If you haven’t come down with it yet, don’t worry the fever should hit you soon enough.
Madness is brewing and after a hearty weekend of fun-filled fisticuffs all around the league, there is no better time like the present to show us what you got for the big dance.
Conference tournaments are already in full swing, with most of the big boys taking flight this week, we are officially into MAJOR MADNESS.
10. NORTH CAROLINA
Swiping the ACC title away from pre-season favorite Duke should net these Heels more respect, both in the polls and in the ACC tournament.
The combination of Kendall Marshall, Harrison Barnes & Tyler Zeller have proved to be lethal, not to mention role players like Dexter Strickland and John Henson give UNC that extra punch when necessary, so it should come as no surprise that a conference champion would post in the top-10 easier than a tied for third Syracuse team.
Their stumbles @ Nebraska & Colorado are terrifying when you consider how well the Longhorns played on the road up until, still, you have to wonder what will happen in the Big 12 tournament.
Vesting a surging Baylor team away shouldn’t have been such a big deal, but keeping in mind those two uglies on the road beforehand, it became a much needed sealer for a possible auto-bid. The real question remains though: Can their savvy leadership mesh with their talented youth for a burst into the dance?
With a chance to seize a potential top-5 spot pre-Big 10 tournament, the Boilermakers fell flat on their faces against “unreal team” Iowa, helping them to slip a bit further than they would like.
They still have the experience and the tenacity to make a heavy push in the conference tournament, but with so much potential and expectation surrounding the Boilermakers, I have to start wondering if Matt Painter is more of a finesse coach than a general leading his men into battle. If they can’t make a big dent in the Big 10 tourny, they could find themselves battling a tough first round opponent come next week.
After the Brandon Davies saga, the Cougars allowed their chance at redemption and solidarity to pass them by against New Mexico. While a rebound win over Wyoming is nice, it’s not any mega sign about who this team is. Jimmer and Abouo have a lot of work to do, but we still have to admire the poise they have showed in the face of some seriously dirty laundry.
Where did the road skills go? I fear a serious malfunction in the Duke locker room regarding late-game adjustments and challenges. The master of young-men is probably feeling a bit spent, but a good jolt from UNC most likely cured Coach K from that catatonic state. Prepare for war in the ACC tourny, it’s likely they just take it straight to the house with total disregard for any human life.
5. SAN DIEGO STATE
Wait, no hold up. Yes, I did. No, they aren’t in a major conference, but hey, they’ve still only lost TWO games all season, both to the SAME TEAM, and in my book, that counts for a lot.
Co-Mountain West champions? Yes please.
4. NOTRE DAME
I’m not thrilled to put them here, but I can’t deny a deserving placeholder when I see one.
Capitalizing on others’ missteps is key at the end of the NCAABB season and no team has done a better job of it than the Irish. They closed out by running over Villanova and Connecticut and boast a seasoned team that has the chops to make it far in both the conference tournament and big dance. Not much to dislike about them other than their fans.
Big East regular season champions and poised for big things, had Ohio State and Kansas lost at all over the weekend, they would have been a clear cut #1, and with some magic during conference tournament time, Jamie Dixon’s squad could be #1 overall come this time next week.
Believe in the Pitt Panthers unlike years’ past, this time they are for real.
If any coach knows how to keep his team finishing strong, it’s Bill Self. Streaking wins against Colorado, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Texas A&M and Missouri are a great indicator that the Jayhawks are ready to make a run of it in the Big 12 tournament.
Should they capture that crown, I fear what damage they could inflict in the first and second rounds.
1. OHIO STATE
No doubt about it, the longest tenured undefeated team this season deserves their spot at the regular season top. Senior leadership, undergrad talent and a heap of expert coaching, Ohio State will be a monster to slay from here on out and if I’m facing them, pitch forks and torches aren’t going to be enough.
11. SYRACUSE – Worthy cause over the final weeks, but let’s see how they handle the Big East tournament before we go crowning them.
12. FLORIDA – Huge SEC title for them, potent and poised with Senior Chandler Parsons & Vernon Macklin, they could be a sleeping giant in March.
13. WISCONSIN – It’s tough to lose your last game of the year, but the Badgers like tournament play a whole lot more.
14. LOUISVILLE – They beat Pitt, but losing @ Morgantown really puts a damper on all their hard work.
15. ARIZONA – Bouncing back against the state of Oregon probably never felt so good.
16. ST. JOHN’S – The Seton Hall loss was a fluke, this team is going deep so strap in.
17. KENTUCKY – Big wins against Vandy & Tennessee have these young Wildcats believing at just the right time.
18. XAVIER – When other teams fail and you succeed with a 9 game win-streak to end the season, yea you win.
19. UTAH STATE – What’s almost as good as 9 games? How about 6?
20. CONNECTICUT – Brutal thrashing by WVU & Notre Dame played this one-man-band right off stage.
21. GEORGETOWN – Tisk, tisk Hoyas. Dropping three in a row is not a good way to show the committee you’re legit, especially when two of them were against Cincinnati.
22. VILLANOVA – The only thing worse than three is four, and I know they were all ranked, but not one win? That’s no bueno indeed.
23. VANDERBILT – Same goes for the Commodores. Losing your last two is pitiful, especially in the SEC.
24. WEST VIRGINIA – Welcome to Graceland, Bob Huggins.
25. TEXAS A&M – The only reason they make the cut over Missouri is because they won their last regular season game against Texas Tech, plain & simple.