The last weekend of the regular season is upon us and wouldn’t you know it, we still a few things that need to be sorted out inside the power conferences and on the national scene. Kansas sealed the deal in the Big-12 by destroying Texas last Monday. Yogi Ferrell’s clutch three-pointer in the closing seconds to defeat Iowa clinched the Big Ten title for Indiana. Xavier beat Villanova last week but loss to Seton Hall last Sunday which gave Nova their third straight Big East Crown.
The SEC, Pac-12, and ACC will decided this weekend and lucky for College Basketball fans most of the teams will compete head to head for league supremacy. Iowa and Kentucky are fading fast and will need to win a game or two in their conference tournaments to gain back some traction. North Carolina is still a bit helter-skelter while Miami is a major sleeper. Somehow, someway, Texas A&M may have righted the ship just in time to possibly clinch the SEC.
Marquee Matchups on Saturday
#17 Duke vs. #8 North Carolina
When these two teams met a few weeks ago, Duke fought thru foul problems on their way to a 74-73 victory. The Tarheels have lost 3 out of the last 4 times when facing a ranked opponent. Duke’s depth issues limited their chance to compete in the ACC. If they were to get a few key parts back in time for the Big Dance they could be very dangerous. Senior PG Marcus Paige must have breakout game to complement their strong frontcourt play. The tired and fading Blue Devils will finally run out of steam and falter in the second half. Honestly speaking, Duke was kind of lucky in their first meeting and I doubt UNC will make the same mistake of not feeding the post in the last 5 minutes of a game again.
The Pick: North Carolina beats Duke to earn at least a piece of the ACC title with Miami.
#4 Virginia vs. #11 Louisville
The Cardinals last game of the season will be a tough one in Charlottesvile, Virginia. Louisville’s prideful play this season is refreshing after finding out they were ineligible for post season play a few months back. For them this is their national title game so expect that the hall of fame coach Rick Pitino will have his boys ready for war. Each program plays a similar nasty-style of defense and both teams can score at an above-average pace. Virginia’s chances of winning an ACC title are basically done but because of a quality non-conference resume, the Cavs still have an outside chance at a #1 seed. Virginia per-usual finds a way to win a close ball game down the stretch.
The Pick: Virginia wins this tilt on the free-throw line and ends Louisville’s season on a sour note.
#22 Kentucky vs. LSU
A few weeks ago Kentucky looked poised to close out another SEC championship in fashion, while LSU continued to fall out of the bubble talk of making the national tourney. Fast-Forward to the present day and a team in LSU, shockingly still can win the SEC. LSU desperately needs a huge win to add to a thin resume and should come into this game with some confidence having already beaten the Wildcats early in the season. The Tigers will need someone other than Ben Simmons to score and Kentucky will need contributions from anyone not named Jamal Murray or Tyler Ulis. It will be a case of too much talent for the Tigers to overcome a second time around.
The Pick: Kentucky sneaks a very tight contest out with a little help from their big men and the better coaching.
#20 Texas A&M vs. Vanderbilt
Vanderbilt is the surprise team of the SEC coming in to this meaningful matchup, winners of four in a row. Texas A&M was dead in the water in the middle of February, losing 5 of 6 games. But, a buzzer-beater against Kentucky and four more wins put them in perfect position to win the SEC. Vandy completely dominated the Aggies last time out, shooting almost 51% from the field compared to A&M’s 39%. The Aggies starters were out-played and will surly muster more than a measly 32 points in the rematch.
The Pick: Texas A&M pulls out a victory and wins the outright SEC championship.
Written by Chris Carlson Host of The College Ball Show blogtalkradio.com/ropeadoperadio
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