Do you think there are more than just a few nervous players, coaches, fans and administrators this week across the country with conference tournament action set to determine who is going to be doing a lot of smiling on March 12? You betcha.
Welcome to Nervous Time,
USA – college
It's Conference Tournament
Championship Week – well, in reality, it's a continuation of a two-week process
that provides 30 of the 31 automatic bids to the NCAA Tournament. The Ivy League
continues to skip the fun but
Pennsylvania isn't complaining.
The Quakers have that much longer to rest and pound the books before their March
16 or 17 tourney opener.
Here's a quick spin around the
country for a look at some of the tournaments and a peek at what is at stake,
other than the automatic bids:
Can Duke, which lost at
State and at home to Duke to close
the regular season, lose a No. 1 seed with a quarterfinal loss to
Miami or Clemson? Not a chance.
North Carolina wraps up a No. 2
seed with a trip to the tourney final.
State better not lose to
Forest Thursday or it could be
sweating a losing battle on Sunday.
BIG EAST (Wednesday-Saturday,
gets a No. 1 seed regardless of what happens in
Garden, and the same could be true
for Villanova. Cincinnati (vs.
Syracuse) and Seton Hall (vs.
Rutgers) end any at-large trepidation with wins
Wednesday. The Orange may need a
victory over the Bearcats and a
stunner over Connecticut to breath
easy on Sunday.
BIG 12 (Thursday-Sunday,
could play itself back into top seed consideration if its gets to Sunday (and
other things break well for the Longhorns across the country). A likely
Colorado (unless it is upset
Thursday by Baylor) vs. Texas A&M quarterfinal could be played Friday with
an at-large bid as the carrot.
BIG TEN (Thursday-Sunday,
Even with early upsets,
Illinois probably have No. 2 seeds
secured. The Buckeyes have a very slim chance of playing for a No. 1 if they get
to Sunday. Michigan is reasonably
secure of being the seventh team in the conference in the NCAA tourney barring a
loss to Minnesota
The host Memphis Tigers should be
one of the four top seeds if they hold serve at home. UAB has a reasonable hope
for an at-large bid and it could be more than reasonable if the Blazers are
MOUNTAIN WEST (Wednesday-Saturday,
It's difficult to envision
State (the regular-season champ) not
getting an at-large bid if it doesn't win out Saturday night. But the Aztecs
would be wise not to stumble Thursday. Air Force secures a bid by advancing to
Saturday but that would probably mean a Friday night win over a solid BYU
PAC 10 (Wednesday-Saturday,
UCLA and runner-up
Washington are playing for the
highest possible seeds (the Bruins a two and the Huskies a four?), while
Cal can wrap up a bid – if it
hasn't already – with a victory over USC on Thursday. Arizona Coach Lute Olson is leaving his best player
(senior Hassan Adams) in
Tucson for disciplinary reasons and
the Wildcats will have a tough time beating Stanford without him in a
quarterfinal Thursday. But they are in the NCAA tourney, regardless of what
happens vs. the Cardinal.
Players of the
(Based on play during Feb. 26-March
4 games; players whose teams played at least twice during the seven-day span get
stronger consideration over those who played just once)
Arron Afflalo (6-5, So.,
After scoring 25 points (21 of
those after intermission) during a 67-58 overtime win at
Cal, Afflalo came back with 16
points and three assists during a 75-54 win at Stanford that gave the Bruins the
Pacific 10 Conference title outright. He hit eight of 14 attempts from behind
the arc and played exceptional defense against fellow All-Pac 10 guards Ayinde Ubaka and Chris Hernandez in the
For the season: 17.1 points, 4.5
rebounds, 1.8 assists per game (.481 FG%, .366 on 3's)
Ronnie Brewer (6-6, Jr.,
The Hogs continued to pad their
NCAA Tourney at-large resume with SEC victories over
Brewer getting a collective 48 points, 13 rebounds, four assists and five steals
in the games.
For the season: 18.6 points, 4.8
rebounds, 3.1 assists, 2.5 steals per game (.433 FG%, .333 on
Dee Brown (5-11, Sr.,
The Illini collected road wins
against Minnesota and
State to close out the regular season
tied for second (with Iowa, a game
State) in the Big Ten. Brown had 14
points, four assists and three steals during the 71-65 victory over the Gophers
and 20, four and two in the 75-68 decision over the
For the season: 14.7 points, 2.9
rebounds, 5.6 assists, 1.5 steals per game (.371 FG%, .327 on
Tyler Hansbrough (6-8, Fr.,
He demonstrated why he is a
Scout.com All-America with his play Saturday night (27 points, 10 rebounds and
two blocked shots) during the Tar Heels' 83-76 victory at Duke. Three nights
earlier he had 13 points and eight rebounds in a 45-point knockout of
For the season: 19.0 points, 7.6
rebounds, 1.2 assists, 1.1 steals per game (.582 FG%)
Acie Law (6-3, Jr.,
He hit just five of 20 shots from
the field in his team's Big 12 games with Texas and Texas Tech but that doesn't
begin to tell the story of what took place during the respective 46-43 and 75-59
victories over the Longhorns and Red Raiders that moved the Aggies
ever-so-closer to an NCAA Tournament bid. Law's 3-pointer was the difference
against Texas while he chipped in
with 14 points, nine rebounds, five assists and three steals in
For the season: 16.0 points, 3.0
rebounds, 3.8 assists, 1.7 steals per game (.458 FG%, .344 on
Scout.com's updated Top
(Last week's ratings in
parentheses; records as of March 5)
1. (2) Connecticut (27-2) Next game: Big East Tourney,
vs. Cincinnati/Syracuse (Thursday)
2. (1) Duke (27-3) Next game: ACC
Tourney, vs. Miami/Clemson (Friday)
3. (3) Memphis (27-3) Next game: Conference USA
Tourney, vs. Tulane/Marshall (Thursday)
4. (4) Gonzaga (26-3) Next game: WCC
Tourney, vs. Loyola-Marymount (Monday)
5. (6) Villanova (24-3) Next game: Big
East Tourney, vs. Seton Hall/Rutgers (Thursday)
6. (5) Texas (25-4) Next game: Big 12 Tourney, vs.
Texas Tech/Kansas State (Friday)
7. (7) George Washington (26-1) Next game:
Atlantic 10 Tourney, vs. Rhode Island/Temple
8. (9) North
(21-6) Next game: ACC Tourney, vs. Virginia/Virginia Tech
9. (10) Ohio State (23-4) Next game: Big Ten Tourney, vs.
Northwestern/Penn State (Friday)
10. (11) LSU (22-7) Next game: SEC
Tourney, vs. Auburn/Vanderbilt (Friday)
11. (12) Boston College (24-6) Next game: ACC Tourney, vs.
Maryland/Georgia Tech (Friday)
12. (13) Illinois (25-5) Next game: Big Ten Tourney, vs.
Michigan State/Purdue (Friday)
13. (17) Washington (24-5) Next game: Pac 10 Tourney, vs.
Washington State/Oregon (Thursday)
14. (19) UCLA (24-6) Next game: Pac 10
Tourney, vs. Oregon State/Arizona State (Thursday)
15. (8) Pittsburgh (21-6) Next game: Big East Tourney,
16. (14) Tennessee (21-6) Next game: SEC Tourney, vs.
South Carolina/Mississippi State (Friday)
17. (18) West Virginia (20-9) Next game: Big East Tourney,
vs. Pittsburgh/Louisville (Thursday)
18. (21) Nevada (24-5) Next game: WAC Tourney, vs.
19. (22) Kansas (22-6) Next game: Big 12 Tourney, vs.
Oklahoma State/Iowa State (Friday)
20. (23) Florida (24-6) Next game: SEC Tourney, vs.
21. (15) North Carolina State (21-8) Next game: ACC Tourney, vs.
Florida State/Wake Forest (Friday)
22. (16) Georgetown (19-8) Next game: Big East Tourney,
vs. Notre Dame (Wednesday)
23. (20) Marquette (20-9) Next game: Big East Tourney,
vs. Georgetown/Notre Dame (Thursday)
24. (24) Arkansas (21-8) Next game: SEC Tourney, vs.
25. (ur) Iowa (22-8) Next game: Big Ten Tourney, vs.
Inducted into the USBWA Hall of Fame last April,
Frank Burlison is Scout.com's national basketball expert and is also a columnist
for the Long
(Calif.) Press-Telegram. He can be reached at
firstname.lastname@example.org. Read more of Burlison's pieces at