NCAA Championship Week is as good, if not better, than the NCAA Tournament.
Yeah, I said it. No ragrets.
The NCAA tourney gets all the love, and rightfully so. But NCAA Men’s Championship Week is the appetizer at a fancy restaurant that’s better than your overpriced entrè.
I know what you’re thinking. I’m crazy. But aren’t we all? I mean, there’s people in this world who genuinely like Duke basketball so do me a solid and hear me out.
The reason we love March Madness is because it ‘s a win-or-go-home tournament, right? And at the end, it spits out one true, undisputed champion. It’s a playing field that gives the likes of Virginia Commonwealth an equal shot at winning a championship as powerhouse Kansas.
The field is designed to highlight the underdog, and it’s our human nature to root for those types of teams.
But lest we forget that these mid-major darlings that we sketch on our brackets come late March punched their tickets to the big dance by way of winning their conference tournaments.
They weren’t handed anything.
They had to play an elimination tournament just to become eligible for another elimination tournament. So my logic, if we love March Madness for the novelty of Cinderella’s why wouldn’t Championship Week be even bigger of an appeal?
To me, there’s nothing truly competitive than schools like Monmouth, or Chattanooga, being good enough to play with the big dogs but having to fight tooth and nail just to get the chance.
Plus, instead of one tournament of this action, there’s like 20.
I’m a sucker for mid-major basketball. I love to snuggle up to some MAAC action on a cozy Tuesday night. Now peep my Championship Week spreadsheet I have created for your viewing pleasure.
Here’s your recap to this point.
Yale won the Ivy League regular season, so they go dancing. No time for a conference tournament they need to study.
Austin Peay already wins for best school name in the tournament. UNC-Asheville is dancing, too.
Florida Gulf Coast was the subject of “Dunk City” a few tournaments back, they’ll bring it back this year, and Northern Iowa won the MVC tourney on this:
OK, now that we’re caught up, here’s what you need to pay attention to the rest of the week.
Monday, March 7th
I’ll keep Monday night short and sweet because I’m giving you so little time to read and react before tipoff that it’s like trying to guard a Steph Curry three.
The Colonial, MAAC, and Southern Conference will all punch tickets to the dance by the end of the night Monday. Regardless of whatever dirty acronym you can fit into MAAC, these are not the sexiest conferences in the world.
However, there are a handful of teams potentially dancing from this group with Sweet 16 talent starting with Justin Robinson and the Monmouth Hawks. The Chattanooga Mocs have only five losses this season and boast wins at Georgia and Dayton.
But perhaps the best game of the night won’t end in a trophy raise as Gonzaga and BYU battle in the WCC semifinal as you’re tucking the kiddies into bed. It’s a championship of sorts in its own right as both teams sit squarely on the bubble meaning the loser is shit out of luck.
P.S. crush the over in Vegas on this one.
Tuesday, March 8th
I mentioned the WCC semifinal just 15 words ago. The winner of that game will play Saint Mary’s (in all likelihood) for the conference championship Tuesday night. SMU is 26-4 on the season and is dancing either way so the title game will essentially be a determination on whether one or two teams get a bid from the West Coast.
The Horizon League and Summit also punch tickets Tuesday night, though only one deserves talking about. That one is the Horizon League, as the championship game could potentially be the best team in the conference vs. the best player in the conference and only one of them can go dancing.
I’m talking Valparaiso at 26-5 and Oakland’s (not the Raiders), Kay Felder. Felder is the type of player that can single-handedly win games in the NCAA tournament, but will need to win the Horizon tournament to get there.
If Valpo and Oakland square off, it’ll end up being one of the best games of the entire week.
UPDATE: Welp. Valpo and Oakland both lost so your Horizon League title game is Wright State vs. Green Bay. Exciting shit.
Oh, and the Northeast Conference tournament ends and pins Wagner against Fairleigh Dickinson. The only reason I mention this is because I can’t wait to write “Fair Dick” on my bracket.
Wednesday, March 9th
OK, midweek is where things take a bit of a shift. The mid-major tournaments wind down, and the power conference takes center stage.
The Patriot League is the only one with a conference title which should be a total shit show as there’s not a single team with less than 13 losses this season.
The A-10, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Mountain West, and Pac-12 all tip off on Wednesday, however, it’ll be all of the bottom-of-the-standings looking to play at least one more day before reckoning. So unless you’re an alum or lifelong fan, you probably don’t give a damn about Rutgers, Nebraska, Illinois or Minnesota.
But in the wise words of Waka Flocka, “It’s a party, it’s a party, it’s a party.”
— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) March 7, 2016
Thursday, March 10th
Nothing ends on the 10th, which I guess is cool because I need a break from updating that spreadsheet. The AAC, Big West, Sun Belt, and WAC conference tournaments begin.
In other words, it’s the date that UConn begins its ridiculously annoying run of winning basketball games in March.
Other than that, Iowa and Wisconsin play in the Big Ten. As do the top four seeds in the Pac-12 and ACC. Texas-Baylor, Oklahoma-Iowa State, Kansas, and West Virgina all highlight a ridiculous day of Big 12 hoops.
The MAC tournament starts back up again after a few days off, but it’s not football so ultimately I could not care less. Go NIU.
Friday, March 11th
Again, no champions will be crowned on Friday. However, top seeds Indiana and Michigan State play their first games of the Big Ten tournament, and the Big 12 semifinals are going to be as lit as the Morris twins.
Despite the absence of any crowns, Friday is the day you maximize your basketball viewing pleasure. It’s basically like the opening days of the actual tournament because it’s the biggest cluster of highly competitive games on the same day, at the same time.
So if basketball overload is your thing then carve out some time on Friday, and you can watch potential matchups like Texas-Kansas, West Virginia-Oklahoma, Oregon-Arizona, Wisconsin-Maryland; oh, and even Round 3 of Duke-North Carolina.
Saturday, March 12th
OK, where to begin here. Here is the list of tournaments wrapping up on Saturday:
Sunday, March 13th
Sunday is obviously Selection Sunday when the entire NCAA Tournament field is selected. But before that the AAC, Atlantic 10, Big Ten, SEC, and somehow the Sun Belt sneaks in there; all need to crown champions.