President Obama gets one more stab at a White House bracket this year. In the 2015 predictions, he took Kentucky. Like most. And lost.
THIS WEEK’S BEST BETS:
NCAA MEN’S TOURNAMENT PAIRINGS ANNOUNCED
Details/TV: Sunday at 2:30 p.m., Channel 2
On this important day in the life of college basketball, you’ve got to make sure all your clocks are synchronized — seriously, because daylight savings time kicks in, and unless you spring ahead, you’ll be late for the party favors going out to 68 programs.
According to those who claim to master in bracketology, there’s an unusually wide net over the four possible regional top seeds: The Big 12’s Kansas (27-4), Oklahoma (24-6) and West Virginia (24-7), the Big East’s Villanova (27-4) and Xavier (26-4), the SEC’s Texas A&M (24-7) and the ACC’s North Carolina (25-6), Virginia (26-4) and Miami (24-6).
Kansas Jayhawks guard Frank Mason III reacts after making a three-point basket against Wichita State during a third round win in the 2015 NCAA Tournament. Mason leads the Jayhawks in assists this season (4.6) while his 13.4 points a game are second to Perry Ellis’ 16.5. Kansas has won 11 straight going into the Big 12 Tournament. Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
That also gives allows some traditionally well-coached programs to lay in the weeds a bit, like defending champion Duke (22-9), Kentucky (23-8), Indiana (24-6) and Michigan State (26-5) – the latter of which has an interesting case. The Big Ten Spartans, No. 1 in the AP polls from weeks 5-8 as they built a 13-0 mark, fell back for a while but returned to No. 2 in last week’s writer ratings. But according to the latest Ratings Percentage Index (that’s RPI, people, keep up here) the Spartans are just somewhere between the 10th and 20th spots. Yet, on the Basketball Power Index (BPI), which might do a better job judge how a team has performed beyond wins and losses and how “powerful” it likely will be going forward, Michigan State is solid at No. 4.
Oregon (25-6), meanwhile, came into last week No. 4 in the RPI, with Utah (24-7) at No. 8, so if either emerge with the Pac-12 title, there’s a strong chance they could land a No. 2 seed and stay in the West (Spokane the first two games, then to Honda Center in Anaheim).
In this open field, remember that we’re also going to pass on Rick Pitino’s Louisville (23-8, No. 11 in the latest AP poll) and Larry Brown’s SMU (25-5, No. 24) because of a post-season ban. And Ben Simmons of LSU (18-13) may be everyone’s lock as the first overall NBA draft pick this summer, but the Tigers are on the verge of missing a spot – just as Simmons is now ineligible for Wooden Award consideration.
Conference finals to note:
ACC (Sunday, 12:15 p.m., ESPN)
Big Ten (Sunday, noon, Channel 2)
SEC (Sunday, 10 a.m., ESPN)
Sun Belt (Sunday, 10 a.m., ESPN2)
Atlantic 10 (Sunday, 9:30 a.m., Channel 2)
Big East (Saturday at 2:30 p.m., Channel 11)
Big 12 (Saturday at 2 p.m., ESPN)
Conference USA (Saturday, 11:30 a.m. FS1)
PAC-12 CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT QUARTERFINALS
USC vs. UCLA
At MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Wednesday at 6 p.m., Pac-12 Network
BIG WEST CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT QUARTEFINALS
LONG BEACH STATE vs. UC RIVERSIDE
At Honda Center in Anaheim, Thursday at 8:30 p.m., Prime Ticket
WEST COAST CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT SEMIFINALS
PEPPERDINE vs. SAINT MARY’S
At Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, Monday at 6 p.m., ESPN
THE REST OF THE WEEK:
The Kings take on former teammate Justin Williams and Washington on Wednesday (Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., FSW) … Cleveland and LeBron James face the Lakers (Thursday, 7:30 p.m., TNT) and Clippers (Sunday, 12:30 p.m., Channel 7) during an L.A. swing … The 79th Santa Anita Handicap is on Saturday … More at this link.