The NCAA Division 1 Men’s basketball regular season wraps up this week and opens the door for conference tournaments next week and then the NCAA tournament starting Mar. 16, playoff basketball baby! Coming up is a full slate of spine tingling action for basketball fans to get excited about, but first here is the official unofficial breakdown of NCAA basketball conference championships.
The 32 conferences create the division-one college basketball circle. This breakdown focuses on the seven major basketball conferences. No disrespect to Missouri Valley, Mountain West, or the Atlantic 10 because mid-major conferences evidently Cinderella the storybook, but the majors bring consistent March magic.
The Louisville Cardinals and Cincinnati Bearcats are tied atop the conference at 13-3. Both schools are standard contenders in their conference and frequenters to the NCAA tournament; the anomaly is the third place 18th ranked SMU Mustangs. The 23-6 Mustangs have not reached the NCAA tournament since 1993 when they lost to BYU in the first round. Former NBA coach and second year SMU head coach Larry Brown has rapidly turned around this non-existent program.
SMU is the hottest team in conference play with three straight wins. A monster matchup tonight between SMU and 11th ranked Louisville will further determine who wins the conference. The Bearcats have the easiest schedule of the top three with their final games against 20th ranked Memphis Tigers at home and Rutgers Scarlet Knights on the road.
The fifth ranked Virginia Cavaliers have sealed their first conference championship since 2007. The Cavaliers are 16-1 in conference play with the only loss coming to the Duke Blue Devils at Cameron Indoor, a crazy difficult environment to win regardless of how talented the competitor is.
The seventh ranked Syracuse Orange was threatening a league title and an unheard of undefeated season until they lost to Boston College on Feb. 19. Since the loss the Orange have unpeeled suffering three losses in their last four contests.
Three things in life are guaranteed, death, taxes, and the Kansas Jayhawks crowned as conference champs. The eighth ranked Jayhawks have won their conference 10 years straight now. Joel Embiid and Andrew Wiggins are projected top five picks with potential of leading their team to a national championship for the first time since 2008.
The Big East is still without a conference champion, but at the same time it’s kind of not according to the NCAA basketball conference championships breakdown. The two schools in contention are sixth ranked Villanova Wildcats and 13th ranked Creighton Bluejays. The Wildcats have to win at least one of their final two games against Xavier and Georgetown to claim the title, both teams the Wildcats beat earlier in the season.
The Wildcats may win the conference, but the team cannot get a number on the Bluejays. Creighton swept Villanova by an average of 24.5 points this season.
The 12th ranked Michigan Wolverines have won their second conference title in three years. In a tight finish with ninth ranked Wisconsin and 22nd ranked Michigan St., the Wolverines proved to have the strongest team behind All-Big Ten sophomore guard Nik Stauskas. Stauskas averaged 17.3 points on the season, but is finishing the season dynamically with an average of 21.25 points per game in his last four games.
There was never much doubt as to which team was winning the Pac-12. The third ranked Arizona Wildcats controlled the season from start to finish in a down year for the Pac-12. Second place UCLA did not finish the season ranked. The biggest question surrounding 93rd points per game Arizona is their efficiency on the offensive end without forward Brandon Ashley, who is out for the remainder of the year.
The SEC is home to the nations first ranked Florida Gators. The Gators have been chomped conference opponents to a 17-0 record. Florida’s RPI is ranked third with notable wins against Kansas, Memphis, and Kentucky, and losses against Wisconsin and Connecticut. The Win-losses tally is important for Florida because of the limited competition they faced in conference play.
March is the maddest month of the year not because of St. Patty’s Day, green beer definitely does not hurt, but because of Michigan, Florida, Wichita St., and every other team competing for Final Four Glory. The NCAA basketball conference championships breakdown is another source for March analysis
Commentary By Niles Olson