Finally, the major conference tournaments have begun! All of these three conferences are on the coasts, so that’s why they’re in the same post. The ACC, SEC, and Pac-12 are all extremely entertaining and will get you into the mood for some championship basketball if you somehow aren’t in that mood yet! Worried about the corona virus?! Stay inside and watch college basketball and stay away from this terrible disease! Let’s get into the predictions and previews.
The Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament: March 10-14
As what seems to be a theme in these conference tournament preview and predictions from myself, I missed the first day of games. #12 Wake Forest lost to #13 Pitt 81-72, and #14 UNC defeated #11 VA Tech 78-56. While both lower seeds won, Vegas had Pitt and UNC as the favorites entering the game. The ACC is a four-team conference with two dark horses. The top four teams are #1 Florida State (2.9/1), #2 Virginia (7/1), #3 Louisville (2.9/1), and #4 Duke (2.9/1). Each one of these teams has the potential to cut down the nets in Atlanta, and they could also get bounced in the first weekend. The two dark horses are #6 Syracuse (26/1) thanks to their famous zone defense, and #14 UNC (38/1) is a popular favorite thanks to their name and Cole Anthony and Garrison Brooks’ heroic efforts.
Personally, I’ve fallen in love again with Virginia. The reigning national champs have gotten red hot at the right time. Their odds to win the ACC tournament is currently at 7-1, which is criminally low. They will have no issues with the winner of #7 Notre Dame/#10 Boston College, then they face off against the winner of #3 Louisville vs. #6 Syracuse/#14 UNC. Virginia has a record of 2-0 vs UNC and 1-1 vs Louisville and Syracuse. They just beat Louisville so I’m confident in the Cavaliers’ ability to get to the title game where they will face #1 FSU or #4 Duke. As much as I want it to be the Seminoles (I’m a Coach K and Duke hater), Duke needs to win this title to get a #1 or #2 seed. Duke and Virginia will have the potential of an all-time title game. Virginia grinded out a win over Duke earlier this season and they will stay red hot throughout the ACC tournament. Go Cavaliers.
The Pac-12 Conference Tournament: March 11-14
In one of the most up and down seasons I can remember in a conference, the Pac 12 was crazy this season. With only eight games separating all twelve teams, you can see how close and unpredictable this tournament will be. The top six seeds are all with in three games and each of those six teams were ranked at one point in the season. Currently only the regular season champions, Oregon, finished the season ranked at #13.
The Ducks enter as the favorites to win the tournament being given 2-1 odds, #5 Arizona is given 3.5-1 odds, #6 Colorado is given 4-1 odds, and #2 UCLA is given 7-1 odds. You would notice that #3 Arizona State (14-1) and #4 USC (10-1) were not in the top four of odds but are the three and four seeds respectively. UCLA needs a run/title to secure their spot in March Madness, and that could be enough to make them win this thing. Personally, I’m backing the Ducks to win the tournament, but I could definitely see a Ducks vs. Bruins title game with Payton Pritchard winning it for Oregon. Go Ducks.
The Southeastern Conference Tournament: March 11-15
In one of the more fun to watch conferences this year, the SEC tournament looks to have the same thrill as the regular season. Kentucky won another regular season title by three games, a pretty large margin. It seems that Kentucky is being heavily slept on despite their dominance in the SEC and really strong resume, so watch out for the Wildcats. Outside of Vanderbilt, every team is a threat, even the 5-13 (in-conference) Georgia Bulldogs due to Anthony Edwards who will go in the top 3 of the NBA draft.
This is a three-horse race as a few other conferences have been. Those horses would be #1 Kentucky (2.5-1), #2 Auburn (3.5-1), #3 LSU (4.5-1). Kentucky is very undervalued here, but will they be completely up for this tournament after securing high seed. Those three teams have all virtually secured a spot in March Madness so with #4 Mississippi State and #5 Florida on the outside looking in, a loss in the title game or a win would get them a spot in the Big Dance. All that being said, as boring as it is, Kentucky will defeat LSU in the title game. Go Wildcats.