NCAA Basketball

College Hoops on Sling: It’s Conference Tournament Week!

Here it is, the last chance for some teams to make their case to the selection committee ahead of March Madness. And for some teams, it’s a chance to jockey for position with some #1- and #2-seeds hanging in the balance. Sling has enough college hoops on tap to distract you from accusations leveled at current or former presidents – whichever’s gotten under your skin.


North Carolina cemented their status as the team to beat with a 90-83 revenge victory over Duke in the regular season finale, powered by 28 points from Joel Berry. Duke was the pre-season #1 and if you ran a million simulations of the 2016-17 season, they’d be a monster team more often than not, but too many things have gone wrong this year, from Coach K’s back to Grayson Allen feet and elbows flying all over with malice aforethought. You still gotta give the Blue Devils their due, however, as they remain a very talented team and could easily win this thing. Louisville was poised to make a run, but they’ve stumbled down the stretch, though they did wrap up the season with a 71-64 win over Notre Dame. Florida State finished 3rd in the conference, but went 6-5 down the stretch, including losses to Georgia Tech, Syracuse, and Pitt. North Carolina has definitely had troubles of their own, but they’ve been the most consistent team in the conference down the stretch, and have a rock solid 1-2 punch in Berry and Justin Jackson.

Game 1 – Clemson vs NC State, Noon ET on ESPN2
Game 2 – Wake Forest vs Boston College, 2pm ET on ESPN2
Game 3 – Georgia Tech vs Pitt, 7pm ET on ESPNU

Game 4 – Syracuse vs Miami, Noon ET on ESPN
Game 5 – Duke vs Game 1 winner, 2pm ET on ESPN
Game 6 – Virginia Tech vs Game 2 winner, 7pm ET on ESPN2
Game 7 – Virginia vs Game 3 winner, 9pm ET on ESPN2

Game 8 – North Carolina vs Game 4 winner, Noon ET on ESPN
Game 9 – Louisville vs Game 5 winner, 2pm ET on ESPN
Game 10 – Florida State vs Game 6 winner, 7pm ET on ESPN
Game 11 – Notre Dame vs Game 7 winner, 9pm ET on ESPN

Game 8 winner vs Game 9 winner, 7pm ET on ESPN or ESPN2
Game 10 winner vs Game 11 winner, 9pm ET on ESPN or ESPN2

Finals, 9pm ET on ESPN


This is one top-heavy conference, with a ton of talent at UCLA, and regular-season co-champs Oregon and Arizona, before a big drop-off. But UCLA has separated themselves from Oregon and ‘Zona in the second half, thanks to the emergence of Lonzo Ball as one of the nation’s best point guards, the scoring and rebounding of TJ Leaf (16-8) and the long range marksmanship of Bryce Alford (16.5 ppg, 46.5% from 3). The Bruins have won 9 in a row, and with a victory in the conference tourney would wrap up a #1 seed in the Big Dance. Oregon was 1-1 against UCLA and won their only meeting with Arizona, so they’re in it to win it, with a balanced offense that has all five starters scoring in double digits. They had a rough week in November, getting spanked 66-49 by Baylor and then losing to Georgetown by 4, but they’re 25-2 since then. The wild card in this tourney, however, is the return of Arizona’s sophomore guard Allonzo Trier, who missed the first two-thirds of the season with a PED suspension, but helped the team to a 10-2 record down the stretch and averaged 23.3 ppg over the final four games of the regular season. He could easily throw this team on his back for a week. One thing that could hurt UCLA is that as the 3-seed in the Pac-12, they’re going to have to get past both Arizona and Oregon, but you can tell ESPN has faith in them, because only games in which they might play are being carried by the network.

Game 1 – Stanford vs Arizona State, 3pm ET on Pac-12 Network
Game 2 – Oregon State vs Cal, 5:30pm ET on Pac-12 Network
Game 3 – Washington State vs Colorado, 9pm ET on Pac-12 Network
Game 4 – Washington vs USC, 11:30pm ET on Pac-12 Network

Game 5 – Game 1 winner vs Oregon, 3pm ET on Pac-12 Network
Game 6 – Game 2 winner vs Utah, 5:30pm ET on Pac-12 Network
Game 7 – Game 3 winner vs Arizona, 9pm ET on Pac-12 Network
Game 8 – Game 4 vs UCLA, 11:30pm ET on ESPN

Game 5 winner vs Game 6 winner, 9pm ET on Pac-12 Network
Game 7 winner vs Game 8 winner, 11:30pm ET on ESPN

Finals, 11pm on ET ESPN

Big 12

The Kansas Jayhawks this past week wrapped up their 13th straight Big 12 regular season title, so, yeah, it’s safe to say they’ve got pole position for this tournament. Led by Wooden Award favorite Frank Mason III (20-4-5), who along with junior Josh Jackson (16-7-3) formed the best backcourt tandem in the country, the Jayhawks also finished the regular season atop the national rankings. But don’t sell Baylor short, as they spent time at #1 earlier in the year and though they lost twice to Kansas, it was by a total of just 7 points, but they had a rough go of it during their second time through the conference schedule, going just 5-5. And beware the Iowa State Cyclones, who a month ago beat the Jayhawks 92-89 in an overtime stunner, thanks to Deonte Burton’s monster game in which he scored 29 points, made 7 of 9 threes, grabbed 8 rebounds and had 6 steals. West Virginia finished in a 3-way tie with Baylor and Iowa State, and split their season series with both Kansas and Baylor, and play some of the best D in the country.

Game 1 – TCU vs Oklahoma, 7pm ET on ESPNU
Game 2 – Texas Tech vs Texas, 9pm ET on ESPNU

Game 3 – Iowa State vs Oklahoma State, 12:30pm ET on ESPN2
Game 4 – Game 1 winner vs Kansas, 2:30pm ET on ESPN2
Game 5 – Game 2 winner vs West Virginia, 7pm ET on ESPNU
Game 6 – Baylor vs Kansas State, 9pm ET on ESPNU

Game 3 winner vs Game 4 winner, 7pm ET on ESPN or ESPN2
Game 5 winner vs Game 6 winner, 9pm ET on ESPN or ESPN2

Finals, 6pm ET on ESPN

Big East

No team in the country spent more time at #1 than the Villanova Wildcats, the defending national champions. ‘Cats senior guard Josh Hart has been amazing this season, going 19-7-3 along with 1.5 steals per game, and shooting 40.4% from downtown. Creighton’s chances would’ve been a lot better two months ago, before senior guard Maurice Watson went down with a torn ACL on January 16 – they’ve gone 5-7 since. Butler looked to be legit after racking up wins over ‘Zona, Cincinnati, Indiana, and Villanova, but they went just 5-4 down the stretch. As good as the Big East has been this year – third-best record of any conference in the land – it’s hard to see a team with a clearer path in the tournament than ‘Nova.

Game 1 – Georgetown vs St John’s, 7pm on FS1
Game 2 – DePaul vs Xavier, 9:30pm on FS1

Game 3 – Game 1 winner vs Villanova, Noon on FS1
Game 4 – Seton Hall vs Marquette, 2:30pm on FS1
Game 5 – Game 2 winner vs Butler, 7pm on FS1
Game 6 – Creighton vs Providence, 9:30pm on FS1

Game 3 winner vs Game 4 winner, 6:30pm on FS1
Game 5 winner vs Game 6 winner, 9pm ET on FS1

Finals, 5:30pm on FOX


This is a two-team race, with the Kentucky Wildcats the clear favorites to beat out the Florida Gators and three-peat as conference tourney champs. Wildcats coach John Calipari unveiled another great freshman class, featuring Wooden finalist Malik Monk (21.2 ppg), De’Aron Fox (16-4-5) and Edrice Adebayo (13-8), and they’ve delivered, as the team went 26-5, 16-2 in the SEC. But don’t sleep on Florida, who smoked the ‘Cats 88-66 on February 4, though they lost the rematch three weeks later, 76-66. Tennessee was the only other team in the conference to upend the ‘Cats this year, winning 82-80, behind a 25-point night from Robert Hubbs III. The Arkansas Razorbacks have come on strong winning six of their last seven, though their 0-3 against Kentucky and Florida doesn’t bode well for this week’s festivities.

Game 1 – Miss. State vs LSU, 7pm on SEC Network
Game 2 – Auburn vs Missouri, 9pm on SEC Network

Game 3 – Georgia vs Tennessee, 1pm on SEC Network
Game 4 – Game 1 winner vs Alabama, 3pm on SEC Network
Game 5 – Vanderbilt vs Texas A&M, 7pm on SEC Network
Game 6 – Game 2 winner vs Ole Miss, 9pm on SEC Network

Game 7 – Game 3 winner vs Kentucky, 1pm on SEC Network
Game 8 – Game 4 winner vs South Carolina, 3pm on SEC Network
Game 9 – Game 5 winner vs Florida, 5pm on SEC Network
Game 10 – Game 6 winner vs Arkansas, 7pm on SEC Network

Game 7 winner vs Game 8 winner, 1pm on ESPN
Game 9 winner vs Game 10 winner, 3pm on ESPN

Finals, 1pm on ESPN

Watch conference basketball tournaments on ESPN and ESPN2 by subscribing to Sling Orange, on ESPNU and the SEC Network by subscribing to Sling Orange + Sports Extra, on FS1 subscribing to Sling Blue and on the Pac-12 Network subscribing to Sling Blue or Orange + Sports Extra

All stats courtesy ESPN and College Basketball Reference.

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