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Conference championships on the line in season’s final week

Conference championships on the line in season’s final week

The final week of the regular season is here, the calendar rounding toward March Madness.

A handful of regular-season titles are already wrapped up. Several are still up in the air.

Top-ranked Houston clinched the American Athletic Conference crown, earning at least a share for the fourth time in five years. No. 4 UCLA has its first Pac-12 championship since 2012-13.

No. 10 Gonzaga and No. 17 Saint Mary’s shared the West Coast Conference title after the Zags’ 77-68 win last weekend. They could meet again in the WCC championship game March 7.

The rest of the major conferences will go down to the wire. A look at the regular-season titles still up for grabs in this week’s AP Top 25:

ACC

The Atlantic Coast Conference has turned on its head as perennial powers like North Carolina and Duke have not lived up to expectations.

No. 25 Pittsburgh has been the biggest surprise.

Picked to finish 14th out of 15 teams in the preseason poll, the Panthers enter the final week of the regular season with a half-game lead over No. 16 Miami at 14-4 in conference play.

Pitt (21-8) moved into the AP Top 25 this week for the first time since 2016. The Panthers can clinch their first ACC regular-season title since joining the league in 2013 with wins over Notre Dame on Wednesday and Miami on Saturday.

The Hurricanes (23-6, 14-5), another surprise ACC team, can clinch at least a share of the title with a win over Pittsburgh.

No. 13 Virginia (21-6, 13-5) and Clemson (21-8, 13-5) are still in the mix to share the crown by winning both games this week if Pitt loses twice. One will be eliminated from contention when the Cavaliers and Tigers play each other on Tuesday.

BIG 12

Another season, another Kansas run at a Big 12 title.

The No. 3 Jayhawks (24-5, 12-4) have won six straight games and received eight first-place votes in this week’s AP Top 25.

Kansas has a tough week ahead, facing Texas Tech on Tuesday and No. 9 Texas on Saturday. The Jayhawks pulled out a three-point win at Texas Tech earlier this season and beat the Longhorns by eight.

Texas (22-7, 11-5) is a game back with a matchup against No. 22 TCU on Wednesday. No. 7 Baylor is 1 1/2 games back after beating Oklahoma State on Monday night and closes the regular season at home against Iowa State on Saturday.

No. 11 Kansas State is two games behind the Jayhawks at 10-6, with games against Oklahoma on Wednesday and West Virginia on Saturday.

BIG TEN

No. 5 Purdue (24-5, 13-5) has a share of the Big Ten title and can clinch it outright with a win over Wisconsin on Thursday or Illinois on Sunday.

No. 15 Indiana, which beat Purdue twice this season, No. 21 Maryland, Northwestern and Michigan are all two games behind the Boilermakers at 11-7.

SEC

No. 2 Alabama (25-4, 15-1) has navigated off-court issues to claim a share of the Southeastern Conference title. The Crimson Tide have opportunities to clinch outright against Auburn on Wednesday and No. 24 Texas A&M on Saturday.

Alabama has a two-game lead over the Aggies (21-8, 13-3).

BIG EAST

No. 6 Marquette (23-6, 15-3) has its highest ranking since 1977-78 and has secured a share of the Big East title. The Golden Eagles can clinch outright with a win over Butler on Tuesday or St. John’s on Saturday.

No. 19 Xavier and No. 20 Providence are two games back at 13-5.

MOUNTAIN WEST

No. 18 San Diego State (23-5, 14-2) has a share of the Mountain West Conference title and can earn the outright championship Tuesday against Boise State or Saturday against Wyoming.

Boise State and Nevada are two games back at 12-4.

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