Welcome back to the Starting 5. The Starting 5 is written multiple times per week by Adam Spencer to keep you up-to-date on all the news and events in the world of college hoops. You can follow Adam on Twitter at @AdamSpencer4 and @BlueChipGrit.

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1. Opening tipoff

Saturday was supposed to be a grand sendoff for Mike Krzyzewski in front of the adoring Cameron Indoor Stadium crowd. It was supposed to be one more win over Duke’s heated rivals, North Carolina.

Instead, the Tar Heels dominated the game, cruising to a 94-81 victory. That spoiled the atmosphere, as nearly every important Duke player from Coach K’s 42-year tenure was out to support the living legend.

But, as happens all too often after Duke losses, the focus was on a lack of sportsmanship coming from the Blue Devils. This time, it wasn’t Coach K, but rather assistant coaches, who were at the center of the controversy.

As you can see below, Chris Carrawell moves past UNC coach Hubert Davis without shaking his hand. Nolan Smith shakes Davis’s hand, but makes it a point to not look at him while doing so:

What caused this controversy? Well, let’s just say Duke’s explanation for what happened is pretty entitled and, frankly, soft:

Really, Duke? You’re mad your biggest rival didn’t take time to bow down to Coach K before a big game?

And yet, after that game, everyone shook hands and things were fine. Why is that the case? Because things like this only seem to happen when Duke loses. It’s fine to not like losing, but Coach K can’t help but tarnish his own legacy when he and his staff members (who he’s responsible for at the end of the day) act like petulant babies when they lose.

Coach K lectured Oregon’s Dillon Brooks after an NCAA Tournament game a few years ago. He denied he did it, but then tape revealed what K had said and he had to go back and apologize. Classless.

Coach K lectured a Duke student reporter after another loss. Ultimately, he reached out to that reporter and apologized. But, as a man who makes millions of dollars to coach basketball, maybe just don’t be a jerk to a student in the first place?

Even after Saturday’s loss, Coach K couldn’t help himself. He loves to try to control what the Duke crowd cheers and says during games. Well, during his postgame speech, he scolded the crowd to be quiet and let him speak:

Coach K wins games. He’s won more games than any other Division I coach in history, in fact. But, it’s the 307 losses he’s suffered at Duke that show a person’s real character. In that regard, Coach K isn’t setting a great example.

There should be more wins to add to the list before postseason play is said and done this year. But, unless Duke wins both the ACC and NCAA Tournaments, there will be at least 1 more loss in Coach K’s storied career.

We’ll see if he’s able to handle it with class.

2. SEC Tournament prediction

Top seed: Auburn
KenPom’s pick: Kentucky

Kentucky at full strength has been a formidable squad this year. But, guards Sahvir Wheeler and TyTy Washington have struggled to stay healthy at times. The Wildcats are healthy entering the SEC Tournament in Tampa this week, but the SEC has 5 teams that are capable of winning it all.

Top-4 seeds Auburn, Tennessee, Kentucky and Arkansas are all elite, top-15 teams in the entire nation. Meanwhile, LSU is a great defensive team with enough offensive firepower to win 4 games in 4 days. Then there’s Alabama, a wildcard no one wants to see on a good day for the Tide.

However, in order to reach the final, Auburn would only have to beat 1 of those top 6 teams. The other schools would all have to win 2 games against top-6 seeds to advance to Sunday’s final. Jabari Smith Jr. has been on a tear lately. KD Johnson is heating up at the right time. Walker Kessler is still a defensive monster. I’ll take the Tigers to cut down some more nets and add the SEC Tournament title to their list of accolades this season.

My pick: Auburn

3. B1G Tournament prediction

Top seed: Illinois
KenPom’s pick: Purdue

Illinois was able to sneak in and grab the No. 1 seed thanks to a crazy Sunday in the Big Ten. First, conference co-champion Wisconsin lost at home against a bad Nebraska team. Then, the Illini were able to hold off a tough Iowa team in order to earn a share of the regular-season title and the top spot in Indianapolis this week.

Yes, Wisconsin has Johnny Davis. Yes, Purdue has Jaden Ivey. Both of them can create offense for themselves better than Kofi Cockburn, who is a beast for the Illini, but needs consistent guard play to be effective offensively.

If, however, Illinois’ trio of guards – Trent Frazier, Andre Curbelo and Alfonso Plummer – can play up to its standards this week, the Illini have the talent to defend last year’s B1G Tournament title. I still like Wisconsin to go the furthest in the NCAA Tournament out of the Big Ten if Johnny Davis is healthy, but I like Illinois to add another B1G Tournament trophy to its collection.

My pick: Illinois

4. ACC Tournament prediction

Top seed: Duke
KenPom’s pick: Duke

Duke doesn’t always have its best showing in the ACC Tournament. The Blue Devils have only won the ACC Tournament twice since 2011 (in 2017 and 2019). Of course, North Carolina has only won it once since 2008 (in 2016).

But, if the 3-seed Tar Heels and 1-seed Blue Devils do in fact meet in the conference title game, I’m going to give a slight edge to UNC. Duke relies heavily on freshmen like Paolo Banchero, AJ Griffin and Trevor Keels. This will be that trio’s first real postseason experience.

North Carolina’s key players, on the other hand, are more experienced. Caleb Love and RJ Davis are sophomores. Armando Bacot is a junior. Leaky Black is a senior. Brady Manek is a graduate player. When push comes to shove, give me the experienced squad to finish things off strong in March.

My pick: North Carolina

5. Big 12/Pac-12 Tournament predictions

Big 12 top seed: Kansas
KenPom’s pick: Kansas

Well, if y’all know me at all, you know I’m not picking Kansas to win anything. As a Mizzou graduate, it hurts me to my very core to even picture the Jayhawks earning a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Yes, Bill Self’s squad is really good this year, but the Big 12 has been absolutely brutal.

The Bears are basically playing with a 6-man rotation at this point due to injuries, but in March, depth isn’t as much of a necessity as it is during the long, grueling regular season. Baylor’s 6 can match up with any other top 6 in the conference. Scott Drew is doing a heck of a job coaching the reigning champions, and a win at the Big 12 Tournament this year would cement him as one of the best coaches of this generation.

My pick: Baylor

Pac-12 top seed: Arizona
KenPom’s pick: Arizona

Finally, my pick, the top seed and KenPom’s projections are in alignment! I think Arizona deserves to be ranked ahead of Gonzaga as the No. 1 team in the country. And, if the Wildcats win the Pac-12 Tournament like I think they will, I’d have them leapfrog Gonzaga, even if the Bulldogs win the WCC Tournament.

Tommy Lloyd deserves to be the National Coach of the Year. Benedict Mathurin is an elite player. Christian Koloko is a force in the paint. Azuolas Tubelis and Kerr Kriisa are prime-time athletes. This team has everything you want to see in a national champion. KenPom’s rankings have Arizona as the No. 8 offense and No. 14 defense in the country. That dominance on both sides of the ball should help the Wildcats cruise to a conference championship in Las Vegas this weekend.

My pick: Arizona

Enjoy the Starting 5? Have a question? Want to yell at me about something? Follow me on Twitter @AdamSpencer4 or email me at ASpencer@SaturdayDownSouth.com.