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Figuring it All Out

December 30, 2003 Columns No Comments


Predicting the Rest of the Season

by Michael Ermitage

I’m bored.

I’m bored with Connecticut drubbing everyone it plays. I’m bored with Stanford vs. Harvard matchups, which frankly should only occur if a chessboard is involved. I’m even bored with Arizona’s patented “fall behind by 15 and then go crazy and win the game by 15” thing it likes to do. It’s time for the conference season. The beauty and bane of college basketball is its trimester season setup.

The first trimester – the non-conference season – is a time for teams to work out new lineups and perhaps, pick up some big wins. The second trimester – the conference season – is ultimately what will determine if your team is going to advance to the third trimester – the NCAA Tournament. Big wins and big losses in October are forgotten by February. That huge game dog-eared on the schedule against a ranked opponent in November seems trivial compared to the late-season conference matchup in early March. And that early March battle is miniscule in importance to that second-round Tournament game.

Sometimes you have to wonder why we keep getting on the bus, even though it never seems to get anywhere. The next stop on the made-for-TV college basketball tour is the conference season and like Paris Hilton and anything involving a video camera, I can’t wait to get started. But what will happen in this silly sitcom of a season, where number ones have been dropping faster than Fox’s ratings? Here’s my take:

ACC

There is no shortage of competition here. Georgia Tech will take the regular season title, with Wake Forest and Duke battling for second place. Other tournament teams include North Carolina, Maryland and a surprising Florida State club.

Predicted Order of Finish:

Georgia Tech
Wake Forest
Duke
UNC
Maryland
Florida State
N.C. State
Virginia
Clemson

Big East

Connecticut will get very little competition here from overrated Syracuse and Pittsburgh teams. Seton Hall and Providence will be dark horse contenders.

Predicted Order of Finish:

Connecticut
Pittsburgh
Providence
Syracuse
Seton Hall
Villanova
Notre Dame
West Virginia
Boston College
Georgetown
Miami (Florida)
Rutgers
St. John’s
Virginia Tech

Big Ten

This conference is still waiting for someone to emerge as the top contender. It looks as though Illinois, Wisconsin and Purdue will battle for the conference crown. Michigan State still remains a dangerous entity. Michigan is a sure-fire fifth NCAA team, but that might be all that qualifies from this league.

Predicted Order of Finish:

Wisconsin
Illinois
Purdue
Michigan State
Michigan
Iowa
Minnesota
Indiana
Ohio State
Northwestern
Penn State

Big 12

Just as wide open as the Big Ten, the Big 12 boasts of as many as six teams that could win the title. Oklahoma seems the strongest of the contenders, but Kansas should be right there. Missouri, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Texas are all tournament-quality teams. Furthermore, a surprising Nebraska squad could give the conference seven bids to the NCAA tournament.

Predicted Order of Finish:

Oklahoma
Kansas
Texas
Oklahoma State
Missouri
Texas Tech
Nebraska
Colorado
Iowa State
Kansas State
Texas A&M
Baylor

C-USA

Cincinnati and Louisville look like the clear-cut favorites thus far. Marquette, however, remains a dangerous squad. Charlotte, Memphis and St. Louis are fringe title contenders.

Predicted Order of Finish:

Cincinnati
Louisville
Marquette
Memphis
St. Louis
Charlotte
DePaul
UAB
Southern Miss
East Carolina
Houston
Tulane
South Florida
TCU

Pac 10

Forget Arizona, Stanford is the team to beat in the Pac 10. The Wildcats will finish second with a steep drop in quality teams to Oregon and Arizona State.

Predicted Order of Finish:

Stanford
Arizona
Oregon
Arizona State
UCLA
Cal
USC
Washington
Oregon State
Washington State

SEC

A pair of overrated squads in Florida and Kentucky will battle for the SEC East Division crown. Vanderbilt, however, is a strong darkhorse contender. In the West Division, LSU and Mississippi State serve as the teams to beat.

Predicted Order of Finish:

East
Kentucky
Florida
Vanderbilt
Tennessee
South Carolina
Georgia

West
LSU
Mississippi State
Auburn
Alabama
Arkansas
Mississippi

     

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