Welcome to The Pulse, the place to find out what the sports world is thinking. Every day on ESPN.com, SportsNation registers its opinion on a wide range of topics by casting votes and chatting with experts in The Show. We collect the daily highlights and put them in The Pulse.
Story of the Day: College Hoops Crazy
If the definition of insanity is repeating the same behavior and expecting different results, it's no wonder March Madness is an annual affliction for college basketball fans.
As January comes to a close and teams make the turn for home in conference play, fans from Durham, N.C. to Spokane, Wash. think this is the year their favorite team will cut down the nets and bring home a national championship. And though most of those dreams will meet an unfortunate end, if the team is even fortunate enough to make the NCAA Tournament, SportsNation is starting to heed the siren's song of college basketball.
By the time the Steelers and Seahawks wrap things up in Detroit, 58 percent of voters will be paying attention to the college hoops season. Tack on the additional 36 percent who will be paying attention by the time the tourney starts, and it's clear there is little anyone can do to stop this outbreak of madness.
Just like every year.
If it was up to SportsNation, Tennessee would be the only SEC team with a protected seed as things stand now. But Pat Forde thinks another team could win the league.
No. 1 Connecticut
No. 1 Duke
No. 1 Memphis
No. 1 Texas
No. 2 Villanova
No. 2 Illinois
No. 2 Florida
No. 2 Gonzaga
No. 3 Pittsburgh
No. 3 West Virginia
No. 3 Michigan State
No. 3 Indiana
No. 4 Washington
No. 4 Ohio State
No. 4 Tennessee
No. 4 G. Washington
"Right now, I'd take LSU [to win the SEC]. The Tigers have a monster frontcourt, and if the backcourt simply plays decently and remembers to get the ball inside, the Tigers are tough to stop."
Check Forde's chat wrap
When do you start paying close attention to college basketball? (21,369 votes)
43.3% Already have
21.7% NCAA Tournament
14.7% Conference tournaments
14.3% After the Super Bowl
Which conference do you think is the best in college basketball this season? (5,303 votes)
41.2% Big East
32.3% Big Ten
5.8% Big 12
Other than the Big East, which conference will get the most NCAA Tournament bids? (25,863 votes)
46.2% Big Ten
7.0% Big 12
Which team is most likely to keep sliding all the way to the NIT? (10,481 votes)
44.1% Wake Forest
10.9% All will make the NCAA Tournament
SportsNation's Show: Expert Opinion
Josh (North Carolina): Can you rank the top three basketball conferences? I love my Blue Devils and ACC ball, and still believe that the ACC is up there right with the Big East.
Pat Forde: I think you love the ACC too much. I'd rank the top three thusly:
1. Big Ten
2. Big East
I think the top two are far superior to any other leagues.
Travis (Chapel Hill, N.C.): How do you think the ACC is going to ultimately pan out? Will a couple of teams run away from the others, or will everyone start preying on each other?
We've long assumed that it's a two-man race between J.J. Redick and Adam Morrison for player-of-the-year honors, but is even that overstating it? According to SportsNation, Redick has a comfortable lead.
45.8% J.J. Redick
35.3% Adam Morrison
18.7% Someone else
"People are comparing Redick with Morrison, but Redick is dropping 40 on tougher competition."
Bob (Chino, CA)
"Adam Morrison is the best college player in the last 10 years."
Pat Forde: Duke is in mid-runaway. After that, it's very difficult to decide who's second best. NC State, maybe? BC? Carolina? Maryland will be fighting uphill without McCray. I'd go with the Wolfpack right now, but I think this is a pretty uninspiring league after the Blue Devils.
Voice of the Fan: Duke and UConn's Competition
Memphis is too inexperienced, Texas is way too overrated, and while West Virginia is good, the team to beat after UConn and Duke is Villanova!
LSU is unranked despite a perfect record in the SEC. Perennial powers Kansas, Kentucky, Louisville and North Carolina are unranked, but Colorado and Northern Iowa are in. What's going on here? Do the polls have it right, partially right, or just plain wrong? Vote.
"If more than two teams from the Pac-10 go [to the NCAA Tournament], it will be all politics, but then again, everything's politics. The Pac-10 is really poor, but they've got a lot of tradition. The MVC could send as many as three."
Rick Majerus in chat
The big surprise will come from the Big East. Last year it was West Virginia; this year Georgetown is going to take that honor. They have the capability to make to the Elite Eight.
Craig (Bridgeport, W.V.)
I'm going with Illinois. I can't believe how well they are playing after losing Deron Williams, Luther Head and Roger Powell. They play great D and have an inside-outside game to go with it.
Definitely Michigan State and another team from the Big Ten. Possibly Illinois, if they can find more scoring options. Iowa is getting tougher and Wisconsin, though I hate to admit it, they always get something done. IU as a dark, dark horse and getting darker. If they can play any defense and find a way to win on the road, they are a possibility. Also, don't count out Michigan. Actually, scratch that -- count them out.
3FF (Arlington, Va.)
Don't bet against Tom Izzo. He has a three-headed monster up in East Lansing. People forget that with basically the same team, they beat Duke last year. I like their chances if they play them again.
Villanova. Went to Texas and lost by a basket while shooting a miserable 27%. Wright's been trying to save the legs of some of the guards and Fraser. They have two All-American candidates, a veteran team, plus they always seem to get the other team's best player in foul trouble. Definitely would be a matchup that would make Coach K have some nightmares.