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The madness


Mon, Mar 14th, 2011
Posted in Sports

It's (almost) that time of year again, March Madness. With the Journal being a week behind, I'm forced into doing an analysis, before selection Sunday, so all can read and take notes before filling out brackets! Inaccuracies are because of this and only this! Besides, it doesn't matter who's in and where they're seeded. I got the goods on them all! I am an absolute expert on college basketball. I know almost every major player on every major team. I know who's hot (NC, Notre Dame). I know who's not (Villanova, Texas). I can name five former NBA's players' sons playing D-1 ball (Rice, Hardaway, Stockton, Sampson, & Rivers). I'm even familiar with mid-majors (ODU, St. Mary's) and low-majors most don't know exist (Wofford, Belmont). I even know Oakland University isn't in Oakland (California). It's near Rochester...Michigan that is. I know exactly how the tournament is going to play out. I should be Dick Vitale and Digger Phelps' co-analyst (except the FCC would shut ESPN down due to my liberal use of profanity). Don't get in a pool with me; I'm going to win! Not likely.

This season has been here, there, and everywhere. Duke, Ohio State, and Kansas have all risen to #1. Duke and Ohio State have done so twice each. Michigan State and Kansas State started #2 and #3. Both are/were on the bubble (until K-State amassed a couple nice late season victories). North Carolina, Villanova, and Connecticut all peaked, and then plummeted, with only NC peaking again. The Cat's and Huskies are playing on Tuesday (Day 1) in the Big East tourney! Unranked pre-season squads Notre Dame and BYU are now in the top ten. It's muddled and unpredictable. It's parity. No team is really dominant. With that being said, I've broken things down into four categories: contenders, pretenders, 'lying to themselves' squads, or the highly publicized schools destined for disappointment, and the 'don't know their own truth's' squads, or the teams flying under the radar that will go somewhere/pull off an upset.

'Lying to themselves'

#8 BYU. Sure, they rose to #3. Sure, Jimmer Fredette can shoot. I want to see him shoot three's over Big East, ACC, or Big 12 competition. Plus, the Cougars lost a starter (Brandon Davies) because he, of all things, had sex in college! Sweet 16? Yes. Further? I wouldn't bet on it. #12 Florida. The SEC, aside from four schools, is weak. The Gator's small guards shoot too much. Buyers beware. #13 Wisconsin. The Badgers did well in the Big Ten. The Big Ten ended up being a lot less formidable than it was touted in pre-season. Minnesota, MSU, and Illinois all laid eggs. Match-ups could make this a terribly wrong prediction, but I don't like teams without athletes. Wisconsin is totally devoid of slam-dunk champions. Gone by Sweet 16. #14 Louisville. Not sure how they got that ranking (other than Coach Pitino). Lost Jared Swopshire to injury (pre-season). Lost Rakeem Buckles to injury. I see an early round loss. #16 Kentucky. Youth equals big highs and big lows. This isn't last year's team (with John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, and company). They'll survive round one, but lose in 32. Utah State. Not necessarily a big name team, but with only 3-losses and ranked #17. Have played no one. Have beaten no one. They won't fair so well come tournament time (if they make it at all).

'Don't Know Their Own Truth's'

#15 Arizona. Not sure what I like, aside from Derrick Williams. I'll just ride his exploits alone! #20 Xavier. The Musketeers always make a run into the Sweet 16. After starting slow this season, they've lost only once since January 9th. Name to know, Tu (formerly Terrell) Holloway. #18 St. John's. The Red Storm are senior-laden. New coach Steve Lavin has re-shaped a squad once with only potential. Somehow, they'll get (Sweet 16) deep, mostly cause I'd like to see it. #19 Connecticut. See Arizona, only with Kemba Walker. St. Mary's. Made a run last year. Lost Omar Samhan. Return Matthew Dellavedova and Mickey McConnell. Round of 32, if not the Sweet 16 (further than conference rival Gonzaga). George Mason. Have one loss since January 9th. Have a recent Final Four birth. Colonial Athletic Association Teams are always scrappy (see VCU/ODU). One win very possible. Old Dominion. CAA champs. Essentially the same team that made the tourney and won a game in 2009-2010. Like GMU, only better. Sweet 16. UNLV. The third Mountain West team capable of making a run. The Rebel's are composed of big school transfers (Derrick Jasper from Kentucky, Trevon Willis from Memphis, Chace Stanback from UCLA, and Quintrell Thomas from Kansas). Underachieved some this season, but very dangerous. Morehead State. Kenneth Faried is Dennis Rodman with scoring. Demonte Harper is pretty good in his own right. Depending upon first round match-up, the Eagles could spring a big upset. Oakland. Similar to Morehead State; center Keith Benson is an NBA first round pick. Made tourney last year. First round upset win very possible.

Pretenders

#3 Pittsburgh. A title for Steel-town? Not in college basketball. A final four birth? Eh. The Panthers are always like this. Good, but not great. I see Elite 8, and then home for the summer. #4 Notre Dame. Two best players (Ben Hansbrough and Tim Abromaitis) are long-range bombers. They lived by the three in the regular season. They'll die by it in the tourney. #5 Duke. Yes, they're the defending National Champs, but only cause they got lucky enough to play good enough to not lose. Without Kyrie Irving, Nolan Smith has to be all-world-and-then-some. That's a lot of shouldering-the-load. Blue Devils will still probably get to the Sweet 16, if not further, but not much further. Gone in the Elite 8 for sure (hopefully). #6 San Diego State. I like Kawhi Leonard. He's a future pro. Coach Steve Fisher has Final Four experience (think Fab 5). The Aztecs have two losses, both to Jimmer and company. A final four? I don't think so. I see Sweet 16 and done. #9 Purdue. If you like defense, pick them. If you think Iowa sucks, don't! The 'Makers lost to the Hawkeyes, yikes! E'Twaun Moore and JaJuan Johnson are studs. After that, not enough offensive horses for a deep (Elite 8 or greater) run. #11 Syracuse. Boeheim's zone defense is tough. They definitely have talent, but not as much as in past. Sweet 16 and done.

Contenders

#1 Ohio State. Balsy pick here, the top ranked team! Freshmen hoss Julian Sullinger plus long athletes David Lighty/William Buford plus Jon Diebler's shooting = serious title contender, my pick. They just made 14 of 15 three's versus Wisconsin, are you kidding me? No. They are legit. #2 Kansas. They play 11 guys. Six average 8 points or more. They play defense. Not flashy, but steady. Could be the Duke of 2011, or a good squad that wins the war of tournament attrition (plays steady enough to cut down the nets). #7 North Carolina. Shot-blocker John Henson plus athletic center Tyler Zeller plus freshmen phenoms Harrison Barnes and point guard Kendall Marshall = serious title contender. My favorite team, but they are not nearly as good as the title teams of 2005 and 2009, plus they're young, and they have only 8 scholarship players. #10 Texas. Though slumping as of late, they still have the pieces. Tristan Thompson and Jordan Hamilton are studs, future NBA All Stars. Sometimes teams win because of great individual performers. For the sake of this pick, I'm hoping so!

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