Photo Credit: Bleacher Report
We are just over six weeks away from college basketball Selection Sunday and things are starting to clear up a bit more. Some teams have started to prove themselves to be worthy of consideration for a tournament bid, some teams have been disappointments so far in conference play, and others have been exactly what we expected. Here is a quick breakdown of all six of the major conferences thus far.
As Good as Expected: Duke is still a freight train which we all expected would happen ever since the slaughter fest they put on at the Champions Classic in early November. Right there with them is Virginia. The big question with UVA is can they prove they are not just a regular season team? North Carolina and Virginia Tech are about where everyone expected them to be which is in contention for ACC title but still not considered favorites to win the national championship. At this point it doesn’t really feel like a question of will the ACC have a team in the Final Four, now it is how many teams will the ACC have in the Final Four.
On the Rise: Louisville has been a pleasant surprise under new head coach Chris Mack. They have won five in a row and are playing their way into ACC contention.
Letting Fans Down: Florida State has gotten off to a slow start in ACC play after a 12-1 non-conference showing. Clemson has also been pretty disappointing coming off of a sweet 16 appearance last year. Oh and also Notre Dame sucks real bad but we don’t like to talk about that.
As Good as Expected: Michigan State is 9-1 in the Big Ten so far and has consistently been a top-ranked team nationally. Michigan has been great in the Big Ten so far as well and even though they weren’t expected to be this good pre-season, they have proven that their non-conference dominance was no fluke. With all this said, I regret to say that I don’t see any Final Four teams in this conference as of now. Sorry, Dan Dakich.
On the Rise: Purdue has been great in conference play so far after their disappointing 6-5 out of conference record. Coach Painter has finally gotten his young guys to step up and help out Naismith contender Carsen Edwards.
Letting Fans Down: Ohio State has lost six of their last seven games and now seems to be fighting for an at large bid in the tournament rather than competing for a Big Ten title. Indiana has been HORRIBLE lately. It’s almost as if after Archie Miller played against Duke he decided to join NBA teams in tanking for Zion. Too bad he doesn’t coach in the NBA.
Photo Credit: Viva The Matadors
As Good as Expected: Honestly no one has quite lived up to expectations in the Big 12 other than maybe Kansas State. They were ranked #12 in the preseason and now find themselves on top of the Big 12 standings despite not currently being in the AP Top 25 ranking. Texas Tech has also been solid, but they did recently lose three games in a row in the Big 12.
On the Rise: Baylor didn’t seem to grab much attention before the season, but they are currently second in the Big 12 standings and would likely have a tournament bid if the selections were made today.
Letting Fans Down: Kansas came into the season ranked #1 in the country but have lost two games in a row and seem to be in a bit of a panic mode. Ever since the Jayhawks lost their star center Udoka Azubuike for the season they have not looked the same. In addition, Coach Self recently benched Lagerald Vick (who was supposed to be their team leader) for freshman Ochai Agbaji who came into the season as the #133 ranked recruit in the country in what I feel was one of the more shocking stories of the season. No one seems to know exactly what is going on in Lawrence, Kansas and the Jayhawks are in jeopardy of ruining their incredible Big 12 title streak. West Virginia is currently last in the Big 12 after coming into the season ranked #13 in the country, One could make the argument that they are the biggest disappointment in the country.
As Good as Expected: Villanova got off to a very rocky start this season, but they are unbeaten in conference play and seem to be back on track. Are they as good as last season? Not even close, and I’m still not convinced they’re a Final Four contender either, but I do have to give them credit for the quality ball they have been playing lately.
On the Rise: Marquette wasn’t ranked coming into the season, but they have cracked the Top 10 and have a shot at the Big East title. Markus Howard is also in contention for Naismith Player of the Year.
Letting Fans Down: After Villanova and Marquette there really isn’t another team in the Big East to be happy about. The biggest disappointment so far is probably Butler who finds themselves in second to last in the Big East after coming into the season receiving Top 25 votes. And for those counting, yes that is three of the four major Indiana programs that I have put in this section. As a native Hoosier, I can’t help but wonder, what the f**k is going on with our basketball teams?
As Good as Expected: The Pac 12 sucks pretty much from top to bottom which isn’t much of a surprise to most people. The only halfway decent team is Washington who is 16-4 this season but is likely the beneficiary of getting to play other s****y Pac 12 teams. The one semi-legitimate excuse the Pac 12 has for being so God awful is the fact that Bol Bol was supposed to be the best player in the conference and he went down for the season a while ago. Really shocking that a guy of his size with such little muscle on his frame got hurt.
On the Rise: Nobody.
Letting Fans Down: Everybody. Especially my Dad’s Colorado Buffs.
As Good as Expected: The SEC has been a thing of beauty this year. On the backs of Tennessee, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi State, and (sort of) Auburn the SEC has proven they are more than just a football conference. I am very close to putting the good ole Jack Morris Guarantee on the SEC has at least one team make the Final Four.
On the Rise: In addition to having a lot of teams that could be mentioned in the Final Four conversation, the SEC also has a few teams battling for an at-large bid to the tournament. Look for teams like Ole Miss, Alabama, and maybe even Florida to be in the mix come March 17th.
Letting Fans Down: There aren’t really any teams that have been complete disappointments. Missouri hasn’t been quite as good as their fans hoped they’d be. In addition, Auburn has lost three in a row and if they don’t turn things around quickly then I’ll have to eat my words and throw them in the “bust” conversation.