It’s College Basketball Conference Tournament Week. The ACC, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Pac 12, and SEC will crown individual tournament winners by this Saturday, at the latest, this Sunday. Check out my preview of every one of the Big 6 Conference Tournaments!
March Madness NCAA College Basketball Conference Tournament Week Preview
1 North Carolina
2 Florida State
3 Notre Dame
The North Carolina Tar Heels won the regular season with a 26-6 record. The surprise team in second place was Florida State who could be a sneaky good dog pick to make it to the Final Four this season. Duke, Louisville, and Notre Dame all have a shot.
Throw out: Duke
Duke hasn’t won the ACC Tournament since 2011. It’s hard to see the Dookies taking home the ACC Trophy in what’s been a down season. The problem with Duke is that they’re leaderless on the court. There’s just nobody who plays for Duke that wants to be Coach K’s floor general. Grayson Allen isn’t that guy for sure. And, none of the freshman have the attitude that Tyus Jones had when the Blue Devils won the NCAA Tournament in 2015.
Underdog: 8 Syracuse
The Orange beat Duke, Virginia, and Florida State this season. They also have an advantage over the other teams because this year’s ACC Tournament is being played at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn, NY.
Winner: 2 Florida State
The Seminoles won the ACC Tournament in 2012. They had a sneaky great ACC Regular Season. They also went 3-0-1 ATS in their final four ACC Regular Season games, making them a hot team as a play against the spread during the NCAA Tournament. I like Florida State’s ability to pound opponents inside. If they pay attention to three-point defense, they could win the ACC Tournament crown.
Big 12 Preview
2 West Virginia
4 Iowa State
5 Oklahoma State
Since 2010, Kansas has won the Big 12 Conference Tournament four times, Iowa State has won it twice, and Missouri has won it once. Missouri is the worst team in the Big 12 this season. It’s doubtful the Tigers discover how to play basketball this week. Kansas looks tough, but so does West Virginia and Baylor.
Throw out: 4 Iowa State
The Cyclones won 6 games in a row before losing 76 to 87 to West Virginia on March 3. Iowa State is a good team, but they’re too inconsistent to win the Big 12 Tournament Championship. Case in point? A game after pushing Kansas to overtime, Iowa State dropped a game straight up to Texas on the road as a favorite. That’s not going to cut it in the deep Big 12.
Underdog: 7 Texas Tech
The Red Raiders finished the Big 12 Regular Season by losing 4 out of their last 5 games. That’s terrible. They did push both Iowa State and West Virginia into overtime in 2 out of those 4 losses. They also lost by only a single point, 79 to 80, to Kansas on Feb. 11. Texas Tech could surprise.
Winner: 2 West Virginia
I believe that Bob Huggins’ team is good enough to march to the Elite Eight in the NCAA Tournament. Guard Jevon Carter finished the regular season on fire. He scored in double-figures in West Virginia’s last 7 games. Carter doesn’t even start, which tells you how deep Huggins’ team is.
Big East Preview
5 Seton Hall
Villanova looks set to defend their 2016 NCAA Men’s College Basketball Tournament Championship. They lost in the finals of last season’s Big East Championship. Villanova looks tough. But, Butler, Providence, Marquette, and Seton Hall all have a shot to win the Big East Tourney.
Throw out: 3 Providence, 4 Marquette, 5 Seton Hall
I just don’t believe that Providence, Marquette, or Seton Hall can beat both Butler and Villanova. There’s a chance that Providence upsets Butler if they get by Creighton, but Villanova should have an easy track to the Big East Championship Game. Providence won’t beat Villanova.
Underdog: 7 Xavier
The Musketeers were ranked in the Top 10 at one point during the regular season. What happened? Xavier imploded with 6 straight losses from their last 7 games. Two things are an advantage for Xavier, though. First, they play on the side of the bracket with Butler, which means they won’t see Villanova until the championship if they’re lucky enough to get there. Second, since they did implode during the regular season, they go into the Big East Tournament under the radar.
Winner: 1 Villanova
The Big East was much deeper last season. I think Villanova might be the best team in the nation. Jay Wright’s squad has the best player in Josh Hart, and Wright’s the best college basketball coach in the nation.
Villanova should win the Big East Tournament without much issue unless Butler beats Villanova for a third time this season. I don’t see that happening.
Big Ten Preview
5 Michigan State
It’s hard to see any team winning the Big Ten Tournament outside of Purdue or Wisconsin. None of the other Big Ten teams are even ranked in the Top 25. But, the two Michigan schools could surprise.
Throw out: 4 Minnesota
Minnesota finished the regular season losing 49 to 66 to Wisconsin. They also lost 5 games in a row during a tough stretch in the regular season. I think the loss to Wisconsin is a sign that the Gophers aren’t ready for the Big Ten Tournament.
Underdog: 8 Michigan
Michigan beat Purdue, Wisconsin, and Michigan State in February. The Wolverines are good enough to win the Big Ten Tournament since nobody in the Big Ten this season can be considered elite.
Winner: 5 Michigan State
Based on record, Sparty has no shot of winning the Big Ten Tournament. At 18 and 13, Michigan State doesn’t look capable of beating Northwestern, much less Wisconsin, Purdue, Maryland, or even Michigan. Then again, Sparty covered in 3 out of their last 4 Big Ten Regular Season games even though they lost 3 out of their last 4 straight up. That tells me that Michigan State is ready to roll.
Sparty has won 3 out of the last 5 Big Ten Men’s College Basketball Tournaments. I think they make it back-to-back and 4 out of the last 6 in 2017.
Pac 12 Preview
Although I list the top 5 seeds in the Pac 12 College Basketball Tournament, only three of the Top 5 Seeds can win the tournament. Oregon, UCLA, and Arizona are all ranked in the Top 10 per the AP Poll. All three have a big shot of taking home the Pac 12 Tournament trophy.
Throw out: Everyone except, UCLA, Arizona, and Oregon
This is the easy decision conference. There’s no one outside of UCLA, Arizona, and Oregon who can win the Pac 12 Tournament.
Even Utah and California are on the outside of the Pac 12’s Big 3. The Pac 12 isn’t deep outside of the top 3 seeds.
Winner: 2 Arizona
This is the deepest, best, team that Sean Miller has ever had in Tucson. He’s got 2 true point-guards in Parker Jackson-Cartwright and Kadeem Allen. He’s got a scoring machine in Alonzo Trier. He’s got 3 capable big men in Lauri Markkanen, Dusan Rustic, and Chance Comanche. Arizona has come together well for Miller. There’s no excuse for this team to not win the Pac 12 Tournament.
4 South Carolina
Like the Pac-12, there are only a few teams in the SEC that can win the SEC Basketball Tournament. Strike that…there are only two teams in the SEC that can win the SEC Basketball Tournament: Kentucky and Florida.
Throw out: Everyone except Kentucky and Florida
Arkansas did end the regular season with a 23 and 8 record. One of Arkansas’ losses, though, was to hapless Missouri. How well did Missouri play during the regular season? Missouri finished 7 and 23. There’s no team in the SEC that can upset both Kentucky and Florida. I don’t see it happening.
There isn’t a single team from the top 5 seeds outside of Big Blue and the Gators in the SEC Tournament that I believe deserves consideration to win the championship, much less a team seeded out of the top 5.
Winner: 1 Kentucky
The Wildcats haven’t lost a game since Feb. 4. Florida beat Kentucky 88 to 66 on Feb 4. Kentucky won 8 straight after the loss. One of the wins was a terrific 76 to 66 revenge beat down of Florida on Feb. 25. Not only do I like Kentucky to win the SEC Tournament, but I’ve got them on my short list to win the NCAA Tournament.