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High-five: The final league tourneys begin Thursday

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The final five conference tournaments get under way Thursday, including action in the ACC, Big Ten and SEC.

Here's a quick look at each conference tournament, with expanded info on a league as its tourney begins. The Ivy League is the only league without a tournament.

Conference tournaments
America East
When: March 1, 3-4, 10
Where: Hartford, Conn.; final is at site of best remaining seed.
TV for final: 11 a.m., ESPN2
Regular-season champ: Stony Brook
Format: All nine teams qualified, with the No. 8 and No. 9 seeds meeting in a sort of play-in game.
Projected NCAA bids: 1
The buzz: Stony Brook won the regular-season title by a game over Vermont; the teams split their regular-season games, with each winning at home. Stony Brook has won 11 of its past 12, with the only loss by 19 at Vermont. Vermont also has won 11 of 12, but its loss was a shocker to Binghamton, who was winless going into the game. Stony Brook is 12-0 at home this season, which is noteworthy because the Seawolves will play every league tourney game at home. A potential dark horse is fifth-seeded New Hampshire, which has won five of its past six, including wins over third-seeded Boston U. and fourth-seeded Albany.
The pick: Stony Brook
Atlantic 10
When: March 6, 9-11
Where: Atlantic City, N.J., with first-round games at campus sites.
TV for final: 1 p.m., CBS
Regular-season champ: Temple
Format: The top 12 teams qualify, and the top four seeds get a first-round bye.
Projected NCAA bids: 3-4
The buzz: Temple won the regular-season title by a game over Saint Louis, and both are NCAA locks playing for seeding. Xavier finished tied for third, two games behind Saint Louis. The Musketeers look to be the only other league team with a shot at an at-large bid, thought fifth-seeded Saint Joseph's could have a shot if it gets to the tourney final. Xavier split its final eight regular-season games but likely will get an NCAA bid unless it loses in its first tourney game. The Musketeers also will be hoping other bubble teams fall by the wayside in their league tourneys.
The pick: Temple
Atlantic Coast
When: March 8-11
Where: Atlanta
TV for final: 1 p.m., ACC syndication/ESPN
Regular-season champ: TBD
Format: All 12 teams qualify. The top four seeds get first-round byes.
Projected NCAA bids: 4-5
The buzz: North Carolina won the regular-season title by a game over Duke, with Florida State another game back. All three are NCAA locks, with UNC still in the hunt for a No. 1 seed (indeed, the Heels have a good shot at one, assuming they don't lose before the ACC tourney final). Fourth-seeded Virginia also looks to be in OK shape for an NCAA bid. Fifth-seeded North Carolina State and sixth-seeded Miami are on the bubble. NCSU swept the season series from Miami, but the Wolfpack have zero top-50 wins. Miami has two of those, including a huge road win against Duke. Both the Hurricanes and Wolfpack should win their first-round games, but a second-round win likely is going to be necessary to be truly in the running for an at-large berth. N.C. State has Virginia in the second round; UM has FSU. If both win in the second round, Virginia's spot might become tenuous.
The pick: North Carolina
Atlantic Sun
When: Feb. 29-March 3
The winner: Belmont
Big East
When: March 6-10
Where: New York.
TV for final: 9 p.m., ESPN
Regular-season champ: Syracuse
Format: All 16 teams qualify. The top four seeds get a bye into the quarterfinals; seeds five through eight get a first-round bye.
Projected NCAA bids: 7-10
The buzz: Syracuse ran away with the regular-season title, winning by three games over Marquette. The Orange are in line for a No. 1 NCAA seed and could be the overall No. 1. The only mystery would be where the Orange would be seeded if they lose their first league tourney game; chances are, Syracuse still would be a No. 1 because of its regular-season dominance. Second-seeded Marquette, third-seeded Notre Dame, fourth-seeded Cincinnati, fifth-seeded Georgetown and seventh-seeded Louisville also are NCAA locks, and playing for seeding. Eighth-seeded West Virginia, ninth-seeded Connecticut and 10th-seeded Seton Hall also look to be in OK shape heading into this tourney. Sixth-seeded USF, which finished tied for fourth in the league, has a skimpy resume and could use two wins to nail down an NCAA bid. One tourney win might not do it, considering the Bulls’ first opponent in Madison Square Garden will be either Rutgers or Villanova, both of whom are in the 100s in the RPI. WVU, UConn and Seton Hall should be fine, assuming they don't lose their first tourney game. UConn and Seton Hall play in the first round; WVU received a bye, and plays the UConn-DePaul winner in the second round.
The pick: Marquette
Big Sky
When: March 3, 6-7
Where: Campus sites in the first round; the regular-season champ hosts the semifinals and final.
TV for final: 9 p.m., ESPN2
Regular-season champ: Montana
Format: The top six teams qualified, with the top two seeds getting byes into the semifinals. The "better" seed hosts in the first round.
Projected NCAA bids: 1
The buzz: Montana won the regular-season title by a game over Weber State, with Portland State five games back in third. Montana and Weber split the season series, with each winning at home. Montana will play each of its league tourney games at home, but Weber has the best player in the league in G Damian Lillard, the nation's No. 2 scorer (24.5 ppg). Montana has won 12 in a row since losing at Weber State on Jan. 14; the Grizzlies' most recent win was by 15 over Weber in the regular-season finale on Feb. 28. Weber's seven-game winning streak was snapped in that loss. Portland State, which has won six of its past seven, was the only other team in the nine-team league to finish above .500 in league play.
The pick: Weber State
Big South
When: Feb. 27, 29, March 1, 3
The winner: UNC Asheville
Big Ten
When: March 8-11
Where: Indianapolis
TV for final: 3:30 p.m., CBS
Regular-season champ: TBD
Format: All 12 teams qualify. The top four seeds get byes into the second round.
Projected NCAA bids: 6-7
The buzz: Michigan State tied for the regular-season title with Michigan and Ohio State and is the No. 1 seed in the league tourney because of a tiebreaker. Those three teams, along with Indiana, Purdue and Wisconsin, are NCAA locks. Northwestern, which famously never has been to the NCAA tourney, is the team to watch in the Big Ten tournament. The Wildcats have just one top-50 win and five top-100 victories and may need to win twice in the league tourney to feel good about a bid; they have Minnesota in the first round and would play second-seeded Michigan in the second round. One positive for Northwestern: While the Wildcats have 12 losses, all are to teams in the top 100.
The pick: Ohio State
Big 12
When: March 7-10
Where: Kansas City, Mo.
TV for final: 6 p.m., ESPN
Regular-season champ: Kansas
Format: All 10 teams qualified. The top six seeds received byes into the second round.
Projected NCAA bids: 5-6
The buzz: Kansas won the regular-season title by two games over Missouri. KU, Mizzou, Baylor, Iowa State and Kansas State are NCAA locks, and Kansas remains in the running for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. The team to watch is sixth-seeded Texas. The Longhorns likely need to beat third-seeded Iowa State in a quarterfinal to receive an NCAA bid. The teams split their regular-season series, with each winning at home. Texas becomes an NCAA lock if it gets to the final.
The pick: Missouri
Big West
When: March 8-10
Where: Anaheim, Calif.
TV for final: 10 p.m., ESPN2
Regular-season champ: Long Beach State
Format: The top eight teams qualify.
Projected NCAA bids: 1
The buzz: Long Beach State ran away with the regular-season title, winning by three games over UC Santa Barbara and Cal State Fullerton. The 49ers' only league loss came at Fullerton in the regular-season finale March 3. Long Beach State is 15-2 since losing to Kansas State on Christmas Day in the final of the Diamond Head Classic in Hawaii. Second-seeded Fullerton has won eight of its past nine, with the only loss in that span a shocker to four-win UC Davis. Third-seeded UCSB has won six of its past seven. It would be a surprise if Long Beach doesn't at least get to the final: In the six regular-season games against the three other teams on its side of the bracket, Long Beach won all six by an average of 15.5 points.
The pick: Long Beach State
Colonial
When: March 2-5
The winner: VCU
Conference USA
When: March 7-10
Where: Memphis
TV for final: 11:30 a.m., CBS
Regular-season champ: Memphis
Format: All 12 teams qualified. The top four seeds received byes into the second round.
Projected NCAA bids: 1-2
The buzz: Memphis won the regular-season title by two games over Southern Miss. The Tigers have won 11 of their past 13, and only two of those wins were by fewer than 10 points. Couple that recent dominance with the league tourney being played on its home court, and Memphis is looking good in this tournament. But the Tigers have just one top-50 win and probably need to win once in this event to feel good about getting an at-large bid. Second-seeded Southern Miss is the other league team with a shot at an at-large berth. The Golden Eagles have three top-50 wins and split with Memphis. But they've also stumbled a bit of late, losing three of five and four of eight. If they get to the tourney final, they're an NCAA lock. But what happens if they lose in the quarterfinals? And a semifinal loss could make things dicey, too.
The pick: Memphis
Horizon
When: Feb. 28, March 2-3, 6
The winner: Detroit
Metro Atlantic Athletic
When: March 2-5
The winner: Loyola-Md.
Mid-American
When: March 5, 7-10
Where: Cleveland, but with first-round games at campus sites.
TV for final: 8 p.m., ESPN2
Regular-season champ: Akron
Format: All 12 teams qualify. The division winners are the top two seeds and they get byes into the semifinals. The rest of the teams are seeded by conference record, regardless of division. The No. 3 and 4 seeds get byes into the quarterfinals.
Projected NCAA bids: 1
The buzz: Akron won the regular-season title by a game over Buffalo, which swept the season series with the Zips. Eastern Michigan won the West Division title but is the No. 5 seed. The Eagles were the only team in their division to finish with a league record above .500 and are 14-17 overall. A strong case can be made that the league's four best teams are in the East Division. Akron comes in having lost three of five. Buffalo has split its past six games. Ohio, which finished third in the East, has won five of its past six, split with Akron and swept the season series with Buffalo. Kent State, which was fourth in the East, has lost four of its past five, was swept by Akron and split with Buffalo and Ohio. In short, this should be an interesting tourney. Akron is looking for its second bid in a row and its third in four seasons.
The pick: Buffalo
Mid-Eastern Athletic
When: March 6-10
Where: Winston-Salem, N.C.
TV for final: 1 p.m., ESPN2
Regular-season champ: TBD
Format: All 13 teams qualify. The top three seeds get byes into the second round.
Projected NCAA bids: 1
The buzz: Savannah State, which is in its first full-fledged season as a Division I member, won the regular-season title by a game over Norfolk State. The Tigers, who are coached by former Georgetown G Horace Broadnax, carry a 13-game winning streak into the tourney. Norfolk State beat Savannah State in their lone regular-season meeting this season, and Savannah state didn’t even play third-seeded Delaware State; Delaware State, in turn, swept Norfolk State. But Delaware State lost to 10th-seededHoward and 12th-seeded Maryland-Eastern Shore. Norfolk State, which features league player of the year Kyle O'Quinn (15.9 ppg, 10.7 rpg, 2.9 bpg), has won six of its past seven, and Delaware State comes in having won 11 of 13, with both losses by a point. Fifth-seeded North Carolina Central is the dark horse to watch; the Eagles have won seven of their past 10, with one of those losses at Indiana.
The pick: Norfolk State
Missouri Valley
When: March 1-4
The winner: Creighton
Mountain West
When: March 6-10
Where: Las Vegas
TV for final: 7 p.m., NBC Sports Network
Regular-season champ: TBD
Format: All eight teams qualify.
Projected NCAA bids: 3-4
The buzz: New Mexico and San Diego State tied for the regular-season title, with UNLV a game back in third. SDSU won the tiebreaker and is the No. 1 seed. All three of those teams are NCAA-bound and playing for seeding. Fourth-seeded Colorado State also is looking good for a NCAA bid, as long as the Rams avoid a loss to TCU in the first round of the conference tourney. Colorado State can remove any doubt about an at-large bid by getting to the tourney final.
The pick: UNLV
Northeast
When: March 1, 4, 7
Where: Campus sites
TV for final: 7 p.m., ESPN2
Regular-season champ: Long Island
Format: The top eight teams qualified, and the "better" seeds host in each round.
Projected NCAA bids: 1
The buzz: LIU won the regular-season crown by a game over Wagner. LIU, which prefers a fast pace, swept the season series with the Seahawks. LIU is 12-0 at home and will play at home in each of its league tourney games. Wagner comes in having won nine of 10. But the loss came to Quinnipiac, and they meet in the first round. Sixth-seeded Monmouth bears watching. The Hawks have won five of six, including a 28-point demolition of LIU. But Monmouth gets third-seeded Robert Morris in the first round, and Robert Morris swept the season series.
The pick: Long Island
Ohio Valley
When: Feb. 29-March 3
The winner: Murray State
Pacific-12
When: March 7-10
Where: Los Angeles
TV for final: 6 p.m., CBS
Regular-season champ: Washington
Format: All 12 teams qualified. The top four seeds received byes into the second round.
Projected NCAA bids: 1-2
The buzz: Washington won the regular-season title by a game over California and Oregon, but no one in this league can feel confident about an NCAA at-large bid. The Pac-12 runs the risk of being the first "major" conference to receive just one bid since the NCAA field expanded to 48 teams in 1980. The last time the league received just one bid was 1978, when it was a 32-team field. Washington has one top-50 win - over No. 50 Oregon. Cal has two - both over Oregon. Oregon has zero such wins. The danger, of course, is that Oregon easily could fall outside the top 50. Washington likely would feel good about getting a bid should it advance to the league tourney final; it's hard to see a major conference champ being left out of the field if it also advances to the its league tourney final. Cal also would seem to have a shot if it gets to the tourney final. Everyone else? It's a case of win this tourney or no bid.
The pick: Washington
Patriot
When: Feb. 29, March 3, 7
Where: Campus sites
TV for final: 7 p.m., CBS Sports Network
Regular-season champ: Bucknell
Format: All eight teams qualified. The "better" seed hosts in each round.
Projected NCAA bids: 1
The buzz: Bucknell won the regular-season title by a game over Lehigh; the teams split the season series, with each winning on the road. Lehigh comes in on a five-game winning streak, and one of those victories was a three-pointer at Bucknell on Feb. 16. The hot finish was a bit of an aberration, though, as three of the victims were Army, Navy and Colgate, which won a combined seven league games. Bucknell's only league losses came in back-to-back games Feb. 16 and 18. Before the loss to Lehigh on the 16th, the Bison had won 12 in a row. Fourth-seeded Holy Cross could be the dark horse; the Crusaders beat Bucknell and Lehigh, and come in on a six-game winning streak.
The pick: Bucknell
SEC
When: March 8-11
Where: New Orleans
TV for final: 1 p.m., ABC
Regular-season champ: Kentucky
Format: All 12 teams qualify. The top four seeds get byes into the second round.
Projected NCAA bids: 4-6
The buzz: Kentucky dominated the league, winning the regular-season title by a whopping six games over Florida, Tennessee and Vanderbilt. Tennessee won the tiebreaker and is the No. 2 seed, followed by Vandy and Florida. UK is a lock as an NCAA No. 1 seed and has a better than 50-50 shot to be the overall No. 1. UK, Florida and Vandy are NCAA locks, while Alabama, Mississippi State and surprising Tennessee are on the bubble. Fifth-seeded Alabama should be fine, as long as it does not lose to South Carolina in the first round of the tourney. To feel comfortable on Selection Sunday, Mississippi State likely wants to win twice, which would include beating Vandy in the second round. Tennessee is a special case. Despite being the No. 2 seed, the Vols have 13 losses and an RPI of 75th. They have four top-50 wins and seven top-100 victories; they also have four losses to teams ranked 113st or worse in the RPI and are a sickly 3-10 away from home. To have a legit shot at an at-large bid, the Vols need to advance to the tourney final. They are hot, winning eight of their past nine.
The pick: Kentucky
Southern
When: March 2-5
The winner: Davidson
Southland
When: March 7-8, 10
Where: Katy, Texas
TV for final: 3 p.m., ESPN2
Regular-season champ: UT Arlington
Format: The top eight teams regardless of division qualified.
Projected NCAA bids: 1
The buzz: UT Arlington won the regular-season title by three games over Stephen F. Austin. UTA's lone league loss came at fifth-seeded UT San Antonio in the regular-season finale; in their other meeting, UTA beat UTSA by just one at home. UT Arlington is 19-2 since losing to Utah State on Dec. 20. Second-seeded SFA has won 10 of 12, including a 10-point win at third-seeded Lamar in late February. Lamar has won eight of its past 11.
The pick: UT Arlington
Southwestern Athletic
When: March 7-10
Where: Garland, Texas
TV for final: 8 p.m., ESPNU
Regular-season champ: Mississippi Valley
Format: The top eight teams qualified. Grambling and Southern are ineligible for postseason play because of bad APR numbers.
Projected NCAA bids: 1
The buzz: Mississippi Valley, which is coached by former Kentucky G Sean Woods, ran away with the regular-season title, winning by four games over Southern - which is ineligible for postseason play. Thus, Texas Southern is seeded second, and it finished five games behind Mississippi Valley. Valley's only league loss came at fifth-seeded Arkansas-Pine Bluff in the regular-season finale. Valley's 18-12 record is impressive when you consider the Delta Devils didn't play a home game until Jan. 3 and played just nine home games total. Texas Southern comes in having won six of eight, while Pine Bluff - which won the league tourney last season - is a dark horse to watch. The Golden Lions have won eight of their past 10, and they would get Valley in the semifinals.
The pick: Mississippi Valley
Summit
When: March 3-6
The winner: Sout hDakota State
Sun Belt
When: March 3-6
The winner: Western Kentucky
West Coast
When: Feb. 29-March 3, 5
The winner: Saint Mary's
Western Athletic
When: March 7-10
Where: Las Vegas
TV for final: 11:59 p.m., ESPN2
Regular-season champ: TBD
Format: All eight teams qualify.
Projected NCAA bids: 1
The buzz: Nevada won the regular-season title by three games over New Mexico State and swept the season series from the Aggies. Nevada's only league loss came at home by four points against third-seeded Idaho; that was part of a closing stretch that saw Idaho win seven of its final eight regular-season games. Idaho also beat New Mexico State in that span. Utah State, which has won three consecutive league tourneys, is seeded fourth. While Utah State was swept by Nevada and New Mexico State, it split with Idaho.
The pick: Nevada

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