As our offices, contacts, associates and interests are geographically and philosophically linked to several leagues, here’s our take on upcoming NCAA conference play:
COLLEGE BASKETBALL ACC
The league is loaded with talent. For a change it’s not all on Tobacco Road. Expect to see Duke, Maryland, NC State, and quite possibly UM, FSU, UNC on selection Sunday.
If NC State and Miami remain healthy, returning starters bring experience, chemistry, tempo and coaching, making both squads national contenders. This assumes Miami is not harpooned by NCAA sanctions in season. Both should be able to avoid going 0-fer vs. Dukies and Heels.
The Blue Devils are a machine led by the smooth sailing Seth Curry. Coach K has reloaded and will have several towel biting finales. The Heels lost just about everyone from last year to the NBA. Roy’s boys are competitive but 2014 is the target.
The Noles lost considerable talent as well, but several youngsters show signs of picking up the play in the early season. Ditto the Terrapins with a terrific start, featuring seasoned big man Xavier transfer phenom Dez Wells.
The Demon Deacons on paper look weak but there’s young, untested talent that may raise plenty of havoc. The Ramblin’ Wreck introduces a recruiting hot shot, and with a fairly strong early season may be another threat or potential spoiler.
As for the Virginia schools, the Cavaliers overachieved last year and this season will be firmly mired in the lower tier of the conference. The Hokies tossed Seth Greenberg to ESPN and in doing so lost several top players who transferred. The cupboard, which was looking full, is now for the most part bare. Greenberg, who narrowly missed tournament births, will resurface soon.
Clemson and Boston College are in the cellar and will remain so. Clemson’s athletes will improve for 2014.
Best Bets: Terrapins money line away games vs. mid to lower tier ACC schools. N.C. State plus the points as underdogs vs. all ACC teams. FSU plus the points as underdogs vs. top tier ACC teams – especially at home.
COLLEGE BASKETBALL PAC 12
In an uncharacteristically weak conference this year, Arizona is the chart topper with UCLA a possible suitor. Seth Miller’s intensity is paying off with his Wildcats. They’ve pounded early opponents around the country in Olsonesque style. The two young big men are starting to produce – especially in the rebound department. Transfer Mark Lyons is taking Arizona point guarding to a new level and veterans Nick Johnson and Solomon Hill are showing strength in scoring and as team leaders.
With Muhammad and Anderson receiving NCAA permission to play, the Bruins are deep and talented. However, early losses to Georgetown, Cal Poly and San Diego State showed signs of inconsistency and bench weakness. A win over Mizzou, albeit close and at home, suggests UCLA has the goods. Their Jan. 24 matchup with U of A in Tucson will tell the tale.
Stanford and Washington will generate acceptable conference records but their RPI’s are suspect. The Cardinal show inconsistency and scoring difficulty playing the tough pre-conference schedule. Ditto the Huskies, though they did start scoring at the Alaska Tournament.
Cal and Colorado both carry enough talent to be competitive. Colorado always enjoys a strong home court advantage. Kevin O’Neil’s USC Trojans lost several key players to transfers and are off to a slow start in the early season.
The Beavers, Ducks and Utes have many new faces in new positions. Of the three the Utes appear to be gelling and may be a surprise within the Pac 12. WASU trails the field in talent. Aztecs coach Herb Sendek will need to coach his best to derive any serious success for the kids from Tempe.
Best Bets: Colorado straight up at home vs. middle and lower tier Pac 12 teams. UCLA take the over at home, especially mid-late February. ASU take the over vs. top tier until mid-February.
2013 Florida picks
In our mind’s eye we see:
Tim Tebow leads the Jaguars to the Super Bowl.
All Stars Placido Polanco, Giancarlo Stanton and Ricky Nolasco-lead Miami Marlins to a 60 win season.
Michael Vick and Ryan Tannehill, co-QB’s, lead the Dolphins to an 8-8 season and are both signed to 12-year contract extensions.
Serena Williams wins the Sony Ericcson when Caroline Wozniacki forfeits to celebrate the Arnold Palmer with Rory McIlroy in Orlando.
Tiger Woods birdies the last four holes of Trump’s new Blue Monster at Doral and finishes 20th as McIlroy celebrates on 18 with Wozniacki who forfeits Indian Wells to Victoria Azarenka.
UM sanctions are finally handed down by the NCAA in April and require the Hurricanes to join the WAC and play Notre Dame in South Bend for 12 consecutive years.
FIU hires Charlie Weis as head football coach, while FAU does the same for Ty Willingham.
Gators schedule a home and away series vs. Notre Dame starting in 2030.
Bucs Coach Greg Schiano hires Warren Sapp as his congeniality coach.
McIlroy birdies 18 at the Sony; defeats Woods by 1 and celebrates on 18 with Wozniacki who forfeited the Malaysian Open to Azarenka – the new women’s No. 1.
All Stars Polanco and Stanton both hit grand slams in the All Star game. NL loses, 12-11.
A-Rod reports for spring training to the Mons Venus (a Tampa nightclub) in August.
Lebron James celebrates the Heat’s second consecutive championship by purchasing the Marlins and moving them and the stadium to Akron.
Ramon Dominguez decides that GP really is a better venue for his winter tack right after recovering from walking pneumonia at Aqueduct.
Lefty (Phil Mickelson) drops in an eagle at Innisbrook to defeat Woods in a playoff. Wozniacki is nowhere to be found.
Shane Battier decides to raise llamas at his new Coconut Grove bayfront home. Next-door neighbor Dwyane Wade counters with a herd of ostrich.
NASCAR resets rules for the Chase ending in Homestead. Now any car between 87 and 89 will get the pole and a 30 lap head start.
Baird Thompson and William Hutchinson bring a combined 80 years of gaming marketing and administration experience to Gaming Today. Contact them at [email protected].