Watch for upsets
Todd M. Adams
Three teams are better than everyone else — Kentucky, Syracuse and North Carolina. But they all could get upset.
First is Syracuse, just because of the strength of the Big East. Marquette is a dark-horse national-championship contender, and five other teams — Notre Dame, Georgetown, Cincinnati, South Florida and Louisville — have the talent to get hot.
North Carolina would be next, just because Duke is in the bracket. Kentucky is much better than anyone else in the SEC.
The other two leagues are more up in the air. Wisconsin always is a solid tournament team, so I'll take the Badgers in the Big Ten. And maybe the recent controversy will bring UCLA together. I'll pick the Bruins in the Pac-12.
Kentucky a no-brainer
The Big East's gantlet is tougher to navigate than the NCAA tournament. The Pac-12 is historically weak, while the ACC and Big Ten each showcases two potential No. 1 NCAA seeds.
The only no-brainer here is Kentucky in the Southeastern Conference, and with a freshman-laden roster led by presumptive All-American Anthony Davis, who's to say the Wildcats can be completely trusted?
So here goes the rest of the docket. ACC: Duke (10 titles in last 13 years). Big East: Marquette (13 wins in last 15 games). Big Ten: Ohio State (wins last week at Northwestern and Michigan State). Pacific-12: California (Jorge Gutierrez is the league's player and defensive player of year).
Marquette will surprise
Don't expect many surprises in the SEC. Kentucky will keep rolling as if it's still the regular season. The Big East always is filled with surprises and this season's big winner will be Marquette, which beat Louisville and Georgetown this season. Syracuse is the obvious favorite but it has to lose at some point, right?
No one can stop North Carolina in the ACC, especially after its regular-season-ending confidence booster against Duke. The Big Ten would have belonged to Michigan State but Branden Dawson's injury sets back the Spartans and opens the door for Ohio State.
The Pac-12 is a one-bid NCAA tournament league and the team advancing will be Oregon.
Favorites ... and Oregon
Los Angeles Times
ACC: North Carolina. The Tar Heels finally are playing like a top-seeded team and serious threat to win the national title.
SEC: Don't look behind you, UCLA fans, because Kentucky is primed and poised to win its eighth NCAA title.
Big East: Syracuse is clearly the best team and doesn't seemed bothered by swirling controversy.
Big Ten: A devil on my shoulder tells me to predict Northwestern will claim its first NCAA tournament bid. Common sense says this is a three-team race among Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State.
Pac 12: This is a football league so let's go with USC pulling off the tournament upset. Oh, wait, USC basketball is terrible. Let's go with Oregon.