Dave's Sports Views

Analysis, humor and opinion on the sports world

Location: Dallas, Texas, United States

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Is it March?

The month of March usually means lots of talk about college basketball. Not so far this month. Go to any of the major sports news Web sites, and likely the three top stories are about baseball: the death of Kirby Puckett, the start (for the North American teams) of the World Baseball Classic, and the new revelations about Barry Bonds.

Another big story is about the NFL owners' meeting, held at an airport near me (it's much easier to sneak away without talking to the media if they don't get an agreement).

So I'm here to talk conference tournaments, but first, one word about the stories of Puckett and Bonds that have broken in subsequent days. When you treat reporters with class and make yourself accessible, as Puckett did, you're much more likely to shake off bad press. When you treat the media as if it sickens you to even look them in the eye or that they are the reason for all of your frustrations in life, as Bonds does, they're likely to come at you in waves.

The public follows behind. Check out any of the Web boards and Bonds is getting savaged while Puckett is being remembered as a statesman of the game. That's called a legacy, and while Puckett preserved his despite bad behavior, Bonds is in serious danger of losing any he might have created on the field.

Now, for some predictions for the Big Six tournaments:

Big East
The Favorite: UConn, which clearly looks like the best team in the country.
The Next Best Threat: Villanova, which split with the Huskies and is ranked No. 2.
The Dark Horse: Marquette, which beat UConn, lost a close game to Villanova and very quietly marched to the No. 4 seed in the tournament.
My Pick: UConn over Villanova in the final (a heavyweight battle goes to the top seed, but this matchup would look much less favorable for UConn in the NCAAs)

The Favorite: Florida, the impressive road win at Kentucky made the difference.
The Next Best Threat: Tennessee, the conference's most consistent team all year.
The Dark Horse: Kentucky, which might still be on the bubble and brings Elite Eight experience.
My Pick: Florida over Kentucky (Gators could go a long way in March)

The Favorite: UNC, right now this is the best team in the conference.
The Next Best Threat: Duke, if J.J. Redick can get his legs back.
The Dark Horse: Boston College, a quiet 11-5 and a rugged, experienced team.
My Pick: BC over Duke (if the Eagles can get past UNC)

Pac 10
The Favorite: Washington, the defending champion and winners of eight in a row.
The Next Best Threat: UCLA, took its first Pac 10 title in nine years.
The Dark Horse: Stanford, gets a break in opener with Arizona missing Hassan Adams.
My Pick: Stanford over Washington (one conference usually has a stunner, and the Cardinal only need win three games to do it)

Big 12
The Favorite: Texas, a team that can beat you inside or outside.
The Next Best Threat: Kansas, which has jelled into a legitimate NCAA threat.
The Dark Horse: Texas A&M, winners of seven in a row and a definite bubble team.
My Pick: Oklahoma over Texas (the Sooners aren't mentioned above but have shown a knack for winning close games)

Big 10
The Favorite: Ohio State, an NCAA number one seed potentially awaits them.
The Next Best Threat: Illinois, key players return from last year's conference champs.
The Dark Horse: Michigan State, as dangerous a No. 6 seed as any conference has.
My Pick: Illinois over Ohio State (revenge from last year's only regular season loss)



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