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NCAAW Update: Conference Tourneys Fuel March Madness

Another week and Iowa’s Caitlin Clark added more records to her collection as she passed Pete Maravich to become the all-time leading scorer in men’s or women’s NCAA Division I basketball history while top-ranked South Carolina wrapped up its second straight undefeated regular season. The Gamecocks will be favored by the NCAAW basketball lines in each of its games in the upcoming SEC tournament.

Conference tournaments will be starting this week with the ACC, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC tournaments beginning on Wednesday, the Big 12 getting underway on Thursday and the Big East tournament starting on Friday.

NCAAW Update: Conference Tourneys Fuel March Madness
Hannah Hidalgo #3 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish | Andy Lyons/Getty Images/AFP

The Gamecocks are still listed by our women’s college basketball futures lines with the best odds of winning the national championship. After South Carolina came in at even money to win it all, LSU and Iowa are both at +800 followed by UConn and Stanford at +1400.

Let the Madness Begin

Let’s take a look at the upcoming conference tournaments that could have the greatest impact on the March Madness odds.

Despite losing its last two games, Virginia Tech earned the No. 1 seed in the ACC tournament.

The bigger loss could be the injury suffered by two-time ACC Player of the Year Elizabeth Kitley in a loss to Virginia on Sunday. There will be plenty of eyes on Kitley one way or the other moving forward as her absence would leave a huge hole for one of the title contenders as March Madness kicks into high gear.

The Hokies have a first-round bye and would play the winner of the North Carolina-Miami game in Friday’s quarterfinals.

There could be a possible semifinal showdown with Notre Dame in the ACC tournament while North Carolina State and Syracuse could be on a collision course in the other half of the bracket.

Ohio State is the top seed in the Big Ten bracket while Iowa and Indiana are the No. 2 and 3 seeds.

There are some injury concerns in the Big Ten with Indiana’s Mackenzie Holmes and Lilly Meister as well as Iowa’s Molly Davis all being injured over the weekend.

Oklahoma is the No. 1 seed in the Big 12 with Texas and Kansas State the leading candidates to emerge from the other half of the bracket.

There will be more attention than normal on the Pac-12 tournament as it is the end of an era. Only Oregon State and Washington State will be left behind as the rest of the conference members will head to other leagues beginning next season.

Stanford, USC, UCLA and Oregon State are the top four seeds. Colorado spent time in the top five in the national polls but the Buffaloes are seeded fifth in the Pac-12 tourney.

South Carolina is the team to beat in the SEC and the same is true for UConn in the Big East. They are among the front-runners when it comes to the NCAA Women’s basketball championship odds.

Will March Madness Bubbles Be Burst This Week?

This is the time of the year when not everybody appreciates a Cinderella run when the calendar flips from February to March.

Barring some unforeseen circumstances in the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Big East, Pac-12 and SEC, chances are that the team that wins the conference tournament would have been in the tournament field regardless of this week’s results.

However, there are some conference tournaments that will be on the radar of teams considered to be “on the bubble.”

WCC regular-season champion Gonzaga is 11th in the NCAA NET rankings. The next WCC team is No. 71 Santa Clara so if somebody other than Gonzaga wins the WCC tournament, that will be one of those dreaded bid-stealing conferences.

It could be a similar situation in the Mountain West with UNLV 30th in the NET rankings and in the Ivy League as Princeton is 31st in the NET rankings. It is hard to know exactly what would happen to Middle Tennessee (39th in the NCAA NET rankings) if the Blue Raiders fail to win the Conference USA tournament.

A Look at the Polls

South Carolina remained the unanimous No. 1 in the Associated Press poll. After that things got a little interesting.

Stanford moved up two spots to No. 2 and Iowa went from sixth to third after its win over Ohio State in the latest Associated Press poll.

Texas fell three spots to No. 6 while Virginia Tech went from fifth to 11th in the AP rankings.

Fairfield, winners of 24 games in a row, broke into the top 25 at No. 25 heading into the MAAC tournament.

Game of the Week

No. 18 Colorado vs No. 2 Stanford

  • Thursday, March 7, 5:30 p.m. ET (Pac-12 Network)

 

This is a bit of a projection because Colorado needs to beat Oregon in the first round of the Pac-12 tournament. However, there was a time when a Colorado-Stanford matchup figured to come in the Pac-12 title game or perhaps even in the Final Four.

With some recent struggles by Colorado, the Buffaloes will need to go through Stanford in the quest for the Pac-12 tournament title.

When the teams met in January, fifth-ranked Colorado topped No. 8 Stanford 71-59.

Player of the Week

Hannah Hidalgo, Notre Dame

Hidalgo has been sensational all season long so it is not surprising to see her have 23 points, 12 rebounds, and six assists in a win over No. 5 Virginia Tech. Hidalgo then had 26 points, eight rebounds, four assists and six steals in a win over Louisville.

Hidalgo is averaging 23.8 points in eight games this season against ranked teams. Along with USC’s JuJu Watkins, Hidalgo is among the players with the best Las Vegas odds to be named the national freshman of the year.

Team of the Week

South Carolina Gamecocks

It was a bit of a tussle against visiting Tennessee as South Carolina wrapped up a perfect regular season with a 76-68 win. Kamila Cardoso led South Carolina with 18 points and 14 rebounds. Rickea Jackson’s 29 points led Tennessee.

The Gamecocks, even after seeing star post player Aliyah Boston be the top pick in the 2023 WNBA Draft, are 29-0 heading into the SEC tournament.

Nationally Televised Top-10 Games

  • No. 2 Stanford in Pac-12 Quarterfinals, Thursday, 5:30 p.m. ET (Pac-12 Network)
  • No. 5 USC in Pac-12 Quarterfinals, Thursday, 9 p.m. ET (Pac-12 Network)
  • No. 7 UCLA in Pac-12 Quarterfinals, Thursday, 11:30 p.m. ET (Pac-12 Network)
  • No. 1 South Carolina in SEC Quarterfinals, Friday, noon ET (SEC Network)
  • No. 4 Ohio State in Big Ten Quarterfinals, Friday, 12:30 p.m. ET (Big Ten Network)
  • No. 10 North Carolina State in ACC Quarterfinals, Friday, 5 p.m. ET (ACC Network)
  • No. 8 LSU in SEC Quarterfinals, Friday, 6 p.m. ET (SEC Network)
  • No. 3 Iowa in Big Ten quarterfinals, Friday, 6:30 p.m. ET (Big Ten Network)
  • No. 9 UConn in Big East Quarterfinals, Saturday, noon ET (FS1)

 

 

Questions Of The Day

Who is the favorite to win the national title?


Undefeated South Carolina continues to be the team listed by the BetUS sportsbook with the best odds of winning the national title.

What is the first game this week featuring a team ranked in the top 25 in the Associated Press poll?


No. 23 UNLV plays at Utah State on Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET riding an 11-game winning streak.

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