When and Where to Watch the Local NCAA Teams During Conference Tournament Play This Week

Experts are predicting most of the area men's basketball teams are likely to get into the NCAA tournament, but winning their respective conference tournaments would make them a lock

Mar 10, 2020 at 4:19 pm
click to enlarge A ball - Ben Hershey
Ben Hershey
A ball

Experts are predicting most of the regional men's collegiate basketball teams are likely to get into the NCAA tournament this year, but winning their respective conference tournaments this week would give them an automatic bid. Dayton doesn't have to worry too much right now about that, though — in the midst of a historic season, the Flyers seem headed for a No. 1 seed in the Big Dance.

Here's a rundown of the local teams' conference tournament schedules and where you can watch them.

University of Cincinnati Bearcats

The Bearcats scraped and scrapped their way to another American Athletic Conference regular-season championship this year (OK, a share of the championship), as well as the No. 1 seed in the AAC tournament in Fort Worth, Texas. The ’Cats start conference tournament play this Friday at 1 p.m. vs. the winner of Thursday's game between the University of Central Florida and the University of South Florida. 

The Bearcats opening AAC tournament game will be broadcast on ESPN2. Saturday's quarterfinal games will also be on ESPN2, with Sunday's AAC championship set for 3:15 Sunday on ESPN.

Current ESPN Bracketology predicted seeding for the NCAA tournament: 12

Xavier University Musketeers

Xavier finished the season with a 19-12 record, good enough for a 7 seed in the Big East tournament this week at Madison Square Garden in New York. Xavier takes on the 10 seeded DePaul on Wednesday at 9:30 p.m.

The Muskies' opening-round game airs on Fox Sports 1 (FS1), as do Thursday and Friday's Big East tournament quarterfinals/semifinals. The Big East tournament final is Saturday at 6:30 p.m. and will be broadcast on Fox.

Current ESPN Bracketology predicted seeding for the NCAA tournament: Listed as "on the bubble" and one of the "first four out."

Northern Kentucky University Norse

The Norse have been an official Division I team since the 2016-17 season and have made the NCAA tournament two out of the three years they've been eligible. Even after losing their head coach John Brannen to UC they've positioned themselves to make the tournament once again. The Norse play in the finals for the Horizon League tournament championship tonight in Indianapolis for an automatic bid (though they may get in the NCAA tourney even without winning).

NKU (a 2 seed) takes on the 4 seed University of Illinois-Chicago (who blew out top seed Wright State Monday) at 7 p.m. The game in on ESPN.

Current ESPN Bracketology predicted seeding for the NCAA tournament:16

University of Dayton Flyers

If you haven't been paying attention, it might be tempting to call the Dayton Flyers this year's NCAA tournament Cinderella. But that shoe doesn't fit this year — they're entering March Madness as one of the most dominant teams in the country, much to almost everyone's surprise. Not only did the Flyers sweep all of their Atlantic 10 rivals (going 18-0 in conference play), they also ended the regular season with a 29-2 record and were ranked No. 3 in the AP Top 25 Poll, its highest ranking since the mid-’50s. They are currently predicted to earn a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tourney.

The A-10 tournament kicks off Wednesday at Brooklyn's Barclays Center. Dayton, of course, gets a couple of byes and won't play until Friday. It's an incredibly early start time — the Flyers face off against the winner of Thursday's UMass/VCU game at 11 a.m. The game is being broadcast on the NBC Sports Network. Saturday's semifinals are on the slightly-easier-to-find (unless you don't have cable) CBS Sports Network and the tournament championship game is Sunday at noon on regular ol' CBS.

Current ESPN Bracketology predicted seeding for the NCAA tournament:1

• Miami University Redhawks

The Redhawks will need to win the MAC tournament to make the NCAA tourney. Miami won its first-round game yesterday and are set to play Northern Illinois tomorrow in Cleveland, which should be interesting — MAC officials decided to bar fans from attending the game due to coronavirus concerns.

The Thursday games are slated to air on ESPN's ESPN+ service. The Redhawks play around 6:30 p.m. Friday's MAC semi-finals are on CBS Sports Network and Saturday's finals are slated to air on ESPN2.

Current ESPN Bracketology predicted seeding for the NCAA tournament: N/A

Those Other Guys

For fans of regional teams Ohio State, the University of Louisville and the University of Kentucky (all three for certain to make the tournament, as usual), here's where you can catch their conference tournament action:

The Ohio State Buckeyes open Big 10 tournament play Thursday at 6:30 p.m. vs. Purdue on the Big Ten Network.

In the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament, the Louisville Cardinals play Thursday at 9 p.m. The game will be on ESPN or ESPN2 and the Cards are set to face either Syracuse, Virginia Tech or North Carolina (dependent on Tuesday and Wednesday winners).

The Kentucky Wildcats are the No. 1 seed in the SEC tournament. They play Friday at noon on ESPN vs. either Alabama or Tennessee (who beat UK earlier this month).

The brackets for the NCAA tournament will be announced Sunday on CBS at 6 p.m.