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Edinboro University & Northwestern Pennsylvania High School Journalism Competition: First Place (Daniel Anthony, Opinion Category); Fifth Place (Brendan Jubulis, Sports)

Edinboro University & Northwestern Pennsylvania High School Journalism Competition: Third Place (Website)
Student Keystone Press Awards Honorable Mention (Website)

Edinboro University & Northwestern Pennsylvania High School Journalism Competition: Third Place (Website)

College Basketball ‘Champ Week’ Preview


As college basketball is coming close to an end, the season is just getting heated up with conference tournaments and March Madness right around the corner. This week starts all of the conference tournaments, which is also known as “Champ Week.” Champ Week consists of all the conference tournaments, highlighted by the ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, and SEC conference tournaments.

The ACC seems to be having more of a down year compared to regular years, as Duke and North Carolina are not having the historic seasons fans are all used to seeing. The top teams in the conference include Virginia and Florida State. Virginia claimed the ACC regular title and the number 1 seed in the conference tournament with a win this past Saturday, and Florida State being upset by Notre Dame.

The conference still has teams with plenty of talent like Virginia Tech, Louisville, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Georgia Tech, Clemson, and NC State. Pittsburgh has one of the top players in the conference in Justin Champagnie who is averaging 18.4 points and 11.1 rebounds per game. Duke and North Carolina are two teams that seem to play inconsistent this year but have plenty of talent and leadership to make a far run.

The number 4 seed, Georgia Tech is a team that has gone under the radar the past month and are riding a six-game win streak into the tournament this week. The Yellow Jackets are led by ACC Player of the Year, Moses Wright and Defensive Player of the Year Jose Alvarado. The ACC Tournament begins Tuesday afternoon at 2 p.m. on ACC Network with Miami vs. Pittsburgh.

“There are so many [ACC] teams that could win on any night and at the same time lose on any night,” said senior Caleb Noble. “I see Virginia as a team with hope but inconsistent play, especially at point guard with Kihei Clark. Louisville is another one of those teams that can win and lose on any night”

“Everyone knows the deal with Duke and North Carolina this year being very inconsistent and non-elite teams as usual,” Caleb continued. “Duke could very well go on a 2 or 3 game run with the talent and leadership in Coach K. I see Florida State winning the tournament, and my sleeper team is North Carolina because they have so much talent. As much as I hate them being a Duke fan, I see this team—when shooting well—having the ability to beat anyone and maybe win the ACC.”

The Big Ten Tournament will be no different than the regular with big wins, huge upsets, and top teams facing off almost every game. Michigan claimed the Big Ten regular-season title with Illinois finishing right behind them in second place. Iowa and Ohio State are two teams with a ton of great players and talent.

The conference this year is loaded with so many teams capable of winning and making a run—not just in the conference tournament but in March Madness. Other teams capable of making a run include Purdue, Michigan State, Maryland, Indiana, Rutgers, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Penn State. Purdue claimed the number 4 seed in the conference over Ohio State after beating them twice in the regular season. Michigan, Illinois, Iowa, and Ohio State have all seemed like the best teams in the conference at some point during the season, and it will be very interesting to see who makes it the farthest and wins the Big Ten Tournament. The Big Ten Tournament starts Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. on Big Ten Network with Northwestern facing off against Minnesota.

“This year’s Big Ten Tournament should be crazy with many close games and upsets especially with the 4 teams in the top 10 heading in,” said junior Mason Orlando. “My sleeper team is Michigan State. They are on a streak, and I don’t see them slowing down. I’m predicting the Spartans beat Maryland and then upset Michigan, making it to the semifinals. I think the semifinal games will include Michigan State taking on Ohio State and Illinois facing Iowa. I have Ohio State and Illinois facing off in the championship game with Illinois coming away with the Big Ten Tournament title.”

The Big East this year will be a very interesting tournament with it being a fair shot for most teams in the conference to win. The top teams this year include Big East regular-season champion Villanova and Creighton finishing in the second spot in the conference. Villanova lost their best player in Collin Gilliespie due to injury last Wednesday against Creighton. Gilliespie tore his MCL in his left knee and will be out for the rest of the season. Creighton did end up beating Villanova last week and seems like they are playing very well at the right time. Creighton is led by Marcus Zegarowski who averages 15.4 points and 4.4 assists per game. Some teams that could make a run are UConn, St. John’s, Seton Hall, and Xavier.

UConn is lead by James Bouknight, co-Defensive Player of the Year Isaiah Whaley and Sixth Man of the Year Tyler Polley. St. John’s is led by co-most improved player and first-team all-Big East Julian Champagnie who averages 19.9 points per game and 7.3 rebounds per game. St. John’s freshman Posh Alexander, who was named co-Defensive Player of the Year and first-team all-Freshman in the Big East, is looking to get back on the court after being out with a thumb injury for about two weeks. The Big East tournament tips off Wednesday at Madison Square Garden on Fox Sports 1 at 3 p.m. with Marquette against Georgetown.

“The Big East Tournament will be a blast to watch this year as anyone can beat anyone. The team to watch out for is Creighton, as Villanova lost their biggest piece in Collin Gillespie,” said senior Zach Shchouchkoff. “My sleeper team is St. John’s. The Johnies are coming off of two big wins to end the season with the 4th seed. If St. John’s can get freshman point guard Posh Alexander [back], I can see this team making a big run, and will help as they are playing in one of their home arenas at Madison Square Garden.”

The SEC tournament will bring a very talented conference and a lot of electric games to the tournament. Alabama claimed the SEC regular-season title with Arkansas finishing a couple of games behind in second place. Alabama has a great team with John Petty Jr., Herbert Jones, Joshua Primo, Jaden Shackelford, Jordan Burner, and Jahvon Quinerly. This team has a ton of talent and a team that can shoot the lights out. Arkansas and Alabama split both games in the regular with each game being a lopsided win.

Some under-the-radar teams in the SEC include LSU, Tennessee, Florida, Missouri, and Ole Miss. Tennessee, who was once ranked as high as number 6 in the country during the season and beat Kansas, still has a very talented team and likely has a run in them. Florida is a team to watch out for as they finished 5th in the SEC and beat Tennessee and West Virginia when both teams were very highly ranked. The Gators are led by Tre Mann who averages 15 points per game and 3.4 assists per game. If you are wondering where usual SEC champion Kentucky is this year, the Wildcats finished 8th in the conference with an 8-8 conference record. It is uncommon for Kentucky to be in the middle of the SEC, but watch out for the Wildcats, as they will be looking to make a run with young talent this year. The SEC tournament starts on Wednesday at 7 p.m. on SEC Network with Texas A&M playing Vanderbilt.

“Alabama will win the SEC tournament as the,y are too deep,” said senior Liam Galla. “Herb Jones is one of the best players in the conference, as he should lead them to a conference title. My sleeper team is Kentucky because even though they had a very down year, you can never count them out as they are coached by John Calipari. This team has potential to hang with any team in the conference, and it is just whether the can catch fire at the right time.”

The Big 12 Tournament will be one of the best conference tournaments this year. Along with the Big Ten, the Big 12 has a lot of teams ranked that could win the tournament this year. Regular-season champion Baylor has looked the best not just in the conference but in the country this season. The Baylor Bears went through a long COVID pause in February, but they look to be back almost to normal. Baylor is led by Defensive Player of the Year and first-team all-Big 12 Davion Mitchell, first-team all-Big 12 Jared Butler, Mark Vital, Macio Teague, and Flo Thamba.

One thing that makes Baylor one of the best teams in the country is they are a top offensive and defensive team. The next team in the Big 12 is Kansas, as they have been playing well at the right time, and they are the only team in the country to beat Baylor. Kanas has David McCormack, Jalen Wilson, Marcus Garrett, Ochai Agbaji, and Christian Braun. Texas, who was ranked number 4 in the country in January, has stepped back just a little bit but will not be going anywhere in the conference tournament as Andrew Jones, Matt Coleman III, Jericho Sims, Courtney Ramsey, Greg Brown, and Kai Jones all look to get back to form and win the conference tournament.

West Virginia is led by Miles McBride, Derek Culver, and Taz Sherman. The loss of big man Oscar Tishiebwe transferring to Kentucky earlier in the season did affect West Virginia but they have since found their groove again. Oklahoma State is led by conference player of the year and Freshman of the Year Cade Cunningham. Cunningham is projected to be the number 1 pick in the NBA draft next year as well. This team is more than just one player, as they have Kalib Boone, Keylan Boone, Bryce Williams, and Avery Anderson III.

Texas Tech is led by newcomer of the year in the conference Mac McClung along with teammates Kyler Edwards, Kevin McCullar, and Micah Peavy. The last contender in this very deep conference is Oklahoma who has beaten five top-10 teams in just the month of January. The Sooners are led by De’Vion Harmon and Austin Reaves. The Big 12 Tournament tips off Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. on ESPN with Kansas State squaring off with TCU.

“The Big 12 has many great teams that can beat anyone, and I believe the matchup of the tournament will be West Virginia vs. Oklahoma State,” said senior Mac Deitrick. “Cade Cunningham leading Oklahoma State and being the Big 12 Player of the Year shows his talent. When he is not on the court, Oklahoma State shows the depth they have. This is why I believe Oklahoma State will best West Virginia. I believe the final four in the Big 12 tournament will be Baylor vs. Oklahoma State and Kansas vs. Texas. The championship will be Baylor vs. Texas, and Baylor will come out on top with the Big 12 championship.”

Champ Week is very underrated and just a preview of what is to come during March Madness. Any team can make a run in any tournament and will show who are the true contenders coming into the NCAA tournament next week in Indianapolis.

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