The regular season is right around the halfway point, and despite conference play only being a few games in, it’s already somewhat clear which teams are going to be vying for a conference title. In most cases, teams that have been at the top of the league for the past few years will be the usual players when it comes to the regular season title.
In the ACC, Virginia continues to roll along with an undefeated record. Virginia Tech is the only other team undefeated in conference play, but those two teams will play tonight, leaving just one undefeated. After escaping on the road against Florida State over the weekend, Duke lost at home to Syracuse. Despite the misstep, Duke figures to be the team that pushes Virginia to the line. One of those two teams will take the regular season crown.
In the Big Ten, the Michigan schools look to be head and shoulders above the rest of what is a very strong league. Michigan and Michigan State do not play until the doing so twice in the last three games of their respective seasons. It looks like those two games will most likely be the deciding factor when it comes down to which of the two will earn the regular season crown (or share it).
After last week’s loss and the injury to Azubuike, Kansas looked vulnerable. I wouldn’t bet against the Jayhawks however. Yes, Texas Tech looks a lot better than most thought they would at the beginning of the season, but Kansas should earn another Big 12 title. The Red Raiders look like the only team that might keep the regular season race close down the stretch.
Villanova had dominated the Big East in recent years and this season looks no different. The Wildcats are the only team undefeated in league play yet again. Marquette is the only other team with just a single loss and will be Villanova’s primary challenger in the conference, but expect Villanova to capture another Big East crown.
In the SEC, there remains still a handful of teams who haven’t suffered a conference loss yet. However, Tennessee looks like the only team with staying power. Ole Miss has definitely surprised thus far, after being picked to finish dead last in the SEC, they have just two losses all year and beat potential tourney teams in Auburn and Mississippi State last week. I don’t see that over-achievement lasting all year and think Kentucky will be the challenger to Tennessee taking home a second consecutive regular season title.
The Pac-12 conference has been abysmal all year long and could end up being a one bid league. I think they will get two teams in when it’s all said and done this year, and it’s those two teams that will be vying for the regular season crown: Arizona and Washington. As of now, I’d give the slight edge to Arizona as the favorites in the league.
First Four Out: Butler, Creighton, San Francisco, Clemson
*Large conference winners are in bold.
16. Arkansas Pine Bluff/Norfolk State/
8. Ohio State
13. South Dakota State
7. Florida State
16. Sam Houston State/UMKC
9. Seton Hall
5. North Carolina State
11. Kansas State/Minnesota
3. Virginia Tech
7. Ole Miss
10. St. John’s
2. Texas Tech
8. Mississippi State
13. UC Santa Barbara
14. Texas San Antonio
16. Northern Colorado
11. Murray State
3. North Carolina
14. Stony Brook
7. Iowa State
2. Michigan State