Funvee Tailgate HOOPS EDITION: Championship Week Begins!

Welcome to the Funvee Tailgate! With the NCAA Tournament less than two weeks away, MARCH MADNESS HAS BEGUN! Everyone remembers the first two days of the tournament but the next 10 days are jam-packed with college basketball and are debatably just as fun. That’s right, it’s CHAMPIONSHIP WEEK! Most major conferences won’t begin their tournaments until Monday and will finish up their regular seasons this weekend but the first automatic bids will be punched. Let’s fire it up and take a look at the action for this weekend!

Major Conference Regular Season Finales:

Conference schedules are grueling nowadays. With the major conference realignment in the past few years due to that other college sport we all love, the sizes of most major conferences expanded from 12 to 14 or even 15. With that, the schedule expanded from 16 conference games to 18. Why does this matter? Well for one, it adds a degree of difficulty to strength of schedule in these major conferences and it also makes this weekend all too important. The “trap game” label is traditionally placed on college football games but it certainly still applies in college basketball. The final weekend is traditionally a second coming of Rivalry Week and that means there’s one last chance for bragging rights. Take #2 Villanova at Georgetown. Georgetown has stunk this season (14-16, 5-12 Big East) but the hatred exchanged by the two schools is legendary. Nova is good enough to demolish the Hoyas but they’re a bit banged up and can’t afford to look ahead to the tournaments ahead just yet. Other games to watch one for:

  • #19 Notre Dame at #8 Louisville at 2:00pm on CBS — A resume builder for both teams: winning boosts your seeding for the ACC Tourney and probably on Selection Sunday as well. Losing could either trip you up going into the ACC Tourney (see: Duke in 2007) or humbles you to make a run. The Cards are a solid all-around team who are looking for revenge after losing in South Bend earlier this season. Louisville wins.
  • #25 Miami at #15 Florida State at 4:00pm on ACC Network — Both schools are close in record but FSU has the edge on talent. Noles win.
  • #7 Arizona at Arizona State at 4:00pm on CBS — Similarly to Nova/Georgetown. Arizona has had a great season and ASU has stunk. The Sun Devils run primarily through guard Torian Graham. The Cats should be able to hold him up and cruise to a W. Zona wins.
  • #6 Oregon at Oregon State at 6:00pm on ESPN 2 — Had to reference this classic rivalry but the pick is easy. OSU is 1-16 in PAC 12 play. Oregon wins.
  • #1 Kansas at Oklahoma State at 6:00pm on ESPN — UPSET ALERT!!! Kansas’ has only two double-digit conference wins in Big XII play and their more recent conference road games have come down to the wire. Oklahoma State is a likely at-large team but an upset of the top team in the land would be a nice resume booster. OK State wins.
  • #17 Duke at #5 UNC at 8:15pm on ESPN — The game that never disappoints (sans 2010). Duke won the matchup a few weeks ago but has an up-and-down season. UNC looks to lock up another ACC regular season title and Duke wants to bolster the resume for the Tournament. Duke wins.

Tickets To Be Punched This Weekend:

  • Atlantic Sun: All that’s left is the championship game on Sunday afternoon between Florida Gulf Coast and North Florida. Bring back Dunk City! FGCU wins.
  • Ohio Valley: Semis are tonight: Belmont/Jacksonville State and UT-Martin/Murray State. Championship game will tomorrow night. Big fan of JSU as I have friends who are alumni there.
  • Southern Conference: Tournament begins tonight with its play-in round. The championship game will be Monday night. Shot in the dark: East Tennessee State takes home the crown.
  • Summit League: Tournament begins tomorrow night and will finish on Tuesday night. Pulling for Wentzilvania in this one: North Dakota State.
  • West Coast Conference: Similar to the SoCon, the WCC Tourney starts tonight with the play-in round and the championship game will be Tuesday night. Gonzaga is heavily favored to win the tournament but what’s the fun in picking them? Santa Clara pulls off the improbable semifinal upset and bursts someone’s bubble.

The Patroit League Semis will be this weekend after an exciting quarterfinal round last night. Top seeded Bucknell will take on the Naval Academy in Lewisburg. The Bison took down Navy 82-60 at home last week so it’s hard to expect a different result. Lehigh will travel up to Boston University, a team that twice took down the Mountain Hawks by an average of 15 points. The Mountain Hawks have been hot since they last lost at Holy Cross a few weeks ago while BU has been shaky over the last few weeks. If Lehigh can get through the Terriers, they are looking at a stellar Patriot League Championship game presumably against Bucknell (Lehigh won both games in the regular season).

Disagree with my picks? Let me know in the comments…

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