Rivals.com College Basketball Editor
They won the league?!?!
Here's a look at the winners of the 16 lowest-ranked conferences in terms of RPI. Typically, these are the conferences that provide the No. 14, 15 and 16 seeds. A majority of them are not sending their regular-season champ.
Seed of winner
#2 (Boston U.)
#1 (Northern Colorado)
#3 (UNC Asheville)
#5 (UC Santa Barbara)
Metro Atlantic Athletic
#1 (Long Island)
#2 (Morehead State)
#7 (UT San Antonio)
#4 (Alabama State)
#8 (Arkansas-Little Rock)
Here's our final NCAA tournament tracker for the season.
Today, we'll spotlight the four conference tourney finals and look at how those games will affect the NCAA tourney field.
The field will be announced today at 6 p.m. Eastern, and pay attention as brackets are unveiled. What you'll see is, quite possibly, the weakest field in NCAA history.
This is the first season of the 68-team field, and the at-large pool is underwhelming. Unless the selection committee makes an egregiously bad decision, no coach or team left out of the field truly will have a case that they should've been included. As for a majority of the teams that won their league tournaments to get automatic bids? Of the tournaments in the 16 leagues with the lowest-ranked RPIs, only five No. 1 seeds prevailed (see chart).
All RPI figures are through Saturday's games and come from collegerpi.com.
GAMES OF INTEREST
NCAA TOURNEY LOCKS (61)
(Teams are listed alphabetically by league; asterisked teams already have clinched a bid)
Dayton vs. Richmond, 1 p.m., CBS: This is the Atlantic 10 final from Atlantic City, N.J. It's a fitting site, as Dayton is all-in with this final. If the Flyers - who underachieved during the regular season and are seeded ninth - take the tourney crown, they get an automatic bid and bump out an at-large team; in that scenario, the A-10 gets four bids because Richmond (along with Temple and Xavier) is safely in the field. If the Flyers lose, they're NIT-bound and at-large teams everywhere say a little prayer of thanks for Richmond. The Spiders won by 10 at Dayton in the only regular-season meeting.
Duke vs. North Carolina, 1 p.m., ACC syndication/ESPN: This is the ACC tourney final in Greensboro, N.C., and the matchup warms the heart of every ACC administrator. It's two teams with fiercely loyal fan bases (UNC's is vastly larger; hey, state school, you know) but also the two teams that everyone else in the conference dislikes. OK, Wake fan and UVa fan and Terps fan and Wolfpack fan - who do want to win? Or, rather, who do you most want to lose? UNC won the ACC regular-season title, and doubling up with the ACC tourney title could get the Tar Heels the final No. 1 seed. Duke has a shot, as well, at a No. 1 with a victory. These teams split in the regular season, with each winning at home.
Florida vs. Kentucky, 1 p.m., ABC: This is the SEC tourney final in Atlanta. Both are safely in the field and both are playing for seeding. Florida looks to be a No. 3 locked up, but could move up to a No. 2 with a win. A victory would give the Gators 12 top-50 wins, which would be tied for the most in the nation (Connecticut also has 12). Florida will be playing in a sub-regional in Tampa regardless. Kentucky looks good for a No. 4 and perhaps could move up a line with a victory. These teams split in the regular season, with each winning at home.
Ohio State vs. Penn State, 3:30 p.m., CBS: This is the Big Ten tourney final in Indianapolis. Penn State has played its way into the NCAA field and ended the dreams of some bubble teams along the way. Ohio State is a lock to be a No. 1 seed and is in line to be the overall No. 1 seed with a win in this one. At worst, the Buckeyes will be the No. 2 overall seed. Ohio State swept the season series, winning by three at home and by 21 at Penn State.
Mike Huguenin is the college sports editor for Rivals.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.