This is what you came for. Big Dogs on the Big Stage, who is going to show up and who is going to be forgotten. March is where legacy is made. But whose? I did write this a couple days ago, so odds may be subject to change.
Big Ten-Illinois +380 (Michigan +2100)
My problem with the Big Ten is I know too much, and that doesn’t help when the field here is so wide open. Wisconsin, Purdue, Iowa, Michigan State, Ohio State, Rutgers, and Indiana are all on the table to be in the tournament along with my two picks for this chip Illinois and Michigan. Illinois is the best all around team in the Big Ten, Wisconsin wasn’t really supposed to be here, but they have Johnny Davis and Purdue has Jayden Ivey. But Illinois and Michigan have the true outliers in collegiate ball with Kofi Cockburn and Hunter Dickinson. They are unstoppable forces that control the paint and have to be doubled, the issue is when you double down there’s shooters at every position around them. Illinois has taken down all tasks this season and have struggled with consistency with Curbelo’s injury but I see them figuring it out as the season comes to a close and taking this one.
Big 12-Baylor +220 (Kansas +260)
Shocker to see Baylor and Kansas I know. Baylor has been one of the favorites to win the National Championship since before the season started and not much has changed. 4 game win streak, an efficient offense, an efficient rough defense, they dominate the glass, they do everything right. The Big 12 isn’t easy to come out of but they are the favorite for a reason. That being said, Kansas as the #2 option is great value and there’s no real reason to think they don’t have a reasonable chance to win this thing either. Ochai Agbaji seems to be the Big 12 player of the year, an impressive feat and similarly the same idea. Efficient everything and a very tough team to beat at any point in the season, especially March.
Pac 12-Arizona -135 (UCLA +250)
Arizona just got done walloping USC at USC so I think that convinced me. 16-2 in the conference when there’s debatably 4 other tournament teams is pretty impressive. Arizona has also just been overall dominant. They have 4 guys who average double digits and a beast 7 footer down low in Christian Koloko that patrols with 3 blocks per game. They have only lost 3 games total this season which is just insane. That being said if they don’t win, UCLA will probably be the next best option, they have so many elite players and have practically the same team that went on the Final Four run last year.
SEC-Auburn +270 (Arkansas +700)
SEC is wide open. Very streaky teams throughout the top half and the mid-tier teams all have a guy that could push a team onto the next one. While I think healthy Kentucky(+) is the best team in this conference, I don’t have them winning this tournament. Arkansas is the streakiest team and catch runs when they happen. An experienced team that has won 13 of their last 14 and are seemingly figuring it out down the stretch will have some of the longer odds at +. However, Auburn has Jabari Smith who will be a top player in the NBA Draft later this year and Walker Kessler who flies under the radar because of UK Center Oscar Tschiebwe’s dominance. Walker Kessler averages nearly 5 blocks a game. They have 4 players who average double digits and force turnovers regularly. Auburn is a very good team and is one of the only teams that I am confident can beat every team in the SEC.