As we head into the final weekend before March Madness officially begins, teams are locking up Conference titles and focusing on their Conference tournaments. Every season there are teams “on the bubble” hoping to shine in their Conference Tournament. Winning that tournament means an automatic bid to the Big Dance and a convincing run can give them the opportunity to get one of 36 at-large bids awarded on Selection Sunday. Excitement is heightened under the win-or-go-home format which leaves no room for a bad day.
The season is far from over as NCAA Tournament bound teams hope that their Conference Tournament is just the beginning of a long run in the postseason.
No.12 Virginia upset No.4 Syracuse Saturday to win their first outright ACC title in 33 years! The Cavaliers had won 17 straight ACC home games heading into the game in arguably the Nation’s top basketball conference. The ACC basketball tournament is set to be one of the best, with four teams in the Top 25 and a plethora of shining moments this season – No.2 Syracuse defeating Duke in OT, North Carolina proving they can beat the best in the Country (5-1 against ranked opponents), and of course, the aforementioned title clincher by Virginia. This year’s 2014 Championship, is up for grabs! Three teams that could really use the hardware are Florida State, Clemson, and NC State. While the Seminoles look to have the best shot at sneaking in the Tournament, the Tigers and Wolfpack need to prove they’re tournament caliber with a Championship win and an automatic berth. The road will be tougher than last year with 15 teams competing for the title and there is sure to be upsets in this conference. You don’t have to think back too far to the last one, when Wake Forest overtook No.4 Duke at home Wednesday night by 10.
ACC All-Session tickets (from $188) will get you into the action Thursday – Sunday, but you will have to buy Opening Day tickets separately (min. $72). Wednesday’s action includes three games (seeds 10-15) and a concert by country music star Scotty McCreery. The top 4 seeds, currently Virginia, Syracuse, North Carolina, and Duke, will receive a second round bye which means you’ll see the best-in-the-field Friday in the quarterfinals. The Opening round, played Wednesday, will feature seeds 10-15; the winners will advance to play seeds 5-9 Thursday. Duke and North Carolina fans in particular will be happy that Greensboro Coliseum is less than an hour away!
Kansas captured its tenth straight regular-season Big 12 Championship. In the last nine years, the Jayhawks have taken the Tournament title six times including last year when Kansas defeated K-State, earning an automatic bid. The crowd in Kansas City, MO (which will host the tourney again this year), was electric at that game due to the rivalry and close proximity of the schools. Looking to take the Championship this year are No.16 Iowa State, No.23 Oklahoma, and previously ranked Texas, Oklahoma State, Kansas State, and Baylor. OSU, with Marcus Smart, has put up four straight wins, including an upset win over Kansas on Saturday. Like the Cowboys, Baylor is finishing strong, winning seven of their last eight. The majority of the teams in this Conference have looked like a tournament team at some point in the season, which insures the Big 12 Tournament will be one of the best in recent memory!
Only seeds 7-10 will play in the first session Wednesday with the winners advancing to the quarterfinals on Thursday. All-Session Big 12 Basketball Tournament tickets at the Sprint Center start at $252, down $121 in the last month! Single Session tickets are also down in the last 28 days, averaging $25 (1), $158 (2), $120 (3), $248 (4), and $202 (5). Will we see an upset, launching a bubble team in to the NCAA Tournament? Or will the Kansas Jayhawks dance to the top again?
No.6 Villanova topped Xavier last night to win the Big East, their first regular-season Conference title in eight years and first outright league title in 32 years! The victory also earned the Wildcats the top seed in the new Big East tournament which begins Wednesday at Madison Square Garden. No.13 Creighton and Xavier (receiving votes) will likely be the biggest threat to Villanova in the Conference Tournament. While both teams are on their way to an at-large bid, Creighton seems to be the Wildcats Achilles’ heel. The only two Conference losses for the Big East Champs came against the Blue Jays, who just three weeks ago, appeared to have the Conference locked up. St. John’s, who is on the bubble, could be another team who sneaks into the tournament’s finale, as they’ve played well of late, winning seven of their last nine (with losses coming against Villanova and Xavier). The Red Storm shocked College Basketball fans when they overtook Creighton just a month ago.
Last year’s Big East tournament champs, Louisville, went on to win the NCAA Championship. Will fans get a glimpse at 2014’s best in New York, March 12-15? Will an underdog knock off the regular champs in the semifinals as Syracuse did last year versus Georgetown? It wasn’t long ago, that Big East fans got to see eleven teams from the Conference tournament advance to the NCAA Tournament (in 2011). It’s a must-see for basketball lovers in NYC and participating school’s fans. With All-Session tickets available for $240, you can catch all the action inside the legendary venue, for $27 a game! Teams seeded 7-10, Georgetown (7), Seton Hall (8), Butler (9), and DePaul (10), will play in the first round while the top 6 programs will begin play Thursday.
No.12 Michigan won its first outright Big Ten title in 28 years with a win over Illinois Tuesday night. In addition, the Wolverines clinched the number one seed in the Big Ten Basketball Tournament beginning next Thursday. Michigan and seeds 2-4 – currently, No.9 Wisconsin, No.22 Michigan State, and Nebraska – will receive a bye into Friday’s quarterfinal round in a Tournament that features 11 games over four days. Guaranteed to finish over .500 with a good RPI, the Cornhuskers look to be a NCAA Tournament team; but, Minnesota and Illinois aren’t as much of a shoe-in. A Big Ten Basketball Tournament win would assure them a bid. The games will be played at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis which has hosted the Big Ten Basketball Tournament nine times in the event’s history.
Big Ten basketball tickets sold out on the primary market for the second straight year; but Razorgator still has a limited supply. All-Session tickets, that will get you in to 11 games, start at $156 (down $123 in the last month). Essentially, you’re paying just $14 a game. Single session tickets are also reasonably priced, averaging $31 (1), $38 (2), $99 (3), $104 (4), $146 (5), and $76 for the Championship game. Compared to the other major Conferences, the Big Ten has the best ticket deals!
Arizona clinched the Pac-12 title with a win over Stanford Saturday, completing an unbeaten home season at the McKale Center. At No.3 in the Country, the Wildcats will no doubt make the NCAA Tournament; but a successful end to the season and a strong run in the Pac-12 Tournament could earn them a number one seed out West. UCLA will also look to improve seeding while Arizona State and Cal, both of whom beat Arizona at home this season, are in contention for at large bids. In addition, Colorado and Oregon who began Conference play in the Top 25, are in the mix as is Stanford (currently fifth) who beat UCLA at home and lost by just three to Arizona. Who can prove they’re tournament ready? Will there be a team who gets snubbed like Washington did two years ago?
It all begins with live action from the Pac-12 Conference Men’s Basketball Tournament, played in Las Vegas. Sin City is host to three other Conference Championships – West Coast Conference, Western Athletic Conference, and Mountain West Conference – making March Madness, Vegas Style, truly unmatched. If you’re looking to support your team on their road to the NCAA Tournament, grab your Pac-12 tournament tickets now! Unlike most major conferences, the Pac-12 Tournament is centrally located and does not give “home-court” advantage to any of the participating teams. Championship game prices start at $130, or you can grab an All-Session pass for $373, $7 less than last year.
No.1 Florida is on the cusp of history! Already SEC regular-season champions, if the Gators beat No.25 Kentucky in the finale Saturday, Florida would become the first team to go undefeated in an 18-game SEC schedule. While that would be quite a feat, we know Billy Donovan has bigger plans for his squad – first winning the SEC basketball tournament a then going for a third NCAA Championship in nine years. While both Kentucky and Florida will be dancing their way into the tournament, teams like Arkansas (swept Kentucky this year) and Georgia need a good showing in the SEC tournament to be considered.
Last year, the Florida Gators were the No.1 seed heading into the SEC Conference Tourney but lost by three to third seed, Ole Miss, in the Championship game. Can anyone chomp at the Gators historic year and earn the automatic bid this year? Find out with SEC Men’s Basketball tournament tickets. All-Session passes, which will get you into 13 games, start at a reasonable $259. Big dogs Florida and Kentucky will not begin play until the quarterfinal round Friday, as they’ve earned a bye in the first two rounds. If you’re looking to just “get-in” to Sunday’s SEC Championship game, expect to pay $74 for a seat at the Georgia Dome.
Image Credits: Geoff Burke – USA Today (ACC), Orlin Wagner – AP (Big 12), Eric Francis – Getty Images (Big East), Scott Mapes (Big Ten), Mark J. Terrill (Pac-12), Andy Lyons – Getty Images (SEC)