The college basketball season has been extremely entertaining and with championship week already underway, the Power 6 conferences look to keep the excitement rising. Although college basketball fans are likely to see some perplexing upsets in the conference tournaments, here are some predictions of which teams will earn the right to call themselves the champions of some of the most celebrated conferences in all of college basketball.
Duke has seemed to find a rhythm since the return of Ryan Kelly. Earlier in the season, the Blue Devils were blowing past everyone but as conference play started, Duke looked shaky at times. People started questioning Duke because they lost some close contests against NC State, Maryland and Virginia. When Duke was blown out by Miami 90-63, many people counted the Blue Devils out of their normal national prominence. Thanks to Ryan Kelly and the improved play from stars such as Mason Plumlee, Seth Curry and Quinn Cook, Duke has gotten back on the track. They are now 27-4 and are 14-4 against opponents in the ACC. With a team full of shooters to spread the floor and a sound defense, Duke looks to dominate the ACC tournament.
Big 12: Kansas
Kansas had some bumps in the road at the beginning of conference play because of three consecutive losses to Oklahoma State, TCU and Oklahoma. Kansas has also suffered a recent 81-58 loss to Baylor. Nevertheless, Kansas is still tied for 1st place in the Big 12. If there is one thing to question about this Jayhawk squad, it would be their consistency on a nightly basis. The talent is there but sometimes Kansas just doesn’t show up to play in the game. Ben McLemore and Jeff Withey are two of the premier players in the nation and the Jayhawks also have a strong set of role players. Hopefully they can play consistently in the Big 12 tournament and prove to the country that they are a legitimate powerhouse.
Big East: Georgetown
Predicting the winner of the Big East Tournament is a real head-scratcher. I am going with the Georgetown Hoyas or should I say the “Georgetown Porters”. Let’s be completely honest. Otto Porter has been carrying the Hoyas on his back for nearly the entire year and clearly he has the ability to get them to the top. The Hoyas are 12-1 in their last 13 Big East games and they are in 1st place in the Big East. If Porter can lead Georgetown past Big East foes such as Louisville and Syracuse like he did before, Georgetown could be crowned as champions of the Big East. As we all know, it probably won’t be that simple because of the shocking history of the legendary Big Est tournament.
Big Ten: Indiana
Indiana has been a wonderful team to watch during the season. They had some losses to Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois and Ohio State but other than that they have been absolutely great. The Hoosiers are 1st in the Big Ten. Players like Victor Oladipo and Cody Zeller are the reason that Indiana goes out and wins so many games. They have two Wooden Award candidates and guys like Will Sheehey, Jordan Hulls and Yogi Ferrell are not only talented but play with passion on nearly every play. The hard-nosed Hoosiers are the favorites in the Big Ten tournament and despite the presence of tough teams such as Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State, Indiana will not back down from the challenge.
Oregon has definitely lived up to their nickname, the Fighting Ducks! They are 3rd in the Pac-12 but are 2-0 against the number 1 and 2 teams in the conference, UCLA and Arizona. Oregon does not have a superstar but E.J. Singler(former Duke forward, Kyle Singler’s brother) has really led the Ducks to a great season. Oregon is a very resilient team that fights until the final buzzer sounds in every game. The Ducks look to shock the Pac-12 once again by winning the conference tournament. There is no doubt that they have the spirit to do so.
Florida has sat atop the SEC for the entire season. Many people believe that the Gators are by far the best team in the SEC and that no team in the conference can match them. Although Missouri, who beat Florida 63-60 after being blown out by the Gators earlier in the season, poses a threat, Florida is definitely far ahead of everyone in the conference in terms of talent and unity. Florida plays terrific defense and has a plethora of athletes that can be physically imposing over the course of a game. There are some teams that can hurt Florida if they don’t come to play in the tournament but I’m sure Billy Donovan’s team will be prepared for anybody that stands in their way. Whether it be Tennessee, Alabama, Kentucky, Missouri, Ole Miss or Arkansas, the Gators expect to chomp down on their opponents when the SEC tournament rolls around.