With NCAA Basketball starting to get into full swing, here are my predictions for the winners of the top conferences in college basketball:
ACC – Champion: Duke / Runner Up: UVA
One of the most stacked conferences in college basketball, the ACC could seriously be anybody’s game. Coming off an absolute rout of the BIG Ten in the recent BIG Ten vs ACC challenge, it is clear that the Atlantic Coast Conference is one of the best in the sport.
Since no conference games have been played yet, we are forced to go off of just what we have seen so far, and Duke is the most impressive. While they have had their share of close games against top ranked teams, Duke has built an impressive resume nonetheless, with headline wins over Michigan State and Florida. If Duke can start pulling away from these close games, they are a real front runner to win the ACC
As for UVA there is one thing that stands out above the rest, defense. The Cavilers are first in points allowed, with 50.1, and even though they aren’t the most high powered offense in the country, averaging just under 70 points a game, the slow style of the UVA Basketball team is sure to shut down many opponents. The biggest question mark for this team is if they can stop the high powered offenses of the ACC, but if they are able to do so the Cavilers will defiantly be in contention for the ACC title.
BIG Ten – Champion: Michigan State / Runner Up: Purdue
The BIG Ten is historically one of the better conferences in college basketball, but after this weekend, they aren’t looking so hot. The front runner for the BIG Ten championship is Michigan State, and I can’t see them losing that spot any time soon. The #3 ranked team in the country, Michigan State looks as good as they come, with their only loss coming from #1 ranked Duke, and in a conference without that many top contenders, it seems impossible to rule out Michigan State for the title.
As for Purdue, they bounced back from 2 losses in their tournament in the Bahamas to beat #17 ranked Louisville, and while they certainly aren’t a championship caliber team, right now they are looking like the only BIG Ten team that could challenge Michigan State
Big East – Champion: Villanova / Runner Up: Xavier
The Big East is in the same boat at the BIG Ten right now, but there are defiantly some more contenders. The front runner is Villanova, who is currently ranked #4 in the country with a 7-0 record to back it up. While the Wildcats haven’t had any high profile wins, they are looking like a very consistent team, and that is what they need to win their conference which frankly doesn’t have that many contenders.
As for Xavier, they have built an impressive resume as well, boasting a big win over then #16 ranked Baylor. They are also averaging close to 90 points per game, putting them near the top of the pack. The biggest question is weather this will be enough to bring down Villanova, and I can’t see that happening.
Big 12 – Champion: Kansas / Runner Up: West Virginia
The Big 12 has become one of the most lethal conferences in college basketball, and Kansas is at the top of the pack. #2 ranked Jayhawks have built an impressive resume so far, with a huge win over Kentucky early in the season, Kansas has built a high powered offense that has real hopes to win the national championships. 5th in points per game, and 4th in assists per game, the Kansas Basketball team is an exceptional offensive threat who can put up huge numbers of points against some of the best teams in the country.
The Mountaineers are another impressive team, and after suffering a tough loss in week 1, have been able to string together an impressive set of wins. With an offense that scores about 90 points per game, West Virginia is primed to make a big playoff run, but the main question is weather it will be enough to beat Kansas.
SEC – Champion: Kentucky / Runner Up: Texas A&M
The SEC has historically been a pretty one sided conference, but with the rise of programs like Texas A&M and Alabama, the SEC is starting to get a lot deeper, and proving that it isn’t just a football conference. While they are getting deeper, the Kentucky Wildcats are still at the top of the pack, and are showing no signs of going anywhere soon. After a tough loss to #2 Kansas, the Wildcats have been able to bounce back. While they aren’t the most explosive offense in the country, they are a solid team that is poised to make another tournament run.
As for the Aggies, they have also put together an impressive resume, with a headline win over West Virginia. The Aggies are the most serious threat to top Kentucky, and even if they don’t they are primed for a big tournament run.
Pac-12 – Champion: Arizona State/ Runner Up: USC
The Pac-12 isn’t as good as years past, but is still in contention to go deep into the tournament. Losing headliners like Lonzo Ball, the Pac-12 lacks the “West Coast Basketball” swagger they have had in years past. Despite this, there are a lot of good teams in the conference, and it is really anyone’s chance to win.
As for the Sun Devils, they are looking like the most impressive team in the conference. Undefeated so far, #20 ranked Arizona State has put together some impressive wins, their most impressive being their almost 20 point win over Xavier. The Sun Devils are a team that can come out of nowhere and make a deep playoff run, but they have to start with winning the Pac-12.
The Trojans are looking very good in a fairly good conference. With average statistics, in a fairly good conference, the Trojans seem primed to be in contention for the conference. With their only loss coming to a very good Texas A&M Team, the Trojans have built an impressive resume so far, and could easily win the Pac-12.