Who's for Real and Who's Not in NCAA Men's Basketball?

Curt HoggCorrespondent IIJanuary 25, 2009

As we have now entered and are a few weeks into conference play, basketball teams are going to get upset and dwindle while some are going to shine. Conference play is how bubble teams get into the tournament and how they fail to reach it.

It begins to become clear to us about which teams are the real deal and which are just a fluke. Here are some of my "for real" teams.

The Pittsburgh Panthers, just coming off a loss to Louisville and falling out of their No. 1 rank, have shown they have what it takes. Their trio of Sam Young, DeJuan Blair, and Levance Fields is among the best in the nation.

Earlier this week, they beat eighth-ranked Syracuse for their marquee win of the season. Look forward to their Feb. 16 matchup at Connecticut and March 4 game versus Marquette.

North Carolina suffered tough defeats to Boston College and Wake Forest within eight days, but has rebounded strongly. On Jan. 21, they crushed the previously ninth-ranked Clemson Tigers. Tyler Hansbrough is playing great basketball, and Ty Lawson and Wayne Ellington are contributing greatly as well.

Look out! Here they come!

The Duke Blue Devils, as always, are impressive. They have three wins over Top 12 opponents in Xavier, Purdue, and Georgetown. Led by Kyle Singler and Gerald Henderson, Coach K's Blue Devils go into Wake Forest on Wednesday. This is a must-watch!

The Louisville Cardinals have an incredible resume for the NCAA tournament. In conference, they have beaten ranked Villanova, Notre Dame, Syracuse, and then- No.1 Pittsburgh. The Cards are red hot and may be the toughest team to beat in the Big East.

Another underrated Big East team is Marquette. The Golden Eagles don't have much size, but are led by their trio of elite guards—Wesley Matthews, Jerel McNeal, and Dominic James. They are currently 6-0 in conference and have two tough games this week at Notre Dame and versus Georgetown.

Other "for real" teams include Oklahoma, Wake Forest, Michigan State, Texas, Arizona State, and Illinois.

The flukes are led by the Clemson Tigers. Recently known for their hot starts and icy-cold finishes, they are on that path again. They have not been competitive in games against Duke and North Carolina. A Sweet 16 berth would be as far as they would get—and I'm predicting a second-round elimination.

Another fluke is UCLA. They have failed to beat a ranked team and have suffered losses to all the top teams they have played.

Other flukes include Georgetown, Minnesota, Villanova, Baylor, and Tennessee.

Now that you have read this article, go sit down on the couch and turn on some college hoops!