NCAA women's hoops conference tournament championship season
The GIST: Since most conferences have handed out their regular-season titles, it’s officially conference tournament championship season, and some of the country’s best, including four of the Power Five conferences, begin their hunts tonight. Ready that confetti.
How it works: These 32 single-elimination tourneys are the first step in the postseason and the final one before March Madness, with winners earning an automatic spot in the Big Dance. Those without a conference crown will hustle to impress the selection committee, who will bestow at-large bids to fill the bracket on March 12th, aka Selection Sunday. No pressure.
ACC: The ACC was one of the season’s most competitive conferences, led by regular season champs No. 10 Notre Dame and their history-making head coach Niele Ivey. But, the Olivia Miles–less Irish will have to contend with ACC POY Elizabeth Kitley’s No. 8 Virginia Tech and No. 13 Duke. This one’s a toss-up.
Big Ten: Equally competitive is the Big Ten. No. 2 Indiana sealed the conference season title last week, but not without some trouble from No. 5 Maryland and No. 7 Iowa. Fingers crossed for more iconic buzzer-beaters and National POY campaigns from this group.
Pac-12: New–No. 3 Utah stunned defending conference tournament champ No. 6 Stanford on Sunday, forcing the Cardinal to share their Pac-12 ’ship. But No. 21 Arizona could also make a run for the tourney trophy, despite ending their regular season with two losses to unranked teams.
SEC: The aforementioned No. 1 South Carolina Gamecocks are heavily favored to take their seventh tourney title in the last nine years. But Bayou Barbie and No. 4 LSU are dangerous and seeking revenge for their February 12th loss to the Gamecocks, and it wouldn’t be the first time a dominant South Carolina squad suffered an upset in the tourney.