Big East, Big 12 will Represent at NCAA Tournament

The NCAA Tournament is less than two weeks away, so it’s time to start looking at the teams that will be prominently featured on your brackets during March Madness.

Let’s go through the major conferences and breakdown the teams that have the best chance of making the dance.

Kansas, Texas Lead Big 12

The Big 12 has five teams that should make the NCAA Tournament. They are Kansas Jayhawks, Texas Longhorns, Kansas State Wildcats, Baylor Bears, and TCU Horned Frogs.

This conference is strong from top to bottom. Each of the teams mentioned are ranked in the AP top 25. Kansas is looking at a No. 1 seed. If Texas wins the conference championship, they could move from a No. 2 to a No. 1.

Teams on the bubble from the Big 12 conference are the West Virginia Mountaineers and Oklahoma State Cowboys. The Mountaineers currently have 13 losses and the Cowboys have 14. The NCAA Selection committee frowns upon teams with 15 losses.

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Slim Pickings in Pac 12

 Both the UCLA Bruins and Arizona Wildcats have been ranked in the top 15 all year and are currently fourth and eighth respectively. The Bruins defeated the Wildcats 82-73. This could be the conference that gets the least teams invited to the big Dance.

The USC Trojans, Arizona State Sun Devils, Oregon Ducks, and Utah Utes are all bubble teams. Bracketology experts have Oregon and Arizona State as teams being the last four out. They are both in need of at least two wins in the Pac 12 Conference Tournament to merit consideration.

Big East Could Send 5 to NCAA Tournament

The Big East Conference should have Marquette Golden Eagles, Xavier Musketeers, Creighton Bluejays, Connecticut Huskies, and Providence Friars representing their conference.

Marquette is the most impressive due to their 5-2 record against top 25 teams and their number 6th rank in the AP poll. UConn and Xavier are trending up at the right time. Both teams moved up to the top 15 within the last week.

I presently don’t see any bubble team from the Big East. The criteria of 15 losses eliminates the Seton Hall Pirates and Villanova Wildcats unless either of them wins the Big East Conference Final.

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Watch Out for Houston, Gonzaga

A team with a legitimate shot to win the NCAA Championship that has not been mentioned is the Houston Cougars. Houston has been ranked in the top 10 most of the year and is currently the No. 1 team in the nation. The Cougars are in line for a No. 1 seed in the tournament.

The Gonzaga Bulldogs from the West Coast Conference are ranked ninth. This is not the powerhouse Zag team of the past two seasons that made a trip to the Final Four. They do have All-American center Drew Timme who can carry the team if they receive a favorable seed in the tournament.

Getting a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament increases the chances of winning the title. The number one seed has won the title 64% of the time over the last 37 years. The No. 2 seeds have only won five times or 13.5% over that same period. The last five National Champions have been No. 1 seeded teams.

NCAA Bracket Picks

Look for three factors in making NCAA bracket selections. First, how does the team shoot from 3-point range? The three-point shot has changed the game analytically and allows teams that lack size to be competitive. If a team shoots a high 3-point percentage, I love their chance to advance.

Secondly, go with teams that have a deep rotation of eight or more players. They can withstand foul trouble and are less likely to show fatigue toward the end of the game. Finally, go with teams that play good defense. I look at points allowed, especially in Quad One games to determine if the team can minimize the scoring. Defense travels while offense can be neutralized based on the opponent or if a team is having an off day shooting.

Next week, I will make my opening round selections and provide betting analysis. Let the madness begin!

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