NCAAW what to watch: Breaking down conference standings, road to title ahead of tournament time

Yahoo Sports
Lindsey Pulliam and Northwestern are fighting for the regular season title in the Big Ten. (Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
Lindsey Pulliam and Northwestern are fighting for the regular season title in the Big Ten. (Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

Going into the conference tournament on a double-bye is huge. It’s incredibly tough to win five games in five games in five days; sitting back the first two days, especially as injuries build up at the end of a season, is clutch.

Few teams seeded beyond the top 4 have ever won a conference tournament. And more often than not, it’s the top seed in the conference that wins it all.

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Some regular season titles have already been wrapped up, such as South Carolina in the SEC and Louisville in the ACC. Others will wait until the final day on Sunday, with Northwestern and Maryland still toughing it out.

With only a few days left in the regular season, here’s a look at where things stand now, who has locked up seeds, who can lock in the double-byes and what games to pay attention to in a busy weekend before March really gets going.

All records are conference records. Rankings are if they’ve locked up the seed, one through four, in their conference.

ACC: Louisville wins outright title, NC State No. 2

Conference tournament: March 4-8 in Greensboro, North Carolina

Top 4: No. 1 Louisville (15-2), No. 2 N.C. State (13-4), Florida State (11-6), Virginia Tech (11-6)

Seeds 5-9: Duke (11-6), Boston College (10-7), Georgia Tech (9-8), Syracuse (9-8), Virginia (8-9)

Seeds 10-15: North Carolina (7-10), Notre Dame (7-10), Wake Forest (7-11), Miami (6-11), Clemson (3-14), Pittsburgh (1-16)

Situation: Louisville won its first outright regular season conference title on Thursday night. The Cardinals have held at least a share of the title for three years now. N.C. State joined them in locked in a spot hours later with a win over Syracuse. The Wolfpack are locked in at No. 2.

Florida State and Virginia Tech need wins to hold their double-bye spots. The Seminoles have an easier shot, hosting Notre Dame on Sunday. The Hokies, who have been hot of late and are the tournament upset pick of All ACC studio crew, will have to face Louisville, ranked fifth in the AP poll. That game is at 12 p.m. ET on ACC Network.

Duke can move into the top four with a win over North Carolina (Sunday at 2 p.m. ET/ESPN2) and a Virginia Tech loss. The Blue Devils held the No. 3 seed going into Thursday night, but lost to the Hokies.

Down the line, Georgia Tech and Syracuse need strong showings in the final game and tournament to make the NCAA bracket. They have pulled upsets in the ACC, but are looking in.

Big Ten: Northwestern, Maryland fight for top spot

Conference tournament: March 4-8 in Indianapolis

Top 4: Northwestern (15-2), Maryland (15-2), No. 3 Iowa (14-3), No. 4 Indiana (12-5)

Seeds 5-10: Rutgers (10-7), Michigan (10-7), Ohio State (10-7), Purdue (8-9), Michigan State (8-9), Nebraska (7-11)

Seeds 11-14: Minnesota (5-12), Wisconsin (3-15), Illinois (2-15), Penn State (1-16)

Situation: The top spot in the Big Ten has yet to be determined though all four teams are locked in. And all four of them are ranked in the AP poll.

Northwestern and Maryland split their regular season match-up and are playing Sunday for the outright title and No. 1 spot without involving tiebreakers.

No. 14 ranked Northwestern will host Illinois at 2 p.m. ET Saturday on the Big Ten Network. The Wildcats won the first match-up, 77-50, in late December. Illinois is on a five-game losing streak.

No. 7 Maryland will travel to Minnesota. That game will air on ESPN2 at 4 p.m. ET. They have yet to meet this season. The Terps have rattled off 13 consecutive wins dating back to their early January loss to unranked Iowa. They currently stand as the fourth and final No. 1 seed in Charlie Creme’s Bracketology for ESPN.

In other games to watch, No. 18 Iowa will travel to Rutgers on Sunday and Indiana will travel to Michigan.

Big 12: Baylor runs away with another title

Conference tournament: March 12-15 in Kansas City | Regular seasons runs through March 8

Top 6 (single bye): No. 1 Baylor (15-0), TCU (11-4), Texas (9-6), Kansas State (8-7), Iowa State (7-8), West Virginia (6-9)

Seeds 7-10: Oklahoma State (6-9), Texas Tech (5-10), Oklahoma (5-10), Kansas (3-12)

Situation: Baylor clinched its 10th consecutive outright Big 12 regular season title and 11th total when TCU lost during the week. It’s the longest active title streak in the nation. The Bears can complete another undefeated season with wins over Kansas State, Texas and Iowa State. First up is a few more notable numbers if they can take down Kansas State on Saturday.

TCU made it back to the AP top 25 this week, coming in at No. 25, but lost to Texas two days later.

Pac-12: Oregon goes for 3rd straight outright title

Conference tournament: March 5-8 in Las Vegas

Top 4: No. 1 Oregon (15-1), Stanford (13-3), UCLA (12-4), Arizona (11-5)

Seeds 5-12: Arizona State (9-7), Oregon State (8-8), Utah (6-10), USC (6-10), Colorado (5-11), Washington (5-11), Washington State (11-17), California (10-17)

Situation: The top four teams are locked in, with Oregon locked into the top spot. The rest are subject to movement.

The nationally third-ranked Ducks can win their third consecutive outright season title on Friday when they host Washington State. They would become the second team in conference history, joining Stanford, to win at least three in a row without sharing the crown.

It would be a colossal upset if the Ducks (26-2, 15-1) lost to Washington State (11-17, 4-12) or to Washington (13-14, 5-11) on Sunday. Sabrina Ionescu is building on her 2k-1k-1k record she set last week and it will be the final regular season home games for the trio of Ionescu, Ruthy Hebard and Satou Sabally, who said she will declare for the WNBA draft as a junior.

No. 13 Arizona will host No. 4 Stanford in the game of the week (8 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Networks) for pivotal conference positioning. Cardinal coach Tara Vanderveer needs eight win to tie Tennessee’s Pat Summit as the all-time winningest coach. Stanford also travels to Arizona State on Sunday and could fall down the rankings. Arizona plays Cal on Sunday. No. 9 UCLA has Colorado and Utah.

SEC: South Carolina earns No. 1; teams battle for 3, 4

Conference tournament: March 4-8 in Greenville, South Carolina

Top 4: No. 1 South Carolina (15-0), No. 2 Mississippi State (12-3), Texas A&M (10-5), Kentucky (10-5)

Seeds 5-10: Arkansas (9-6), LSU (9-6), Tennessee (9-6), Alabama (7-8), Georgia (6-9), Florida (6-9), Missouri (5-10)

Seeds 11-14: Auburn (4-11), Vanderbilt (3-12), Ole Miss (0-15)

South Carolina clinched the regular season title last weekend with a win and Mississippi State loss to Arkansas. It’s their fifth title in seven seasons. On Thursday, they dropped 100 points on Florida and tied the program record for consecutive wins at 22. The Gamecocks host No. 12 ranked Texas A&M on Sunday for senior day. It airs at 12 p.m. on ESPN2.

The Aggies are trying to stay high in that top-4 seed position for a double-bye in the conference tournament. No. 15 Kentucky will travel to play Vanderbilt and could leap-frog Texas A&M for the third seed. There could also be some tiebreakers in play if the a multitude of teams end up at 10-6.

Arkansas, on a two-game losing streak, and LSU, which snapped its three-game losing streak this week, will go head-to-head on Sunday. Arkansas holds the head-to head tiebreaker with Kentucky, but not with Texas A&M.

LSU has a win over Kentucky and two against Texas A&M.

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