NCAA conference winners and losers
SAN DIEGO (AP) Every year, it seems the NCAA selection committee is enamored with the Mountain West, giving teams from the conference high seeds in the NCAA tournament.
Most of the time, they don’t live up to the billing.
A year ago, third-seeded New Mexico lost to No. 14 Harvard, and San Diego State was a No. 7 seed when it lost to 15th-seeded Florida Gulf Coast.
The Lobos were bumped by a lower seed again in this year’s tournament, taken out by No. 10 Stanford as the seventh seed in the Midwest Regional. The Aztecs are a 4 seed in the South this year and needed overtime to get past 13th-seeded New Mexico State.
San Diego State could still make a deep run in the bracket after rolling over North Dakota State on Saturday, but it’s been a tough couple of years in the conference.
With that in mind, we’ve decided to look at how some of the other conferences have done in the NCAA tournament so far. Take a look:
PAC-12: The big conference from the West Coast was touted as one of the nation’s strongest all season and it has lived up to the billing so far, going 4-2 through the first two full rounds of the tournament. Arizona, the top overall seed in the West, UCLA and Oregon all won by double digits, and Stanford pulled off a minor upset by knocking off New Mexico. Arizona State lost on a buzzer beater and Colorado was blown out by Pittsburgh after limping to the end of the season without leading scorer Spencer Dinwiddie. Oregon ended up losing to Wisconsin in its second game, but the conference is still in good shape.
SEC: While the Pac-12 was hailed most of the season, the SEC took its lumps. Well, look at those Southern boys now. The SEC got three teams into the field and they’ve yet to lose, going 5-0 through Saturday’s early games. Tennessee squeaked into the bracket, then beat Iowa in the First Four and knocked off No. 6 seed UMass. Kentucky, a preseason favorite, opened with a win over Kansas State and has top overall seed Wichita State up next. Florida, No. 1 in the South, is in the Sweet 16 for the fourth straight year after beating Albany and Pittsburgh.
ATLANTIC-10: Now, for some of the bad news. The selection committee seemed to love the A-10, picking six teams and giving No. 5 seeds to Virginia Commonwealth and Saint Louis. Well, four of those teams were done after the first game. VCU botched the end of its game against Stephen F. Austin in one of several upsets, and UMass also lost to a lower seed. George Washington and Saint Joseph’s also lost their openers. Saint Louis managed to get past the first game before being eliminated by Louisville. Dayton at least gave the A-10 a big boost with its surprising wins over Ohio State and third-seeded Syracuse.
AAC: The poor American Athletic Conference found itself on the opposite end of the selection committee’s graces as the A-10. The conference felt slighted on Selection Sunday when SMU, which won 23 games, was left out of the bracket and Louisville was a No. 4 seed despite being the defending national champion and winning the AAC tournament. After Louisville punched its ticket to the Sweet 16 on Saturday, the AAC is 5-1 with Memphis still alive and UConn moving on to the regional semifinals. Cincinnati has the only blemish with its upset loss to Harvard in its opening game.
BIG TEN: Annually one of the toughest conferences in college basketball, the Big Ten was rewarded with six teams in the NCAA tournament. It’s been an up-and-down ride. Iowa sneaked into the bracket, but lost its First Four game to Tennessee. Ohio State was bounced from the bracket in its first game by 11th-seeded Dayton, and Nebraska lost to Baylor in its opener. The top of the conference is looking pretty good. Michigan, the national runner-up a year ago, is headed back to the Sweet 16 after beating Texas and so is Wisconsin after holding off Oregon on Saturday. Michigan State has been a popular national champion pick despite being a No. 4 seed, and the Spartans followed a lopsided win over Delaware by outlasting Harvard.
BIG 12: The big conference from the country’s midsection – well, except for West Virginia – led the way by getting seven teams into the bracket. With that many teams, it’s not surprising that it’s had some highs and lows, too. The low: Three teams done after one game, including Oklahoma’s opening loss to 12th-seeded North Dakota State. The high: Kansas has been on top of the conference for about a decade and could be headed toward another deep run if it gets by Stanford on Sunday. Baylor and Iowa State won their opening games and play on Sunday for a spot in the Sweet 16. Texas was bounced in its second game by Michigan, while Kansas State and Oklahoma State went one-and-done, putting the Big 12 at 4-4.