NCAA Conference Championship Outlook
March is officially here, and if you keep up with college basketball, you know that madness is surely on its way. The season is wrapping up and the conferences are gearing up for their respective championship tournaments. The season is coming to a close and teams are looking to take their place as things start to settle, we’re taking a look at how it’s all going to take shape for the conference championship tournament.
Judging by their respective records, it would seem as though there’s a fair amount of parity in the Pac-12, but with Arizona having had most of their losses dealt to them by the tougher opponents in the conference, the Wildcats are going to have some trouble winning the tournament. After their meeting earlier this season, Oregon looks to have the edge over UCLA should they meet again. When Cal and Oregon clashed this season, the Golden Bears came away from both contests with the win. What makes this scenario interesting is that UCLA is also responsible handing Cal a loss back in early January. This three-way should make for an interesting series of events in the Pac-12 Conference Championship Tournament.
Among the top teams in the Big 12, Oklahoma and Iowa State are the bottom-feeders that we don’t expect to do too much damage in the conference tournament. Oklahoma State has proven to be a solid team down the stretch, stringing together a streak of wins, with only one loss in the past 10 games. The teams to really watch for reside in the state of Kansas, as both the Wildcats and Jayhawks are among the best in college basketball. In the 16 years the Big 12 has existed, the University of Kansas has won 8, so it goes without saying that they’re always a favorite to win it all.
Although the SEC is better known as probably the strongest football conference, they’re no slouch on the basketball end of the spectrum. The Florida Gators have won two championships in recent years, and the Kentucky Wildcats are the defending national champs. With the two teams being at the top of the conference without much competition, it’ll be a toss between those two for who will win it all. In their lone season matchup, Florida soundly beat the Wildcats, so much of the same should be expected.
The Big East is another strong conference in the NCAA with teams that always make noise during the season and in the national championship tournament, so a great deal of parity exists within their ranks. Being that Georgetown, Louisville, Marquette, Syracuse and Notre Dame are all pretty much equally good, this may be the most interesting conference championship tournament, in that anyone can string together a few wins and take it.
Perennially, the ACC’s basketball claim to fame has resided in North Carolina. With UNC faltering this year, and the emergence of the Miami Hurricanes, things have shifted a little, but looking at the history of the conference, it happens. With Miami on top and responsible for easily dispatching of Duke and UNC, the conference championship is all but in the bag for the Hurricanes.
Big Ten (Michigan State/Ohio State)
It’s been the general consensus that the Big Ten has the best teams in the country, and we’re not arguing with that. With so much goodness all concentrated in one conference, the tournament in March is shaping up to be on where we can expect a lot of surprises and games that come down to the wire. Pretty much every team has lost to each other, so it’s virtually impossible to guess who will come out of the tournament victorious. Nevertheless, we’ll put our money on the Wolverines to show up when the time comes.
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