Thirty-one conference champions have automatically qualified for the NCAA soccer national tournament
The GIST: Conference tourney week is half over, and it’s not just clout and a shiny trophy on the line — the 31 conference champions automatically qualify for the national tournament. As for the rest, they must squirm until next Monday’s selection show, hoping to nab an at-large bid from the NCAA committee.
- The Big 12 hosts their semifinals tonight, while the SEC, ACC, Big Ten, Big East, and others wait ’til tomorrow. Forecast calls for sweaty palms through the weekend.
The upsets: The ACC — the sport’s most competitive conference — kicked off the chaos, with No. 5–seed Pitt ousting No. 4–seed UNC (17 ranks their senior!) in overtime (OT) on Sunday. Meanwhile in the Big Ten, No. 8–seed Iowa stunned top-seeded Michigan State 2–1, ending the regular-season co-champ’s title sweep hopes. Definitely didn’t have that on our bingo card.
- The Big 12 also began with two first-round upsets, but both those upsetters fell in Monday’s quarter-finals, so No. 6–seed UCF’s the only underdog still standing. They’ll try to rattle No. 2–seed BYU in tonight’s semis.
- And last night, the SEC had their own quarter-final drama: No. 6–seed Texas A&M edged out No. 3–seed South Carolina 1–0, while No. 4–seed Mississippi State needed penalty kicks to defeat No. 5–seed Alabama. Wild.
The semifinals: The Big Ten’s No. 2–seed Nebraska vs. No. 3–seed Wisconsin tops tomorrow’s watch list. Wisconsin did Nebraska a solid on October 22nd, toppling Penn State to give the other half of the regular-season conference title to the Cornhuskers — but now they’re done handing Nebraska wins.