Michigan defended its Big Ten tournament title Sunday, and it would be no surprise if Coach John Beilein petitioned the league to permanently move the event to East Coast venues. Michigan has claimed the tournament in Washington and New York in back-to-back years.
For bracket purposes, there were four major takeaways from the first major conference tournament:
* Michigan moves up. The Wolverines added neutral-court victories over Michigan State and Purdue during their four-day run in New York. Here’s guessing it’s enough to vault Michigan (28-7) into position to make the short trip to Detroit for the opening weekend of the tournament.
* Michigan State’s seeding ceiling solidifies. The Spartans (29-4) don’t have any particularly bad results, but for all of the hype about them, they’re not especially accomplished, either. They went 1-3 against the Big Ten’s top tier (Michigan, Ohio State and Purdue) and it would come as no surprise if the committee pegs them as a No. 4 seed come Sunday.
* No one claimed a No. 1 seed. Michigan State definitely isn’t going to be a No. 1 seed, and Purdue’s chances probably hinged on running the table at Madison Square Garden. Instead, the Boilermakers should settle in as a solid No. 2 seed, and no worse than a No. 3.
* Four-bid territory. The last of the Big Ten’s potential bid thieves exited the stage Saturday when Penn State fell in the semifinals. With Nebraska going out in the quarterfinals against Michigan — leaving the Cornhuskers with a slimsy resume nearly devoid of high-end wins — the Big Ten is poised to produce only four tournament teams for the first time since 2008.
Monday’s key games
MAAC final, Iona (19-13) vs. Fairfield (17-15) (7 p.m., ESPN): There was carnage in the Metro Atlantic quarterfinals, with the top three seeds all losing. The survivors of the semifinals: Fourth-seeded Iona, which is seeking its third NCAA trip in a row and fifth in eight years, and sixth-seeded Fairfield. The Stags haven’t won the MAAC since 1997.
Southern final, UNC Greensboro (26-7) vs. East Tennessee State (25-8) (9 p.m., ESPN2): The conference’s top two teams meet in the league title game. East Tennessee State (25-8) is aiming for consecutive league titles, while top-seeded UNC Greensboro (26-7) is seeking its first NCAA appearance since 2001.
West Coast semifinal, Gonzaga (28-4) vs. San Francisco (18-14) (9 p.m., ESPN): The Bulldogs are aiming for yet another appearance in the WCC championship, while San Francisco is the only one of the other eight WCC schools to knock off either Gonzaga or Saint Mary’s this season.
West Coast semifinal, Saint Mary’s (28-4) vs. Brigham Young (23-9) (11:30 p.m., ESPN): For NCAA bracket purposes, wins by Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s would eliminate any chance of a bid snatcher from the WCC. The Gaels won both games against BYU by double-digit margins, though the game in Provo went to overtime.
Last four included: Marquette, Syracuse, Providence, Alabama
Four just on the outside: Kansas State, Baylor, Louisville, Utah
Next four on the outside: Notre Dame, Oklahoma State, Washington, Nebraska
Clinched automatic bids: Lipscomb (Atlantic Sun), Loyola-Chicago (Missouri Valley), Michigan (Big Ten), Murray State (Ohio Valley), Radford (Big South)
Moving in: Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Hampton, Harvard, Iona, Lipscomb, Marquette, Radford, Southeastern Louisiana, UC Davis, Wright State
Moving out: Florida Gulf Coast, Louisville, Nicholls State, Northern Kentucky, Penn, Rider, Savannah State, Texas Southern, UC Santa Barbara, UNC Asheville
Conference call: Atlantic Coast (9), Southeastern (8), Big East (7), Big 12 (6), Big Ten (4), Pac-12 (4), American Athletic (3), Atlantic 10 (2), West Coast (2)
(1) ATLANTIC COAST/Virginia vs. (16) BIG SOUTH/Radford — SOUTHWESTERN ATHLETIC/Arkansas-Pine Bluff winner
(8) Creighton vs. (9) Southern California
(5) Ohio State vs. (12) WESTERN ATHLETIC/New Mexico State
(4) Texas Tech vs. (13) SUN BELT/UL Lafayette
(3) AMERICAN ATHLETIC/Cincinnati vs. (14) BIG WEST/UC Davis
(6) Seton Hall vs. (11) Florida State
(7) Oklahoma vs. (10) Virginia Tech
(2) SOUTHEASTERN/Auburn vs. (15) BIG SKY/Montana
There’s a pretty decent shot Radford winds up in Charlotte, especially if Duke doesn’t land a No. 1 seed (the Highlanders could then face Virginia as a 16 seed or Duke as a 15). That would put the Highlanders in play for a game within a few hours of campus if they remain as a No. 16 seed or find a way to climb up to a 15. … Ohio State’s inability to deal with Penn State probably cost it a 4 seed or better, but chances are most (if not all) the No. 4 seeds end up out west, anyway. …
Cincinnati snagged a win at Wichita State over the weekend to further solidify its hold over a top-four seed. The Bearcats could climb as high as the No. 2 line by winning the American tournament this week. … Auburn is the last of the No. 2 seeds, but Cincinnati, Michigan and Tennessee all warranted plenty of consideration. … Oklahoma is making the tournament, regardless of its inability to win away from home since the calendar turned to 2018.
(1) Villanova vs. (16) IVY/Harvard — SOUTHLAND/Southeastern Louisiana winner
(8) Missouri vs. (9) UCLA
(5) WEST COAST/Gonzaga vs. (12) MISSOURI VALLEY/Loyola-Chicago
(4) Clemson vs. (13) SUMMIT/South Dakota State
(3) Tennessee vs. (14) PATRIOT/Bucknell
(6) Miami vs. (11) Alabama-Providence winner
(7) Texas Christian vs. (10) Butler
(2) Purdue vs. (15) NORTHEAST/Wagner
Cue up the Tyus Edney highlight if Missouri vs. UCLA comes to fruition. … Clemson owns the weakest resume of the No. 4 seeds, and would have been bumped down to the 5 line had Wichita State defeated Cincinnati on Sunday. … Loyola-Chicago is making its first NCAA tournament appearance since 1985 and has all the makings of being a popular 12-over-5 upset pick. The Ramblers, who won at Florida earlier this season, share the ball exquisitely and will be a major headache after claiming Arch Madness. …
Miami has gone from iffy to solidly in the field to flirting with a No. 5 seed in a span of two weeks. Maybe that first reading was a little off — the Hurricanes’ resume sort of had a house-of-mirrors effect before they won at North Carolina last week — but it also reflects a jumble in the middle of the bracket. … Alabama has survived a five-game skid to close out the regular season, but it probably won’t remain in the field if it loses its SEC tournament opener.
(1) BIG EAST/Xavier vs. (16) MID-EASTERN ATHLETIC/Hampton
(8) ATLANTIC 10/Rhode Island vs. (9) Arizona State
(5) Florida vs. (12) MID-AMERICAN/Buffalo
(4) West Virginia vs. (13) AMERICA EAST/Vermont
(3) BIG TEN/Michigan vs. (14) SOUTHERN/UNC Greensboro
(6) Kentucky vs. (11) Marquette-Syracuse winner
(7) Houston vs. (10) MOUNTAIN WEST/Nevada
(2) North Carolina vs. (15) HORIZON/Wright State
Put away the tinfoil hats, there’s no conspiracy here. In the trickle-down from making the bracket mechanics work and trying to space out the SEC teams, Rhode Island (coached by Dan Hurley) ended up paired with Arizona State (coached by his brother, Bob Hurley). … A Florida–West Virginia round-of-32 game would have a definite “first-to-55 wins” vibe. …
Here’s one upside from the Big Ten tournament going a week early this year: The committee has plenty of time to seed Michigan appropriately after the Wolverines claimed the conference title. The seeding of much of the Big Ten was one of the committee’s biggest problems last year, and the tight turnaround from a midafternoon Selection Sunday title game probably played a role. … Marquette has made a solid push in the last couple weeks; its two late-season defeats of Creighton could sweep it into the field.
(1) BIG 12/Kansas vs. (16) METRO ATLANTIC/Iona
(8) N.C. State vs. (9) Saint Mary’s
(5) Wichita State vs. (12) CONFERENCE USA/Middle Tennessee
(4) PAC-12/Arizona vs. (13) OHIO VALLEY/Murray State
(3) Michigan State vs. (14) COLONIAL/College of Charleston
(6) Texas A&M vs. (11) Texas
(7) Arkansas vs. (10) St. Bonaventure
(2) Duke vs. (15) ATLANTIC SUN/Lipscomb
Yeah, N.C. State is safe. … The seeding for Saint Mary’s is going to be interesting whether or not the Gaels win the WCC title. They’re 28-4 with a victory at Gonzaga and not a ton else, and they have two really crummy losses. …
Michigan State is the last of the No. 3 seeds, and even that might be generous. … If South Carolina could play Duke as a No. 7 seed less than two hours from campus last season, Texas or Texas A&M could face Michigan State in Dallas in the second round. … It’s getting harder to see how St. Bonaventure gets left out, but it happened two years ago to the Bonnies. They might as well win a game in the Atlantic 10 tournament to feel safe. What’s one more for a team on a 12-game winning streak?
More college basketball: