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NCAA College Basketball News Roundup: February 16, 2024

Conference Clashes Heat Up as March Madness Looms

With just weeks until Selection Sunday, the race for conference championships and NCAA Tournament bids is intensifying. Here’s a look at some of the key storylines and highlights from around the nation:

ACC Dominance Continues

The ACC remains a powerhouse, with Duke, North Carolina, and Virginia battling for the top spot. Duke’s sensational freshman Tyrese Proctor continues to dazzle, averaging 22 points per game and hitting clutch shots down the stretch. North Carolina’s Armando Bacot, the reigning National Player of the Year, remains a force in the paint. Virginia’s defense, as always, is stifling opponents.

Big Ten Slugfest

The Big Ten is a true gauntlet this season. Purdue, anchored by 7-foot-4 center Zach Edey, is a favorite, but Indiana, led by Trayce Jackson-Davis, is a serious contender. Illinois and Michigan State are also lurking, posing major threats in the conference tournament.

Pac-12 Wide Open

The Pac-12 is packed with parity. UCLA, despite early-season struggles, is finding its rhythm behind Jaime Jaquez Jr. Arizona, always a contender, is led by dynamic guard Kerr Kriisa. Don’t sleep on Arizona State, featuring the high-scoring duo of Desmond Cambridge Jr. and DJ Horne. USC remains dangerous thanks to Boogie Ellis’ offensive firepower.

Surprise Teams Making Noise

Keep an eye on several teams making unexpected runs. In the Big East, Marquette and Xavier are exceeding expectations. Marquette’s Tyler Kolek is one of the nation’s top playmakers, and Xavier’s Souley Boum is a dynamic scorer. The SEC features a resurgent Alabama team, led by freshman star Brandon Miller. Kansas State, under first-year coach Jerome Tang, could be a dangerous Cinderella in March.

Star Power Shines Bright

This season features a multitude of potential All-Americans:

  • Zach Edey (Purdue): A dominant force in the post, Edey is a walking double-double.
  • Trayce Jackson-Davis (Indiana): A skilled big man with an expanded offensive game.
  • Armando Bacot (North Carolina): A rebounding machine who controls the paint on both ends.
  • Drew Timme (Gonzaga): The veteran big man remains a maestro of footwork and post moves.
  • Azuolas Tubelis (Arizona): An athletic forward and Pac-12 Player of the Year frontrunner.

In-Depth Analysis

Here are some key takeaways from the current state of college basketball:

  • Parity Reigns: Unlike some years, there’s no clear-cut dominant team. This makes every game exciting and unpredictable.
  • Freshman Impact: Freshmen like Tyrese Proctor and Brandon Miller are leading top programs, suggesting a changing landscape in college basketball.
  • Mid-Majors Threaten: Don’t overlook teams from smaller conferences; they can cause serious upsets.
  • Defensive Intensity: This year, several teams are built on defensive grit, showcasing the importance of stops, not just scoring.

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