As exciting as the NCAA tournament itself is the conference tournaments have often brought on as many thrills in and of themselves. While some of the smaller conferences are already underway, later this week the major conferences and leagues crank up their post-season activities. Even though there are some huge games today to wrap up the regular season, I feel confident enough to throw some picks at you for your wagering consideration.
Big Ten – First thing you need to know here is that only one time has a seed lower than four won the Big Ten and that was Iowa back in 2001. Ohio State and Michigan State have each won the tournament a record three times. Based on what happens today, you could see any number of teams claim the #1 seed. If Indiana wins at Michigan today they’ll get the one seed, if not, it could fall to one of three other teams.
This conference has been the best in the country all year, but it’s become top-heavy. I cannot see some of the bottom-dwellers making too big of an impact in this year’s tournament. While I can easily see the Hoosiers, the Wolverines, Michigan State, Ohio State or Wisconsin winning this thing, you do have to be careful of teams like Illinois or Minnesota who want to secure NCAA bids. The team I like right now is Michigan State and for two reasons; they are as physically and mentally tough as any team and they have the best coach in Tom Izzo. Go with Sparty.
ACC – I’ll make this easy… Go ahead and pencil in Duke, Miami or North Carolina here. The Tar Heels will host Duke today and win or lose they are playing their best basketball of the season. Duke has been more than happy to have Ryan Kelly back after his foot injury. The Blue Devils have not lost this year with him in the lineup. Miami can wrap up the ACC regular season title today despite having lost three of their last four.
Historically, Duke and North Carolina have won every ACC title since 1997 with the exception of Maryland in 2004 and Florida State last year. I don’t see that changing much this year. Miami is a good club as they’ve proven all year, but this is a step up now and I like Duke here.
Big 12 – Kansas is the #1 seed and will have to deal with in-state rival Kansas State and Oklahoma State in this year’s tournament. Iowa State and Oklahoma are the two teams fighting for a shot at the big dance with 21 and 20 wins respectively. I look for one of them to make a little noise in this tournament before one of the big dogs takes over. I like Kansas State and Bruce Weber here because it’s tough to beat a team three teams in a season and that’s what KU will have to do witht eh Wildcats. Go with K-State.
Pac-12 – This tournament is probably the craziest one to predict simply because there are so many teams who kind of limped into to this point of the season. UCLA has gotten its’ act together recently and will be the number one seed. Oregon and Arizona are the other top teams but Arizona State, Colorado and Cal all have apirations of a conference title and a sot at the NCAA tournament.
This might be a situation where it’s the best player in the conference versus the best overall team. To me, that means UCLA’s Shabazz Muhammad