NCAA Basketball Conference Championship Preview

Championship Week commences Monday, as most of the major conferences hold their championship tournaments. This allows for another week of March Madness, complete with stunning upsets, amazing individual performances, and crushing defeats. By the end of the week, most of the NCAA tournament bracket will be set. Championship Week is the time for bubble teams to finish off their resumes, national contenders to assert their dominance, and underdogs to shock their conference and earn an automatic bid. Here is a preview of eight major conference tournaments.

ACC:

ACC

The ACC is consistently one of the strongest conferences in the country, and their 2015 conference tournament should only further that point. The conference could send seven teams to the NCAA tournament, so the conference tournament has huge seeding implications. Duke and Virginia are the obvious favorites, but there are at least six teams capable of winning it all. Look for North Carolina to slip by Louisville in the second round to set-up a matchup with Virginia in the semifinals. Additionally, Duke should be wary of NC State, as the Wolfpack beat the Blue Devils on Jan. 11, and also defeated Louisville and UNC in the second half of conference play.

The pick: Virginia

Big 12:
Big 12 - Perry Ellis

The Big 12 also enjoyed a very successful year, finishing with five teams ranked in the top 25. Oklahoma State and Texas are the two teams on the bubble. Texas will have to top Texas Tech and then likely Iowa State to make a strong case for the tournament. Oklahoma State beat Kansas, and Baylor twice, but lost five of their last six. They’ll get a quarterfinal matchup with in-state rival Oklahoma. Look for Baylor and Oklahoma State to make deep runs in the tournament and challenge Kansas for the conference championship.

The pick: Baylor

Big East:

Big East - Darrun Hilliard

The Big East enters its conference tournament with five teams over 20 wins, including #4 Villanova. Xavier is the only team on the bubble, and will likely need to top Butler to solidify their case to the committee. Villanova is one of the most well-rounded teams in college basketball, with six players averaging nine points per game or more. The Wildcats have only been beaten twice all season and their depth is unmatched.

The pick: Villanova

Big Ten:

Big Ten - Frank Kaminsky

The Big Ten could have up to seven teams in the NCAA tournament if the cards fall the right way during the Big Ten tournament. Purdue and Indiana sit squarely on the bubble, with RPIs of 56 and 57 respectively. The Boilermakers hold the four seed in the tournament, and will face Iowa or the winner of the Nebraska-Penn State game. Purdue topped Iowa back in January, but the Hawkeyes won six straight to close out the season. Indiana will have to top Northwestern to get to a matchup with Maryland. The Terrapins boast wins over Wisconsin and Iowa State, but lost to Indiana on Jan. 22. If Maryland can get past Indiana, look for another exciting matchup with Wisconsin in the final.

The pick: Wisconsin

Pac-12:

Pac 12 - Joseph Young

To say that is has been a down year for the Pac-12 might be an understatement. The only two locks in the conference are Utah and Arizona. Oregon looks to be in as well, but the Ducks cannot afford a first round loss in the conference tournament. UCLA won their final three games, but losses to Cal and Arizona State (whom they might face in the first round of the tournament) undermine their body of work. The potential semifinal matchup between Utah and Oregon is intriguing, as the Ducks will fight to not be one of the first four teams to play in the NCAA tournament, and Utah will battle to get a top 3 seed.

The pick: Oregon

SEC:

SEC Kentucky

It is true that the SEC tournament is very important for a couple of bubble teams, like LSU and Texas A&M. But the real reason to watch is Kentucky. The Wildcats completed an unblemished 31-0 regular season, and will look to stretch their record to 34-0 by winning the SEC tournament.  With the country’s most impenetrable defense, Kentucky is the team to beat. LSU or Texas A&M could be a tough second round matchup for the Wildcats, as both teams played Kentucky close during conference play. However, expect Kentucky to run away with the conference title.

The pick: Kentucky

AAC:

AAC - Nic Moore

Cincinnati, Temple, and SMU, appear to have their tickets punched to the big dance, barring particularly bad first round losses. The AAC team with the most to prove is the two seed, Tulsa. The Golden Hurricane swept the season series with Cincinnati, but non-conference losses to sub-par teams like Oral Roberts and Southeast Oklahoma State (yes, you read that right) have hurt their resume. A third win over Cincinnati and a trip to the tournament finals would help Tulsa’s case.

The pick: SMU

Conference USA:

Conference USA has three teams with 20 or more wins, but Old Dominion looks to be the only team with a shot at an at-large bid. The Monarchs own impressive non-conference wins over LSU, VCU, and Richmond. Louisiana Tech is the one seed in the C-USA tournament, but they lost to Old Dominion by 20 points just two weeks ago.

The pick: Old Dominion

2014/2015 NCAA Men’s Basketball Preview

The 2014 NCAA men’s basketball season is already underway, and it is full of exciting storylines. Here is a comprehensive overview of the top conferences this season, and a prediction for the March Madness tournament.

ACC

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Powerhouses: Duke has the perfect recipe for success this year, and will be the favorite to win the ACC, and maybe even the national championship. Start with the leadership of Coach K, add the experience of Quinn Cook and Rasheed Sulaimon and the freshman talent of Jahlil Okafor, Tyus Jones and Justise Winslow, and Duke will be a force to be reckoned with this year. Additionally, North Carolina is looking very strong behind veteran coach Roy Williams. Marcus Paige is easily one of the best players in the nation, and UNC’s strong rookie class consists of Justin Jackson, Joel Berry and Theo Pinson. Expect a very strong season from the Tar Heels.

Contenders: Louisville will step into its first year in the ACC ready to fight. Coach Rick Pitino has lost players from his last championship run, but will have a strong core left to begin the year with. The Cardinals will be stacked with Montrezl Harrell, Chris Jones and Terry Rozier. Add the team’s freshman talent, and they will be looking at success leading up to March. Virginia exploded onto the national spotlight last year when they won the ACC, and they should be looking to carry over their success into this season. Malcolm Brogdon remains the key piece for this Cavalier team, and will be joined by London Perrantes, Anthony Gill and Justin Anderson. Expect a good season, but a rough time against the top ACC teams for Virginia.

Pretenders: Boston College is in for a rough season under a new coach. The team finished second to last last season, and should expect the same this season. The lone bright spot for this struggling squad is one of the best players in the country, junior Olivier Hanlan. Virginia Tech will round out the bottom of the ACC this season, as they did last season. Don’t expect great things from new coach Buzz Williams as he tries to salvage the wreckage of this team.

Big Ten

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Powerhouses: Wisconsin might be the absolute best team in the country, and will easily sweep the Big Ten. Led by Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker, this squad is potent and fully loaded. Nigel Hayes rounds out the rest of the starting five, and each player will be producing at a high level. The Badgers have a legitimate shot at the championship this year. Michigan State surprises nobody with yet another top season. Tom Izzo is a fantastic coach, and should be able to lead a group of youngsters to glory. Additionally, the key weapon for the Spartans is Dawson, who will explode this season.

Contenders: Ohio State had a rough year, losing to Dayton in the first round of the tournament, and losing star point guard Aaron Craft. However, the Buckeyes once again have a great recruiting class, and D’Angelo Russell will mix well with the returning seniors to make a lethal combination on the court. Michigan will be another deep team, even though they lost their star Nik Stauskas. The Wolverines have brought in the touted recruit Kameron Chatman, who should be able to dominate no matter where he is on the court, due to his large frame. Additionally, guard Caris Levert should be watched as he will hope to lead this team to success this season.

Pretenders: Northwestern no longer has Drew Crawford, who was their only good player last season. Now this team will struggle to find a point-producer, and with little defense as well, the Wildcats will sink to the bottom of the Big Ten this season. Don’t expect much from Penn State either this season, as the Nittany Lions have little to no depth. The only bright spot for this struggling squad is Brandon Taylor, but he is the only good thing going for this team.

Big 12

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Powerhouses: Kansas is one of the absolute best teams in the country, and will no doubt win the Big 12. The main concern for the Jayhawks is their loss of several key players, such as Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid. But Bill Self has assembled a young new squad, anchored by veteran Perry Ellis. The youngsters consist of Cliff Alexander, Kelly Oubre and Devonte Graham, and will be dominating the court. Expect a very strong showing from Kansas this season. Also a top performer is Texas. Texas had a fantastic season last year, and they will be losing no key players. Instead, the Longhorns are adding one of the best freshmen in the country in Myles Turner. Expect Turner to inject a shot of energy into this squad to propel them to a high ranking this year.

Contenders: Iowa State lost a few key players in the offseason, yet gained a much more important transfer in Dejean Jones from UNLV. While the team has to replace some stars, they still have talented players from last year in Jameel McKay and Abdel Nader. Dustin Hogue and Georges Niang will round out this talented squad in what looks like a very successful season for the Cyclones. Oklahoma will have a solid season no matter what, yet one player will decide if it will be very successful, or not so much. Transfer TaShawn Thomas is a force to be reckoned with, and will round out a great Sooner team filled with the likes of Dante Buford and Buddy Hield. Watch for the Sooners’ season to go one of two ways.

Pretenders: Texas Christian is looking shoddy in the upcoming season, after a no-win season last year. Incoming freshman Trey Ziegler is literally the only thing the team has going for it. In dead last in the Big 12 will be Texas Tech, after losing four top players to graduation and transfers. Justin Jamison and Devaugntah Williams will be arriving, and will hopefully add some talent to this lacking team.

Pac 12

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Powerhouses: Arizona already has a lot to prove this season after a disappointing overtime loss in the Elite 8 last year. It will be even more difficult for the Wildcats this year, after having lost stars Aaron Gordon and Nick Johnson. Luckily for Arizona fans, the team still has a very strong team centered around the core of Brandon Ashley and T.J. McConnell. Additionally, the Wildcats recruited very well, and were able to grab an elite recruit in Stanley Johnson. Look for this deep Arizona team to easily win the Pac 12. Utah is another strong team in the conference, who will be once again led by point guard Delon Wright. This team will be making an all-out effort to win the Pac 12, as they brought back four starters from last year. The Utes’ schedule is tougher this year, but this team should be able to handle their opponents.

Contenders: Colorado is fired up and ready to get back to winning after a frustrating blowout loss to Pittsburgh in the tournament. Spencer Dinwiddie and Josh Scott are back and ready for action as they hope to lead this young squad to another successful season. UCLA won the Pac 12 tournament last year, but will be taking a huge hit after losing several key players. Only senior Norman Powell remains, and he and coach Steve Alford must lead a team of youngsters to the promised land. Look for UCLA to be just on the brink of success this season.

Pretenders: Washington State has coach Ernie Kent and guard Davonte Lacy and not much else. This Cougar team better hope for solid production from its freshmen if it hopes to not have a complete disappointment of a season. Oregon State is also in the same boat, as it has only one returning starter in Langston Morris-Walker. This team will have an abysmal season, and the only other bright spot is the transfer of Gary Payton II.

SEC

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Powerhouses: Kentucky is an absolutely dominant team, and will have an easy time winning the SEC. Coach Calipari has a great class of freshmen with Karl Towns, Trey Lyles, Tyler Ulis and Devin Booker. These youngsters will be joining the already proven talent in the Harrison twins, Alex Poythress and Willie Cauley-Stein. Expect the Wildcats to have a dominant season, and get to the NCAA Championship Game. The SEC is also stacked with several other great teams, like Florida. The Gators have quite a few players to replace, yet their core remains in tact. Hill and Walker will get good movement of the ball going from the arch to the paint, and this team will dominate most of their games.

Contenders: Arkansas is another solid team with a great coach, Mike Anderson. Although the Razorbacks are not very deep, they have good stars in Rashad Madden, Bobby Portis and Michael Qualls. Expect this team to put up a solid fight this year, and even make surprises with upsets. Louisiana State also has lots of potential this year, even if they have lost players at the point. On the other hand, the LSU paint is absolutely dominant with Jordan Mickey, Jarrell Martin and Elbert Robinson III. Watch for a good season from the Tigers.

Pretenders: Tennessee has a fantastic player in Josh Richardson, and not much else. Richardson is the team’s only returning starter, and cannot produce enough to keep an entire team afloat. It will be an interesting and disappointing season for the Volunteers. Mississippi State has had an excellent football season, but that success will not transfer over to the basketball season. The Bulldogs haven’t recruited well enough to get talent to be able to compete with the SEC elite, so don’t expect much from them.

Other Top Teams

Wichita State should be expected to have another great year, and is ranked 11 in the AP preseason poll. Gonzaga, VCU, San Diego State and Connecticut are ranked 13, 15, 16 and 17, respectively. These squads come from non-major conferences, yet should all be looked out for as they will all post successful seasons and interesting performances in March.

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National Championship Winner:

The title game will pit two top teams against each other, with Kentucky facing Duke. While the Blue Devils have produced some fantastic regular seasons, they have stumbled recently in the tournament. This year, however, will be different with Coach K’s leadership guiding an elite group of veterans and eager youngsters. Look for the Blue Devils to steal this one from Coach Calipari and his Wildcats.

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Final Four Preview

After one of the most exciting tournaments in recent memories, complete with a plethora of overtime games and enthralling upsets, we have reached the Final Four. Florida, Wisconsin, Connecticut and Kentucky survived their respective regions and will play on Saturday in Dallas. All four teams were written off at some point during the season and no one could have predicted that these four would end up playing for the national championship.

Florida vs. Connecticut

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Florida Gators (#1 seed): As the number one overall seed and winners of thirty consecutive games, predicting that Florida would have an easy path to the Final Four would be within reason. But many “experts” cited Syracuse or Kansas as the team most likely to survive the South region, underestimating Florida’s status as the number one team in the country. Granted, four of the top six seeds in the South were eliminated from the tournament after the first weekend, but Florida has remained consistent in its journey to the Final Four, winning every game by double digits. Led by seniors, Scottie Wilbekin, Patric Young and Casey Prather, Florida will look to follow Louisville and Kentucky as another number one overall seed to win the tournament. However, both the Gators’ losses have come against Final Four teams (Wisconsin and UConn).

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Connecticut Huskies (#7 seed): Led by the heroics of senior Shabazz Napier, the Huskies have carved a path to Dallas by upending the #2,3 and 4 seeds in the East region. Napier’s tournament performance have UConn fans remembering the 2011 tournament, where Kemba Walker carried the Huskies to a national championship. Entering the tournament, Connecticut was viewed as a possible upset victim at the hands of St. Joe’s. However, after squeaking by St. Joe’s in overtime, the Huskies laid siege to Villanova and Iowa State with high-powered offensive performances, then punched their ticket to Texas with a gritty win over Michigan State at Madison Square Garden. Look for a heroic performance from Napier in UConn’s rematch with Florida in the national semifinal.

The Pick: Florida

Wisconsin vs. Kentucky

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Wisconsin Badgers (#2 seed): Wisconsin escaped a tough West region by defeating #1 seed Arizona in the Elite Eight, a team who many thought were destined for a national championship. The Badgers navigated a double digit halftime deficit to Oregon in the round of 32 to reach the Sweet Sixteen, where they held Baylor to 31.6% shooting in a seventeen point blowout. The season has resembled a roller coaster for Wisconsin, starting 16-0, losing 5 of 6, then recovering to take 13 of 15 to reach the Final Four. Frank Kaminsky leads a balanced offensive attack for the Badgers, who will look to slow down a red hot Kentucky team by controlling the pace of the game. Wisconsin may not look like a national championship team, but it’s been a crazy tournament and they’ve gotten this far, so why not?

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Kentucky Wildcats (#8 seed): John Calipari’s “legendary” recruiting class has lived up to their potential at the perfect time of the season to reach Dallas. The most heralded recruiting class since the Fab Five at Michigan failed to live up to their preseason #1 ranking and mutterings of a perfect season, proving early and often that they were too green to contend with the elite teams of college basketball. Maybe Coach Cal lit a spark in the hearts of his Wildcats, or maybe the players realized that they actually have to play well in order to get drafted, but Kentucky has been on a tear, playing its most cohesive and efficient basketball of the year. Julius Randle has been a steady double-double machine, complemented in the post by the emergence of Dakari Johnson and Marcus Lee in the absence of Willie Cauley-Stein. The Wildcats handed Wichita St. its first loss since last March in the round of 32, then defeated cross-state rival (and underseeded) Louisville before Aaron Harrison’s three pointer with under three seconds left dispatched Michigan and paved Kentucky’s road to the Final Four. The Wildcats have had perhaps the toughest road to the Final Four, and with the way they are playing, they cannot be considered an eight seed anymore.

The Pick: Kentucky

National Championship: Florida over Kentucky

 

Early Look Into March Madness

With the conference tournaments heating up, let’s break down the top conferences heading into the NCAA Tournament.

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ACC

1. Virginia- Not in the conversation for the ACC title before the season, the Cavaliers are ACC Champions. After losing to Duke, the Cavs won 13 in a row. Possible National Coach of the Year Tony Bennett has led the Cavaliers into Final Four talks.

2. Syracuse- Syracuse’s first year in the ACC had proved to be an exciting one. Highlighted by two nail-biting games against Duke, the Orange went undefeated for the first 25 games. However, they have lost 4 of the last 6 games. If Tyler Ennis can return to his prior form, the Orange can contend for the Championship.

3. Duke- All eyes were on Duke to see how Jabari Parker would play in his freshman and probably only year at Duke. Well, he’s exceeded expectations, and his supporting cast have played well also. If Parker and Rodney Hood can play well together like they did vs. UNC, the Devils can beat just about anybody.

4. North Carolina- The Tar Heels season has been full of mountains and valleys, and they need to hit one of those mountains come the Tournament. Freshman Marcus Paige has been the one constant for the Heels, who have lost to teams like Belmont and UAB, but also beaten teams like Louisville, Michigan State, Kentucky, and Duke.

5. Pittsburgh- A win against then #1 Syracuse would have taken Pittsburgh off the bubble and locked them into the NCAA Tournament, but a Tyler Ennis buzzer-beater took that away. Now, the Panthers have to have a Top-4 finish in the ACC Tournament to have a good shot into the BIg Dance.

American

1. Cincinnati- Led by senior Sean Kilpatrick, the Bearcats have emerged as a premier team in the American, as well as the country. None of the Bearcats stats jump out at you, but their teamwork and senior leadership make up for it. This should help them in the Big Dance.

2. Louisville- After Peyton Siva graduated, many thought they would have a down year. Chane Behanan being released from the team added to those thoughts. However, Russ Smith and Montrezl Harrell have carried the Cardinals to a top-15 spot behind their 12th best scoring offense.

3. Connecticut- The backcourt duo of Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright have carried the Huskies this season. However, if Napier doesn’t play well, the Huskies don’t play well, and they have to fix that to be a threat in March.

4. Memphis- With “Grown man team” member Shaq Goodwin, the high-flying Tigers are a fun team to watch. Guards Joe Jackson, Chris Crawford, and Missouri transfer Michael Dixon Jr. can all shoot the three and change a game, but their inexperience has caused them to drop some games.

5. SMU- Not even thought to be contending for a NCAA Tournament bid, the Mustangs have surprised just about everybody. Coached by former NBA coach Larry Brown, SMU have shown they should earn a bid into the tournament.

Big 12

1. Kansas- With number one recruit Andrew Wiggins and post presence Joel Embiid playing their first and probably only season, the Jayhawks had very high expectations. Although they didn’t meet those expectations, the Jayhawks still had a good season. With the loss to West Virginia on Saturday, Kansas dropped to a two-seed, according to Joe Lunardi.

2. Oklahoma- Unexpectedly, the Sooners have performed better than their in-state rival, Oklahoma State. Sophomore Buddy Hield leads a Sooners team that wasn’t expected to compete in one of the best basketball conferences in the country.

3. Iowa State- Headed by dynamic duo Deandre Kane and Big 12 Player of the Year Melvin Ejim, the Cyclones have gained national recognition this year. When Kane and Ejim play well together, the Cyclones are a scary team.

4. Texas- Although he does not gain the recognition that freshmen like Jabari Parker and Andrew Wiggins get, Isaiah Taylor has been a big boost for the Longhorns, who have not had a great point guard the last couple of years. Also, 285-pound Cam Ridley is a big reason the Longhorns are fourth nationally in rebounds.

5. Kansas State- Another great freshman in the Big 12, Marcus Foster leads the Wildcats into a sure NCAA Tournament bid. The Wildcats have multiple quality home wins, including Kansas and Iowa State. However, the ‘Cats don’t have any head-turning away wins.

6. Baylor- Kenny Chery is one of the most explosive and hard-to-handle players in the country. However, he is inconsistent with his performances. The Bears earned a Top-10 ranking before conference play, which included an early-season win over Kentucky. If the Bears can play like they did early in the season, those will be the Baylor that has been a force the last couple of years.

7. Oklahoma State- After Marcus Smart’s well publicized shoving incident with a fan, the skidding Cowboys had to turn things around in order to be recognized by the Selection Committee again. And that they did. Marcus Smart’s suspension not only changed him as a person but also made him a smarter basketball player. A big run in the conference tournament would be a huge boost for the Cowboys.

 

Big East

1. Villanova- Guards James Bell and Ryan Arcidiacono lead the Wildcats, who like many solid teams, don’t have huge stats but play well as a team. Champions of the newly-formulated Big East, Villanova can contend for the Final Four.

2. Creighton- Three reasons why Creighton is even ranked. Doug McDermott, Doug McDermott, Doug McDermott. McDermott is a probable Wooden Award winner, and seventh all-time in points scored. If his teammates can give him some more support, Creighton can be a dangerous team in the tourney.

3. Providence- Another surprise team contending for a tournament spot, the Friars have put together a quality season. The game that will really decide if they’re ready for the tournament is their Big East tourney quarterfinal against St. Johns.

4. Xavier- Just like Providence, the Big East Tournament will determine whether the Musketeers deserve a tournament bid or not.

 

Big Ten

1. Michigan- Losing Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway to the NBA, plus having Mitch McGary get back surgery was supposed to weaken Michigan significantly. Now, they’re Big Ten regular season champs. Nik Stauskas has carried the load this year for the Wolverines.

2. Wisconsin- A 16-0 start had Wisconsin as high as #4, but losses in 5 of the next 6 games took the Badgers off the polls. Now, Wisconsin is mostly back to their old selves preparing to play in the tournament of probably the toughest conference in the country.

3. Michigan State- Starting the season 18-1, the Spartans were living up to their Final Four expectations. However, injuries to many key players have forced the Spartans to change their game plan just about every game, which has throw off their tempo.

4. Nebraska- Their year hasn’t been smooth, but the Huskers are exceeding expectations greatly. Transfer Terran Petteway has helped rejuvenate a Nebraska program which is mostly known for football.

5. Ohio State- Like many teams, Ohio State came out strong from the gate, but have been on and off the past month. However, the leadership of Aaron Craft can help the Buckeyes when times get tough.

6. Iowa- The Hawkeyes are a very unpredictable and inconsistent team. A recent skid has the Hawkeyes looking to fix things.However, a deep run in the Big Ten Tournament should solidify an NCAA Tournament berth.

 

C-USA

1. Louisiana Tech- The big win the Bulldogs have is a road win at Oklahoma. Playing in a somewhat weak conferences, mid-majors need wins against well-known programs to boost their resume. Even with this quality win, a C-USA championship is the only guarantee they will get into March Madness.

2. Southern Miss- Although they have less losses than some Top 25 teams, playing in a conference without much competition doesn’t help the Eagles stock very much. Similar to Louisiana Tech, a championship is the only guarantee they will get into March Madness.  However, they have a 34 RPI, which is a plus heading into the tournament.

 

Pac 12

1. Arizona- As the early season favorite, Arizona has lived up to its prediction. Guard Nick Johnson is a swiss army knife, and freshman Aaron Gordon provides lots of athleticism. However, a season-ending injury to Brandon Ashley has really hurt the ‘Cats this year.

2. UCLA- Guard Jordan Adams leads a Bruins squad that scores 82 points per game. Although impressive, they will play games in the tournament that depend on defensive performance, and the Bruins need to work on that.

3. Colorado- Colorado’s signature win this season was a home win against then #6 Kansas. A big blow to the Buffaloes was the injury to Spencer Dinwiddie, their leading scorer prior to injury.

4. Oregon- The Ducks started the season 13-0 and had many eyes on them. Then, they went 2-8 in the next 10 games and no one paid attention to them. Now, it seems the Ducks have turned things around at the right time, winning the next 8 games, including one vs. Arizona.

5. Arizona State- The Sun Devils haven’t had any bad losses and won most of the games they were expected to win. A win against Arizona boosts their resume. Guard Jahii Carson is a leader on this squad and 7’2” Jordan Bachynski is a huge post presence.

6. Stanford- This season has been an up-and-down year for the Cardinal. Their biggest win was a road victory at then #10 UConn. These kinds of victories can boost you into the NCAA Tournament, and Stanford needs a good showing in the Pac-12 Championship to lock up a spot in the Big Dance.

 

SEC

1. Florida- Ending the season on a 23-game win streak and becoming the first 18-0 team in SEC history, the Gators are heading into the SEC Tournament with momentum on their side. Barring any disastrous injuries, the Gators are a Final Four team.

2. Kentucky- Coming into the season with high expectations and the top recruiting class, Kentucky hasn’t met their expectations this season. However, their talent level is very high, which could surprise some teams.

3. Arkansas- This season for the Razorbacks was highlighted by a last second dunk to beat Kentucky. Quality wins like that can prove to the NCAA Selection Committee they should be in the tournament, and a win or two in the conference tournament could further that plea.

4. Tennessee- The Volunteers are a talented team. However, they don’t have any quality wins that jumps out at the Selection Committee. Like Arkansas, their performance in the SEC Tournament will make or break their March Madness chances.

Most Exciting Teams and Games of March Madness 2013

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We are fresh off one of the most exciting NCAA national championship game in recent memory. Michigan and their National Player of the Year (and Thuuz most exciting player), Trey Burke came out strong with help from the national coming out party of Spike Albrecht. The Wolverines were ultimately defeated 76-82 by a tough, emotionally charged, ridiculously well coached Louisville Cardinals team led by big time games from Luke Hancock, Peyton Siva and Chane Behanan.

We ran through our Thuuz data to compile the 10 most exciting games of the NCAA tournament as well as the 10 teams that were involved in the most exciting games.

10 Best Games of March Madness

Monday night’s National Championship game ended up 12th on our list. The game rating algorithm was headed into the top 10 but it fell off as Louisville pulled away slightly in the final seconds.

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10 Most Exciting Teams of March Madness

Ohio St, Wichita St, and Michigan were all involved in three “Great Games” over the course of the tournament.  Ohio State beat Wichita State by a small margin for the top spot.  Both of these teams had significantly higher “Great Game” averages compared to Michigan.  Among the teams with two Great Games, the top spot (#4 overall) goes to Louisville.  Kansas claims the #1 most exciting team among those teams with only one Great Game in the tournament and sits at #9 overall in this list.

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