Thursday’s Den: Thoughts on college basketball

13) Big X— Four teams in top 25; is Baylor the best team in the country? If the top 68 teams in the country made the NCAA tournament, Kansas State would be the only Big X team left out. 

12) ACC— 15 teams in a league is too many; North Carolina is down this year, looks like Duke, Florida State, Louisville are by far the three best teams. Curious to see if NC State can play their way into an at-large bid. 

11) Big East— Butler, Seton Hall, Villanova are three best teams; Providence sleep-walked thru a 7-6 pre-conference slate, but started conference play 3-0. Friars are experience team #19, can they keep winning and get an at-large bid? 

10) Big 14— Michigan State is gaining momentum; Ohio State lost four of last six games after a 9-0 start. Nebraska/Northwestern are by far the two worst teams; large cluster of teams in the middle of the pack here- Juwan Howard’s Michigan team is 10-4, but 0-3 in true road games.

9) SEC— Auburn made the Final Four LY, is 14-0 TY. Florida won its first NCAA tourney game the last three years; they’re 10-4 now and headed towards playing in March again. Kentucky is getting better with each game; Eric Musselman has Arkansas at 12-2 in his first year there.

8) Pac-12— Much-improved league this year, with five top 50 teams; Colorado/Washington should both make NCAA’s. Arizona is young, talented, Oregon always gets better as the season goes on. Stanford is a surprise team, UCLA is disappointing.

7) Right now, the NCAA Tournament figures to be missing some familiar faces; North Carolina, Cincinnati, Syracuse, UCLA and Iowa State are likely NIT teams, at best. 

6) American— Memphis is a rising power nationally; Cincy/Temple/UCF are a little down, but SMU, Wichita, Houston are all good. Ron Hunter will make Tulane relevant; UConn is still a year away. Just like last year, AAC has three teams in top 50. 

5) Atlantic 14— Dayton is going to be a fashionable Final Four sleeper on Selection Sunday; VCU will be an interesting team in March. Richmond has rebounded this year; Duquesne is getting better, but Davidson/St Joe’s are down, only half of the league is in the top 100. 

4) WCC is still Gonzaga-Saint Mary’s-BYU, but Santa Clara/Pacific are on the rise, and the bottom half of the league doesn’t have any doormats. Gonzaga’s program now is what UNLV had in the Tark the Shark era 30 years ago; big fish in a small pond that attracts prominent transfers. 

3) Mountain West— San Diego State is 16-0; Aztecs missed NCAAs three of last four years. Utah State lost last three games after a 13-2 start; unclear who the 2nd-best team is. Steve Alford has Nevada at 10-6 with a totally-revamped roster. New Mexico is playing well; UNLV is a year away. Wyoming and San Jose State are terrible. 

2) Missouri Valley— Too bad Wichita State/Creighton jumped to bigger ponds- that really hurt this league. Northern Iowa is the only top 100 team right now, Evansville upset Kentucky, then lost its coach to off-court issues. Missouri State has been little disappointing. Loyola/Drake are in line behind UNI at the top of the standings. 

1) Conference USA— Six teams are 2-0 in the conference; six more are 0-2, with North Texas, Marshall 1-1. Louisiana Tech appears to be the best team; Western Kentucky won its first two conference games, but they lost big man Bassey with a leg injury. 

Author: Armadillo Sports

I've been involved in sports my whole life, now just write about them. I like to travel, mostly to Las Vegas- they have gambling there.