Championship Week is one of the most exciting weeks on the sporting calendar. For those who don’t follow Division 1 college basketball, Championship Week is the time of year when almost every conference (outside of the Ivy League) holds a conference tournament to decide which team will get an automatic bid into the NCAA Division 1 Basketball Championship, better known as March Madness. The winner of each conference tournament gets automatic entry into the single elimination tournament that takes Vegas and the rest of America by storm, while every team who doesn’t win their conference needs to sweat it out on Selection Sunday (March 11 this year) to see whether they will be invited to the big dance or will be playing in the lesser tournaments the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) or the relatively new College Basketball Invitational (CBI) which selects 16 teams that are not invited to either the NCAA or NIT tournament, which was created in 2007 by the Gazelle Group as an additional revenue stream for HDNet and Fox College Sports.
Championship Week 2012 started out with UNC-Asheville being the first team to punch their dance card with an 80-64 win over VMI on Saturday and winning the Big South in the process. Admittedly I don’t know too much about Asheville besides it being one of the beer capitals of the South, but I can only assume that the people there are excited to be represented in March Madness. One of my best friends in the world currently resides down there while employed at the Biltmore Estate and I only hope she has heard the news.
Other teams to receive an automatic bid by way of winning their conference tournaments include Western Kentucky (Sun Belt), Belmont (Atlantic Sun), Detroit (Horizon League), Loyola-Maryland (MAAC), Creighton (MVC), Murray State (OVC), and South Dakota State (Summit).
Some of the best games of Championship Week so far have also resulted in Tournament Bids. Virginia Commonwealth and head coach Shaka Smart (who Nole fans know all too well) made it back to the NCAA’s a year after they made an improbable Final Four run before losing to Butler, by defeating a Drexel team who had won 19 straight games coming into the Colonial Tournament final by a score a score of 59-56. In addition, Davidson (a basketball program most known for Stephen Curry) survived a double overtime thriller against the Western Carolina Catamounts to advance 93-91 to win the Southern Conference. Lastly, for fans of the West Coast late games, Saint Mary’s defeated well known Gonzaga 78-74 in Overtime to win the West Coast Conference in a very exciting game.
With the Big East Tournament in full swing and a rematch of the 6 OT Uconn/Syracuse game of 2009 on tap for noon ET tomorrow, as well as the remainder of the “power conference” tournaments either beginning or really getting going tomorrow the rest of ESPN’s Championship Week is sure to be as exciting as what has already occurred since last Saturday. For those who aren’t interested in college basketball y’all are really missing out, and for those who who can’t get enough of this action sit back and enjoy it. After all, it only comes once a year!
I will have my preview of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament up before Maryland and Wake Forest tip off at noon Thursday and begin what should be a really exciting tournament, and I hope that everybody will be able to enjoy the rest of this awesome Championship Week.