Here are some contenders and pretenders as March looms on the horizon
Photo courtesy of sbnation.com | Freshman sensation Trae Young is leading the nation in both points and assists per game, but is it enough to lead his Sooners on a tourney run?
As we transition into February, conference championships and March Madness for the college basketball season are just a short month away.
But in a season that has yet to see a single clear-cut favorite to make a championship run in March, you may be wondering who actually has a chance to make some noise in the big dance.
Right now we will discuss just that, looking at who the “contenders” and “pretenders” are for the college basketball postseason.
CONTENDER: Virginia Cavaliers
As the saying goes, “Offense sells tickets, but defense wins championships.”
As the frontrunner for the ACC title, Virginia has one of the most dominant defenses in college basketball not only this year but also in recent college basketball history.
This stifling defense, matched with a fairly consistent offense, gives the Cavaliers a great chance to be in San Antonio for the Final Four.
PRETENDER: Auburn Tigers
Sure, Auburn has only lost two games, but exactly who has it played that’s good? 11 of the Tigers’ 21 wins have come against teams that are sub-100 in the RPI.
Along with that, Auburn has the second worst strength of schedule within its conference (67th in the nation).
In order for the Tigers to gain some respect, they’ll need to beat more teams than just their subpar SEC opponents.
CONTENDER: Seton Hall Pirates
I know Xavier fans and J.P. Macura may not agree with me on this but hear me out.
Seton Hall this year is in a very similar situation that Xavier was in last year: a veteran-loaded team that had high preseason expectations it hasn’t lived up to yet still show signs of being a great team every now and then.
If the Pirates can string a few wins together at the end of the season and find a spark in the Big East Tournament, do not count them out of making a deep tournament run with whatever seed the committee gives them.
PRETENDER: The Big 12 Conference
In most recent projections, the Big 12 has as many as seven teams being projected to make the NCAA Tournament, but this does not mean any of those teams will make a deep run.
Yes, Trae Young and the rest of the conference can score a lot of points but that won’t get you anywhere without a good defense because shooting can go cold at any minute.
Only three teams in the conference are ranked in the top-20 of defense efficiency.The other seven are not even close to having a good rating.
The Big 12 may be flashy and fast, but I would advise you to not buy into the hype.
CONTENDER: Saint Mary’s Gaels
My sleeper pick for a tournament run comes from the West Coast Conference and is currently ranked 11th in the nation: the Gaels of Saint Mary’s.
Currently boasting a 12-0 conference record and 23-2 overall record, the Gaels are in position to take the WCC title.
That is contingent upon a victory for the second time this year against their rival Gonzaga.
The Gaels are also a frequent NCAA Tournament team, so don’t be alarmed if they surprise some teams when it comes March.
PRENTENDER: North Carolina Tar Heels
The defending National Champions are aiming to repeat, but it’s going to be a struggle to do so.
Even with the championship-caliber players of Luke Maye and Joel Berry II, the Tar Heels have just not been able to put it together this year.
Battling inconsistency all season long from their veteran leaders, seven losses has North Carolina not looking primed for another title run come March.
By: Colin Cooper ~Staff Writer~