Updated at: 03/24/2013 12:09 AM
By JOHN MARSHALL
The Mountain West Conference was touted as the best in the nation because it had the highest RPI rating. It was rewarded with four at-large bids into the NCAA tournament to go with automatic qualifier New Mexico.
But if you happened to base your bracket on the MWC’s strength, uh, oops _ it’s not looking too good now, particularly if you’ve got teams like the Lobos or UNLV making a deep run.
Of course, the surprises have been coming fast and furious through the first two rounds _ the First Four is technically the first round, even if it doesn’t sound right _ so a lot of people are in the same spot.
Then again, maybe you were a big fan of the Atlantic-10 and are doing well while the rest of us have turned our brackets into confetti.
However it’s going for you, there certainly have been plenty of upsets, which isn’t all that much of a surprise the way the tournament has gone the past few years.
"We’ve heard a lot of talk about the 5-12 upsets, but 26 of the last 29 years we’ve had a 5-12 upset," said Mike Bobinski, chairman of the tournament selection committee. "And La Salle, a 13 seed, advanced and that’s the sixth consecutive year we’ve had a 13 beat a four, so I guess it’s business as usual."
Anyway, to help you keep up, here’s a rundown of how some of the conferences with the most bids fared through Friday’s games:
ATLANTIC COAST (3-1). ACC coaches were not pleased to get four teams into the bracket and no No. 1 seed. The conference has fared pretty well without one so far. Miami, the ACC’s highest seed at No. 2, rolled over Pacific in its opener. Duke, No. 2 in the Midwest, beat up on Albany and North Carolina won a heavyweight bout against Villanova in its opener. The ACC’s lone loss was a mild upset, No. 8 North Carolina State taken out by No. 9 Temple in the East.
ATLANTIC-10 (6-0). Yeah, you’re probably in the minority if you had the A-10 winning all six of its games heading into the weekend. La Salle has two wins already, knocking off No. 4 seed Kansas State after beating Boise State in the play-in round. VCU crushed Akron and Butler beat Bucknell. Temple also knocked off North Carolina State and Saint Louis rolled over New Mexico State. The A-10 is A-No. 1 so far.
"We don’t look at conference RPI," said Bobinski, Xavier’s athletic director. "My team has been in the Atlantic 10 for the last 15 years, so I know it and respect it. We evaluated the teams that came out of the Atlantic 10 and they are performing well individually."
BIG 12 (2-3): It’s been a rough run for the Big 12 so far. Oklahoma State was run over by Oregon, Oklahoma lost to San Diego State and Kansas State was taken out by La Salle, which had to beat Boise State in the First Four. Kansas, the No. 1 seed in the South, also trailed 16th-seeded Western Kentucky at halftime before pulling away. Iowa State, the seventh seed in the West, had the conference’s best start, upsetting No. 7 Notre Dame in its opener.
BIG EAST (3-5). The Big East had the most teams qualify for the bracket and now has the most already out of it. Louisville was the tournament’s top overall seed and played like it by thrashing North Carolina A&T. Syracuse and Marquette also won, but Georgetown had the biggest upset of the second round, losing to No. 15 seed Florida Gulf Coast. Cincinnati, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh and Villanova also lost.
BIG TEN: (6-1). The complaint within the Big Ten was that the teams beat up on each other during the regular season. Now that the NCAA tournament has started, they’re roughing up the competition. Indiana, the No. 1 seed in the East, crushed James Madison and Ohio State, No. 2 the West, rolled over Iona. Minnesota has a nice upset, taking out South No. 6 seed UCLA, while Illinois, Michigan State and Michigan all one. The lone loss was a big one, though: No. 5 Wisconsin was bumped off by No. 12 Ole Miss in the West.
Michigan and Michigan State won the first games on Saturday, moving the conference record to 8-1.
MISSOURI VALLEY (2-0). The Valley is looking good so far. Creighton, No. 7 in the Midwest, held off Cincinnati behind national player of the year candidate Doug McDermott and Wichita State pulled off a mild upset by taking out Pittsburgh, No. 8 in the West.
MOUNTAIN WEST (2-3). The No. 1 RPI conference had to feel like the No. 1 target for upsets. New Mexico took the biggest tumble, knocked off by West No. 14 seed Harvard, which had never won an NCAA tournament game, and UNLV was taken down by No. 12 seed California in the East. Boise State didn’t get past the play-in game. San Diego State beat Oklahoma and Colorado State knocked off Missouri, but the Rams face top overall seed Louisville next.
PAC-12 (3-2). Another conference that felt like it was slighted by the selection committee, the Pac-12 took it out on higher seeds, getting two No. 12s through to the third round. Oregon, the conference champion, rolled past Oklahoma State in the Midwest and California took out East No. 5 UNLV.
"I wish I could tell you why," Bobinski said of the 12s beating 5s. "It’s not by design, I can tell you that. I think some of it does reflect that at tournament time some teams raise their games up a little bit and it really comes down to style and matchups. When we seed a team, we don’t look at style of play or matchups, it’s purely seeding."
Arizona also cruised over Belmont after being tabbed as a potential upset victim. UCLA, minus freshman Jordan Adams, went down to No. 11 seed Minnesota and Colorado couldn’t handle Illinois.
SOUTHEASTERN (2-1). SEC coaches were frustrated when the conference landed three NCAA bids, fewest of the six power conferences. The conference is off to a decent start with its limited field. Missouri was bumped out by No. 8 seed Colorado State, but Florida sure looked strong in rolling over Northwestern State and Ole Miss, with mouthy Marshall (Henderson), had one of the bracket’s many upsets by taking out Wisconsin.
WEST COAST (2-1). Saint Mary’s won its play-in game before its rally against Memphis came up short. Gonzaga, the No. 1 seed in the West, had its hands full with Southern University before pulling away down the stretch.
AP Sports Writer Michael Marot in Indianapolis contributed to this story.
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)