We’re pretty in to conference tournaments around here. We’ll have independent posts up about the B1G tournament and the A10 as well. Rather than do an individual post about each of the SEC, PAC-12, Big 12, and Big East tournaments (we do have jobs, after all) what follows are some notes about each tournament as well as some details about each one. Happy reading.
Major Players: Kentucky, Florida
It would be a major upset if one of these two teams fails to win the tournament. I, for one, hope they meet in the final because that would be fun. It would also likely be the only one of these games I watch.
Dark Horse(s): Arkansas
Pipe down, South Carolina. The Gamecocks are somewhere between a dark horse and a major player here. They’re also going to lose in the first round of the tournament. Arkansas, for my money, is the third best team in the SEC…but it’s a LONG way from number 2 to number 3.
Bubble Team(s): Vanderbilt
The ‘Dores have spent the last week being hotly debated everywhere on the Interwebs, including here. They could do themselves a world of good by beating Texas A&M and then Florida. The tournament is in Nashville, so…maybe? They have beaten Florida twice, albeit by a combined 4 points. I didn’t include Georgia here for a simple reason: they don’t deserve to be here. They’ve got to win the whole fu@*in’ thing or they’ll have to enjoy the sandy beaches of the NIT.
Major Players: UCLA, Arizona, Oregon
All three of these teams are just excellent. As much as I don’t enjoy Bill Walton (please note that I do not speak for Nate on this point) he may well be proven right that the Pac 12 will be the Conference of Champions this year. I’d be flabbergasted if one of these three teams doesn’t win this tournament and just a little less surprised if one of them isn’t in the Final 4 in a month.
Dark Horse(s): None
Seriously, nobody else is winning this tournament.
Bubble Team(s): USC (?), Cal (?)
Neither of these teams do it for me, truth be told. I’m not even sure Cal has a chance outside of winning this tournament. Somehow Utah is the #4 seed in this tournament. They’re not on the bubble or anything but I just thought it was strange.
Big 12 Tournament
Major Players: Kansas
I’m not sure it’s possible to be too impressed with what Kansas has done to this conference. A baker’s dozen consecutive titles is almost literally unbelievable in any conference but it’s preposterous in one of the best conferences in the country. Somehow this doesn’t seem to get enough praise, even though there are quite a few articles out there about it. They’re the ’90s Atlanta Braves of college basketball – and that’s a compliment to those of you who think the ’90s Braves are somehow disappointing because they “only” got one title. Anyway, they’re the clear favorite here. I don’t really think I needed to write that.
Dark Horse(s): Baylor, West Virginia, Oklahoma State, Iowa State
This could be interesting. It’s not like Kansas has been invulnerable this year. They should have lost to West Virginia twice (and did once) and just had enough to beat Baylor twice. Iowa State got them. Any of these teams have a shot here, but if you come at the king you’d best not miss.
Bubble Team(s): Kansas State
I don’t think they have a realistic chance to win this tournament, but if they manage to beat Baylor and West Virginia they should be able to rest easy on Sunday. Hell, even beating Baylor would help a ton. They have a great draw from a “control your own destiny” perspective.
Big East Tournament
Major Players: Villanova
This looks a little like the Big 12 Tournament. There’s one very clear favorite and then some other teams. I couldn’t find the odds for this but I would take Villanova against the field if that bet were available.
Dark Horse(s): Butler
I’m not sure Butler should qualify as a dark horse but there really isn’t another option. Creighton and Seton Hall should be comfortably in the field. Marquette and Providence should both be in, too, although you’ll see them listed on various bubbles. With only 10 teams, and a few truly awful ones all these teams play each other in the first round. It’s almost like they need (cough…Dayton…cough) a couple more (cough…Wichita State…cough) teams. That leaves….
Bubble Team(s): Xavier
Xavier is going to be a tough call come selection Sunday. They can make it really easy by dropping the opener to DePaul, but let’s be honest: that isn’t going to happen. If they get past DePaul they get Butler. I think they have to at least win that one if they want to get in, but for some reason they’re getting more of a benefit of the doubt than their recent play deserves.