Atlantic Coast Conference
The favorite(s): Miami Hurricanes (13-1). The Canes have a two game lead with four games to play, including games against Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech. The game at Duke might be tough, and after the way the game against Clemson went last time, I’m uncomfortable marking that one a win, but still – it would take a huge let down for the Canes to not win this race.
The rest: Duke Blue Devils (11-3). In theory, Duke should win out, and yes, I’m including the Miami game in that statement (I’m a Canes fan, so this is hard for me to say). The game at UNC will inevitably be a tough one, as it always is, but Duke is simply the more talented team this season, and they should win it. The only reason I don’t like Duke’s chances is Miami’s incredibly easy schedule the rest of the way.
- Miami (16-2)
- Duke (15-3)
The favorite(s): Georgetown Hoyas (11-3). The only people who liked Georgetown’s chances against ‘Cuse at the Carrier Dome this past weekend was likely the Georgetown team itself. Besides that, nobody gave the Hoyas much of a chance. That win, however, has put John Thompson’s club in the drivers seat in terms of winning the Big East regular season crown. Assuming the Hoyas defend homecourt against ‘Cuse to end the season, they should win this conference, with games against beatable UConn, Rutgers and Villanova squads as the only other remaining games.
The rest: Syracuse Orange (10-4). As I mentioned earlier, I don’t think anybody in the nation saw Georgetown going in to Syracuse and upsetting the Orange, but that’s precisely what happened this past weekend, and it could be the deciding factor in whether or not ‘Cuse gets the #1 seed in the Big East tournament. With games still remaining against Marquette (on the road), Louisville and Georgetown (on the road), the Orange will need a strong finish if they expect to win the conference.
Louisville Cardinals (10-4). Louisville took care of business this weekend by beating Seton Hall at home by 18. The problem, for the Cardinals, is that they entered the weekend sitting one game behind the leaders, and even though they won, they still remain one game back, with Georgetown winning their game at ‘Cuse. For Louisville to win the conference, they need Georgetown to lose two of four, while winning their final four games, which includes a road game at Syracuse. That seems like a tough task for any team.
Marquette Golden Eagles (10-4). Marquette still has a shot to win the conference, but after dropping their game against Villanova this weekend, I don't like their chances. Much like Louisville, they sit one game back with four games to play... But they don't hold the tiebreaker with the current #1 team in the conference, Georgetown. The best case scenario this weekend was for Marquette and Syracuse to win, so that the Eagles could claim the #1 spot with a win against the Orange at home on February 25th. Now MU must win their last four, which would include beating Syracuse and Notre Dame, then going on the road and beating Rutgers and St. John's. I don't see it. They're going to lose to ‘Cuse, but win the other three, in my opinion.
- Georgetown Hoyas (14-4)
- Syracuse Orange (13-5)
- Louisville Cardinals (13-5)
- Marquette Golden Eagles (13-5)
The favorite(s): Kansas Jayhawks (11-3). If Kansas doesn’t win at least three of their last four, I’ll be shocked. They still have games left against Big 12 bottom feeders Texas Tech and (to a lesser extent) West Virginia, both at home. They also travel to Baylor, who is unraveling before our eyes. The toughest task remaining on the schedule is a road game against Iowa State, who currently sit 15-0 at home. I’ll say the Jayhawks drop that game, and finish the year 3-1.
Kansas State Wildcats (11-3). Kansas State is going to be playing very close attention to tonight’s game between Kansas and Iowa State. If Iowa State wins, it leaves the door wide open for Kansas State to sneak in and win the Big 12 regular season title. The Wildcats have a very favorable schedule to end the season, with games against Texas Tech and TCU at home, while facing Baylor on the road. They end the season at Oklahoma State, and if Kansas loses to Iowa State (like I think they will), a KSU victory should win them the Big 12 regular season crown.
The rest: Oklahoma State Cowboys (10-4). That double overtime loss against Kansas last week is going to prove to be the difference in this conference. The Cowboys beat the Jayhawks on the road earlier this season, but the loss at home will probably leave the Cowboys behind the Jayhawks and Kansas State when it’s all said and done. OK State should pick up wins against TCU and Texas in their next two, but I have a hard time believing they can beat Iowa State on the road and follow that up with a win against Kansas State at home. I’ll conservatively put them at 3-1 down the stretch, with a win at Iowa State and a loss to Kansas State.
- Kansas State Wildcats (15-3)
- Kansas Jayhawks (14-4)
- Oklahoma State Cowboys (13-5)
The favorite(s): Indiana Hoosiers (12-2). The Hoosiers should probably finish the season 3-1. They should beat Minnesota (on the road), Iowa, and Ohio State. But on the road against Michigan? That’s going to be tough. The Wolverines are out for revenge, and could really use the victory to bolster their claim for a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament. 3-1 it is!
The rest: Michigan State Spartans (11-4). After dropping Sunday’s game to Ohio State, things don’t get any easier for the Spartans. Sure, they have over a week off, but when they finally do start playing again, they’ll be greeted with a road game against rival Michigan followed by a home game against Wisconsin. A loss to Michigan would mean a third straight loss for MSU, but I see it happening. Similar to how I expect Duke to beat Miami after the whooping the Canes gave the Blue Devils at home, I’m looking for Michigan to rebound in a similar fashion against the Spartans. I think they will finish with wins against Wisconsin and Northwestern, but I see them dropping the game in Ann Arbor.
Wisconsin Badgers (10-4). The Badgers need some help, but it isn’t impossible. If Ohio State can upset Indiana, the Badgers are back in the thick of things. They have four games left, and should win three of the four handily. The question is Michigan State on the road. I don’t think they’re going to win that game, but they will need it if they want the #1 seed in the big 10 tournament.
Michigan Wolverines (10-4). The rest of the schedule for Michigan is going to be ridiculous. They travel to Penn State, which is the only game I feel comfortable deeming a sure victory. Besides that, they get Michigan State at home, then travel to Purdue (where nobody wants to play), and they get Indiana at home. Sure, they should crush the Boilermakers, and I think they will, but road teams don’t do well historically in Mackey. Just something to watch out for. I already said earlier that I think that Michigan will beat Indiana in their rematch, but even so, that would still leave Michigan a game behind Indiana. See above for my thoughts on the Michigan – MSU rematch.
- Indiana Hoosiers (15-3)
- Michigan Wolverines (14-4)
- Michigan State Spartans (13-5)
- Wisconsin Badgers (13-5)
The favorite(s): Oregon Ducks (11-4). Oregon has only played Arizona once this season. The game took place in Eugene, and the Ducks walked away with a victory. With both teams currently sitting tied atop the Pac 12, Arizona would need to finish one full game ahead of the Ducks in order for them to win the conference. That’s the good news for Oregon. The bad news? Their remaining schedule isn’t great. They should beat Oregon State at home, but besides that, they have to travel to Colorado and Utah, and they could realistically lose both games. I don’t think they will lose to Utah, but it’s something to look out for. I see a 2-1 finish.
The rest: Arizona Wildcats (11-4). I already detailed the way Arizona can win the conference, so let’s figure out what to expect from their remaining schedule. The Wildcats still have to go on the road to USC and UCLA, plus take on Arizona State at home to close out the season. USC has, uh, struggled against top competition this season, going 1-8 against the RPI top 50 heading in to their game with Arizona. The game against UCLA is probably more concerning to the Wildcats. The Bruins already beat Arizona once this season, at Arizona. Why should this game be any different? I find it hard to believe that Arizona will shoot 5-24 from beyond the arc again. That seems unlikely. To cap things off, Arizona gets Arizona State at home, a team they already beat by 17 on the road. I’ll take the Wildcats to finish 3-0.
UCLA Bruins (10-4).For some reason, UCLA has played one fewer game than the rest of the contenders. Weird. The Bruins don't have the toughest stretch run, but I don't see them making up enough ground to win the conference. As I mentioned above, I have them losing to Arizona on March 2nd. Besides that, UCLA gets Arizona State at home, and travels to Washington State and Washington. They should win the game against Washington State rather easily, but Washington and Arizona State should be tougher tasks. The Sun Devils already handled UCLA at home by 18, but I don't see them winning that one on the road. Washington, on the other hand, lost to UCLA on the road by 2, and I see them rebounding with a win to finish off the season. That leaves us at a 2-2 finish for the Bruins.
California Golden Bears (10-5). Cal enters the home stretch one game back of the leaders, but they are still very much in it. The Golden Bears hold two wins over Oregon this season and won their lone matchup with Arizona. On top of holding the tiebreaker against both teams they’re chasing, Cal plays all three of their remaining games at home, all against opponents they should beat. Utah and Stanford are both likely wins, with the only game in question against Colorado. The Buffaloes beat Cal by 10 earlier this season, but that game was in Boulder. This game is at home, and Cal should enter the game having won 6 straight. Watch out for this team.
- Arizona Wildcats (14-4)
- California Golden Bears (13-5)
- Oregon Ducks (13-5)
- UCLA Bruins (12-6)
The favorite(s): Florida Gators (12-2). The Gators losing this conference would be just as shocking as Miami losing the ACC. Florida plays their biggest competitor for the SEC regular season crown, Alabama, on March 2nd, and a win on that night should seal the conference for the Gators.
The rest: Alabama Crimson Tide (10-4). Alabama is two games back with four to play, and still has to go on the road to Florida and Ole Miss. A loss at UF will officially end this race, but even with a win, Florida is still probably going to win the rest of their games, and it’ll all be a moot point. Bama has to hope they catch Florida having an off night in the SEC tournament.
Kentucky Wildcats (10-4). After everything that’s happened with Kentucky this season, capped off by losing Nerlens Noel to a torn ACL, it feels weird to say that Kentucky still has an outside shot at the SEC regular season title. But here they are, two games back, with a game against Florida on their home court remaining on the schedule. Kentucky should beat Mississippi State and Georgia, but on top of the Florida game they still have to go to Arkansas, and almost nobody leaves there with a victory. I also don’t see them beating the Gators, so while Kentucky still has a chance, it’s not a very good one.
- Florida Gators (16-2)
- Alabama Crimson Tide (13-5)
- Kentucky Wildcats (12-6)