Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Championship Week

NCAA conference tournaments are already underway. Tickets are being punched for the Big Dance, and bubbles are bursting (like UConn's earlier today). Here are my picks for the six power conferences.


Even with the loss at Maryland costing them the outright regular season title, Duke has had a lot of success in this tournament. They have won eight of the last 11 and are easily the best team in the conference. Maryland's Greivis Vasquez was named the conference's player of the year, and it wouldn't surprise me to see these two teams in the final. But without the home-court advantage, I don't see the Terrapins repeating that success.

Winner: Duke

Big East

The B-East tournament will definitely have the most games with quality opponents, but I don't think that will allow for much drama (especially like the 6-OT game between UConn and Syracuse last year). It will be won by one of the top three of Syracuse, Villanova and West Virginia. Guard play is important in March, which gives Villanova a good shot against 'Cuse in the semis. But the Orange trounced the Wildcats by 18. They could definitely do it, but 'Nova has to get hot from beyond the arc to beat the zone. I'm not counting on that happening. I'm looking for Bob Huggins' Mountaineers to beat the Orange in the championship with Da'Sean Butler being the tournament's best player.

Winner: West Virginia

Big Ten

This tournament was up for grabs between three teams just a couple weeks ago. Then Purdue's Robbie Hummel went down with a knee injury. The way I see it, the title will go to either Michigan State or Ohio State. The Spartans are last year's NCAA runner-up but they're not consistently good. Plus the Buckeyes have the nation's top player, Evan Turner. Kentucky's John Wall will be drafted No. 1, but Turner will win the Wooden Award as the nation's best. He is leading the conference in scoring and rebounding and is second in steals and assists. Also, he is sixth in field-goal percentage, which means he's not taking half his team's shots to get that total like South Carolina's Devan Downey. Oh, and Turner recovered from a broken back earlier this season. I'm not choosing against a guy with that type of heart.

Winner: Ohio State

Big 12

I'll make this brief.

Winner: Kansas


Does anyone really care?

Winner: California


Kentucky is the favorite, but the most dangerous team has already beaten the Wildcats. Enter the Tennessee Volunteers. The two will most likely meet in a semi-final bout on Saturday. The winner will take home the crown on Sunday. Kentucky has looked vulnerable when not hitting shots from the outside. UT's length and athletic ability could disrupt the inexperienced 'Cats. Here's one vote for Bruce Pearl as coach of the year, in the conference and the nation. Losing the team's best player Tyler Smith could have sent the Vols into a tailspin. Pearl kept them together, though, and winning a conference title would be nothing short of amazing.

Winner: Tennessee

These are my picks. But March is my favorite month for a reason. Anything can happen in college basketball. And I expect this March to be no exception.

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