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March Madness is upon us

With the month of March beginning, that can only mean one thing in the world of sports – it’s March Madness time!

The phrase “March Madness” has been linked to the intense and exciting outcomes that college basketball games have provided us throughout the conference tournaments and the national championship tournaments for both men’s and women’s collegiate basketball.

The madness starts with each conference hosting their own individual tournaments to see who will make the major national tournament.

In the city of Las Vegas, five individual conference tournaments will be taking place over the course of this week.

The West Coast Conference kicked things off with their tournament at the Orleans Arena at the Orleans Hotel and Casino.

This tournament featured the Gonzaga Bulldogs, who are currently the No. 1 team in the country and the runners-up in last year’s national championship game.

The WCC started their tournament on Thursday, March 3, and it continued through Tuesday, March 8, with the championship game between Gonzaga and the St. Mary’s Gaels.

The Gaels handed Gonzaga their only conference loss this season in a 67-57 win to close out the regular season.

St. Mary’s and Gonzaga are both already guaranteed a spot in the main tournament, but the outcome of the WCC tournament could switch up the teams’ seeding positions for the big tournament.

The Western Athletic Conference also calls Las Vegas home for their tournament in March.

Their tournament, taking place at the Michelob ULTRA Arena at the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino, will run from Tuesday, March 8, until Saturday, March 12, when their conference championship game will be played.

The New Mexico State Aggies are coming into the WAC tournament with the No. 1 seed and have received a bye all the way to the semi-final round of the tournament on Friday.

Due to the WAC being one of the smaller conferences, none of the teams will be guaranteed a position in the main tournament. However, the team that comes out of the WAC tournament as the champion will have an automatic spot in the main tournament.

The Big West is another conference that holds their tournament in Las Vegas. The tournament started on Tuesday evening with games between Cal State Northridge and Cal State Bakersfield and also between UC Davis and Cal Poly.

Normally, their conference tournament is held at the Michelob ULTRA Arena, however, this year the tournament was moved to the newly constructed Dollar Loan Center arena in Henderson.

Long Beach State received the top spot and earned a first-round bye with their 12-3 conference record this year.

The defending Big West conference tournament champions, UC Santa Barbara, finished with a conference record of 8-5 this season, earning themselves the fifth seed in the tournament.

Again, due to this being one of the smaller conferences in the nation, the only team in the conference who will be getting a spot in the main tournament will be the conference tournament champion, which will be crowned on Saturday, March 12.

One of the biggest tournaments that is taking place in Las Vegas, as it has every year since the 2011-2012 season, is the PAC-12 conference tournament.

Originally located at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, this tournament now takes place across the street at the T-Mobile Arena.

The PAC-12 conference will be holding the first round of their tournament on Wednesday, March 9. The games will be running all day, starting at 12 p.m. local time and running through until about 11 p.m.

This conference tournament will feature three teams that are ranked in the top 25 nationally – No. 2 Arizona, No. 13 UCLA and No. 21 USC.

All three of these teams are projected to be in the national tournament, no matter their outcomes for the tournament, but hey, it is March Madness, so anything can happen.

With their 18-2 regular season conference record, the Arizona Wildcats earned a first-round bye and the top seed in the tournament.

The PAC-12 tournament championship will be held on Saturday, March 12, at 6 p.m.

The other big tournament taking place in Las Vegas this week will be the Mountain West conference tournament.

The tournament kicks off with their first-round games on Wednesday, March 9, at the Thomas & Mack Center on the campus of UNLV.

Boise State is entering the tournament with the No. 1 seed after going 15-3 during conference play in the regular season. Host-team UNLV went 10-8 in conference play and received the No. 5 seed. They were awarded a first-round bye, along with the other top 5 teams, and will play Wyoming in the second round of the tournament on Thursday.

The Mountain West conference championship game will be played on Saturday, March 12, at 3 p.m.

The national championship game will be played on Monday, April 4 at the Caesars Superdome in New Orleans.

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