Ohio State has secured the Big Ten crown, but there are other conference races still in doubt as we wrap up the regular season this week. The race for league hardware is too often ignored, as commentators obsess over what sort of seeds teams will get in the tournament--seeds that are made irrelevant quickly, once the first upset happens.
You play the game to win championships. While the ultimate one in Atlanta is still in play for everyone, the teams that fail to win their leagues put all their eggs in the March basket in terms of getting any jewelry. Here's a quick snapshot of how things stand in the BCS conferences--
Commonwealth rivals Virginia Tech & Virginia have each worked their way into a tie with North Carolina at 10-4. Boston College is a half-game back at 10-5, but it seems unlikely that none of the three leaders would win out. The Hokies & Cavs tip it off tomorrow in the key game. North Carolina has its traditional season-ender with Duke at home, so the safe bet is for the Heels to share the title with tomorrow's winner.
Georgetown and Pitt are tied at 12-3. Georgetown closes at home against UConn, while the Panthers have a very tough road game at Marquette on Saturday night. If both stumbled, Louisville is waiting in the wings at 11-4, and only a home game with Seton Hall in the way of conference win #12.
Florida has long since put this one to bed, their current three-game losing streak notwithstanding. The Western Division has no one over .500 in league play, and the Gators still lead the East by two games. One has to think the lack of a serious conference challenge has contributed to the team's recent slide.
Kansas is sitting on 13-2, but Texas A&M controls its destiny for a piece of the title at 12-2. Texas is also in the mix at 11-3. And the Longhorns host the Aggies tonight, then go to Lawrence on Saturday afternoon. Win out, and there could be a three-way tie. A Texas win tonight would guarantee this conference the best game of the weekend.
UCLA (14-2) has clinched a tie with Washington State (12-4). The Cougars host the Bruins tomorrow, so they can keep their own hopes alive. If the Bruins can't clinch in Pullman, they travel to Washington on Saturday, while WSU would have a home game against USC.
Memphis has run away with Conference USA, holding a five-game lead. Gonzaga is up top in the West Coast, while BYU holds a one-game lead over UNLV in the Mountain West.