It all hits the fan this week as teams look to get off the bubble and/or make a statement to get a better seed in the NCAA tournament starting next week.
This week: A look at the big conference tournaments.
C-USA, El Paso
The main players look to be 1 seed Louisiana Tech who tied for the conference championship in their first year, Tulsa, Middle Tennessee and Southern Miss. These four have double byes into the quarterfinal rounds – a huge advantage.
Tulsa, winners of their last seven and ending with a crushing road victory at North Texas, could be a team to watch. Southern Miss has been a money machine in league openers going 9-2 ATS. A good tourney.
This could be all about Virginia, the top seed. The Cavs looked to be a solid 2-seed in the Big Dance, but the loss to Maryland in OT on Sunday may have taken that away. They need to win this and make a statement!
Pittsburgh wants a say in their first venture in this conference. North Carolina, Duke and Syracuse will all be very tough. Syracuse is chomping at the bit to get a shot at revenge against Virginia. The Orange has been one tough cookie in post season play and their defense will be the key. We just may ride them.
PAC 12, MGM Grand
Vegas is the place to be! Arizona gets the top seed thanks to Oregon’s double OT win over UCLA. It’s Arizona’s to win or lose but don’t count out the Bruins who come in with some big time vengeance. Oregon looks to be getting it all back together. Colorado could surprise; Utah will bring a ton of fans. The underdog in tourney title games is 6-1 ATS.
Mountain West, T&M
At the Thomas & Mack, the two teams that appeal to me are New Mexico and San Diego State. The Aztecs are the 1 seed after their 51-48 win over New Mexico this past Saturday. Wyoming ended on a good note with a nice 83-75 win against Colorado State. UNLV has a huge home field advantage but we never know which Rebel team will show up. We hope it’s the one that plays hard and wins.
Big East, New York
The top seed at MSG will be Villanova with Creighton as the 2. Nova will play the winner of the Butler-Seton Hall game and Creighton faces either DePaul or Georgetown. Down the road Nova could play 5-seed St John’s or 4-seed Providence. Creighton could see 6-seed Marquette or 3-seed Xavier.
The scary team who could jump up and bite someone looks to be G-Town. Villanova will be a solid play if they face Creighton as they will look to avenge two regular season losses. This will be a great tournament.
Atlantic 10, Brooklyn
Saint Louis is the top seed at Barclay Center and the team to beat. The Billikens won their second straight title, going 13-3 in conference play this season. VCU is the second seed and both finished the season in fine style. George Washington has had an up and down season but they do have five starters back from last year and could get far in here. St. Joe’s will look to rebound from huge home loss this past Saturday.
This looks to be all about Louisville, but we can’t count out Memphis or Cincinnati. We will be hoping for a rematch between Memphis and Louisville and no one is better in a revenge game than slick Rick as he has gone 6-0 SU and ATS off an earlier season loss. Pitino’s teams have gone 15-1 SU as a 1 seed.
Slick Rick lost to Memphis twice so revenge will be sweet if they meet up. Connecticut is off a one year suspension and may want to come out and prove something. They could get hot early.
Florida is the best team but hasn’t won this tournament since 2007 despite being in the finals in 2011 and 2013. They are the top seed and really want to win this, but even if they don’t they should still be a 1 seed in the big show. Florida lost just two games this year (to Wisconsin by 6 and UConn by 1).
It just doesn’t look like Kentucky, Tennessee or Georgia can beat the Gators but John Calipari, the head man at Kentucky, can have his team in top form in conference play.
Big 12, Kansas City
Talk about a conference with ups and downs. Top guns are Kansas, Iowa State, Texas and Oklahoma, and we can’t count out Okie State. This one is very wide open and I will be looking to be betting on a lot of dogs. Kansas is the 1 seed and will play the winner of the Okie St./Texas Tech game. They could meet up with the winner of the Iowa St./Kansas State game.
The 2 seed Oklahoma may have an easier way to get there. We will be looking to bet on Okie State as a dog in a wild tournament.
One thing we do know – if you are a basketball fan this is the place to be whether a bettor or not!
Note: Don’t forget to go online and sign up for GT’s Bracket Buster $100k free March Madness contest. Lots of prizes and fun, plus it’s all free!
Richard Saber, a former director of race and sports at the famed Stardust book, is GamingToday’s horse racing and sports handicapper. Follow Richard on Twitter @SabesBet. Contact Richard at [email protected].