessee, No. 3 seed Kentucky and No. 4 seed Arkansas separated themselves from the rest of the conference this season, and it will be fascinating to see if they can keep that up in a single-elimination format with the Big Dance coming up.
Odds to win SEC Tournament
|Alabama Crimson Tide||+1800|
|Mississippi State Bulldogs||+4000|
|Texas A&M Aggies||+7500|
|South Carolina Gamecocks||+10000|
|Ole Miss Rebels||+20000|