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NCAA Conference Tournament Preview: SEC

Place: Bridgestone Arena, Nashville

Format: 14 teams, top four teams start in the quarterfinals, bottom four teams play in first round

Top Seed: Kentucky Wildcats – Here we are again. For the third straight season, the Wildcats are the top seed in the SEC and have had another excellent season. The team has won eight straight games, including avenging their last loss against Florida. Freshmen guards Malik Monk and De’Aaron Fox lead the team. Monk is the standout scorer who scored 60 points in wins over Vanderbilt and the Gators before being held to six points in the win over Texas A&M on Saturday. Bam Adebayo leads the legions of forwards with 13.3 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks. Coach John Calipari’s team has defended the top seed in the past two seasons by taking the SEC tournament championship as well.

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NCAA Conference Tournament Preview: Pac-12

Place: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas

Format: 12 teams, top four seeds get bye into quarterfinals

Top Seed: Oregon Ducks – After advancing to the Elite Eight and bringing back the majority of their team, there was plenty of hype surrounding Oregon coming into the season. They have lived up to it by winning the competitive Pac 12 regular season championship (shared with Arizona). Forward Dillon Brooks is the leader of the team and is averaging 16.0 points. He hit a pair of game-winning, buzzer-beating 3-pointers against UCLA and California. Brooks is paired with Chris Boucher (12.1 points, 6.2 rebounds, 2.6 blocks) and Jordan Bell (10.8 points, 7.9 rebounds, 2.1 blocks) in the froutcourt. Sixth-year guard Dylan Ennis and Tyler Dorsey provide perimeter firepower.

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NCAA Conference Tournament Preview: Big 12

Place: Sprint Center, Kansas City

Format: 10 teams, bottom four seeds play in first round, top two seeds meet the teams that have already played one game

Top Seed: Kansas Jayhawks – Ho hum. Another season, another regular season championship for the Jayhawks; that makes 13 in a row. Coach Bill Self’s team has won just two of the last five tournament championships, but should be poised to win their second straight title this season. Kansas features one of the best backcourts in senior Frank Mason (20.5 points, 5.1 assists, 4.2 rebounds, 49.3 percent from 3-point range) and Devonte’ Graham (13.2 points, 4.3 assists). Freshman Josh Jackson is a superstar in the making. He averaged 16.4 points, 7.2 rebounds, 3.1 assists, and 1.6 steals. The team is a limited in the frontcourt with Landen Lucas and Carlton Bragg as the only bigs of note.

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NCAA Conference Tournament Preview: Big Ten

Place: Verizon Center, Washington DC

Format: 14 teams, top two seeds get double byes into the quarterfinals, bottom four seeds play to get into the second round

Top Seed: Purdue Boilermakers – Purdue earned the top seed in the Big 10 tournament on the back of its talented forward Caleb Swanigan. The 6-9 sophomore took a giant leap forward by averaging 18.6 points and 12.5 rebounds. He tended to take too many 3-pointers as a freshman, but improved his outside stroke to 45.5 percent. Swanigan’s development sent 7-2 junior Isaac Haas into a reserve role, but he could play a factor. The team is rounded out by Vince Edwards, Carsen Edwards (no relation), and 3-point marksman Dakota Mathias. Purdue plays the winner of the Michigan-Illinois game in the first round. The Boilermakers beat Illinois easily on Jan. 17, but lost at Michigan on Feb. 25.

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NCAA Conference Tournament Preview: Big East

Place: Madison Square Garden, New York City

Format: 10 teams, bottom four seeds play in first round, top two seeds meet the teams that have already played one game

Top Seed: Villanova Wildcats – The defending national champions did not rest on their laurels. The Wildcats have won the regular season title in each of the four seasons since the Big East reformed to a 10-team league. They have only won the Big East tournament title once in that span and were knocked off by Seton Hall in 2014 and 2016. Nova would face the Pirates in the semifinals if the Seton Hall can beat Marquette. Josh Hart has had a National Player of the Year-type season with 18.7 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 3.2 assists with excellent efficiency. The Wildcats only go seven players deep since forward Darryl Reynolds returned in the regular season finale. With a short bench, the tournament format could be tough for Villanova.

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NCAA Conference Tournament Preview: ACC

Place: Barclays Center, Brooklyn

Format: 15 teams, top four teams start in the quarterfinals, bottom six teams play in first round

Top Seed: North Carolina Tar Heels – This year’s version of the ACC has been called one of the deepest conferences in college basketball history. The conference may get 11 teams into the NCAA tournament, although some things are going to have to break right for that to happen. North Carolina has outlasted the field and last year’s national runner up is looking to win the ACC tournament for the second straight season. Junior Justin Jackson has developed into a nice scorer with 18.3 points. The team continues to boast plenty of size with Kennedy Meeks and Isaiah Hicks. Point guard Joel Berry averaged 15.1 points and 3.7 assists, but only provided 11.3 points in the six Tar Heel losses.

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Freshman Hooper Hype: De’Aaron Fox & Bam Adebayo

In my last installment of Freshmen Hooper Hype, I’ll be breaking down the next couple of top recruits, who coincidentally are both committed to Kentucky. Their recruiting class, like Duke, also boasts top-10 recruits in point guard De’Aaron Fox and power forward Bam Adebayo, two players who are very likely to be huge pieces of the Wildcat rotation this season. They, as always is with Kentucky, have big shoes to fill with the departures of Marcus Lee, Charles Matthews, Jamal Murray, Skal Labissiere, and Tyler Ulis.

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