Jan. 19, 2004
Editor's Note -- As part of ESPN.com's college basketball coverage, Dick Vitale is addressing Fact or Fiction statements on the major conferences, continuing with the five below (other ESPN analysts and writers addressed the same statements for our Conference Fact or Fiction feature). Here is Dickie V's contribution...
ACC: Fact or Fiction
Top to bottom the ACC is the best conference in the country.
FACT -- When you look at heavyweight teams, and even the middle of the pack, the ACC has been the best conference so far this season. I give the edge over the Big 12 so far.
The best team in the ACC isn't found on Tobacco Road.
FICTION -- Duke's perimeter game is outstanding when its shooters get hot, and the Blue Devils' ability to make the 3-point shot gives them a big edge. You still have to go through Durham, N.C., to be the best. Wake Forest is certainly a threat, but the Deacons will need a healthy Vytas Danelius to win the conference. But so far, Skip Prosser has done a great job.
Big 12: Fact or Fiction
Texas Tech is capable of winning the Big 12 regular-season title.
FICTION -- The Big 12 is still too tough up top with Kansas. Texas will still be in the hunt, as will Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. While Andre Emmett is having a Player of the Year season, winning away from home is tough, and the Red Raiders haven't proven they can do that the past two seasons. Still, Tech will be a first-division team this year, and coach Bob Knight's kids will always play hard. Tech is a well-schooled club and will make the NCAA Tournament. But I don't think it will win the Big 12 title.
Missouri's off-court problems are to blame for its poor start.
FICTION -- The off-court issues are only part of the problem. The Tigers seem to have a problem with chemistry in terms of blending together offensively and defensively.
C-USA: Fact or Fiction
C-USA will receive five NCAA bids -- its highest total ever.
FICTION -- I think C-USA will get four in: Cincinnati, Louisville, Marquette and Memphis. Charlotte does have the quality wins over Syracuse and Southern Illinois, but there are losses to Alabama, George Washington and Rhode Island.
Cincinnati will regain the regular-season title it lost last season.
FACT -- Despite Louisville being right there in the race, I feel the Bearcats have that swagger back. Cincinnati's defensive toughness gives it a slight, slight edge over the Cardinals and Marquette.
WAC/MWC: Fact or Fiction
WAC: The WAC is the most wide-open race among major conferences.
FICTION -- There are several leagues that are wide open. Yes, the WAC is pretty wild when Boise State beats UTEP and then loses to Rice. Tulsa has been up and down already. While I don't think any of 10 teams could earn the NCAA berth, it'll be an interesting battle among several all the way through the conference tournament.
MWC: As early Cinderellas go, BYU is capable of reaching the Sweet 16.
FICTION -- Coach Steve Cleveland has done an outstanding job with this program, but the Cougars will have to play a lot better than they did at NC State recently in a lopsided 89-62 loss.
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