Predictions: Winners of the Six College Basketball Power Conferences
Predictions: Winners of the Six Power Conferences
This is a "how good are you at guessing?" article. If I knew what the outcome of the season was going to be, I would be in Vegas right now. However, it is always fun to put into writing your claims so you can look back and see how smart (or not so smart) you were. This is a look at who will win the regular season conference championships championships in the six power conferences.
Granted a lot can and probably will change over the next two and a half months but I want to go on record with who I think will win each of the six power conferences. Players may transfer, but that usually only happens at this point from bad programs like UCLA, or players may get hurt or teams might hit a rough patch and do not have the leadership to overcome it. Each of the teams I have picked to win the Pac-12, ACC, Big East, Big-12, SEC and Big-10 have great leadership from the top down. With a little luck and consistent play these six teams will help make me look smart, and bring home championships for their fans.
University of Arizona
Pac-12 Champion: Arizona Wildcats
In the preseason polls Arizona was a slight favorite to win the Pac-12 over UCLA. That was then, this is now. Sean Miller has his team headed in the right direction and Ben Howland is the leader of a rudderless ship. The Colorado Buffaloes are a bigger threat to the Wildcats but are not as talented from top to bottom as the team Miller has put together. Miller did an outstanding job of bringing in players that filled holes (Mark Lyons) and players that allowed him to move Solomon Hill to the perimeter where he is more comfortable. Miller and the ‘Cats are the clear favorites to win their conference and the easiest pick of the six power conferences.
ACC Champion: Duke Blue Devils
The coach Mike Krzyzewski-lead Blue Devils are also an easy pick. The ACC is as weak as it has been in years. With many programs changing coaches and trying to replace star players, Duke continues to be the model of consistency. They have shooters, scorers, post players and dynamic athletes. They are the most balanced team in the conference with the best coach. Seth Curry is battling his shin injury but is still the unquestioned leader of this team. Meanwhile every night a different player contributes to their success as a team. With North Carolina struggling to replace its three NBA first-round draft picks from last year, the Blue Devils are going to dominate the ACC.
Big East Champion: Syracuse Orangemen
Coach Jim Boeheim is going to leave with a bang. Louisville and Cincinnati are very good squads but neither has the consistent outside threat to beat the Syracuse zone. Boeheim has his typical inside/outside tandem in James Southerland and Brandon Triche clicking on all cylinders and do not look to be slowing anytime soon. The Big East is going to be a slug fest and no clear favorite has shown its self in the early goings. However, because of the Gorgui Dieng injury the Cardinal will be set back thus allowing the Orangemen just enough wiggle room to finish on top.
Big 12 Champion: Oklahoma State Cowboys
This is the upset pick of the six conferences. Kansas is the perennial top dog in the Big 12 but this is the year the Cowboys and coach Travis Ford unseat the Jayhawks. Building off their confidence from upsetting number six North Carolina State, coach Ford will have his team rolling into conference play. Led by the athletic Le’Bryan Nash and the multi-skilled Marcus Smart the Cowboys look poised for a resurgent year as maybe the Jayhawks take a step back after losing more talent to the NBA. The key will be how focused the young Cowboys stay throughout their conference schedule as the Big 12 looks to be very week this year.
University of Kentucky
SEC Champion: Kentucky Wildcats
Florida and Missouri are the contenders for this title, but who is going to pick against coach John Calipari? Not this writer. Coach Cal has yet another loaded group of future NBA players. Top recruits Archie Goodwin, Nerlens Noel and Alex Poythress are already making their mark on Wildcat history. Calipari is fostering an atmosphere where great players come to play with each other and enjoy sharing the limelight that comes with all of their winning. Will it lead to another National Championship? Maybe, but it is looking like it will definitely lead to an SEC Championship.
Ohio State University
Big Ten Champion: Ohio State Buckeyes
This was the hardest pick of the six power conferences. With six teams in the top 25 right now and Indiana number one in the rankings the Big Ten has replaced the Big East as, The Power Conference. To choose their winner I chose to look at the schedule and weigh in the experience of the coaches and players. The Buckeyes will have a chance to control their own fate as they finish their season with four of their last five games against the other contenders and three of those games are at home. Coach Thad Matta will lean on the experience of Deshawn Thomas and Aaron Craft, two of the best players in the conference.