Byron and Sam are here to get you all set for this week’s Conference Championships leading up to this year’s Selection Sunday on March 15th. Don’t forget to check back in with The Scorecrow for next week’s coverage on everything March Madness, including matchups and bracket picks. Without further ado, let’s get to all of this week’s Total B.S. info!
Byron: Well, it’s been a long season, what’s been your favorite part?
Sam: I love seeing some mid-majors like Dayton and San Diego State still near the top of the polls. Even Stephen F. Austin and ETSU are ranked ahead of multiple “bigger name” teams at this point!
Why do you think that there seems to be so much parity this season? It feels like far more than usual, right?
B: It really does. I think with the growing talent of basketball players across the country, more teams have the resources to develop better ballplayers than what we’re used to seeing. The landscape is becoming more balanced and it couldn’t be better for the game and its fans.
Do you think that there’s a National Champion hidden in these picks somewhere?
S: It’s definitely possible! We have a great mix of powerhouse conferences and small schools in both parts one and two of these picks. What’s fascinating this year is how hard it has been for teams to win on the road. Some of the bigger conference teams are killing it at home and then can’t beat the bottom feeders on the road. It’s going to be crazy to see what happens this month when teams are playing on a neutral court. Do the favorites have a leg up at that point? It’s hard to find any stats to support either argument.
So with that said, is this the year a small school takes home the hardware?
B: Well Sam, as much as I’d love to see it happen, I’m going to go with NO. It’s been nearly 30 years since one of the greatest teams of all time, the Runnin’ Rebels of UNLV did it out of the Mountain West Conference. But who knows… it’s March!
S: Well, let’s pick some conference tourney winners, shall we?
B: Sounds like a great appetizer before the main course. Let’s do it.
COLONIAL ATHLETIC ASSOCIATION
#1 Seed: Hofstra, 23-8 (14-4)
Hofstra won the CAA regular season title for the second year in a row. Last year they came up short in the conference championship vs. Northeastern, and the two will square off Tuesday night again; this year with Hofstra as the big dog and Northeastern as a #6 seed with a ticket to the dance on the line.
B: Hofstra on the strength of 3 senior starters
SOUTHWESTERN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE
#1 Seed: Prairie View, 18-13 (14-3)
Possibly the weakest conference we’re picking, it’s the surprising Panthers as the top seed, despite losing multiple key contributors from the 2018-2019 campaign. Their biggest threat is likely Texas Southern, whose campus is a scant 45 minutes away, This is one of the worst away conferences in basketball and whomever is left standing will be playing for the automatic bid in Birmingham, Alabama. Plenty of tickets still available.
B: Prairie View
S: TexSo; Lions are more fearsome than Panthers
#1 Seed: Arkansas Little Rock, 21-9 (15-4)
B: Winners of 8 straight, I’m going with the South Alabama Jaguars. They will have 11 days of rest and preparation between their last regular season game and first conference tourney game, and the Jags will take advantage while they’re hot.
S: I’m taking the Panthers of Georgia State. These guys can score at will and I’d love to see them give a top team the business a week from now.
METRO ATLANTIC ATHLETIC CONFERENCE
#1 Seed: Siena 18-10 (14-5)
With apologies to Bill Walton, this is the real conference of champions. Iona? Quinnipiac? Siena? Canisius? Manhattan? Monmouth? This is a virtual who’s who of #15 and #16 seeds.
The conference is stacked close top to bottom with Siena holding the easiest path.
B: Siena. The regular season champs are super hot and are now winners of 9 straight games.
S: Siena. Their path to the bid is too easy to ignore.
BIG WEST CONFERENCE
#1 Seed: UC Irvine 21-11 (13-3)
Currently, in their ninth year under head coach Russell Turner, the Anteaters have won three of the past four regular-season titles.
B: UC Irvine
S: UC Irvine
#1 Seed: Akron 24-7 (14-4)
Led by Loren Jackson, who stands at a small five-foot-eight, averages a big 20 points with 4.7 assists per game. The Zips took Louisville down to the wire at the Yum! Center earlier in the year and played West Virginia close on the road. They’ll likely have to tussle with Bowling Green (21-10, 12-6) before it’s over.
#1 Seed: North Texas 20-11 (14-4)
B: The No 1. seed in the conference is led by a Junior backcourt of Umoja Gibson and JUCO transfer Javion Hamlet. Those two guards will lead the Mean Green to the NCAA tournament!
S: I’ll take the Hilltoppers (20-10, 13-5) of Western Kentucky! They’ve got a whopping 6 players averaging double-digit points and can score with any team in the nation.
ATLANTIC 10 CONFERENCE
#1 Seed: Dayton 29-2 (18-0)
Not much of a surprise as the Dayton Flyers are easily one of the best teams in the country led by a future All-American and Wooden Award finalist, Obi Toppin. The Flyers went undefeated in conference play and we both expect them to win out, securing at least a #2 seed in the tournament, if not better. A storybook season is exactly what Dayton fans need, considering all that the area has been through of late.
WEST COAST CONFERENCE
#1 Seed: Gonzaga 29-2 (15-1)
At the time of this writing, Saint Mary’s has upset BYU, a presumptive five-seed for the NCAA tournament, setting up a rematch of 2019, when the Gaels (26-7, 11-5 in 2020) upset Gonzaga to earn the automatic bid. The Gaels will face Gonzaga on Tuesday night for the championship.
B: Death, Taxes, and the ‘Zags winning the WCC. Mark Few and Gonzaga will be on a mission as they are also gonna be hunting for that overall number-one seed.
S: BYU was the only team that could realistically win this tournament besides the ‘Zags. With them out, Gonzaga rolls.
#1 seed: Kentucky 25-6 (15-3)
B: John Calipari’s teams always seem to play best at the right time. The ‘Cats are winners of 12 of the past 14 and just won their 49th regular-season title. Yes, you read that correctly. Wildcats roll into the Big Dance.
S: Although they hit a bit of a slump towards the end of the season, I like Auburn (25-6, 12-6) with just enough upperclassmen talent to stay poised and use a big win here as a springboard to a deep tourney run.
#1 Seed: Oregon (24-7, 13-5)
B: Arizona (20-11, 10-8) might not have the highest of floors but I’m taking their ceiling for this pick. Led by a couple of lottery picks in Nico Mannion and Josh Green, I’m all-in on the Wildcats to pull it off and make the NCAA tournament after missing it last season!
S: Say it with me… U-C! L-A! It took some time but Mick Cronin finally got the Bruins (19-12, 12-6) to buy into his game plan of stifling defense and opportune shooting. The Bruins complete the about-face and with a brand of basketball that has been missing from SoCal.
ATLANTIC COAST CONFERENCE
#1 Seed: Florida State (26-5, 16-4)
B: It’s Duke (25-6, 15-5). The Blue Devils and Hall of Fame Coach, Mike Krzyzewski, will put it all together and come out on top of what’s been a down year in the ACC. Louisville is also a very smart pick as they are an extremely experienced team.
S: Say what you want about Duke but when the playing field appears level, rolling with Coach K seems like the smartest bet, and I’ll take it nine out of ten times.
Make sure to check out the “Total B.S.” picks Part Two tomorrow for the rest of the conferences including Big East, Big 12 and Big 10, AAC and 7 more. All this getting you ready for the most wonderful time of the year!
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