Julio Cortez, AP
Villanova players react after a basket against Seton Hall during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2018, in Newark, N.J. Villanova won 69-68 in overtime. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

While the NCAA Tournament gets most of the spotlight during March, you can't have the Big Dance without the conference tournaments. As conferences across the country wrap up their regular seasons, here's a look at the conference championship games happening in Division I basketball:


America East Conference

Tournament dates: March 3, 6 and 10 (Games on ESPN3)

Championship game: Saturday, March 10, 9 a.m., ESPN2

Vermont is the heavy favorite with a 24-6 record and a 14-1 record in conference. The Catamounts hold a 3.0 game lead over UMBC and Hartford. That said, Vermont doesn't have the resume to pick up an at-large bid, so this conference shouldn't steal bids from other conferences.


American Athletic Conference

Tournament dates: March 8-11 (Quarterfinals on WatchESPN, ESPNU and ESPN2. Semifinals on CBS)

Championship game: Sunday, March 11, 1:30 p.m., CBS

The American has three teams safely in the field with Cincinnati, Wichita State and Houston. The only way this conference picks up a fourth bid is if another team wins the conference tournament, and there's some dangerous teams such as Tulsa and Memphis in play. At any rate, this should be one of the more competitive conference tournaments and will be worth watching.


Atlantic 10 Conference

Tournament dates: March 7-11 (Games through quarterfinals on NBCSN, semifinals on CBSSN)

Championship game: Sunday, March 11, 11 a.m. MDT, CBS

It seems odd to think that such prominent programs like VCU, Davidson and Dayton are on the outside looking in, but such is the case in 2018. Rhode Island is at the top of the A-10 heap and is safe in the field. St. Bonaventure is likely in the field, but can't afford a letdown against Davidson or St. Louis in the final week of its season. We'll likely see Rhode Island take on St. Bonaventure for the conference title, and it was the Bonnies that took home a 77-74 victory over the Rams. That's a game worth tuning into.


Atlantic Coast Conference

Tournament dates: March 6-10 (ESPN, ESPN2, ACCN)

Championship game: Saturday, March 10, 6:30 p.m., ESPN

Could this be the year of No. 1 Virginia? The Cavaliers have a 3.5 game lead over the likes of Duke and a rock-solid 26-2 record. But the ACC remains a deep league. Bracket Matrix as of Tuesday has Virginia, Duke, North Carolina, Clemson, Florida State, Miami (Fla.), N.C. State, Virginia Tech and Louisville all in the field of 68 with Syracuse among the first four out. It's a safe bet that the ACC gets at least eight into the Big Dance barring any wild upsets down the stretch.


Atlantic Sun Conference

Tournament dates: Feb. 26 to March 4 (ESPN3)

Championship game: Sunday, March 4, 1 p.m., ESPN

This tournament is already underway, but there's been no major surprises leading up to the semifinals. This is still very much a one-bid conference, but Florida Gulf Coast has already made huge waves at the Big Dance as it upset Georgetown as a 15 seed back in 2013.


Big 12 Conference

Tournament dates: March 7-10 (ESPNU, ESPN2)

Championship game: Saturday, March 10, 4 p.m., ESPN

There will be plenty of great basketball going on with the likes of Kansas, Texas Tech and West Virginia already safely in. But who saw TCU coming? The Horned Frogs were deep in the Big 12's basement when they first joined the conference, but now there's a solid possibility of them making it to the NCAA Tournament. But there's still plenty of drama in the middle as teams like Oklahoma, Kansas State, Baylor and Texas fight to strengthen their resumes. While the Sooners are probably in, the Wildcats, Bears and Longhorns may be in for a fight for the remaining 1-2 bids.


Big East Conference

Tournament dates: March 7-10 (Fox Sports 1)

Championship game: Saturday, March 10, 4:30 p.m., FOX

You want a conference tournament with two potential No. 1 seeds? Look no further as Villanova and Xavier both could very well find themselves on the top line. There's a good possibility that this could be a rematch in the Final Four or beyond. There's a pretty steep drop off after those two powerhouses, but teams like Seaton Hall, Creighton and Butler still should hear their names on Selection Sunday. Even Providence should be in, but it can't afford to trip over the finish line. Meanwhile, you've got Marquette just on the outside of the bracket that could make its big move.


Big Sky Conference

Tournament dates: March 6, 8-10 (Pluto TV)

Championship game: Saturday, March 10, 6 p.m., ESPNU

Weber State has one chance to go to the Big Dance, and that's to win the Big Sky Tournament in Reno. The Big Sky appears to be a three-horse race with Montana on top and Idaho and Weber State not too far behind. Nobody has a good enough resume for an at-large bid, so it's win or go home for this trio. The Wildcats will get a taste of the challenge ahead as they face Montana on the road on Thursday. However, it didn't help that the Wildcats were beat 68-62 by Idaho last week. Yes, SUU is in here as well, but it would need a tournament run for the ages to get to the Big Dance.


Big South Conference

Tournament dates: Feb. 27, March 1-4 (Big South Network, ESPN3)

Championship game: Sunday, March 4, 11 a.m., ESPN

The winner of this tournament will almost certainly be a 16 seed in the Big Dance, but that doesn't mean it won't be competitive. UNC Ashville comes in as the favorite, but you can't count out Winthrop or Radford.


Big Ten Conference

Tournament dates: Feb. 28 to March 4 (BTN, CBS)

Championship game: Saturday, March 4, 2:30 p.m., CBS

The Big Ten is a bit top heavy with Michigan State, Purdue, Ohio State and Michigan all listed as 6-seeds or above on Bracket Matrix. After that, it drops off dramatically as the next team listed is Nebraska, and it's part of the next four out. The Huskers will need a deep tournament run to ensure their name gets called on Selection Sunday. Penn State could also sneak in with a strong Big Ten Tournament performance, but it's got quite the uphill battle. This year, the Big Ten could send only four teams to the Big Dance, which is strange to be sure.


Big West Conference

Tournament dates: March 8-10 (FOX Sports West for quarterfinals, ESPNU for semis)

Championship game: Saturday, March 10, 10 p.m., ESPN2

This is a tight conference race as UC Irvine, UC Santa Barbara and UC Davis are within a half game of each other.


Colonial Athletic Association

Tournament dates: March 3-6 (CAA.tv, CBSSN)

Championship game: Tuesday, March 6, 5 p.m., CBSSN

Charleston and Northeastern are in a dead heat in conference with 14-4 records headed into the tournament, although the Cougars picked up the No. 1 seed.


Conference USA

Tournament dates: March 7-10 (Stadium for quarterfinals, CBSSN for semis)

Championship game: Saturday, March 10, 6:30 p.m., CBSSN

If there's a conference that might feel disrespected, you could turn to C-USA. They have four teams with 20 wins or more, but just one team in the Bracket Matrix field. Favorite Middle Tennessee State just might be able to pick up an at-large bid should it lose in the conference championship, but it's far from a sure thing. And with teams like Western Kentucky and Old Dominion in the conference, winning the conference title will not be a cake walk.


Horizon League

Tournament dates: March 2-6 (ESPN3, ESPNU)

Championship game: Tuesday, March 6, 5 p.m., ESPN

This tournament will probably come down to a matchup between Northern Kentucky and Wright State. Both have 22 wins to date, and the last game between the two was decided by just two points.


Ivy League

Tournament dates: March 10-11 (ESPNU)

Championship game: Sunday, March 11, 10 a.m., ESPN2

The Pennsylvania Quakers are by far the class of the Ivy League this year as they have six more wins than second-place Harvard. It's clear that this conference doesn't have the respect of other years as Penn is listed as a 15-seed on Bracket Matrix.


Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference

Tournament dates: March 1-5 (ESPN3)

Championship game: Monday, March 5, 5 p.m., ESPN2

Oddly enough, the top seed in the MAAC hasn't won the tournament since 2010, which doesn't bode well for the Rider Broncs. The teams we're more familiar with in the MAAC are pretty far down the standings, with Iona four games behind and Monmonth with a losing record in conference. However, the only games that matter happen at the tournament, so who knows what might happen.


Mid-American Conference

Tournament dates: March 5, 8-10 (ESPN3 for quarterfinals, CBBSN for semis)

Championship game: Saturday, March 10, 5 p.m., ESPN2

Who can win the #MACtion title between Buffalo of the East and Toledo of the West? Right now the Bulls are the favorites, but there's a reason it's called March Madness. After all, teams like Ball State and Eastern Michigan might have something to say about who gets the automatic bid.


Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference

Tournament dates: March 5-10

Championship game: Saturday, March 10, 11 a.m., ESPN2

While the winner of the conference will almost certainly get a 16-seed, the MEAC Tournament should at least be competitive and entertaining. Bethune-Cookman, North Carolina A&T, Hampton and Savannah State all received votes on the Bracket Matrix, which goes to show how wide open this conference tournament is.


Missouri Valley Conference

Tournament dates: March 1-4 (MVC Network, CBSSN)

Championship game: Sunday, March 4, 12 p.m., CBS

Loyola-Chicago are currently on top of the MVC by a large margin over teams like Southern Illinois and Illinois State. While nothing is ever certain during March Madness, it would be a surprise to not hear the Ramblers claiming the league's automatic bid.


Mountain West Conference

Tournament dates: March 7-10 (Stadium, CBSSN)

Championship game: Saturday, March 10, 2 p.m., CBS

Here's a stunning development: Nevada is the only team in the field in the Bracket Matrix. What happened to San Diego State, UNLV and New Mexico? Boise State is the next best team, and ESPN just dropped them from their bubble watch. Folks that remember the days BYU and Utah were in the conference should be stunned at how far this conference has fallen. Utah State isn't in great shape either as it has a losing record in the conference and has quite an uphill battle as it might face the Wolfpack in the second round should it finish No. 8 or 9.


Northeast Conference

Tournament dates: Feb. 28, March 3 and 6 (NEC Front Row, ESPN3)

Championship game: Tuesday, March 6, 5 p.m., ESPN2

Wagner is the only team with more than 20 wins headed into the conference tournament, but St. Francis and Mount Saint Mary's do have enough firepower to make the Seahawks sweat.


Ohio Valley Conference

Tournament dates: Feb. 28, March 1-3 (OVCDN)

Championship game: Saturday, March 3, 6 p.m., ESPN2

Murray State and Belmont are one game within each other, making for quite a championship game for the ticket to the Big Dance should all play out the way we expect. While Murray State has the one-game lead in conference standings, Belmont won the only matchup between the two 79-72.


Pacific-12 Conference

Tournament dates: March 7-10 (Pac-12 Network, Fox Sports 1)

Championship game: Saturday, March 10, 8 p.m., Fox Sports 1

The Pac-12 has only three teams in the field at the Bracket Matrix, which is an astounding development for such a solid basketball conference. And that's with Arizona dealing with off-the-court allegations involving head coach Sean Miller, who was reportedly not at practice on Tuesday. At least Washington and UCLA are sitting on the bubble and could get in should the cards fall their way. The Utes also remain in contention if they can make a deep run in the Pac-12 tournament, but the 74-58 beatdown at the hands of USC didn't help things. One thing is for sure: there will be plenty of drama in Las Vegas, and not all of it will be on the hardwood.


Patriot League

Tournament dates: Feb. 27, March 1, 4 and 7 (patriotleague.tv, CBSSN)

Championship game: Wednesday, March 7, 5:30 p.m., CBSSN

Bucknell may be the favorite, but Lehigh is riding into the tournament on an eight-game winning streak.


Southeastern Conference

Tournament dates: March 7-11 (SEC Network, ESPN)

Championship game: Sunday, March 11, 11 a.m., ESPN

This may be one of the most competitive tournaments among the power conferences. You could see any one of the SEC's top half winning it all without too much surprise. Regardless, the SEC will probably pick up seven to eight bids without too much problem. However, the biggest surprise might be to not see Kentucky at the top or even in the top two in the conference. 2018 is the year of Auburn and Tennessee. Who saw that coming?


Southern Conference

Tournament dates: March 1-5 (ESPN3)

Championship game: Monday, March 5, 7 p.m., ESPN2

This may be a one-bid conference, but there's no shortage of contenders in this one. Four teams have 20 wins or more, led by UNC Greensburo. It's not difficult to see East Tennessee State, Furman or Wofford pulling off the upset and picking up automatic bid.


Southland Conference

Tournament dates: March 7-10 (ESPN3)

Championship game: Saturday, March 10, 7 p.m., ESPN2

Stephen F. Austin may have the most wins, but it is currently two games behind Nicholls and tied for third place. Also, Nicholls and Southeastern Louisana are riding seven- and six-game winning streaks, respectfully. Something has got to give.


Southwestern Athletic Conference

Tournament dates: March 6, 9-10

Championship game: Saturday, March 10, 2 p.m.

Let's face it: This one is the bottom of the barrel. The best record of any team of the SWAC, held by Grambling, is a meager 15-14. If there's any tournament to skip, this is the one.


Summit Conference

Tournament dates: March 3-6 (ESPN3)

Championship game: Tuesday, March 6, 7 p.m., ESPN2

This tournament will likely come down to in-state rivals South Dakota and South Dakota State. The only thing better than a conference championship game is one that's also a rivalry game.


Sun Belt

Tournament dates: March 7-11 (ESPN3)

Championship game: Sunday, March 11, 12 p.m., ESPN2

The Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns are well ahead of the pack with just one loss in conference play and a four-game lead over second-place Georgia State. But Louisiana can't afford to lose in the conference championship and be safely in the Field of 68. The pressure is on.


West Coast Conference

Tournament dates: March 1-6 (BYUtv, TheW.tv, ROOT NW, ESPN, ESPN2)

Championship game: Tuesday, March 6, 7 p.m., ESPN

Gonzaga has to be a bit miffed that it is No. 7 in both the AP and Coaches polls and yet is listed as only a 5-seed on the Bracket Matrix. People doubted the Zags and even picked Saint Mary's as the preseaon favorite, only to have Gonzaga come out on top yet again. Gonzaga and Saint Mary's are safely in at this point, but third-place BYU wants to sneak into the field. In order to do that, however, the Cougars will need to do something they've yet to do since joining the WCC: Win the conference tournament.


Western Athletic Conference

Tournament dates: March 1-6 (ESPN3)

Championship game: Saturday, March 10, 8 p.m., ESPNU

Strangely enough, Utah Valley is the mostly likely team in the state of Utah to win its conference tournament and get an automatic bid at this point. While that's good for the Wolverines, it certainly shows the down state of basketball in Utah in 2018. UVU showed it can beat WAC leader New Mexico State as it took down the Aggies 86-79 at home. Can it do it again in Las Vegas?