Thursday, January 3, 2013
CONFERENCE PREVIEWS AND THOUGHTS
Non conference games are in the books, conference season is now upon us. This is where rivalry games are aplenty, fraudulent teams are exposed, and big time players come out and shine. Before it really gets going I need to give my thoughts on who I think will win a few of the conferences. We also welcome back our guest blogger, Jeremy Fiser, for his views on a few of the "major" conferences. Feel free to comment below so that you have proof for later when one of your predictions is correct.
JEREMY: Big Ten Regular Season Conference Champs: Indiana
The Big Ten is easily the best conference in the nation and the hardest to handicap heading into the conference season. There is a chance that a 2 or 3 loss team wins the Big Ten this year. What was originally just supposed to be Indiana, Michigan and Ohio State on the top of the league has now become those three plus an improved Illinois and a surging Minnesota; all five of these teams are top 11!. Indiana has two things two their advantage: 1) Assembly Hall is the best home court advantage in the Big Ten and 2) Indiana has a balanced attack that will cause problems for other Big Ten teams. Ohio State proved it has a serious weakness on the inside versus Kansas. Michigan will challenge the Hoosiers and could potentially tie for the conference championship, but I give the Hoosiers the edge due to Cody Zeller.
CURT: Big Ten Regular Seasons Champs: Michigan
Right now the Big Ten is the best conference. It is going to be very hard to win a road game anywhere in that conference. To me, the best way to win big road games is to have playmakers that can score. Michigan has more of those players than any other team in the Big Ten. Burke, Hardaway, and Robinson can all score at will and they have other shooters on the outside. If Zeller gets in foul trouble, which he will on the road, then Indiana will have to fight for some wins. I just think Michigan has what it takes to win the conference. OSU is not good, they will finish outside of the top 3. Illinois is a fraud and will finish around .500. My sleeper to maybe get a bye in the tourney is Wisconsin, they don't lose at home.
JEREMY: ACC Regular Season Conference Champs: Duke
This pick shouldn’t come as much of a surprise –Duke has already knocked off Ohio State, Kentucky, Minnesota, and Louisville, with the last three played away from Cameron. Duke will easily walk through the ACC with Mason Plumlee averaging double-doubles each night and will most likely still be the number one team at the end of the year – primarily due to a relatively weak ACC.
CURT: ACC Regular Season Conference Champs: Duke
Not even sure what to say on this one. Is there even a contender? FSU is underachieving, Miami is suppose to be good but they always choke. UNC has talent, but then I saw them lose to possibly the worst team I have seen all year, Texas. If Duke doesn't win this conference it will be because three of the their starters are out for the year.
JEREMY: Big East Regular Season Conference Champs: Louisville
Like the Big Ten, there are a lot of choices here. Cincinnati will probably fade. Syracuse will step outside of their Carrier Dome comfort zone and find difficulty. Georgetown is good – not great. Louisville is a good team that flattened Missouri earlier this year and played Duke to the wire. Look for them to end the season on top.
CURT: Big East Regular Season Conference Champs: Syracuse
I agree with Cincinnati fading, they don't have a post presence or a deadly shooter. Georgetown can never score enough. Notre Dame will be exposed as a fraud, as will Seton Hall and Marquette. I like Louisville but whenever I watch them they always seem to have some of the dumbest players in the NCAA. Their bonehead plays always hold them back. Will they be good? Heck ya, but I just see them slipping up a little too much. Syracuse to me has the bigs, the shooters, the slashers, and MCW. If they continue to improve, to me they have the best team in the conference.
JEREMY: Additional Thoughts:
- If Kansas plays the way they did against Ohio State, they will present difficulties to a lot of teams. Very balanced approach with a strong presence in the middle.
- Butler knocking off Indiana earlier this year will not be the last time we hear the Bulldogs name this year. Sidenote – the gigantic 16 team Atlantic Ten will send three teams to the Dance this year.
- Notice the discrepancy between the AP top 25 and Ken Pom’s Top 30 – I generally trust Ken Pom. Significant number of non-powerhouse conference teams in Ken Poms top 30, including Colorado State, VCU and big bad Belmont with St Louis and Wyoming (Wyoming?) ranked 31 or 32.
CURT: Extra Thoughts:
-The Big 12 is going to be sneaky good this year. Kansas is the real deal, OK State is good, Mizzou is there, K State always brings it, and Baylor has talent like crazy. And their records will all look good because the rest of the conference is trash.
-I'll have an A10 preview later this week, but ya, it's going to be a crazy year. 8 teams legitimately have a chance to not only dance, but win a game when they get there.
-PAC12 will also be a good conference to watch, finally. Arizona is the class there, they have two huge wins already on the slate.
-Gonzaga looks really good, possibly their best team they have had.
-Mountain West is really top heavy, they could get five teams in. Wyoming is still undefeated by the way.
-How about that Temple win over Syracuse? They have Kansas Sunday, that'll probably be a massacre.
-Oh, and one last thing, my Bobcats are strugglingly, mightily. Hopefully the conference schedule can get them going.
As a lot of you know, I like to keep track of what teams are still in the running for the National Title. Here is a quick rundown as of today, January 3rd.
347 teams in Division I
17 already eliminated
330 can still dream the ultimate dream
ELIMINATED: Connecticutt, UC Riverside, UNC Wilmington, Towson, Toledo, Jacksonville State, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Mississippi Valley State (ACADEMICALLY INELIGIBLE)
Cal State Bakersfield, New Orleans (INDEPENDENTS, NOT GETTING AN AT LARGE BID)
Chicago State, Houston Baptist, NJIT, Texas Pan American, Utah Valley (GREAT WEST, NO AUTO BID, NOT GETTING AN AT LARGE BID)
'Til next time.....