When March rolls around, almost every sports fan has one thing on their mind: March Madness. This week was a crucial week for teams like Rutgers who have gone on a roll the last month, or Michigan who has been spiraling with the suspension of Juwann Howard. Rutgers is still considered a bubble team but with a solid run in the B10 Tournament they could be a sneaky good, lower seed team.
Coming out of the West Coast Conference, Gonzaga was the heavy favorite and they didn’t disappoint, beating St. Mary’s by 13 in the WCC championship. If you’re a fan of upsets I could definitely see the #1 seed Gonzaga getting upset earlier than many may predict. St. Mary’s on the other hand is going to be a very good pick to make a deep run, knocking off Gonzaga just a couple weeks ago.
The B10 tournament is bound to have multiple surprises this year. Rutgers, who was mentioned earlier, can’t be considered a dark horse, but when you think of Big 10 basketball, they aren’t the first school to come to mind Purdue, who was ranked #1 in the country for the first time in the entire tournament but has a very dynamic trio in Zach Edey, Jaden Ivey, and Trevion Williams. Illinois vs. Indiana was an interesting matchup favoring the Illini but the Hoosiers are one of the hottest teams in the country and have solidified their spot in the Big Dance with a win over Illinois. Illinois has a tendency to be a little inconsistent but if Alfonso Plummer and Trent Frazier get hot from behind the arc, watch out for the Illini. And don’t forget about the dominant big man, Kofi Cockburn, as well as one of the most dynamic players in the country, Andre Curbello. As for the B10 tournament prediction, I have to take Purdue who has been one of the most consistent teams in the country.
The SEC has been very interesting so far. Alabama with a shocking loss to Vanderbilt and Auburn losing to a red hot Texas A&M. Alabama has the ability to put 100 points on the board, but have proven to be extremely inconsistent when they struggle from the field.
The Auburn loss was arguably the most shocking loss of March, coming into the SEC tournament as a 1 seed with one of the best defenses in the country and led by Naismith hopeful, Jabari Parker Jr. and big man, Walker Kessler. Tennessee and Kentucky are the next two teams up, but I have to give the edge to Kentucky who has the best rebounder in the country in Oscar Tshiebwe. Watch out for the Wildcats as we enter the tournament as they could make a very deep run this March. Auburn is also going to be a solid pick in the tournament losing only 5 games all season, I don’t expect them to be an early exit.
Duke has by far been the best season in the ACC in Coach K’s memorable last season. The ACC has been pretty underwhelming the last couple of years which is uncommon. North Carolina, despite it’s upset at Cameron Indoor to cap off the regular season, haven’t been great the last two years, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they are an early exit in the NCAA tournament, however, they are definitely top 2 in the ACC. Is it probable that they beat Duke twice in the span of a week? Definitely not, but they have only helped their seeding the last two weeks of the season.
The Pac-12 has been an extremely fun conference to watch this year, with Arizona, UCLA, and USC all being extremely talented this year. UCLA returning some key members of it’s Final Four squad last year including Johhny Juzang, Jaime Jaquez Jr., and Tyger Campbell. Arizona struggled against Stanford in the quarterfinals of the Pac-12 Tournament, but they are a top 5 team in the country, they are also one of the most diverse teams in the country with 8 international recruits on their roster. USC has been slightly overrated all year long, and with a game against UCLA, I have to favor the experienced Bruins in this matchup. A UCLA vs. Arizona matchup could be very interesting. They split the season series but again, I am going to favor UCLA due to their battle tested roster. Don’t be surprised if these two teams both make deep runs into March.
Arguably the most entertaining Power 5 conference this year has been the Big 12 between Kansas, Baylor, Texas Tech, and Texas headlining the conference. Texas was a preseason Top 5 but have been underwhelming the second half of the season. Baylor also doesn't seem to have the “it factor” needed to make a deep run into march. Both teams coming off of losses to TCU and Oklahoma respectively. Kansas also has some concerning losses this season so for me, it comes down to Texas Tech and Chris Beard to win the Big 12.
The Big East is a conference that thrives off of basketball. Creighton is extremely hot right now with big wins over Providence and Marquette. UCONN vs. Villanova is another difficult matchup to predict, both have been very solid all year long. I firmly believe Colin Gillespie is one of the best players in the country so I will give the edge to Villanova in the always entertaining Big East.
Keep checking WLTL.net for more information as March Madness continues.
Who Are We?
We are the management staff of WLTL. These are our stories.