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Ogre: Batman
I've decided to break down some conferences up to this point in the season, revealing my picks for Favorite, Sleep, Surprise and Disappointment.


Favorite: Duke

Throughout the season, Duke has proved again and again they are the team to beat in the ACC. Duke sits atop the ACC at 6-2, and has been a constant Top Ten team this season. Led by National POY candidate Jon Scheyer and talented players of Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler, Duke looks like a lock as ACC champ.

Sleeper: Virginia

Hear me out. While other teams may be flashier picks to challenge Duke (Clemson, Georgia Tech, Maryland, etc) none are quite the sleeper Virginia is. Virginia is currently tied for second in the ACC at 5-2, which is impressive. Virginia has proven they can get tough wins on the road (UNC, NCST) but they are an impressive 11-2 at home this year. And they get to play Duke at home. If Virginia can keep playing solid basketball, they have a real shot of knocking off Duke on 2/28 and making a run for the regular season ACC title.

Surprise: Virginia

Picked to finish second to last in the ACC (at the ACC Operation's Basketball Media day), Virginia is now sitting strong tied for second. If they keep up their impressive play, a team that was picked to fail could be headed for the NCAA Tourney.

Disappointment: UNC

Is there really any other choice? Defending national champion UNC has possibly fallen out of the tourney and into the NIT. UNC has dropped 6 of the last 8 games, and is only 2-5 in ACC play, third worst in the league. UNC went from conference title contender to NIT bound in January, and are easily the most disappointing team in the ACC. Oh how the mighty have fallen.

Atlantic 10:

Favorite: Temple

Although Xavier has one more win in A10 play, Temple is the team to beat. Temple gave Xavier their only A10 loss this year, and have only lost at Charlotte. A 19-4 season (losses: at Georgetown, neutral court vs. St. John's, vs. Kansas, at Charlotte), Temple has the best record in the conference, and has played like the team to beat. After proving they can beat Xavier and playing Charlotte close, Temple is by pick as the favorite in the A10.

Sleeper: Richmond

Richmond is quietly tied for third in the conference. They get Temple at home today, go to Rhode Island on Wednesday and eventually go to Xavier on 2/28 and Charlotte on 3/06. Those four games are all against the teams above Richmond, and if Richmond can pull off wins (they are playing pretty well right now) there could be a surprise A10 champion.

Surprise: Charlotte

Picked to finish third to last in the conference, Charlotte is sitting tied for second and with only one loss in conference play. Upset wins over Louisville and Temple are impressive, and Charlotte has more opportunity to surprise with games against Xavier and Charlotte still left. This season Charlotte has risen from the basement of the A10 and could be tournament bound come March.

Disappointment: Dayton

Dayton entered the season a fringe top 25 team, and now is a fringe bubble team. Dayton, at 1-2 against top 25 teams and 4-3 in the A10, has looked nothing like the team predicted by many to be the A10 champion. Two of their losses have come against Xavier and Rhode Island, teams they should be competing with for the A10 title but are instead burying them in the conference standings.

Big 12

Favorite: Kansas

What was formerly a two horse race became a 3 horse race for a while with Kansas State's win over Texas, but Kansas solidified itself as the number one team when it went into Manhattan and beat KState. Kansas is the number one team in the nation, and the favorite in the Big 12.

Sleeper: None

There are no sleeper teams in the Big 12. Everyone knows which 3 teams have the best chance of winning, and most of the other teams are just competing for a tourney bid. Every other team with a shot has lost at least two games to the top 3 (aside from Baylor, who still has to play Kansas). Texas A&M (tied for third) may seem to be a sleeper, but dropped games to Texas and Kansas State already.

Surprise: Baylor

It seems a theme is developing. Baylor is yet another team picked to finish third to last in their conference, yet is battling for an tournament bid. Baylor sits at 4-3 in conference play, with an overall record of 17-4. Not bad for a predicted basement dweller.

Disappointment: Oklahoma

Despite losing the Griffin brothers, Oklahoma was picked to finish 3rd in the Big 12 this season. Oklahoma hasn't come close to third, and right now is struggling at 3-4 and 8th in the conference. The entire season has been a disappointment, as Oklahoma and Willie Warren can't quite get by without the Griffin brothers.

Big East

Favorite: Syracuse

Yes, this is a slightly homer choice, but they trail Villanova by one conference loss, and Villanova trails Georgetown right now and looks like they are going to lose. Many people believe Syracuse is the real deserving choice to be the number 2 team in the nation, and as such they should be the favorites to win the Big East. Syracuse has just as good a chance as Villanova, but I think Syracuse will come out on top.

Sleeper: Georgetown

If they hold on and beat Villanova, Georgetown will prove they can compete against some of the top teams in the nation (they beat Duke). Although they lost to Syracuse, one has to think Georgetown would enter the rematch at home better prepared and out for revenge. If Georgetown keeps playing solid and their states do not wear down, they could make a surprise Big East title run.

Surprise: Syracuse

Although USF and Pitt are both deserving choices, Syracuse is arguably the biggest surprise in the nation. With the loss of their top 3 Scorers, Syracuse was picked to finish 6th in the talented Big East. Wes Johnson and company have blown up that notion, and now Syracuse is talked of as a national title contender. Not a bad improvement, wouldn't you say?

Disappointment: Connecticut

Despite losing 3 key players. Connecticut was predicted to finish third in the loaded Big East being powered by guards Dyson and Walker. Instead, Connecticut has faltered, and is now 3-6 in conference play and 12th in the conference. At this point, it would appear that Connecticut is now headed for the NIT along with UNC. Easily the disappointment of the Big East.

Big Ten:

Favorite: Michigan State

Sparty is strong again this season after their runner-up performance last season. They have come back strong, with a 19-4 (9-1) record this season, and appear to be a competitor come tournament time. Only one team has challenged them so far in Big Ten play, and that team is next on my list.

Sleeper: Wisconsin

Wisconsin is one of 4 teams tied for second in the Big Ten at 7-3. I feel like Ohio State and Purdue aren't as big of sleepers as Illinois or Wisconsin. I picked Wisconsin mainly for two reasons: They are the only 7-3 team to beat Michigan Sate, and they are a perfect 13-0 at home this season. Wisconsin can stay with any team in the Big Ten, and at home they are lights out. As such, they are my sleeper team.

Surprise: None

Realistically, all is as it should be in the Big Ten. Michigan State leads the race, with teams like Purdue and Ohio State nipping at their heels. Wisconsin and Illinois are both sleeper teams, while Minnesota and Northwestern are solid bubble teams. Indiana, Iowa and Penn State are in the basement. No team in the Big Ten has varied from preseason expectations in the Bit Ten, save one...

Disappointment: Michigan

What went wrong in Ann Arbor? Coming off of a season where they won a game in the tournament, Michigan was predicted to be a top 25 team and make another appearance, possibly even a run. That proved far off the mark, as Michigan is now 11-11 (4-6) and near the bottom of the Big Ten. Michigan's season of hope turned into one of disgust as Michigan has constantly lost to teams they should have beat, and twice had a 3 game losing streak. So much for tourney dreams.

Conference USA:

Favorite: UTEP

In the pre season, Tulsa and Memphis were the two picks to win C-USA this season. As the season has worn on, UTEP emerged as a contender. Tied for the C-USA lead at 7-1, UTEP has beaten better teams than Tulsa up to this point. Wins over Oklahoma, Memphis Houston and UAB all contribute to UTEP being the force in C-USA this season.

Sleeper: UAB

Tied for second in C-USA at 6-2 is UAB, who was at one point one of the hottest teams in the nation (winning 10 straight and 17 of 18). Their two most recent losses are against UTEP and Memphis, but UAB has the talent to make up for those losses in the final two games of the season. If they are still close in the conference race, beating UTEP and Memphis could give them the conference title and momentum entering the conference tourney.

Surprise: UAB

UAB lost 4 of their top 7 scorers, and were supposed to have a rebuilding year. Predicted to finish 10th, UAB sits tied for second, and drastically over-achieving.

Disappointment: None

This season, almost every team (aside from UAB) is around where they were predicted to be in the pre season. No team has disappointed its predictions, as 5 of the predicted top 6 are actually in the top 6 (SMU predicted 6 is now 8). This season has gone as planned for the most part.

Mountain West

Favorite: BYU

At one point the hottest team in the nation, BYU sits atop the MWC with a 22-2 (7-1) record. BYU has beaten many talented teams, and looks to be a threat come tournament time. In the power heavy MWC this season, BYU should take the conference title.

Sleeper: San Diego State

San Diego State is currently 4th in the MWC at 5-3, but could change that down the stretch. SDSU has games left at New Mexico (won first meeting), vs. UNLV (lost first) and vs. BYU (lost by 2 first meeting). SDSU has a legitimate shot at winning in all three of those games, and if they do, they could find themselves champions of the MWC.

Surprise: New Mexico

Picked to finish 5th in the conference, New Mexico has spent most of the season battling BYU for the claim of best team in the MWC, including spending time in the top 25. New Mexico is tied for second with a 6-2 conference record, and is 20-3 overall (the only non conference loss at Oral Roberts). New Mexico has had a pleasantly surprising season so far.

Disappointment: Utah

Utah is a disappointment, but not that big of one. Picked to finish fourth in the conference (ahead of New Mexico), Utah now sits 6th with a lackluster 3-5 record, and hasn't come close to competing for the MWC title.


Favorite: Kentucky

Kentucky is considered one of the top four teams in college basketball, and after dismantling Vanderbilt last weekend, the SEC title is Kentucky's to lose.

Sleeper: Tennessee

While most of the nation was hailing Vanderbilt as the team to challenge Kentucky, Tennessee was beating Florida and moving into 3rd in the SEC. Tennessee has proved it can beat top level teams (see: Kansas) and aside from Georgia has no bad losses. Tennessee has been quietly consistent, and could surprise some people in the conference tourney.

Surprise: Alabama

Picked to finish second to last in the SEC in a rebuilding year, Alabama has achieved a 13-9 (3-5 record) and is 9th in the conference. While they may not be achieving expectations by huge margins, Alabama has been solid and better than expected in a rebuilding year, and could do even better next season.

Disappointment: LSU

A 27 win season last year was great, but with the departure of 4 key players expectations weren't great for LSU. Few saw a 9-13 season coming, even fewer predicted LSU to be 0-8 in conference play. LSU is one of the doormats of the SEC this year, something that has to be disappointing following last season.


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