Wednesday, March 12, 2014

2014 Mens College Basketball Conference Tournament Predictions (Bracket Practice)

2014 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament Bracket Practice (Picking the Major Conference Tournaments)

Big 12 (March 12-15, Kansas City)

8 Oklahoma State over 9 Texas Tech
7 Baylor over 10 TCU

4 Iowa State over 5 Kansas State
8 Oklahoma State over 1 Kansas
7 Baylor over 2 Oklahoma
3 Texas over 6 West Virginia

4 Iowa State over 8 Oklahoma State
7 Baylor over 3 Texas

4 Iowa State over 7 Baylor

These teams are too closely bunched to go chalk, so why not a wild 4 days in Kansas City.  Would a first game loss be enough for the committee to drop Kansas to a 3 seed?  Would a title for Iowa State move them ahead of enough teams to garner a 2 seed?  How high can Baylor or Oklahoma State go with a good run?

PAC 12 (March 12-15, Las Vegas)

8 Utah over 9 Washington
5 Colorado over 12 USC
7 Oregon over 10 Oregon State
6 Stanford over 11 Washington State

1 Arizona over 8 Utah
4 California over 5 Colorado
7 Oregon over 2 UCLA
3 Arizona State over 6 Stanford

1 Arizona over 4 California
7 Oregon over 3 Arizona State

1 Arizona over 7 Oregon

I think Arizona wants to make sure they secure a #1 seed, leaving nothing to chance.  They will avenge losses to Cal and Oregon and lock-down the overall #3 seed on the seed list.  I like how the Ducks are playing and think they want to prove to everyone they can beat UCLA when the Bruins are at full-strength.  I also think a desperate Cal team comes through against Colorado in what might be the most important game of the tournament.  A Cal win gives the PAC 12 a realistic chance at 7 teams, but would put Cal, Colorado and Stanford all in bubble territory if my picks would hold true.

ACC (March 12-16, Greensboro)

13 Notre Dame over 12 Wake Forest
10 Miami over 15 Virginia Tech
11 Georgia Tech over 14 Boston College

8 Maryland over 9 Florida State
13 Notre Dame over 5 Pittsburgh
7 NC State over 10 Miami
6 Clemson over 11 Georgia Tech

1 Virginia over 8 Maryland
4 North Carolina over 13 Notre Dame
2 Syracuse over 7 NC State
3 Duke over 6 Clemson

4 North Carolina over 1 Virginia
3 Duke over 2 Syracuse

3 Duke over 4 North Carolina

To be honest, I think Duke’s current resume is over-rated by some, but a run through the ACC would almost certainly give them a 2 seed.  I think their road record and 2 bad losses prevent any chance of a #1.  Syracuse could make a case for a #1 with a tournament title, but in all likelihood, the conference is playing for 2 and 3 seeds.  I am never a big fan of the “we didn’t lose to anybody bad, but didn’t beat anyone either” resume that Pitt has.  So why not throw in a loss against Notre Dame who has played well in recent conference tournaments to muddy the bubble waters a bit?!

AAC (March 12-15, Memphis)

7 Rutgers over 10 South Florida
8 Temple over 9 UCF

6 Houston over 3 SMU
2 Louisville over 7 Rutgers
1 Cincinnati over 8 Temple
5 Memphis over 4 Connecticut

2 Louisville over 6 Houston
5 Memphis over 1 Cincinnati

2 Louisville over 5 Memphis

Home court advantage will benefit Memphis, but Louisville will want to make sure they leave the conference with a nice parting gift.  The Cardinals are trying to get up to a #3 seed and a more favorable location.  A finals appearance will help Memphis, but the committee knows where these games are being played.  Would a loss to Houston send SMU as far back as Dayton?  I think the Mustangs are in, but that non-conference SOS is downright ugly.

Atlantic 10 (March 12-16, Brooklyn)

12 George Mason over 13 Fordham

9 St. Bonaventure over 8 LaSalle
5 Dayton over 12 George Mason
7 Richmond over 10 Duquesne
6 Massachusetts over 11 Rhode Island

1 St. Louis over 9 St. Bonaventure
5 Dayton over 4 St. Joseph’s
2 VCU over 7 Richmond
6 Massachusetts over 3 George Washington

1 St. Louis over 5 Dayton
2 VCU over 6 Massachusetts

1 St. Louis over 2 VCU

The Rams are the chique pick to win the A-10 Tourney, but I think the Billikens figured out a few defensive issues and are back on track.  A #5 seed is awaiting the champion if this is the final.  UMass would have an outside chance at a #5, but it would be more dependent on other results.  These picks put Dayton in safe territory and move St. Joseph’s to the danger category.  This will be by far the most important game of the tournament if the Flyers don’t stumble in their first game.

Big East (March 12-15, New York City)

8 Seton Hall over 9 Butler
7 Georgetown over 10 DePaul

1 Villanova over 8 Seton Hall
5 St. John’s over 4 Providence in 2OT
2 Creighton over 7 Georgetown
3 Xavier over 6 Marquette

1 Villanova over 5 St. John’s
2 Creighton over 3 Xavier

2 Creighton over 1 Villanova

We keep on waiting for some of the Big East bubble teams to go on a run and make a statement.  The next 4 days provide that opportunity one last time.  Once again though, I don’t see any of these teams coming through.  Villanova and Creighton are the class of the league.  I can see a potential St. John’s upset of Villanova, as they played them well a few weeks ago, but I am sticking with a team who has only lost to Syracuse and Creighton.  If Villanova does lose the final, would they still get a #1 seed even though they lost to the same team 3 times?  Can Creighton get up to the 2 line with a tournament title?  I think it will take a lot for Creighton to move up, but they have a better chance than say, Louisville does.

SEC (March 12-16, Atlanta)

12 Auburn over 13 South Carolina
11 Vanderbilt over 14 Mississippi State

9 Texas A&M over 8 Missouri
5 Arkansas over 12 Auburn
7 LSU over 10 Alabama
11 Vanderbilt over 6 Ole Miss

1 Florida over 9 Texas A&M
4 Tennessee over 5 Arkansas
7 LSU over 2 Kentucky
3 Georgia over 11 Vanderbilt

1 Florida over 4 Tennessee
3 Georgia over 7 LSU

1 Florida over 3 Georgia

Bubble teams across the land have to wait until less than an hour before Selection Sunday to know whether a bid will be stolen by the Bulldogs.  Fortunately, Georgia would have to beat the #1 team in the country and I don’t see Florida letting up.  I think Tennessee will be the trickier game for the Gators.  With Kentucky as the only lock in the bottom half of the bracket, a Wildcats loss to anyone will create a bid stealing scenario on Sunday afternoon.

Mountain West (March 12-15, Las Vegas)

8 Utah State over 9 Colorado State
7 Fresno State over 10 Air Force
6 Boise State over 11 San Jose State

1 San Diego State over 8 Utah State
4 UNLV over 5 Wyoming
2 New Mexico over 7 Fresno State
6 Boise State over 3 Nevada

4 UNLV over 1 San Diego State
2 New Mexico over 6 Boise State

2 New Mexico over 4 UNLV

Outside of a 10 minute stretch, the Lobos are probably playing the best basketball in the conference.  It would be fitting to have round 3 against the Aztecs, but I have watched enough of these MWC Tourney’s to know that the home team does not go quietly.  So before the bubble teams settle in on Sunday for the SEC Championship, they will have a Saturday date with the Mountain West Title game to sit through nervously.  Again, I think the result is in their favor, as the Lobos are good enough to win a road Championship Game 2 years in a row.  

Big Ten (March 13-16, Indianapolis)

9 Illinois over 8 Indiana
5 Ohio State over 12 Purdue
7 Minnesota over 10 Penn State
6 Iowa over 11 Northwestern

1 Michigan over 9 Illinois
4 Nebraska over 5 Ohio State
2 Wisconsin over 7  Minnesota
3 Michigan State over 6 Iowa

1 Michigan over 4 Nebraska
3 Michigan State over 2 Wisconsin

1 Michigan over 3 Michigan State

Can Michigan grab the final #1 seed with a win Sunday afternoon?  I say yes, if Villanova has lost.  The Big 10 double would likely do it, although I might see things differently.  Michigan State comes in with a lot to prove, so I am begrudgingly taking them over Wisconsin and potentially knocking the Badgers down to a #3 seed.  I think Nebraska/Ohio State could be a really fun in a dentist chair sort of way.  Iowa and Minnesota really need multiple wins, but it will be tough for both.

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