Diamond's Gems by Sid Diamond | The brunt of the conference tournaments start this week so we better get on it and hopefully my luck doesn’t run out before the culmination of the "BIG DANCE".
Western Athletic at Las Cruses, New Mexico: New Mexico State should prevail as the home team, but if you are looking for a sleeper try UNR.
Big East at Madison Square Garden, New York City: I picked Louisville as an outside shot to win the NCAA and they have the manpower to sweep this tourney before they get there. Georgetown is a counterfeit team but Notre Dame can get hot and take the money.
Atlantic 10 at Atlantic City, New Jersey: Xavier is a no-brainer here if they want it. Play some overs when you see the match-ups in this conference, especially Duquesne and Temple. St. Louis and Fordham are dead under teams; if they meet you can go under 99.
Mid-American at Cleveland, Ohio: Kent State and W. Michigan should go to the finals with Kent State squeaking out a championship. For a second opinion see Richie Saber’s column – he knows all about Ohio teams: "Go Big Red."
Conference USA at Memphis, Tennessee: If you need advice on this tourney you shouldn’t be betting!
Mountain West at Las Vegas: UNLV with no further discussion. B-Y-Who?
Big West at Anaheim, California: The favorites are Northridge and Fullerton, but I’ll take UCSB in an upset. I say that with a heavy heart, as I have two grandchildren currently going to UC Irvine and hopefully they won’t read this.
PAC 10 at Staples Center in Los Angeles: A really strong conference with many good teams, but UCLA should prevail because freshman forward Love can compete with the twin towers of Stanford and they have better guards to penetrate. Wash St. is an under team and worth an under bet when they play anybody.
Atlantic Coast Conference at Charlotte: This conference has long been recognized as the best in the country, but this year they have lost some of their luster. With only two exceptional teams, they will be hard pressed to make the final four for sure and may have trouble getting to the Elite Eight. Duke can be had as when you live by the 3s you die by the 3s. North Carolina has a more explosive offense with a most efficient big man in All-World Tyler Hansbrough. A sleeper could come from a much improved Clemson team, but that might be a stretch.
Big 10 Conference at Indianapolis: My bias against this conference from football carries over to basketball in this spot. If you held a gun to my head I’d have to pick Indiana to win this tourney, but Purdue and Wisconsin are just as bad. If you bet anything here just go under on all games and you’ll collect.
Southeast Conference in Atlanta: I picked Tennessee to get to the Final Four so I’ll have to pick them to win the conference championships. I do believe this is the best conference in the country, as only three teams have a losing record out of 12. The competition is exceptionally strong here and an upset could come from either Vandy or Mississippi State.
Big 12 at Kansas City: Although Texas has been playing very well behind point guard Augustin, Kansas remains the class of the league. Look for them to blow by this tourney and go deep in the NCAA’s. One thing to remember is that when they are winning they keep on scoring, so you can lay points with this team.
For a bonus, here are a few pro picks for the upcoming week. I’ve been so hot lately that I know I can’t continue so save some chips for the NCAAs.
Seattle at Indiana: Seattle is hopeless and all are looking forward to Oklahoma City. Pacers.
Knicks at Miami: Two bad teams but Heat is at home and Knicks are really bad. Heat.
Cavs at Wizards: As advertised, the Cavs trades were good enough to make LeBron’s team as good as any in the East. Cleveland.
Golden State at Phoenix: Suns should score 120 here, with or without Shaq. Over.
Spurs at Pistons: If anybody gets out of the 80s I’d be surprised. Under.
Memphis at Golden State: Warriors may win by 30 in this spot. Golden State.
Must watch the selection show with no time for distractions: we need to find out what the CBI tournament teams are and who, what and where they play.
Have a great week!