Now that the real first round of the tournament is done (we won’t count the First Four), it’s time to see how each power conference is doing. While we all love the Cinderellas of the A-10, we’re going to focus on the big guys for now. As usual, the Big East has had a tough first two days.
Tournament Teams (4)- Duke, Miami, North Carolina, North Carolina State
Remaining Tournament Teams (3)- Duke, Miami, North Carolina
Verdict- NC State didn’t live up to the hype this year. With so much talent returning, and a highly heralded recruiting class in tow, the Wolfpack were expected to challenge for the ACC title this season. Instead, they stumbled to the finish and played on Thursday in the conference tournament. Fittingly, they lost in the first round of the NCAAs too. Duke and Miami looked strong in convincing first-round wins, while North Carolina can only hope to become more consistent after it gave up a 20-point lead against Villanova. Next up, its tournament nemesis, Kansas.
Tournament Teams (5)- Oklahoma State, Kansas State, Iowa State, Oklahoma, Kansas
Remaining Tournament Teams (3)- Iowa State, Kansas
Verdict- The first round wasn’t awful, but it wasn’t as good as it should have been for the Big 12. Marcus Smart and the Oklahoma State Cowboys looked lost against an Oregon Ducks team that, despite its decent 26-8 record, wasn’t expected to be much of a force in the tournament. Kansas State suffered a disappointing loss to La Salle, while Oklahoma was outmatched by San Diego State from the stronger Mountain West. All eyes will be on Kansas City as the Jayhawks look to continue their hot streak against former coach Roy Williams and the Tar Heels.
Tournament Teams (8)- Louisville, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Notre Dame, Villanova, Georgetown, Syracuse, Marquette
Remaining Tournament Teams (3)- Louisville, Syracuse, Marquette
Verdict- It’s been another bad tournament for the Big East, which has had very little success in the first round the past few years. Marquette barely squeaked by Davidson, Georgetown lost to tournament first-timer Florida Gulf Coast, Cincinnati couldn’t hold on against Creighton and Villanova’s comeback just wasn’t enough against North Carolina. In the last year of its current configuration, the old Big East went out in typical fashion. The lone bright spots were wins by future ACC members Louisville and Syracuse.
Tournament Teams (7)- Michigan State, Wisconsin, Ohio State, Michigan, Minnesota, Indiana, Illinois
Remaining Tournament Teams (6)- Michigan State, Ohio State, Michigan, Minnesota, Indiana, Illinois
Verdict- The Big Ten has lived up to the hype so far, having virtually no trouble with its first slate of games. Wisconsin’s early exit came at the hands of Marshall Henderson and a hot Ole Miss team who was one three #12 seeds to beat a #5 seed this year.
Tournament Teams (5)- Oregon, Arizona, UCLA, California, Colorado
Remaining Tournament Teams (3)- Oregon, Arizona, California
Verdict- If you had told me at the start of the season that UCLA would lose in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, I would have said you were crazy. Not with Shabazz. Not when they’re starting to turn things around. But the University of Carolina at Los Angeles (See Larry Drew, David Wear, Travis Wear) has just been too inconsistent, despite a late season surge. Coach Ben Howland’s place on the hot seat doesn’t look like it’s going to change anytime soon…unless he’s fired.
Tournament Teams (3) – Missouri, Ole Miss, Florida, Kentucky
Remaining Tournament Teams (2)- Ole Miss, Florida
Verdict- Where’s Kentucky? The year’s worst (major) basketball conference finished the first round almost exactly as predicted. Missouri lost early and Florida, predictably, blew out their opponent. But Ole Miss’s stunning upset of Wisconsin has the Big Ten on the clock.
So far, the 2013 NCAA Tournament has been one of the most exciting in recent years. From stunning upsets by tournament first-timers, to old-fashioned brawlers, it’s been a perfect way to end an unpredictable season. With five current, or future, ACC teams still in the mix, the conference is in a prime position to bring home another title to college basketball’s greatest conference.