Championship Week preview

March, 9, 2014
Mar 9
8:16
PM ET
It's Championship Week in college hoops, with conference tournaments either underway already or just about to start, which means bragging rights and automatic NCAA berths are on the line.

Here's where the seven Division I schools that call Massachusetts home stand heading into the postseason:

Team: Boston College (8-23, 4-13 ACC)
Tournament dates: Wednesday-Friday, Greensboro, N.C.
The skinny: The Eagles finished a disappointing 2013-14 season with a 78-68 loss at NC State on Sunday and will have a couple of days to rest up and prepare for the ACC tournament. Steve Donahue's team has been maddeningly inconsistent this season, alternating stretches of disciplined, dangerous play with haphazard, harmless play. But if BC is on from long range, it has proven it can beat more talented teams (ahem, Syracuse).

The Eagles will face Georgia Tech (15-16, 6-12) in the first round on Wednesday (7 p.m. ET). The Yellow Jackets swept the Eagles in two games this season.

Team: Boston University (24-9, 15-3 Patriot League)
Tournament dates: March 3-12, various (higher seed hosts)
The skinny: The Terriers were a unanimous pick to finish first in the Patriot League in their inaugural season in it. So far, they've proven that prescient. Joe Jones' crew won the regular-season title, finishing two games ahead of second-place American (19-12, 13-5), and cruised through the first two rounds of the Patriot tournament.

Now it comes down to a winner-take-all, No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup when American visits BU for the championship game at Agganis Arena on Wednesday (7:30 p.m. CBSSN).

Team: Harvard (26-4, 13-1 Ivy League)
Tournament dates: NA
The skinny: Though dyed-in-the-wool fans of the Ancient Eight will maintain that the Ivy is a 14-game tournament, if given truth serum even the hardest-dying of die-hards would admit that they wish their favorite teams weren't sitting at home while all across the country other teams play for a postseason berth. By virtue of its at times dominant regular season, Harvard became the first team to punch a ticket for the NCAA tournament when it beat Yale this past Friday night.

The Crimson set program records for most Ivy wins overall (13) and Ivy road wins (7) and matched the program record for wins in a season (26). Tommy Amaker & Co. can now rest, recuperate and prepare for postseason play as they wait to see who and where they'll play.

Team: Holy Cross (19-13, 12-6 Patriot League)
Tournament dates: March 3-12, various (higher seed hosts)
The skinny: The Crusaders quietly had a quality season, finishing third in the Patriot League behind senior Dave Dudzinski (averaged a career-high 15.4 points per game) and junior Malcolm Miller (10.8 PPG, 5.7 RPG). Five of Holy Cross' six conference losses came against the two finalists for the league crown, American and BU. The last loss will hurt the most, though, as the Crusaders held a second-half lead on the Eagles in the Patriot semifinals but couldn't put the game away for a shot at the Terriers in the final.

Team: Northeastern (11-21, 7-9 Colonial Athletic Association)
Tournament dates: March 7-10, Baltimore, Md.
The skinny: After a surprise run to the first CAA regular-season title in program history in 2012-13, Bill Coen knew this season's edition of the Huskies would face a tall task: replacing senior stalwarts Jonathan Lee and Joel Smith. It's safe to say that Northeastern was unable to do so without missing a beat. Though junior forward Scott Eatherton was a beast all season long, finishing second in the country with 18 double-doubles in 30 games (ahead of such luminaries as Julius Randle and Jabari Parker), he couldn't do it alone.

That said, the 5-seed Huskies were able to knock off 4-seed Drexel in the CAA quarterfinals before falling to 1-seed Delaware in the semifinals on Sunday.

Team: UMass (23-7, 10-6 Atlantic 10)
Tournament dates: Wednesday-Saturday, Brooklyn, N.Y.
The skinny: The Minutemen dropped their season finale at home to No. 17 Saint Louis, coming down to the wire and, despite a last-second heave that had a chance, falling just short 64-62. But coach Derek Kellogg and a deep team led by point guard Chaz Williams (7.1 assists per game, third in the country) had UMass in the Top 25 for the first time in a long time this season, and the Minutemen finished the regular season ranked 12th in RPI. A win or two in the A-10 tourney would certainly help with seeding, but the Minutemen should be dancing regardless.

Team: UMass-Lowell (10-18, 8-8 America East)
Tournament dates: March 8-15, Albany, N.Y.
The skinny: After starting the season 0-7 and 1-11 in their first season in Division I, the River Hawks found their stride (helped by the unexpected return of Antonio Bivins) and went 9-7 the rest of the way to finish fifth in America East. As part of their transition the River Hawks are ineligible for postseason play until 2017-18, so they'll be watching like everyone else as teams such as Stony Brook and Vermont battle it out for a Big Dance invite.

Jack McCluskey is an editor for ESPN.com and a frequent contributor to ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter @jack_mccluskey.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Comments

Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, photo & other personal information you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on ESPN's media platforms. Learn more.