Top conference tourney threats

Tennessee Volunteers, Ole Miss Rebels among teams that could surprise

Updated: March 11, 2013, 1:26 PM ET
By Paul Biancardi | ESPN Insider

Conference tournaments often get more headlines than regular-season titles, and it's easy to see why. They are exciting events that bring every team from a single league under one roof, and, almost like a steel cage match in wrestling, only one team emerges as the winner.

But league tournaments mean more to the teams that haven't yet solidified their status for the NCAA tournament. In the power conference leagues, this can mean teams that need to win the whole thing and earn their league's auto bid, or it can be teams that just need to go on a two- or three-game run to earn an at-large berth.

To win games on consecutive nights -- whether it is three, four or five in a row -- is very difficult, and many factors besides talent play an important role in determining a champion. The usual factors of strong guard play, controlling the game on the glass, limiting turnovers and getting big stops with the game on the line all come into play.

I've identified five types of teams that are well-suited to make a run in a major conference tourney, and which specific teams can use those qualities to their advantage and earn their way to the NCAA tournament.