Conference Tournaments are already underway and the automatic berths will be handed out over the next 10 days. In the Power 5 Conferences there are several teams that need to win several games to elevate their chances for at large bids. Others that are safely in may not put forth the exhausting effort of winning their Conference Tournament at all costs as the extra rest prior to the big dance may be more important.
This year’s field promises to have more parody than any other year and the bubble just to get in to the Dance is bigger than ever. The Committee really does have a tough time picking several teams that are neck and neck for those last few spots. Therefore you will see several teams in must win Conference Tournament situations just to get in. That doesn’t mean they’ll get those W’s, it just means they have put themselves in that position.
The SEC has been interesting all season and Auburn & Tennessee are the Regular season top dogs. In this Conference it won’t surprise me who wins it outside of Vandy or Ole Miss.
PAC-12 is on pins and needles with the Sean Miller situation still playing out at Arizona and it will be interesting to see how the Cats react to the adversity. USC is down Bennie Boatwright for the year but still are dangerous in my eyes. ASU still has work to do just to get in to the dance despite an unblemished 12-0 run Non-Conference, and best take care of biz at home in Tempe the next few days.
The Big East has two legit Final Four entries in Villanova & Xavier but both these teams could also get knocked out first round if the 3’s aren’t falling.
ACC seems like the best Conference with UVA, Duke & UNC leading the way but let’s remember Duke just lost on a neutral to St. John’s and Virginia got beat by a less than stellar Virginia Tech team at home, while North Carolina has lost a lot from last season’s National Title
The Big Ten is playing their Conference tourney a week earlier to use Madison Square Garden as their venue. Will that be an advantage with extra rest time or a liability with too much time in between games? Michigan State, Purdue, Michigan and Ohio State are all solid teams to move ahead in your brackets….at your own risk of course!
Then there is the Big 12 who boasts Kansas as their top regular season team for the 14th straight year…remarkable! West Virginia with Huggy at the helm will get a lot of looks. Then the log jam with two hot teams in Baylor & Oklahoma State and several who have struggled of late. Texas Tech is in but is not playing anything like they were mid-season while the wheels have fallen off for Oklahoma & Texas. The Red River rivalry gridiron powers are sinking fast and may be NIT bound unless they win the Big 12 Tournament.
Last but not least Conference wise, there is the American Athletic with Cincinnati, Wichita State & Houston all possessing qualities to make a run in the Field of 68.
We didn’t forget others from the smaller Leagues like Gonzaga, St.Mary’s out of the WCC and Nevada from the Mountain West but they will be up against it, especially the Wolfpack with the loss of PG Lindsey Drew.
For a College Hoops junkie like myself, it’s several weeks of non-stop all day action and then …It’s Over!……So let’s just sit back and enjoy the month of March that comes in like a lamb but goes out like a lion with a new King of the Jungle in College Hoops!
From day one this has been by far the wackiest college basketball season in recent memory, or for that matter, of all time. Major upset after major upset was the norm from early November to late February. Toss in the FBI investigation to literally every blue blood hoop school for improper payments to kids(now there is a shocker) and it’s been one wild roller coaster ride.
It looked like this March was set up to be the wildest March on record but unfortunately the big boys are starting to play their best ball of the year. Duke, Villanova, Virginia, Michigan St, and Kansas are all playing at a very high level right now which means the likelihood of a George Mason, Gonzaga or Butler fairy tale run is a lot less likely to take place. For our purposes, it also makes finding a long shot to win it all, that much more difficult.
Two teams that I think still have some value are West Virginia at 45-1 and North Carolina State at 200-1. Huggins’ style is a match up nightmare for any one to handle in a one game scenario and their best player is their point guard which I really, really like at this time of the year.
The Wolfpack are peaking at the right time and they come from the best basketball conference in the land so they are battle tested to say the least. However, even if you can’t find a long shot to win it all, there are plenty of opportunities to make money in the conference tournaments, the big dance, and all of the other, smaller post season tourneys.
The best part of this time of the year is all of the back to back games and the neutral site situations which really create handicapping havoc for the bookmaker. Coaching at this time of the year is a big factor as well. My eyes are always looking for a coaching mismatch in March.
This is a great time to be a sports bettor. The next 30 days should be one heck of a ride to cap off one hell of a crazy season in college basketball… and then we can all relax and watch that little golf tournament they have every year in Augusta.
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