College Basketball Picks: Conference Tournament Action
by Doug Upstone Scores & Statson
It is Championship Week in college basketball! This is one of our favorite weeks and it has already gotten off to a wild start with Liberty and Gardner-Webb winning in the other team's home court to secure NCAA bids and Bradley having the best comeback ever in an MVC title game to earn their first berth in 31 years.
It is going to be a wild week and check out Intertops for the best odds on a game by game and daily basis.
Big East Conference - Mar. 13-16
Top seeds Villanova and Marquette arrive in the Big Apple not only limping but need a cane with a flurry of recent losses. The Wildcats with coach Jay Wright would appear to be able to stabilize themselves faster. This has the feel of anything can happen and betting underdogs would seem like a wise strategy. The two hottest teams headed to Madison Square Garden are Creighton and Xavier, unfortunately, they meet in the quarterfinals. Presently, we like the inside/outside game of the Musketeers and if they beat Nova in the semis, they are going dancin'.
With some uncertainties about Duke's complete health, one has to wonder if they can win three games in three days. That would leave it to Virginia and North Carolina and they would be one heck of a finale. The Tar Heels are playing the best basketball in the ACC right now and would enjoy payback against the Cavaliers should they meet. North Carolina appears to be a solid bet here.
Though Kansas did not win this tournament like they did the regular season in the Big 12 all these years, they still were the favorites. The Jayhawks could still win this event, but lack of success outside Lawrence is a problem. Kansas State has the kind of game and team that can travel well which makes them a factor. Yet, our choice is Texas Tech, the two-seed. The Red Raiders are back to playing like they did early and the offense has returned. Also, two-seeds in this tourney are 9-1 SU when they reach the semis and Chris Beard's team will be the champs.
Despite multiple key injuries, Michigan State tied Purdue for the regular season crown. The Spartans will be a factor, as will Michigan and Wisconsin. Michigan State is probably the right choice, but this is March Madness where conventional wisdom is as useless as almost any teams regular season record. (Ask South Dakota State) We would not be surprised at all if the Boilermakers and Badgers are in the Big Ten Final, led by their star players Carsen Edwards and Ethan Happ respectively. Let's take a flyer on Purdue who has a great week.
Skip the Pac-12, an argument could be made, rather convincingly that the four top seeds in the AAC are better than Washington, the Pac-12 chumps, sorry champs. If Houston, Cincinnati, Temple, and UCF all play to capabilities and one of them does not, that is who can win this tourney. One warning, Memphis is the host and is backed with a home crowd and coach Penny Hardaway surely will work the situation, making the Tigers are a treacherous foe. Memphis will get UCF first and if the knockout the Knights, the Cougars are next. Even with the home floor, that's asking the Tigers to take four games in four days against this level of competition, too much. It's the Cougs and Temple in the final and Houston is the winner and they just might up to a No.2 seed in the next week.
Just when you think Tennessee is back, they play terrible defense and lose at Auburn in the season finale. That sets up LSU and Kentucky final and the amount of athleticism will be unrivaled in any championship contest this week if true. It's a broken record, but how do you go again coach Cal in this spot with 80 percent of the fans in the stands wearing blue?