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School basketball convention tourneys: High gamers, predictions, extra

It’s conference tournament time, when basketball fans suddenly find themselves in a hoops heaven filled with wall-to-wall action ahead of the NCAA Tournament.Teams will not only vie for conference supremacy but will be fighting to earn bids — or improve their seeding — in the big dance. It’s a lot to take in! Which teams will

School basketball convention tourneys: High gamers, predictions, extra

It is convention event time, when basketball followers immediately discover themselves in a hoops heaven full of wall-to-wall motion forward of the NCAA Match.

Groups is not going to solely vie for convention supremacy however shall be combating to earn bids — or enhance their seeding — within the massive dance. It is lots to soak up! 

Which groups will rise to the event? Which gamers will set the stage for March glory? Which coaches could have their squads peaking on the proper time?

Our college basketball writers Andy Katz, John Fanta and Michael Cohen reply these essential questions and extra!


Who’s your participant to look at?

Andy Katz: Jalen Pickett, Penn State. The Nittany Lions had an amazing week in beating Northwestern on the buzzer in Evanston after which coming again to beat Maryland. Penn State beat Illinois twice. The Nittany Lions get them once more within the first spherical Thursday. It is a winnable recreation for the Nittany Lions. They might then face Northwestern. So, there’s a legit path for the Nittany Lions to get to the semifinals. And if that occurs Pickett would be the cause they’re able to succeed. 

John Fanta: Jalen Hood-Schifino, Indiana — The Hoosiers have by no means received the Large Ten Match in its 25 years of existence. Trayce Jackson-Davis’ manufacturing is a given for this staff, however for IU to emerge because the champion on Sunday, they want the five-star freshman from Pittsburgh to play at a excessive degree. When the 6-foot-6 guard scores not less than 14 factors in a recreation, Indiana is 9-2. The 35-point efficiency towards Purdue on Feb. 25 was clearly one of the best act of his Hoosier profession, nevertheless it’s the mindset to take over possessions, create and make high-percentage photographs that would find yourself figuring out the Hoosiers’ destiny in Chicago. 

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Michael Cohen: Tyson Walker, Michigan State — Regardless of navigating the season with solely 10 scholarship gamers, the Spartans secured one of many coveted double-byes within the Large Ten Match. A giant cause for that’s how nicely Walked performed down the stretch. He averaged 22 factors per recreation and shot 61% from 3-point vary on 18 makes an attempt during the last 4 video games of the common season, three of which had been wins. That is the extent of efficiency Michigan State wants from him in Chicago and past.

Is there a possible bid stealer?

John: That is an attention-grabbing query for the Large Ten as a result of our bracketologist Mike DeCourcy presently has 9 groups going to the NCAA Match out of this league. Due to that depth, it implies that even a 7-10 recreation within the convention event can have main NCAA Match implications, which is the case when Illinois takes on Penn State on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. ET on BTN. If Jalen Pickett and the Nittany Lions win that matchup, it will mark a sixth Quad 1 win for Micah Shrewsbury’s staff and will lock them into the dance. A wild card to the event is Twelfth-seeded Wisconsin, who’s ok to compete with anyone within the league however simply hasn’t discovered consistency.

Michael: It seems like half the groups within the Large Ten are on the bubble, which implies any of them may play their manner into the NCAA Match with a fairly robust displaying in Chicago. The staff no one needs to face is Eleventh-seeded Nebraska (16-15 total, Sept. 11 Large Ten). Head coach Fred Hoiberg’s staff will journey to the convention event having received 5 of its final six video games with victories over Wisconsin, Rutgers, Maryland, Minnesota and Iowa. The Cornhuskers are unlikely to win a Large Ten Championship, however they’re greater than able to bursting a number of bubbles this week.

Andy: Michigan is the bid stealer. The Wolverines aren’t within the area proper now. So, may 10 colleges make the sector? Positive. Wisconsin may nonetheless do it to affix Penn State as two of the final groups within the area (Rutgers may nonetheless fall to the First 4). However Michigan whiffed on two possibilities final week to get high quality street wins at Illinois (double OT loss) and at Indiana (OT loss). They should get to the semifinals as a base to have an opportunity. 

What staff most must make a run?

Michael: It needs to be Michigan (17-14, 11-9 Large Ten). The Wolverines had been on the verge of clawing their manner into the NCAA Match area with three straight wins over Michigan State, Rutgers and Wisconsin forward of back-to-back street video games to shut the common season. However a double-overtime loss at Illinois and an extra time loss to Indiana have left Juwan Howard’s crew in a precarious spot. Michigan must win a number of video games in Chicago to increase its run of six straight March Insanity appearances.

Andy: Wisconsin. The Badgers need to beat Ohio State after which take out Maryland. The Badgers are hanging by a thread within the area, if they’re in it at this juncture. They need to win two video games to make sure a bid and that second win could be a high-profile in-the-field kind win. 

John: I’ll disagree with Michael right here and be contrarian, as a result of if Rutgers loses to the Wolverines, that is seven losses within the final 9 video games and with a trio of Quad 3 defeats, the Scarlet Knights may go from wanting like one of many Large Ten’s greatest a few month in the past to doubtlessly lacking the NCAA Match altogether. Will Caleb McConnell and Paul Mulcahy step up and can this staff cross the Wolverines? I feel Michigan wins the sport, however Rutgers now wants it simply as badly, which is loopy to consider. And positive, if the Scarlet Knights can beat Michigan, they will beat Purdue. They did it at Mackey Enviornment again in January. 

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Who shall be event champion?

Andy: Purdue or Michigan State. Indiana has the products to take action, however the Hoosiers merely haven’t performed as nicely these days. The Spartans are a legit fashionable choose. They’ve the guard play to beat Purdue this time after failing to take action within the earlier two outings. Purdue received the league. So, the Boilers nonetheless need to be the favourite, particularly with essentially the most dominant participant and participant of the yr in Zach Edey. 

John: We all know the simple alternative is to go together with Purdue or Indiana. I’ll go outdoors the field — whether it is such a factor to say with this program — and take Michigan State! The Spartans had been in place to beat Purdue on MLK Day earlier this season behind the heroics of Tyson Walker. If the Spartans can get into an offensive rhythm behind their veteran guards, they will get to championship Sunday and at that time, something goes. I am rocking with Sparty. 

Michael: Would possibly as nicely throw a dart on the wall. This yr’s Large Ten race has been so congested and inseparable that it is arduous to view any of those groups as constant sufficient to hoist the trophy on Sunday afternoon. The simple alternative is Purdue, this yr’s common season champ. However Indiana has what seems to be the cleanest path to the title recreation. The Hoosiers will seize the primary Large Ten Match championship at school historical past. 


Who’s your participant to look at?

Andy Katz: Jalen Wilson, Kansas. He’s been one of the best participant all season lengthy. That is his time to shine and ship a Large 12 event title as nicely. Wilson is a first-team all-American. He can lead the Jayhawks to the title and a No. 1 seed. He has the flexibility to go for 20-plus.

John: Keyontae JohnsonKansas State. The 6-foot-6 senior has been on the forefront of the Wildcats’ turnaround, averaging 17.8 factors on 52% from the ground whereas posting 7.0 rebounds per recreation. His pure scoring capacity is off the charts and provides the Wildcats their offensive bursts for a staff that ranks 14th in KenPom adjusted defensive effectivity. Johnson can be 9-for-18 from past the arc in his final three video games, together with a season-high 4 triples towards West Virginia on Saturday. Past hoops, Johnson is the comeback participant of the yr in faculty basketball. May he make it a storybook championship week for one of many massive turnaround applications within the sport? Completely. 

Michael: Adam Flagler, Baylor — The Bears had been the most well liked staff within the convention from mid-January to mid-February earlier than stumbling a bit with three losses of their final 5 video games of the common season. However Flagler completed second within the convention in 3-pointers made with 76 and might mild issues up in a rush. And regardless that his staff is wobbling, Flagler enters the Large 12 Match having made 10 of his final 20 photographs from past the arc within the final three video games. If Baylor goes to make a run, Flagler must preserve his sizzling streak alive. 

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Is there a possible bid stealer?

John: Oklahoma State was the final staff in Mike DeCourcy’s most up-to-date bracket forecast, so the 17-14 Cowboys are the prime staff to decide on right here. In the event that they do get in, it appears like this may very well be a staff very nicely destined for Dayton — Michael will get into the metrics beneath — however they might assist themselves transfer up a seed line this week in the event that they win a number of video games in Kansas Metropolis. That stated, the 7/10 matchup with Oklahoma is a recreation that Mike Boynton’s staff NEEDS to get in Wednesday’s first-round motion. A date with Texas would come Thursday, and giving a aggressive displaying on the very least may assist. A win over the Longhorns and the Cowboys will not need to sweat on Choice Sunday. Others on the bubble must be rooting towards Oklahoma State.

Michael: As John factors out, the closest factor to a bid stealer within the Large 12 might be Oklahoma State (17-14 total, 8-10 Large 12). The Cowboys have an attention-grabbing résumé: They rank fortieth in KenPom and forty third within the NCAA NET Rankings with six Quad 1 wins getting into the convention event. However in addition they misplaced 5 straight video games late within the season earlier than lastly righting the ship with a slender win over Texas Tech on Saturday. Their resume is likely to be ok, however the arrow is pointing within the mistaken course.  

Andy: Not likely. I don’t see Oklahoma or Texas Tech getting within the area in any respect. Oklahoma State is true there to get in so I don’t see them as a bid stealer. I received’t be shocked if the Large 12 will get eight within the area. 

What staff most must make a run?

Michael: Iowa State must generate some momentum this week. The Cyclones are comfortably within the NCAA Match area at 18-12 total and 9-9 within the Large 12, however the second half of the season has been messy. They’ve misplaced 10 of 15 video games relationship to Jan. 14, together with six out of eight since Feb. 8. A second consecutive win over Baylor on Thursday could be a serious confidence increase after beating the Bears on Saturday to shut the common season. 

Andy: Texas. Why? The Longhorns may make a powerful case for a No. 1 seed or the highest two in the event that they beat Kansas and get the Large 12 event title.

John: TCU! The Horned Frogs are ok to be a second-weekend staff within the NCAA Match and likewise flawed sufficient to undergo a surprising first-round exit. This staff is harmful and appeared prefer it was on target after a gutsy street win over Texas Tech adopted up by a 75-73 victory over Texas. Simply when it appeared that manner, although, they suffered a 74-60 loss to Oklahoma on Saturday. Mike Miles Jr. is able to taking up this event, and the Horned Frogs have expertise. They have a tall job assembly Kansas State on Thursday night time. Whereas their seed line is round a 5 or 6 and is stable, dropping back-to-back video games forward of the massive dance could be a troublesome manner to enter the event. That is an enormous one with the Wildcats within the quarterfinals. 

Who shall be event champion?

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Andy: Kansas. In Kansas Metropolis. It’s all Kansas. 

John: Whereas Kansas is the pure frontrunner, I am taking Texas to win the Large 12 Match. The Longhorns commanded the Jayhawks within the first half at Allen Fieldhouse a number of weeks in the past and rolled to a win over them on Saturday. They’re defensively robust and never too reliant on one offensive weapon, with 4 gamers averaging in double figures. Marcus Carr has the flexibility to manage a recreation, and Rodney Terry has discovered one thing with Sir’Jabari Rice within the sixth-man position. How poetic wouldn’t it be for Terry and the Longhorns to chop down the nets following the Chris Beard mess earlier this season? That is my story and staff to watch. 

Michael: Regardless of dropping to Texas over the weekend, Kansas stays the category of the Large 12. Head coach Invoice Self has guided the Jayhawks to 9 wins of their final 11 video games in arguably the hardest convention in faculty basketball this season. Marching by way of the sector in Kansas Metropolis this week would seemingly earn them the No. 1 total seed within the NCAA Match along with securing a second straight Large 12 Match title. That must be loads of motivation for Self’s group.

Rating the convention tournaments

Andy Katz shares his three tiers of essentially the most aggressive convention tournaments in faculty basketball, with the Large 12 amongst these on the prime.


Who’s your participant to look at?

Andy Katz: Adama Sonogo. He was the preseason participant of the yr. Let’s see how he can ship on the most important stage for UConn. 

John: Souley Boum, Xavier — The 24-year-old is in his fifth yr of school basketball and might single-handedly change a recreation together with his shotmaking prowess. He’s somebody you worry in the event you’re on the opposite aspect due to his quickness and pull-up talents. Boum had by no means run a staff on the level guard spot earlier than this yr, the place he is steered the ship for Sean Miller’s group to the tune of a 23-8 total document, 15-5 convention mark and the No. 2 seed within the convention event. In ending Providence’s 17-game house profitable streak with a 94-89 win final week, Boum scored 33 factors to go together with seven rebounds and 4 assists. He has 13 video games of 20-plus factors this season. It’s extremely potential for the Musketeers to play for a Large East championship on Saturday night time. If they’re do, Boum shall be as massive a cause as any.

Michael: Tyler Kolek, Marquette — The presumptive Large East Participant of the 12 months wants a powerful week to show he can get it accomplished on the most important stage. Kolek, a third-year sophomore, averaged 12.7 factors and seven.9 assists per recreation this season to guide the Golden Eagles to a No. 1 seed within the Large East Match, however he is flopped within the postseason every of the final two years. In 2022, Kolek had six factors and 6 assists in Marquette’s opening-game loss at Madison Sq. Backyard. Then he scored simply three factors in a blowout 95-63 loss to North Carolina within the NCAA Match. Two years in the past, as a freshman at George Mason, Kolek scored 16 mixed factors in two Atlantic 10 Match appearances. He is taking pictures a lowly 30.8% from the sector in postseason video games.

Is there a possible bid stealer?

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John: Having received six of its final seven video games, and with the poise and playmaking of Justin Moore, Villanova is the plain bid-stealer candidate. The Wildcats’ draw actually is not dangerous both. Their administration of minutes shall be attention-grabbing to look at in a recreation they need to cruise to a victory in on Wednesday night time towards Eleventh-seeded Georgetown. That may line up a date with Creighton, who they rolled by way of simply 10 days in the past, 79-67. In that recreation, Eric Dixon went off for a career-high 31 factors. He is an enormous key to this week for the Cats due to the bodily presence and physicality he provides this staff, totaling 18-plus factors in three of the final 5 video games. Search for a motivated Caleb Daniels to indicate up after he was snubbed from any Large East honors, and Cam Whitmore may get the Cats on a run.

One added notice: Do not be shocked if Seton Hall makes a run this week. The Pirates discovered an offensive groove this previous week behind junior guard Femi Odukale, blowing out Windfall 82-58 on Saturday in Rhode Island. May Shaheen Holloway seize some extra March magic? It is a storyline to look at. 

Michael: Villanova looks as if a transparent alternative right here. The Wildcats misplaced a little bit of momentum over the weekend with a 71-59 loss to UConn after profitable six of their earlier seven video games, however there is not any query head coach Kyle Neptune has his staff enjoying higher basketball than at any level this season. The return of do-it-all guard Moore from a torn Achilles provides them a real alpha on the perimeter. Moore is averaging 17.5 factors per recreation over his final six and shall be central to any run Villanova hopes to make this week. 

Andy: Seton Corridor. The Pirates have been enjoying their greatest basketball of the season. They’ve the potential to get to Saturday and trigger loads of angst across the nation. 

What staff most must make a run?

Michael: St. John’s head coach Mike Anderson is likely to be teaching for his job this week at Madison Sq. Backyard. An 11-1 begin to the season has given approach to 13 losses in 19 video games. The Purple Storm limp into the Large East Match having defeated solely Georgetown (final place), DePaul (second-to-last) and Windfall (fifth place) since mid-January. Anderson received 10 league video games in 2020-21 to complete tied for fourth, however his staff has regressed every of the final two years. There may very well be modifications in Queens.

Andy: Windfall. The Friars are within the area, however they’ve received to get their grove again after dropping their final two house video games. 

John: There is no time like the current for Connecticut. The Huskies have received eight of their final 9 video games and 5 in a row. Since they reentered the Large East, they’ve but to achieve the convention event ultimate. Do they should win it? No, I am not saying that, however there’s additionally some extent the place the breakthrough occurs for a program constructed to win throughout this time of yr. A struggling Windfall staff adopted by a Marquette staff (in all chance) within the semis that the Huskies commanded of their final assembly is the pathway to the ultimate. It is there for the taking for Jordan Hawkins, Adama Sanogo and UConn. We all know one factor: their fanbase will pack Madison Sq. Backyard. 

Who shall be event champion? 

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Andy: UConn. The Huskies ought to rock MSG. They’ve received essentially the most passionate fan base within the league. They usually might have one of the best staff, regardless that they hit a tough patch in the course of the Large East. 

John: It is a fascinating Large East Match as a result of I feel you might make the case for any of six groups to come back out on prime at The Mecca. There’s part of me that thinks Marquette is getting dismissed too simply for his or her 25-6 document and profitable 17 of 20 video games in a league this robust on the prime. There’s part of me that claims UConn wins it as a result of the Huskies have dominated all through the final month. Xavier is a candidate, however profitable three video games in as many days may very well be robust on their depth. Regardless that Windfall has struggled, generally a staff hungry to reply finally ends up capturing the crown out of nowhere.

After which there’s the 3-seed on this championship: Creighton. The Bluejays have been to the Large East Match championship recreation 4 occasions however have but to win it. Their beginning 5 is nearly as good as anyone within the convention. Trey Alexander and Baylor Scheierman are robust shot makers and the Jays have a motivated level guard in Ryan Nembhard, who didn’t get chosen to any All-Large East groups. Search for that to play a task in his performances this week, as a result of he deserved a spot. I am rolling with the Jays to win their first Large East Match title. 

Michael: This feels just like the yr Creighton captures its first Large East Match title since becoming a member of the league in 2013. The Bluejays rebounded from an early six-game dropping streak earlier than Christmas to cement themselves as the most effective groups within the convention. They’ve misplaced consecutive video games simply twice within the final two-plus months, and solely a kind of defeats got here towards an unranked opponent. With 5 gamers averaging double-figure scoring and a protection that ranks among the many prime 10 within the nation, Creighton has all of the instruments to chop down the nets this week.

Trey Alexander fuels Creighton

Trey Alexander’s 21-point efficiency led the Bluejays to a latest victory over DePaul.


Who’s your participant to look at? 

Andy Katz: Azoulis Tubelis, Arizona. Tubelis is an all-American. He has been the anchor for Arizona. The Wildcats misplaced at UCLA over the weekend. However Arizona remains to be enjoying for a championship and a possible two-seed. 

John Fanta: Boogie Ellis, USC — The senior guard from San Diego has been lighting it up for the third-seeded Trojans, averaging 26 factors per recreation during the last six contests! He went off for 35 towards Arizona in a slender 87-81 defeat this previous week, and a rematch may happen in Vegas on Thursday night time within the event quarterfinals. The Trojans are on their approach to the NCAA Match barring one thing unexpected, however happening a run for the Pac-12 Match title is feasible as a result of they’ve the most effective pure scorers within the nation. 

Michael Cohen: Azuolas Tubelis, Arizona — One of many major causes Arizona is in line for a 2-seed or higher on this yr’s NCAA Match is the event of Tubelis, who leads the staff in each scoring and rebounding. The junior from Lithuania has made important jumps in factors per recreation (13.9 in 2021-22 to 19.9 this season) and rebounding (6.2 in 2021-22 to 9.2 this season) to change into the go-to participant for second-year head coach Tommy Lloyd. He is topped 25 factors in a recreation seven occasions and exploded for 40 factors in a 91-76 win over Oregon on Feb. 2. 

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Is there a possible bid stealer? 

John: A determined staff that’s well-coached and has some expertise appears to bode nicely on a stage like this. Oregon matches the invoice, as Dana Altman’s Geese enter Vegas having received three straight video games. They might very nicely find yourself assembly UCLA within the convention event semifinals. Within the two regular-season conferences, the Bruins received each, however every was determined by single digits. The Geese are twenty eighth within the nation in defensive effectivity. The query is that if they will discover sufficient scoring to piece collectively a run. Junior guard Keeshawn Barthelemy may very well be an actual X-factor for the Geese from the perimeter having scored in double-figures in three of the final 4 video games and taking pictures near 50% from past the arc in that span.

Michael: The sixth-seeded Sun Devils from Arizona State have all of the makings of a bid stealer this week. At 20-11 total and 11-9 within the Pac-12, head coach Bobby Hurley’s staff is squarely on the bubble due to an 8-10 document towards Quad 1 and Quad 2 opponents mixed. Arizona State notched two wins over ranked opponents this season in then-No. 20 Michigan and then-No. 7 Arizona, however solely a kind of victories holds any weight with Choice Sunday looming. The Solar Devils have not been to the NCAA Match for the reason that 2018-19 season.

Andy: Oregon. By no means ever rely out the Geese in March. 

What staff most must make a run? 

Andy: Arizona State. The Solar Devils are proper on the reduce line. They want one, possibly two wins, to make sure a bid. 

Michael: Oregon in all probability wants an enormous week to achieve the NCAA Match. The Geese earned a bye courtesy of a fourth-place end within the common season standings, however an total document of 18-13 will not be very inspiring to the choice committee. A win over Villanova on Nov. 27 is about the one non-conference consequence Oregon can hold its hat on, and the whole résumé contains only one win over a ranked opponent. The Geese will journey to Las Vegas sitting forty seventh within the NCAA NET Rankings with a 2-8 document towards Quad 1 opponents.

John: Bobby Hurley and Arizona State must discover a approach to make a run, and so they do keep away from UCLA or Arizona till the semifinals regardless of being the No. 6 seed within the convention event. One would suppose Arizona shall be on excessive alert and out for revenge if the Solar Devils make it to the semis, however the theater concerned with that matchup with be a whole lot of enjoyable and it will give ASU one ultimate shot to indicate the committee that they belong within the event area. 

Who shall be event champion? 

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John: Jaime Jaquez and Tyger Campbell are winners in each sense, and the Bruins are so well-rounded. Whereas Jaylen Clark’s damage standing (leg) is a storyline to watch, I do not see the Bruins getting taken down in Vegas regardless if he performs or not. This staff is 27-4 and has received 10 consecutive video games. I am going to predict a Pac-12 Match crown and a No. 1 seed for Mick Cronin’s group on Choice Sunday. 

Andy: Arizona. The Bruins received’t have Jaylen Clark. He’s out with a decrease proper leg damage. UCLA goes to be a one or two seed. Arizona has performed nicely in tournaments this season already (see: Maui title). They’ve the depth to win three video games in three days. 

Michael: Saturday’s showdown between Arizona and UCLA gave us a possible preview of what the Pac-12 title recreation would possibly seem like later this week. The Bruins held serve at house, 82-73, so as to add a signature win that has them on the cusp of a No. 1 seed within the NCAA Match. The sport epitomized simply how nicely head coach Mick Cronin’s group is enjoying proper now with 10 consecutive wins and 24 of their final 26 total. UCLA will emerge from the desert with a championship trophy in tow.


Who’s your participant to look at? 

Andy Katz: Kyle Filipowski, Duke. He has been one of the best freshman within the ACC and on Duke this season. He’s been capable of carry the Blue Devils. 

John Fanta: I am going with the NC State dynamic duo of Terquavion Smith and Jarkel Joiner, each of whom are averaging 17.3 factors per recreation. With a mixed 243 assists on the season as nicely, the Wolfpack tandem has engineered a really vital season in Kevin Keatts’ tenure to the tune of 22-9. NC State has misplaced three of its final 5 video games however remains to be on the correct aspect of the bubble within the NCAA Match image. This staff will get Virginia Tech or Notre Dame to begin, and both opponent must be a win for the Wolfpack. Whereas Clemson would come subsequent and the Tigers swept NC State within the common season, one has to suppose the Wolfpack would have a response for a 25-point drubbing that they took the final day out towards the Tigers. Joiner has gone for 26-or-more-points in three of his final 4 video games. He is the kind of shooter that may spring a staff on a run if he will get sizzling, whereas Smith shall be seeking to regain his rhythm in Greensboro. 

Michael Cohen: Blake Hinson, Pittsburgh — Regardless of a 21-10 total document and a formidable 14-6 mark in convention play, the Panthers stay on the NCAA Match bubble. Their solely non-conference victory of notice was an early win over Northwestern that aged fantastically. A power of schedule that ranks a hundredth nationally and an NCAA NET Rating of 58 means Pittsburgh has some work to do that week. Hinson is the participant to get it accomplished. The Ole Miss switch is averaging 16.1 factors and 6.3 rebounds per recreation whereas taking pictures higher than 43% from the sector. He is topped 20 factors in 5 of his final 11 outings.

Is there a possible bid stealer? 

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John: For starters, North Carolina has to win the ACC Match to make the NCAA Match. Going 1-9 within the common season towards Quadrant 1, the Tar Heels are on the cusp of capping one of many all-time letdown seasons in faculty basketball historical past. Have they got the expertise to seize momentum this week? Perhaps, however the total mentality of this staff and its incapacity to execute towards high-caliber competitors has doomed UNC. 

The bid stealer is obvious: Clemson. The Tigers must beat NC State in all chance and advance to the semifinals of the ACC Match to have a case for the committee. With a pair of Quadrant 4 losses, and one other pair on the Quad 3 degree, the Tigers’ case is a troublesome one as a result of they’ve 22 wins out of the ACC and personal seven wins away from their house ground. However main blemishes sometimes give cause to maintain a staff out of the sector. May Clemson give the committee a cause to place them in? We’ll see. 

Michael: Apart from Pittsburgh, the choice committee will seemingly have its eyes on Clemson, one other bubble staff at 22-9 total and 14-6 in convention play. A 3-game dropping skid in mid-February appeared to push the Tigers nicely off the NCAA Match tempo throughout a traditionally poor yr for the ACC. However head coach Brad Brownell rallied with 4 wins in six video games to finish the common season, together with a 25-point blowout of fellow bubble staff NC State away from house. Brownell will deliver his staff to the ACC Match needing not less than one win to really feel higher concerning the Tigers’ postseason possibilities. 

Andy: Wake Forest/Syracuse winner. Each have the expertise to drag off what Virginia Tech did and win the ACC event. I’m not banking on it. However it’s potential. 

What staff most must make a run?

Michael: The obvious alternative right here is North Carolina, a staff ranked No. 1 within the nation to start the season that enters the ACC Match on the mistaken aspect of the bubble. The Tar Heels are 19-12 total and 11-9 in convention play with simply two wins towards ranked opponents all season: In December they beat then-No. 23 Ohio State, which plummeted to thirteenth within the Large Ten, and in late February they toppled then-No. 6 Virginia, which is a reputable, high-quality victory. However a hideous 1-9 document towards Quad 1 opponents means UNC seemingly wants two wins or extra in Greensboro this week to have an opportunity at reaching the NCAA Match.

Andy: Clemson. The Tigers are within the 11-seed vary and will use one to 2 wins to make sure a bid. 

John: Clearly, North Carolina has to achieve the ACC championship recreation on the very least to even current a case to the committee. They’re this system that should make a run essentially the most. I am going to go together with a contrarian take and say Virginia may actually USE an ACC Match run and the draw is quite manageable for the Cavaliers. After a controversial extra time win over Duke on Feb. 11 put them at 19-4, the Hoos solely beat lowly Louisville and Notre Dame by a mixed 5 factors. They adopted that up with losses to Boston College and the Tar Heels. To safe a top-16 spot within the NCAA Match, profitable their convention event opener towards both North Carolina, Boston School or Louisville is essential. A part of the Hoos’ enjoying type is that they will get caught in tighter video games, however by the identical token, this staff is 23-6. Can they generate sufficient offense between Armaan Franklin, Jayden Gardner and Kihei Clark to win a event crown this week? That is the impediment for this staff to determine by way of. 

Who shall be event champion?

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Andy: Duke. I initially leaned Miami. However I”m shifting towards Duke. The Blue Devils are wholesome and enjoying their greatest basketball. 

John: The Duke Blue Devils have received six straight video games getting into the ACC Match. Jon Scheyer has this group wholesome and enjoying its greatest basketball with protection (twenty seventh in adjusted defensive effectivity) being the fixed. Tyrese Proctor’s evolution has alleviated among the strain off Jeremy Roach. Kyle Filipowski has totaled 33 factors and 27 rebounds in his final two video games. Mark Mitchell has change into a gentle presence whereas Dereck Lively II can impression the sport defensively in an enormous manner. Miami certainly is the front-runner, however Duke claimed a win over the Hurricanes within the common season and has the tenacity to win this event. I am going with the Blue Devils. 

Michael: There’s little query that Miami (24-6 total, 15-5 ACC) and Virginia (23-6 total, 15-5 ACC) are the 2 greatest groups in a subpar league this season. Each are ranked among the many prime 40 in KenPom, and each are ranked among the many prime 35 within the NCAA NET Rankings. The lone assembly between the colleges completed as a 66-64 win for Miami in late December with the Hurricanes by no means trailing after the opening minute. A well-balanced scoring offense that options 4 gamers averaging not less than 13.4 factors per recreation must be sufficient for Miami to seize its first ACC Match title since 2013. 


Who’s your participant to look at? 

Andy Katz: Kobe Brown, Missouri. Brown has had loads of monster moments this season. The Tigers are sleeper choose to doubtlessly win the SEC. 

John Fanta: Antonio Reeves, Kentucky — The 6-foot-5 senior has caught hearth for the Wildcats getting into the SEC Match, going off for a career-high 37 factors in Saturday’s 88-79 win over Arkansas. During the last 4 contests, the Illinois State switch has averaged 22 factors per recreation on 49% from the sector. With the standing of Cason Wallace and Sahvir Wheeler up within the air, Kentucky wants a constant perimeter risk to mix with Oscar Tshiebwe. Profitable 5 of its final six heading into championship week, the Wildcats are driving momentum to enhance their seed line, which Mike DeCourcy presently has at a 5. Reeves may help them try this. 

Michael Cohen: Wade Taylor IV, Texas A&M — The sophomore guard ranks fifth within the convention in scoring at 16.3 factors per recreation and has taken his recreation to a different degree within the final month. Taylor is averaging 21.3 factors per recreation over his final eight with 24 made 3-pointers throughout that stretch. He poured in 28 factors with an ideal 10-for-10 clip from the free-throw line in an upset of then-No. 2 Alabama over the weekend. The surging Aggies have received eight out of 9, and Taylor is an enormous cause why.  

Is there a possible bid stealer?

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John: It needs to be Vanderbilt. The Commodores had been completely off the map in faculty basketball getting into February after a humiliating 101-44 loss to Alabama on Jan. 31. No one may have seen Vandy reeling off eight wins within the final 9 video games, and so they head into the SEC Match simply on the surface wanting in for the event. Junior guard Tyrin Lawrence has put collectively 4 of his greatest performances of the season, averaging 17.3 factors per recreation in that span. Senior wing Jordan Wright got here up huge within the win at Kentucky and has totaled 42 factors during the last two video games. Whereas main scorer Liam Robbins is completed for the yr with a leg damage, Jerry Stackhouse has a staff that is discovered its id and is scoring the ball actually effectively. A matchup with Kentucky on Friday night time could be actually appetizing within the SEC Match. 

Michael: After a dreary 3-6 begin to convention play, Vanderbilt has received eight of its final 9 video games to overtake the tenor of its season and, doubtlessly, give fourth-year head coach Jerry Stackhouse a brand new lease on life after questions on his job safety had been percolating. The Commodores have scored ranked wins over then-No. 6 Tennessee and then-No. 23 Kentucky throughout this run to achieve the fringes of the NCAA Match bubble. An NCAA NET Rating of 83 is likely to be an excessive amount of to beat, however a stable displaying on the SEC Match would possibly push them over the hump.

Andy: Vanderbilt. The Commodores received’t have Liam Robbins, which is disappointing, however their guards are ok to go on a run. They’ve been the cardiac Commodores. 

What staff most must make a run?

Michael: With the second half of its season speckled by losses, Auburn scored a large victory over then-No. 12 Tennessee on Saturday to enter the SEC Match with boosted confidence. The Tigers started the yr 16-3 total and 6-1 in convention play to earn the majority of their credentials by late January. However they’ve largely stumbled ever since with a 4-8 document of their final 12 video games, together with six consecutive defeats away from house. A win or two in Nashville would be certain that head coach Bruce Pearl can keep away from a visit to Dayton for the First 4.

Andy: Tennessee. The Vols are enjoying with out Zakai Zeigler, accomplished for the season. The choice committee has to see what the Vols are like with out him going ahead. 

John: Mississippi State is hovering proper across the reduce line and completely must win an SEC Match recreation. The Bulldogs misplaced a Quad 2 contest towards Vanderbilt over the weekend, and maintain a NET rating of 46 in the mean time. They do not personal any Quad 4 defeats, however Chris Jans’ staff is 4-7 versus Quad 1 and 3-3 towards Quad 2. They may play Florida within the 8-9 recreation on Thursday, a Quad 2 alternative towards a Gators staff that isn’t NCAA-worthy. Following that, it is top-seeded Alabama in a matchup that the Tide shall be a heavy favourite in. That stated, if the Bulldogs will be aggressive in that matchup, there is a stable shot they may hear their identify referred to as on Choice Sunday.

Who shall be event champion? 

Andy: Kentucky. The Wildcats are enjoying their greatest ball on the proper time. They’re oddly underneath the radar. A title in Nashville will push Kentucky into the 4-5 seed line territory. 

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John: With latest house wins over Alabama and Tennessee and a street victory over Missouri, who flies underneath the radar however deserves main credit score for the season it is had, Texas A&M went 15-3 within the SEC to say the No. 2 seed. The Aggies are my choose to chop down the nets this weekend in Nashville as a result of they’ve the most effective guards within the nation in the mean time with sophomore Wade Taylor IV. Averaging 21 factors per recreation during the last eight contests, the sophomore is on a mission, and he is received a pleasant sidekick in senior Tyrece Radford. This staff is top-40 in KenPom adjusted offensive and defensive effectivity and has some depth to work with too with frontcourt items Henry Coleman III and Julius Marble. I am taking Buzz Williams!

Michael: Even with Saturday’s street loss to Texas A&M, it is arduous to choose towards top-seeded Alabama. The Crimson Tide have endured extra scrutiny and unfavorable consideration than most groups can think about amid an ongoing homicide investigation that positioned three gamers on the scene of the crime — one in all whom transported the eventual homicide weapon (Brandon Miller), one other of whom faces capital homicide prices and was dismissed from the staff (Darius Miles). However none of that appears to affect the on-court product, which has produced a 26-5 document worthy of a possible No. 1 seed within the NCAA Match. Miller, who averages 19.6 factors and eight rebounds per recreation, is arguably essentially the most gifted participant in faculty basketball this season and might lead the Crimson Tide to the SEC Match title.

Andy Katz is a longtime faculty basketball author, analyst and host. He will be seen on the Large Ten Community, in addition to March Insanity and, and he hosts the podcast “March Insanity 365.” Katz labored at ESPN for almost 20 years and, previous to that, in newspapers for 9 years.

John Fanta is a nationwide faculty basketball broadcaster and author for FOX Sports activities. He covers the game in quite a lot of capacities, from calling video games on FS1 to serving as lead host on the BIG EAST Digital Community to offering commentary on The Subject of 68 Media Community. Observe him on Twitter @John_Fanta.

Michael Cohen covers faculty soccer and basketball for FOX Sports activities with an emphasis on the Large Ten. Observe him on Twitter @Michael_Cohen13.

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