With the season ending, it is time to look at the conference outlooks around the league, the focus is going to be on the Power 5 conferences. The conferences had teams that were their normal selves, teams that disappointed and teams that did something unexpected, whether it is good or bad.
Expected- Louisville– The past few seasons Louisville had been a middle of the pack team. Louisville has shown that at any given time they could make the leap to the top of the mountain and that’s what they did this year. The ACC has had many years where the conference had been strong and tough. But this year? Not so much.
Unexpected- Duke– Duke is not having a bad season by any means but they are not having the season that was expected of them. Projected to win the conference, but it didn’t happen as the Blue Devils have five conference losses this year. They lost their top 3 players to the NBA, but kept their starting guard. However, despite the good recruiting class, nothing came of it.
Disappointment- North Carolina– The last time the Tar Heels finished the season with a losing record was in the 2001-2002 season. Coming into the season ranked 9th in the country, the disappointment is shocking. The Tar Heels struggled in conference play with a majority of their wins (7) coming out of conference play.
Expected- Kansas. Kansas a favorite for winning the Big 12 is very common. They have a NCAA championship caliber team and even a Wooden Award nominee on its team by the name of Udoka Azubuike.
Unexpected- Baylor– Critics could have anticipated that Baylor would have been good this year. However, Baylor has done more than exceed expectations. The Bears had a 23-game win streak and even though they had a late season skid, they’re performance was truly a surprise. The Bears also sat at #1 in the polls for 5 weeks, which is the longest streak in the country this year.
Disappointed- Kansas State– It just seemed as if the Wildcats didn’t have enough to succeed. An entire season of disappointment for the Wildcats.
Expected- Michigan State. It’s the B1G conference and of the first names that come to mind is Michigan State. In Michigan State’s case, anything less than a winning record for the Spartans and the season is a failure. Sitting amongst the top of the league leaders isn’t anything new and this year has been tough as ever with the 1st and 8th seed separated by 3 games. The Spartans did just enough to finish tied for first in the conference at seasons end.
Unexpected-Illinois– The season came to an end maybe a tad bit too early or otherwise the Illinois would have won the regular season crown. Seeing a mediocre Illinois was normal, but this year, they were different. Illinois is a hot team and is a dark horse to win the conference tournament.
Disappointed- Purdue– Purdue went from a worrisome team to an exciting team. In the last five years, Purdue went from a team that averaged 26 wins a year to a .500 team this year. The off-season for them should be a strong one so that they can get back to their winning ways.
Expected- Kentucky – Year in and year out Kentucky has been on the throne as the king of the SEC. There have been years where the throne had been threatened but this year it was once again Kentucky sitting with the crown on.
Unexpected-Auburn– Upset losses to Alabama, Georgia and Missouri kept Auburn from reaching the top spot in the conference. Predicted to finish 6th with a .500 record in the conference, Auburn exceeded all expectations . Auburn showed that they’re a dangerous team worthy of challenging.
Disappointed- Vanderbilt– There were no expectations for Vanderbilt this season, good or bad. Vanderbilt has only three wins in conference play.
Expected- Oregon– Oregon for the last nine seasons has had at least 20 wins and 10 conference wins, so to say they are consistent is an understatement. If UCLA was not in the middle of a winning streak, Oregon would be at the #1 spot in the conference by a good margin.
Unexpected-UCLA – Slated to have just an average season the Bruins of UCLA has put together a late season push to show that they to be feared. UCLA surprisingly went from a .500 team to having a good chance of winning the conference tournament.
Disappointed- Washington – Washington went from the 2019 regular season champs to the blunder of the league. A fallout is one thing, but Washington going from 27 wins and 15 in the conference, to 5 wins in conference and 15 overall is completely different. A negative 12 game turnaround in a season is a shocker. This the second biggest turnaround in team history when the team went from 28 wins in 1952/53 season to 8 wins the following year.