Conference tournaments have say on bids

Jacob Peterson

For the Review

With March comes the madness. Is everybody ready?

With college basketball conference tournaments in full swing, one can’t help but be a little antsy for Selection Sunday.  Who will get in? Who will get left out? Who should I pick this year?  There are so many questions that are in need of answering.

There are many teams on the bubble, needing solid wins in their conference tournaments to secure a position in the final field of 65. In the Pac-10, the University of Arizona, Arizona State University and the University of Oregon all needed a win to secure a bid. With Arizona’s 23-consecutive tournament appearance streak still intact, the bid committee will doubtfully skip over this team.

All three teams should get in, as the Pac-10 is one of the deepest conferences in the country, but there is always bias toward the eastern schools, namely the Big East Conference.

The Big East will likely get 7-9 teams invited to the tournament. This is not because the conference is excellent, but rather because the league has 16 teams. Villanova University and Syracuse University are both sitting on the bubble.

However, the picture has become more clear as the Orange lost to Nova. With the Wildcats winning six of their last nine games and playing solid for most of the game against top seed Georgetown University yesterday, they are pretty much a sure bid and a good sleeper pick next week.

In the Southeastern Conference, say good-bye to two time defending champions University of Florida. Unless they win the conference tournament and earn an the automatic bid, there is no room for this team. The bubble teams include the University of Arkansas, the University of Kentucky and University of Mississippi. A win by any of these teams puts them into heavy contention. A loss by Ole Miss will knock them out of consideration.

The teams in the Big 12 are not good. It is possible the conference will only get two or three teams in. If Kansas State University loses today, the team loses a lot of contention. Other bubble schools include Baylor University and Texas A&M University. Baylor has won four of their last five games and is rolling right now. They may be a bracket buster next week.

The Big 10 and Atlantic Coast Conference are both fairly solidified. Both conferences have four teams looking to go with one on the fence. In the Big 10, Ohio State University still looks like a safe choice with a 10-8 conference record.  In the ACC, only Virginia Tech University is borderline. Unless they make a deep run in the conference tourney, they will be watching the action from home.

Picking your bracket-buster is always a hard choice. My leading candidates for teams most likely to cause upsets are Baylor and Oregon.

Baylor will likely be a No. 10 seed. They have proven they can play with anyone, beating the  University of Notre Dame and Texas A&M this season.

Oregon will most certainly be a No. 11 seed and can outrun any team in the country. If the three-pointers fall, they can and will beat anybody. Both teams are very streaky, but if they get on a roll, a deep run can be made in the tournament.

The key to making good choices is to pay heavy attention to conference tournaments. Teams that are playing well now generally perform in the first couple rounds. Look for teams with winning streaks and losing streaks. Be careful not to let your heart make all the picks.

Be smart, be strategic and don’t be afraid to pick an upset. If you really can’t decide who to take in a certain round, just ask yourself which mascot would win in a fight.  That never fails. Just so I get it on record, UCLA is the team to beat. Happy pickings.

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