March Madness Has Begun

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Before the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament begins on March 19 with the First Four, we have 32 different conference tournaments to get through. By the time Thursday night has come and gone, seven of those 32 tournaments will be in progress.

The Atlantic Sun, Big South, Horizon, Missouri Valley, Northeast, Ohio Valley, and Patriot will all have tipped off by the end of Thursday, and the Ohio Valley will crown their champion by Saturday. Morehead State in Kentucky is the current betting favorite to win the conference tournament, with Kentucky online sportsbooks paying +105.

On Sunday, three more conferences will crown their automatic NCAA Tournament qualifier – the ASUN, Big South, and Missouri Valley.

The ASUN provided us with the first buzzer-beater of March, when No. 6 seed North Alabama beat No. 3 seed Lipscomb on a last-second shot, 77-75. That final shot came after Lipscomb tied the game at 75 with just four seconds left.

The top seed in the ASUN, Eastern Kentucky, also lost in the first round to No. 10 Jacksonville. Only four teams remain, with Florida retail sportsbooks listing Stetson University as the -120 betting favorite to advance. They are one of 45 Division I programs to never appear in the NCAA Tournament.

Conference Tournament Finals

By the end of Sunday, we will have four NCAA Tournament spots taken, with another 28 conference finals to be played over the following week.

Monday, March 11 – Southern, Sun Belt

Tuesday, March 12 – Coastal Athletic, Horizon League, Northeast, Summit League, West Coast

Wednesday, March 13 – Big Sky, Patriot League, Southland

Saturday, March 16 – Atlantic Coast (ACC), America East, Big 12, Big East, Big West, Conference USA, Metro Atlantic Athletic (MAAC), Mid-American (MAC), Mid-Eastern Athletic (MEAC), Mountain West, Pac-12, Southwestern Athletic (SWAC), Western Athletic (WAC)

Sunday, March 17 – American, Atlantic 10, Big Ten, Ivy League, Southeastern (SEC)

The complete 68-team NCAA Tournament field will be announced on March 17 at 6:00 PM ET.

Regular Season Finales

Conference tournaments are underway, and selection Sunday is looming on St. Patrick’s Day. But the regular season for some teams continues through the weekend. Many of those games will impact seeding for the conference tournaments, and ultimately seeding for the NCAA Tournament.

No. 1 ranked Houston is hosting No. 14 Kansas on Saturday to close out the season for both teams. College basketball online sportsbooks currently have the Cougars at +650 to win the NCAA Tournament, which would be their first in school history. They have made six previous trips to the Final Four, which is the most for any team that hasn’t won a national championship.

Also on Saturday, No. 2 UConn finishes the year against bubble team Providence. At the moment, Rhode Island online sportsbooks have the Friars at -390 to miss the NCAA Tournament. If they can beat UConn this weekend, that would change.

No. 7 North Carolina is paying +425 to make the Final Four, and No. 9 Duke is paying +500 to advance to the Final Four in Glendale, Arizona. They play each other in Durham on Saturday.

No. 3 Purdue has already clinched the Big Ten regular season title, and they finish up the year at home against Wisconsin. No. 4 Tennessee has clinched the SEC regular season title, and they finish the year against No. 15 Kentucky. No. 5 Arizona has games remaining against UCLA (Thursday) and USC (Saturday), and Arizona online sportsbooks have the Wildcats at +250 to make the Final Four.

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