The time has come in college hoops when conference battles begin to take their toll. Duke (where I attend grad school) starts its ACC schedule Saturday vs. Virginia Tech. With this in mind I am taking stock of which teams I think can pull through the tough conference battles and secure #1 seeds come March.
UCLA- I hate to admit this because Vegan Viking is an existential fan of this baby blue and gold team, but UCLA is good. Real Good. The way I see it there are 4 games that pose threats to UCLA: 2 games vs. Arizona and 2 games vs. Oregon. I personally think UCLA ends the year with 1 or 2 losses and winds up with the best #1 seed.
Ohio State- I hate Big Ten Basketball, but one thing is for certain when it comes to this type of basketball. You need a solid backcourt and a big man to survive the battles. Ohio State has "the" big man in college basketball in Greg Oden and their backcourt is pretty solid. I think they will finish the season with 5 losses, but they will be the Big Ten champs and will get the lowest #1 seed.
Florida- The defending champs scare me. They scare me because they can be wildly inconsistent. This team is good and I see them taking the SEC and ending the year with 4 losses and claiming the 3rd best #1 seed.
UNC- Go to hell Carolina! Go to hell! Okay now that I got that out of my system, this team is good. They are young, but Hansborough is a very mature Sophomore and Rashaun Terry brings veteran leadership. To tell the truth UNC's first 5 of the bench could keep up with almost anyone in the country. The ACC season is always a battle, but I think UNC will come out with only 2 losses and will wrap up the 2nd #1 seed.
Wisconsin- Wisconsin is an althletic team with a good inside presence. They could easily challenge Ohio State for the Big Ten championship, but I think they could be suprised by some lesser quality teams in the Big Ten. Wisconsin could end up a #1 but I see them as a #2 or #3 right now.
Arizona- They easily could make the Pac 10 the holder of two #1 seeds. Budinger is an exciting player to watch.
Kansas- I will say one thing. Come tourney time I do not want to see Kansas on Duke's side of the bracket. They may be inconsistent, but when this team gets hot they are killer. Their backcourt is amazing. I think they will end up with a #2 seed, but they easily could make it to a #1 seed.
So you might be wondering why I haven't listed Duke as a second tier team. Duke is a very young team, but they have experience. Their defense is amazing this year, but their offense has yet to click. Duke could suprise and end the year with only 4 or so losses and they always seem to walk away with the ACC tourney so they could be a threat, but the realist in me thinks Duke will end the year with 6 losses and will be a #3 seed.