Commentary

Conference tournaments shape field

Updated: March 11, 2010, 12:20 PM ET
By Dick Vitale | ESPN.com

I can't believe Selection Sunday is almost here.

The VBDI (Vitale Bald Dome Index) has been working hard to figure out the final few teams in the field of 65.

My friends, the bubble has burst for several clubs already. Now those sweating it out, waiting for the decision of the selection committee, will have to watch the power conferences and hope that there are no shock-city performances. The last two years, the SEC has produced major surprises in its conference tournament that ultimately popped the bubble for some teams trying to make the Big Dance.

Even before Wednesday's game, I felt that Notre Dame was a lock. Yet the Irish eliminated any doubt by beating Seton Hall in the Big East tournament. That likely ended the hopes of Bobby Gonzalez's Pirates. Mike Brey has done a superb job with Notre dame, especially given the injury of Luke Harangody, who is back now.

One team that will have to wait and see is Missouri, a stunning upset loser to Nebraska in the first round of the Big 12 tournament. Mike Anderson's Tigers have 22 wins and should make it to the field of 65.

Teams to keep an eye on include: San Diego State in the Mountain West; Illinois in the Big Ten; Washington and Arizona State in the Pac-10; and Memphis in Conference USA. These are the teams vying for the last few slots.

The mid-major tournaments haven't yielded any surprises. Tournament wins by Butler, Siena, and Old Dominion thrilled teams sitting on the bubble! St. Mary's upset Gonzaga in the WCC, but the Gaels may have received a bid anyway.

This is a great time of year. The action at these conference tournaments should be intense. The field will take shape, and I really feel there will only be a couple of teams battling for the final spots into the field.

Dick Vitale

College Basketball analyst
Dick Vitale, college basketball's top analyst and ambassador, joined ESPN during the 1979-80 season. His thorough knowledge of the game is brought forth in an enthusiastic, passionate style. Vitale also contributes columns to ESPN.com.