Not long ago we worked in an industry that lived in mortal fear of Eliot Spitzer. Since we were near the bottom of the corporate totem pole, we always found it kind of amusing that these huge international companies cowered before a guy who seemed to have crafted his political persona watching 1940’s Frank Capra movies. So in honor of Client #9, who will undoubtedly have a lot of free time on the couch this week, herewith is our viewing guide for this week’s conference tournaments.
Pac 10 (March 12-15)
Who doesn’t care: UCLA, given their officiating as of late expect the Bruins to win Thursday night’s Oregon-Washington State game.
Why you should watch: Given the possible glut of Tourney mid-majors and the adverse effects of an ultra-competitive conference there’s the very real possibility you won’t see 2/3’s of these teams again. Which means this Tournament may be more competitive than the actual one.
Possible Spoilers: USC, Arizona State, Chris Hansen confusing Kevin O’Neill with someone else…also Cal, who seem pretty pissed off after Saturday’s “loss” and traditionally step it up right after they have been mathematically eliminated. And of course, this being Cal, that emotional run to the championship game will fall just short. This is a school whose football team was the hypothetical #1 for about a half hour this season before their quarterback ran out the clock while trying out his Paul Crewe impression. That and the Josh Shipp H-O-R-S-E shot so personify the Cal sports legacy they may be on the cover of next year’s Media Guide.
Tournament watchability: 9 out of 10, a perfect 10 if John Wooden shows up, an 11 if O.J. Simpson does, a 12 if the USC song girls get an early start on St.Patty’s Day.
Big East (March 12-15)
Who cares: Syracuse*, West Virginia, Villanova.
Who doesn’t care: The state of New Jersey.
Why you should watch: The conference that defined parity this year. A Big East team will make the Final Four. That the team could just as easily be Syracuse as Georgetown should scare the shit out of you while you fill out your bracket.
Tournament watchability: 9 out of 10. We had this as an 8 given the presence of dead weights Providence, Cincinnati, and Seton Hall (Whereas the Pac-10 Tourney will only include Oregon State, and only for the briefest of moments.) However, since the Syracuse/Villanova first round game may as well be a NCAA Tournament play-in game, and since Villanova will likely lose it on a foul called during a TV timeout, we’ll bump this up a notch.
(*This answer has been trademarked by the Orangemen until 2020.)
SEC (March 13-16)
Who cares: Kentucky. They need the win, and something to distract Andre Woodson from his plummeting draft position.
Who doesn’t care: Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Mississippi State, the rest of the country.
Tournament watchability: 2 out of 10. If the WB has nothing but “Girlfriends” reruns, if Lifetime has a “Golden Girls” marathon, if Billy Packer is calling the other Tournaments, then by all means don’t miss this. Honestly we can’t come up with a single NBA first round pick in the SEC this year, especially with Patrick Patterson out now (We dare you to name the 2nd leading scorer in the SEC, take all the time you want.) What’s important to remember is that these things are cyclical, and one day we’ll look at 2008 Player of the Year Shan Foster in the same way we do Forrest Gump, Best Picture.
ACC (March 13-16)
Who cares: Miami, Virginia Tech, Maryland, the NIT.
Who doesn’t care: North Carolina, Duke, and for some unknown reason Clemson. Let’s put it this way – Sacramento State’s non-conference schedule included Kansas State, Stanford, Oregon, and Marquette. Clemson’s included Purdue, Mississippi State, South Carolina, and Mississippi.
Why you should watch: For the insufferable and nearly inevitable UNC/Duke III, and for BC’s Tyrese Rice, who may score 50 points in the Tourney (more if his team wins a game).
Possible Spoilers: Boston College, NC State, any team that cock blocks Dick Vitale’s dream championship.
Tournament watchability: 7 out of 10 if it’s a UNC/Duke final, 6 out of 10 if Tyrese Rice is prominently involved, 4 out of 10 if none of the above.
Big 10 (March 13-16)
Who cares: Ohio State, the agents for Tony Bennett and Mike Montgomery.
Who doesn’t care: Indiana, Wisconsin, MSU, Purdue, Kelvin Sampson’s cellular carrier.
Why you should watch: If you miss the opening weekend of the NCAA Tournament, this will be the last time you see most of these teams.
Tournament watchability: 6 out of 10. All kidding aside, we can see a decent championship game and one of these teams subsequently making a run in the NCAA Tournament, if for no other reason than the Big 10 always seems to have one team that is a tough out. If Indiana loses in the first round though, it may be time for Spring football.
Big 12 (March 13-16)
Who cares: Baylor, Kansas State, we guess Texas A&M though we can’t imagine anything less than a championship win would keep them from their date with the NIT.
Who doesn’t care: Kansas, Texas, probably Oklahoma.
Why you should watch: The Big 12 has been quietly entertaining this year, with a few major upsets, a couple of really good teams (Kansas, Texas), and some of the most exciting freshmen in the country (Michael Beasley, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan). Also, if things don’t go K State’s way, we may find out how many ways Frank Martin can kill a man with his bare hands.
Possible Spoilers: Oklahoma State, Nebraska, Texas Tech, locusts.
Tournament watchability: 8 out of 10 based on the freshmen, a possible Kansas/Texas final, and Pat Knight’s attempt to bring the sweater vest back.