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Zimmer: The Jerome XXII, Week Two Picks

A decent showing the first time out makes this week make-or-break for me. Let's cut to the chase.

American: Houston

Not overthinking with Houston here. They've had a masterful conference slate, having only lost a stinker to Temple on their home floor. Their one other total loss - yes, one - was to Alabama. Not a bad season, eh?

ACC: Duke

I grappled with a few different choices for the ACC and kept coming back to the Duke Blue Devils. They're riding a 6-game win streak and I truly believe their best basketball is in front of them. A ride to the ACC Title would certainly silence plenty of critics who suggest they shouldn't be there.

A-10: Saint Louis

The Bilikens have some good wins on their resume, including Providence, Memphis, and Drake. I'd certainly be concerned about VCU and Dayton - and honestly, anyone that's still alive in the A-10 is a threat - but I'm just most impressed with SLU's body of work than any other A-10 program so far.

Big East: Marquette

The cinderella story continues for Marquette at MSG this year. Picked to finish ninth in the league, the Golden Eagles dominated their way through a loaded conference slate and ended up winning the regular season outright. Shaka Smart is under contention for Coach of the Year, and for good reason. If Marquette gets through the Providence/UConn side of the bracket, they've got a great chance to hoist the trophy in Manhattan.

Big Ten: Indiana

You can easily go Purdue here - hell, you could easily pick any of 9-10 teams in the conference - and no one would blame you. But for the Hoosiers, they won't be criticized any more; they've got some wind in their sail, and they're starting to play some of their best basketball of late. Trayce Jackson-Davis is an All-American candidate, no matter how you slice it.

Big 12: Baylor

The Bears have raised their stock in the final stretch of the season, racking up solid wins over TCU, West Virginia, and Texas. Keyontae George has been nothing short of excellent, and can certainly make a run at Freshman of the Year. Baylor hasn't yet beat Kansas, but they sure can.

Big West: UC Irvine

Irvine and UCSB were tied for the first-place post in the Big West, and Irvine owns the advantage, having gone 2-0 against the Gauchos. Now, the Anteaters are in good position to avenge the team that bounced them in last year's BW tourney.

C-USA: Florida Atlantic

FAU has spent a few weeks in the AP Top 25 (and our House of College Hoops Top 25 as well), and for good reason. The Owls have a grand total of three losses at the hands of Ole Miss, UAB, and Middle Tennessee, and have cruised over everyone else. This is FAU's conference to lose.

Ivy: Yale

Yale looks for its third NCAA Tournament appearance in five seasons. This roster is virtually unchanged from last year, only losing fan favorite Azar Swain and role player Jalen Gabbidon. Everyone else has risen to the occasion - sophomore Bez Mbeng is playing a crucial role in the Bulldogs' success. Yale has beat Princeton by a combined 32 points in the 2 games they've played this year.

MAAC: Rider

The Broncs impressed me when they nearly beat Providence at the AMP to start the year, and they held true to their body of work this year. A win over Iona was the highlight. And, of course, let's not forget who sent Iona home in Atlantic City last year...

MAC: Akron

Revenge season for Akron, who lost to Toledo twice this year. I like the Zips' completeness this season; they play good offense, lockdown defense, and hold onto the ball...all traits you need to win a conference tournament when the favorite is a team that beat you twice. Look for South Florida transfer Xavier Castaneda to carry the Zips forward.

MEAC: Howard

Howard's 10-1 stretch from January 10th to February 20th solidified them as the team to beat in the MEAC. North Carolina Central is on their tails and has beat the Bison once before, but Howard is simply scoring too much. Elijah Hawkins and Shy Odom are players to watch.

Mountain West: San Diego State

Simply put, Utah State is good, and so is Boise State, but SDSU has already proven they are too much to handle for most teams. Give me the Aztecs, who own 3 combined wins over their two biggest challengers.

Pac-12: UCLA

The Bruins split the season with Arizona, and minus a flash-in-the-pan loss to USC, they've been absolutely fantastic this year. Nobody's stopping UCLA on the west coast.

SEC: Texas A&M

Alabama, Kentucky, and Tennessee top the nation's best guesses at the SEC winner. But just as Tennessee surprised last year in the SEC tournament, Texas A&M can do the same. They already have great wins over Alabama AND Tennessee - and sophomore guard Wade Taylor has been fantastic.

Southalnd: Nicholls State

I got this one wrong, as Nicholls was a first-round exit. Shame on me. No write-up here :)

SWAC: Alcorn State

This one is between Alcorn and Grambling State. It's a team on a ten-game win streak (Grambling) vs. one that is 9-1 in their last ten (Alcorn). Ultimately, the trust is in Landon Bussie, who took a 6-13 team just two seasons ago and turned them into a strong contender for the SWAC title.

WAC: Utah Valley

The Utah Valley Wolverines take extremely high-percentage looks. It's bad news when a team takes them away, and only 3 WAC teams have dished them a loss, but Mark Madsen's group has a consistent body of work.


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