C-Week is a great week. Unlike this weekend's ultimately meaningless UConn-Pitt, UNC-Duke or Michigan St-Purdue "big" games (really: all of them will make the tournament as high seeds), conference tournament title games (at least in the mid-major and low-major leagues) truly win or bust. Especially if you won the regular-season title and can't deliver in the league tourney.
Today's SN column leads with a breakdown of the three kinds of games this weekend: Conference tournaments, Bubble battles (Northwestern!) and -- yawn -- the "big" games featuring the teams listed above.
(Even if you buy into the value of being a No. 1 seed -- versus a 2-seed -- in the NCAA Tournament, these games aren't as meaningful as some folks would have you believe -- like Pitt "loses" a No. 1 seed if they lose to UConn? Not if they win the Big East Tournament. Same with UNC. And Michigan St could beat Purdue, but without a Big Ten Tourney title? No 1-seed shot.)
For the teams at the very top -- the ones who consider themselves legit contenders for the national title this season -- do regular-season conference championships matter? Hell, do conference tournament championships matter? Do rivalry games matter? They shouldn't. All that matters is winning the national title. (For some, making the Final Four would be enough. For Duke, maybe just escaping the first weekend.
But for teams like UNC, UConn, Pitt, Oklahoma -- any team that fancies itself worthy of a 1-seed -- it's national title or bust. Regardless of what happens this weekend in the regular-season finales or even next week in the conference tournament. Win 6 straight in late March. Period.
Complete column here.