Ladies and gentleman, boys and girls, we have almost reached the promise land of the college basketball season. We are just a few days away from what I call Judgement Day, and what mere mortals call Selection Sunday. But before we have teams find out their region, we have what I consider to be the most exciting week of the year, Conference Tournament week. Let’s start in the ACC, and as always, my picks come at the very end.
ACC- When you think of the ACC nowadays, 96% of the time you think of them as the deepest conference in college basketball. This year is no different, with plenty of teams in the running, there is only one favorite in my opinion. That’s the returning conference champs, the North Carolina Tar Heels.
The Heels are hot at the right time, and are the number 1 seed in the tournament. Justin Jackson is, in my opinion, the most reliable player in the conference. The Heels will look to him a lot when the time comes; I also think Joel Berry will be looked to when the time comes.
Also, don’t count out Duke. The Blue Devils with Luke Kennard and Grayson Allen are bound for a third match-up with Carolina. The THIRD team I think that could make waves is Virginia. The Cavaliers led by London Perrantes (yes he is still there) could surprise a lot of people. They have the first round bye then would take on Notre Dame in the third round. The match-up with the Irish is a favorable one for the Cavs.
Big East- No one, I repeat no one is beating Villanova. The Wildcats will repeat as Big East champs and move onto being a 1 seed in the tourney. That was easy.
Big 12-The Big 12 tournament has been all Kansas as of late. The Jayhawks have won 7 of the Big 12 Tournaments since 2006, as well as 14 straight Big 12 regular season championships. I think that makes the Bill Self’s Jayhawks the favorite.
Frank Mason III and Josh Jackson are a tough duo to beat in the Big 12, and if Devonte’ Graham is on, then the Big 12 is in major trouble.
The only team I think that should at least scare Kansas is West Virginia. Bob Huggins looks to have a team that could stand toe to toe with the Jayhawks. The two are on a collision course for a third meeting; the teams split the two this season. The Mountaineers will need a big tourney out of Nathan Adrian and Jevon Carter; those two are on the warpath right now. I hope we get this third game, it could be a great finale to the Big 12 this season.
Big 10- Yikes, well I don’t know folks, I have seen wide-open conferences and then I saw this year’s Big 10. I do not like the number 1 team in Purdue. The Boilermakers don’t impress me, I really don’t know why but I am not impressed by them. Also with this tourney, unpredictability comes so often it’s absolutely ridiculous.
I like Maryland this year, which does not come to a surprise to readers who have read my stuff on the Terps before. Led by Melo Trimble, this could be the Terps year to really make a run. Yes they lack Jake Layman and Rasheed Sulaimon, but along with Damonte Dodd, freshmen Justin Jackson and Anthony Cowan, Trimble and the Terps look good.
Another one of the favorites have to be Wisconsin. Nigel Hayes and Bronson Koenig (both journeymen) look poised to get the Badgers back to the elite. They would run into Purdue, but I like them matching up against Purdue in any tourney style game.
Pac-12 – The Pac-12 is back, and by back I mean the top 4 teams should dominate in this conference tournament. I like UCLA and Oregon based off their guard play. It is no question that Lonzo Ball (UCLA) and Dillon Brooks (Oregon) are two of the top guards in the nation and are on the road to a showdown in the Pac-12 title game.
UCLA has plenty of weapons though. Besides Ball, you have TJ Leaf and Bryce Alford who could be found taking some big shots down the stretch. The one other team that could be found deep in this tourney is the Arizona Wildcats.
The Wildcats, who has Allonzo Trier back halfway through the season, could be the team to beat either UCLA or Oregon. Trier and big man Lauri Markkanen could be what the Cats use to get to the final against the Ducks. One of these three will most likely win the conference, and what could be one of the best finals in the history of the conference.
SEC– Kentucky is the clear cut favorite in my opinion. When the Cats get the top spot in the SEC tourney, they rarely, if ever, lose. Coach Cal and Malik Monk are looking like they are on a path to a deep NCAA tourney run. Monk will need De’Aaron Fox as his healthy tag partner in this tourney. When Fox if healthy, he takes a lot of the spotlight off of Monk. Derek Willis will need to be clutch from outside the arch as well.
Florida is the only other team I see taking this conference. But with their path to the final including a possible Arkansas or Missouri matchup, I think the Gators could be in trouble. They’re in contention but I don’t think they are a credible threat to Kentucky.
ACC- UNC over Virginia
Big East- Villanova over Providence
Big 12- Kansas over West Virginia
Big 10- Maryland over Wisconsin
Pac 12- UCLA over Oregon
SEC- Kentucky over Missouri
Those are my picks and I am sticking to them. Next time you here from me, we will be knee deep in the NCAA tourney. So I will probably have pulled my hair out because my bracket is busted.
So try to stay handsome everyone, and happy tourney season!