As college basketball bracketology experts like Joe Lunardi, Jerry Palm, Kerry Miller, and Kevin Sweeney begin to project the field of the NCAA Tournament in March, one aspect that is always taken note of is the number of bids accumulated by each conference.
These numbers can give an indication of where the power lies in the sport for a particular season and the strength of individual teams heading into the tournament. A program coming out of a conference with, say, six NCAA Tournament bids will be judged differently than a team coming out of a conference with only two tourney bids.
There’s been some fluctuations in the past few weeks but the power conferences like the Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, and SEC will be well represented with seven and in some instances, eight members expected to have their names called on Selection Sunday. The Big 12 in particular doesn’t have a single team under .500 and is filled with so many quality teams that even an above average squad like Oklahoma could sneak in based off its resume.
We’re still keeping an eye out for how the ACC looks down the stretch in an incredibly down year for the conference. The league could get up to five in but Palm of CB has only deemed three worthy of making the cut as of Monday. Duke stands in a class of its own with Notre Dame and Wake Forest in the mix. After them, it’s a mess of teams pulling each other down as Miami and North Carolina find themselves on the bubble. Similarly, the Pac-12 remains the sleepiest of power conferences and may be matched in number of bids by the West Coast Conference.
The WCC could potentially put four to five teams in the tourney this season and that only bolsters the resume of potential No. 1 seed Gonzaga. BYU, San Francisco, Saint Mary’s, and potentially San Diego all have a shot at hearing their names called on Selection Sunday. The same rings true with the Mountain West with Boise State, Colorado State, Wyoming, and San Diego State. Then you have the Ohio Valley Conference, where Murray State is emerging as a popular darkhorse for the tournament but Belmont and Morehead State could fight for a bid as well.
ACC - 5 (Lunardi, Miller, and Sweeney), 3 (Palm)
Big 12 - 8 (Miller), 7 (Lunardi, Palm, and Sweeney)
Big East - 7 (Lunardi, Miller, and Palm), 6 Sweeney
Big Ten - 8 (Palm and Sweeney), 7 (Lunardi and Miller)
MWC - 4 (Palm), 3 (Lunardi, Miller, and Sweeney)
Pac-12 - 4 (Lunardi, Miller, Palm, and Sweeney)
SEC - 7 (Sweeney and Palm), 6 (Lunardi and Miller)
WCC - 4 (Lunardi, Miller, and Palm), 3 (Sweeney)