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October 23, 2010

Roundtable: Picking the Big Six winners

At the College Basketball Roundtable each week, we ask each member of the coverage staff for his opinion about a current topic in the sport.

Today's question: Who are your picks to win each of the Big Six leagues this season?

David Fox's answer:
Probably not many surprises in my picks. Duke is the most overwhelming favorite, in the ACC. Bill Self expects Josh Selby to be eligible, and so do I; that's why I'm taking Kansas in the Big 12 over Kansas State. The Big East will be crowded at the top, but Jamie Dixon did one of the best coaching jobs in the country last season. Now that he has a more experienced group, I'm taking Pittsburgh to win the Big East. Before last week, I would have picked Purdue in the Big Ten, but Robbie Hummel's season-ending injury makes Michigan State the easy pick. In the SEC, I still see Kentucky as winning that league. Florida is probably the biggest challenger, but this is the same team that lost to Kentucky twice and was bounced from the first round of the NCAA tournament. I know most people will pick Washington in the Pac-10, but there's something about Arizona I like. Sean Miller won't have the Wildcats down for long (they did go 10-8 in the league last year) and Derrick Williams might be the best player in the conference.

Mike Huguenin's answer:
The ACC pick is easy: It's Duke -- by three or four games. The other leagues are much tougher. It looks as if Josh Selby is going to be eligible, so I'll go with Kansas in the Big 12. With Robbie Hummel out for the season, I'll go with Michigan State in the Big Ten -- and with Illinois, not Ohio State, providing the toughest challenge. In the it's-weak-again Pac-10, I'll go with Washington because of a deep and talented backcourt. In the SEC, I think Florida's frontcourt provides the difference, with the Gators edging Kentucky for the crown. Finally, in the toughest race to call, I'm going with Villanova in the Big East. The Wildcats have a lot of offensive weapons, and with Scottie Reynolds gone, there will be more shots to go around. I also think 'Nova's frontcourt will be more productive than most folks believe.

Jason King's answer:
Duke should win the ACC with ease, but the other Big Six conference races could go down to the final week of the regular season. Experience and depth makes Pittsburgh the slight favorite to win the Big East, although I think the Panthers will get a good test from Villanova, Syracuse and West Virginia. It's tough to pick against a team that has won six consecutive league titles, which is why I'm going with Kansas -- and not Kansas State or Baylor -- to win the Big 12. I'll probably change my mind, though, if Josh Selby isn't cleared to play. The most entertaining race should take place in the Big Ten between Michigan State and Ohio State. I'll take the Spartans. Much like the Pac-10 as a whole, UCLA will be much better than it was a year ago. Don't be surprised if the Bruins edge out Washington for the conference title. Even if Enes Kanter is cleared to play at Kentucky, I think Florida is the clear-cut favorite to win the SEC.

Steve Megargee's answer:
Duke's the clear-cut pick in the ACC. I would have picked Purdue to win the Big Ten if Robbie Hummel hadn't gotten hurt, but I now give the edge to Michigan State. I think Washington's the best team in a weak Pac-10 field. The other three conferences are much tougher to judge. I'm going to gamble that the NCAA allows Kansas' Josh Selby and Kentucky's Enes Kanter to play the majority of their teams' conference schedules, which would give Kansas the edge in the Big 12 and Kentucky the advantage in the SEC. The Big East is extremely wide open, but I have a gut feeling Ashton Gibbs puts Pittsburgh over the top.

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