Monday’s Den: Does success in conference tournaments predict success in the NCAA’s?

— There have already been several upsets in the mid/lower conference tournaments, which will put the teams who win those tournaments in the four play-in games in Dayton March 14-15.

SE Missouri State, Fairleigh Dickinson figure to be headed to Dayton; if Montana State wins the Big Sky, they’ll probably avoid a play-in game, but maybe not. If Northern Arizona wins the Big Sky, they’re definitely headed to Dayton. Kennesaw State might also be in a play-in game, in their first-ever NCAA Tournament.

Life figures to be a little easier in the first round this year, for the #1 and #2-seeds.

— When the NCAA Tournament brackets come out next week, how do you choose the four teams you think will make the Final Four? There are a lot of theories on this…….

Today, we’re going to examine whether success in the conference tournament leads to winning a national championship. This obviously only applies to the multi-bid, big $$$$ leagues; the mid-major teams have to win their conference tournament just to get in the tournament.

— Over the last 20 years, nine of the 20 national champs also won their conference tournament
— Only two of the last seven national champs also won their conference tournament.

— In the last 20 years, no team has won a national championship without winning its first game in their conference tournament.
— In the last 20 years, of the 80 teams who made the Final Four, teams went 70-10 in the first game in their conference tournament.

— In the last 20 years, the eventual national champ only went 12-8 in their second conference tournament game.
— In the last 20 years, teams that lost the national championship game went 12-7 in their second conference tournament
— In the last 20 years, teams that lost the national semi-finals went 26-5 in their second conference tournament game.

In the conference tournaments with Sunday finals, I’ve often thought that coaches aren’t all that heartbroken if their team loses on Saturday; playing on Sunday, then maybe having to play their first NCAA tourney game on Thursday is a quick turnaround.

Recent years (twice in last seven years) suggest that just because a team loses in its conference tournament doesn’t mean they won’t win a national title. Losing the first game of a tournament appears to be a pretty big red flag. 

— Anyone ever had lemon Oreo cookies? They were talking about them on the Duke-North Carolina game Saturday night, now I have to buy some to see if they’re any good, unless someone tells me they’re hideous. Early returns have been in favor of them.

— If you like college basketball, ESPN+ is a great thing to have; can watch ballgames and replays of games night and day, even obscure games.

— Furman 83, Western Carolina 80 OT— Last year, Furman lost the SoCon final 64-63 in OT, after leading by 12 early on, losing on a leaning 3-pointer at the buzzer; it was a very devastating loss for a Paladin squad that has not made the NCAA’s since 1980. 

Sunday, Furman led this game by 20 early in the second half; they blew the lead, their best player fouled out in overtime, but they pulled the game out, and advance to the SoCon final against Chattanooga Monday night the same Chattanooga team that beat them in last year’s final.

— Houston 67, Memphis 65— Cougars trailed 56-51 with 6:34 left; Jamal Shead hit an 18-footer as time expired to give Houston a dramatic road win.  

The Final Four is in Houston next month, in Jim Nantz’s last year doing the tournament on CBS. Nantz is a Houston alum; he played on the golf team. Are the Cougars a team of destiny?

— Drake 77, Bradley 51— Drake scored 1.26 points/possession, led by 20 at the half, and won Arch Madness for the first time since 2008. Bulldogs start three graduate students; they’ve got a lot of experience/continuity. Plus, they shoot the ball well.

— NC-Asheville 77, Campbell 73— 7th-seed Camels led by 14 with 7:35 left in game, but couldn’t get over the hump and #1-seed Asheville wins its 9th straight game, making NCAA’s for first time since 2016. Asheville has won 18 of its last 19 games.

— South Alabama 75, James Madison 66— 8th-seeded Jaguars were 8-13 on January 26th; since then, they’re 11-2, allowing 62.7 ppg in first three games of this tournament. South Alabama is a thin team (#339 in bench minutes) playing for third day in row tomorrow; they’re #347 team in continuity- they play #2-seed Louisiana tomorrow night in the Sun Belt final.

— Kennesaw State 67, Liberty 66— Three years ago, Owls were 1-28; now they’re in the NCAA’s for the first time ever. Hopefully they’ll avoid a play-in game and get to enjoy their status for an extra couple days. Kennesaw played the A-Sun tournament at home; two of their three wins were by a single point. 

— Texas Tech suspended basketball coach Mark Adams for what the school calls an “inappropriate, unacceptable, and racially insensitive comment.”

From “Adams was encouraging a player to be more receptive to coaching and ‘referenced Bible verses about workers, teachers, parents, and slaves serving their masters.’ Adams apologized to the team after he found out the player was upset about the use of the Bible verse.”

Adams is 66 years old; he is 43-25 in two seasons as Tech’s coach. Tech made the Sweet 16 last year; they’re 16-15, 5-13 this year. Rich boosters like the Sweet 16 a lot better than they like a 5-13 conference record.

— Longwood Lancers are 20-12 this season; they have a player Michael Christmas, who wears number 25, which makes sense, seeing how Christmas is on the 25th and all.

— Bradley Braves were the #1-seed in the Missouri Valley tournament; this was the first time Bradley was the #1-seed in Arch Madness since 1996.

— North Carolina F Leaky Black is in his fifth year of college basketball; Saturday night was his 153rd game for the Tar Heels, which is a school record.

— More and more mid-major/low major teams seem to recruiting foreign players; Saint Mary’s has thrived for years thanks to recruiting Australian players. Teams who don’t get on ESPN a lot have to be creative where they get talented players. 

Author: Armadillo Sports

I've been involved in sports my whole life, now just write about them. I like to travel, mostly to Las Vegas- they have gambling there.