Mar 15

Championship Sunday is Set!

Posted By:Brett Haynes  Tags:

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When we go to bed tonite, 65 teams will have visions of cutting the nets down in Detroit on April 6. But a handful of other teams will feel the bitter pain of disappointment. The storylines are many already, and there will be more after the conference championship games today, and the selection show this evening. Fans, you are smack-dab in the middle of March Madness!

Throughout the season, the ACC and the Big East have gone back and forth over the top conference label. Many believe, as the regular season closed, that the Big East had become a slightly stronger conference, with six teams in the top 25 compared to five for the ACC. With Louisville (28-5) winning the Big East title last night over Syracuse (26-9), they will almost certainly receive a number one seed. The question now is will the Big East get another number one seed through Pitt (28-4) or UConn (27-4), or is one team per league as a one seed the limit?

And in the ACC, will they even get a number one after all of the great talk all season? The Tar Heels of UNC (28-4), who went into post-season play as the top team in the country, fell to Florida State (23-8) in the semi-finals of the ACC tournament. But that was just one loss, and the Heels should still receive a number one seed based on the quality of play they showed throughout the course of the season. However, the FSU loss does show the balance that the league displays and that teams like UNC can go down. The 'Noles should receive a three seed or better after reaching the ACC finals - winning it could get them a two seed. The x-factor in this plan is Duke. If the Blue Devils (25-6) can win the ACC title today, they could become a number 1 seed themselves and jeopardize UNC's chances - or at least maybe send the Heels traveling. The possibities are endless.

Also, many teams sit on the bubble of getting in or watching at home. Virginia Tech got burned very badly a year ago, and sit in almost the same positoin again this season. I would like to see the Hokies get in as I think they are a very solid club. They took UNC to the buzzer in the ACC quarters, but were 7-9 in ACC play.  A losing conference record will not help. South Carolina is another team on the bubble in their first season under Coach Darrin Horn. The Gamecocks sit at 21-9 overall and have a solid 10-6 SEC record. I feel the Gamecocks deserve a bid. Other teams on the bubble include Maryland, Providence, Michigan, Florida, Arizona, and many others. The championship games of today will have a lot to do with who makes it and who does not as the ripple effect will trickle down.

ACC Title Game - Atlanta, GA - 1:00 - Raycom/ESPN

#22 Florida State Seminoles vs. #9 Duke Blue Devils - This game features a team in Duke that has wn this trophy seven of the last eleven years, and FSU, a team that will be playing for this trophy for the first time. But you can throw all of that out of the window once the ref throws the ball up in the air. These two teams are both athletic and well coached, and I see no way this game wont go down to the wire.

I think Florida State is a very strong basketabll team with all of the tools necessary to win this game. But I think in the end, in a real close battle, Duke and Coach K will find a way to do it. The Blue Devils may not fair so well in the national tournament as of late, but they are very tough to take the ACC title away from. In a classic, I am going to go with Duke, 85-81.

SEC Title Game - Tampa, FL - 1:00 - CBS

Mississippi State Bulldogs (22-12) vs. Tennessee Volunteers (21-11) . If I were an honest man, I would have to say I'm not familiar enough with either team to make a prediction on who will win this ballgame. I do know that the SEC was wide-open this season, and two teams with double-digits in the loss column have reached the title game. I'm not saying the basketball is bad, just competitive.

So for a prediction, I will go with Tennessee as a gut first feeling. Bruce Pearl is a solid coach and I feel his team will win this on the way to a five to seven seed in the NCAA tournament. This game will be on head to head against the ACC title game, so I will have to catch what I can of it....Tennessee, 80-70.

Big 10 Title Game - Indianapolis, IN - 3:30 - CBS

Ohio State  Buckeyes (22-9) vs. #24 Purdue Boilermakers (24-9) . Again, just being honest, I havent watched enough of these teams to make an honest prediction (I will anyway). I am a football freak, but in basketball, I tend to stick to the ACC. With that said, I know from past NCAA tourneys that the Big 10 does fairly well and is a good basketball conference.

I will go with Purdue in this one. The record they bring in is just a hair better, and I can see OSU choking in a big game (wait, wrong sport...). Let's go with the Boilermakers in another close one, 65-63.

So there you have it folks, a breakdown of the big day ahead. The Main-Event though is probably the ESPN Sportscenter and Bracketology show starting at 6:00 pm...Have a great Sunday!

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