Saints are Marching In

Siena G Kenny Hasbrouck

Siena G Kenny Hasbrouck

In Orlando, after a loss to Wichita St, it appeared that all hope was lost for the Siena Saints.  They were expected to challenge for an at-large bid.  There was no reason why they should’ve lost to the Shockers.  The Saints finished that tournament 0-3 and even I read them their last rights.

Well, since leaving Orlando, Siena is 14-2 and 10-0 in the 12th rated conference in the RPI.  Their two losses came on the road at Pittsburgh and Kansas.  Siena already has seven top-100 wins and it looks as if they’re on a mission to roll towards the NCAA tournament.  I fully expect to see Siena’s name pop up on Selection Sunday and they are definitely a threat to pull off another upset.

Louisville F Terrance Williams

Louisville F Terrance Williams

Stock Up: Louisville.  It looked ugly early for the Cardinals.  After an early season loss to Western Kentucky, Rick Pitino had to issue a public apology on his website.  He doesn’t have to apologize now.  Louisville looks like the team we expected to sea before the season began.  They’re playing excellent defense while Earl Clark and Terrance Williams are proving to be an unstoppable duo.  This is definitely a final four contender.

Stock Down: Wisconsin.  The Badgers are in a corner right now.  They’ve lost four in a row with three of their next four coming up against teams in this week’s bracket.  They must stop the bleeding or it could be a long season in Madison.

Stock Up: Utah St.  I criticized the Aggies’ schedule a few weeks ago, but if you don’t lose…it doesn’t matter.  They are rolling and with three of their next four at home, they can really take all of the suspense out of the WAC regular season championship.

Stock Down: Georgetown.  The Hoyas are going to let the entire season go by without realizing that had they played hard, they would’ve made the tournament.  Watching them play right now, it’s not a matter of talent, it’s a matter of want-to.  Right now Georgetown doesn’t want it bad enough.  They’d better or the Big East will embarrass them.

This week’s Bracket Projections:

Last Four In: Penn St, South Carolina, BYU, Michigan

Last Four Out: USC, Wisconsin, Boston College, Illinois St

This bracket is good for games played through Sunday, January 25, 2009.


1.Duke16.Morgan St Greensboro, NC


5.Kansas12.Siena Portland, OR


6.Minnesota11.Miami(FL) Miami, FL


7.Kentucky10.Davidson Kansas City, MO

2.Louisville15.Austin Peay


1.Oklahoma16.East Tennessee St Kansas City, MO

8.Utah St9.Virginia Tech

5.Washington12.BYU Portland, OR


6.St. Mary’s11.Michigan Minneapolis, MN

3.Marquette14.Virginia Commonwealth

7.California10.Oklahoma St Greensboro, NC

2.Wake Forest15.North Dakota St


1.Pittsburgh16.Alabama St/Holy Cross Dayton, OH

8.Florida St9.Ohio St

5.Memphis12.South Carolina Boise, ID

4.Texas13.Portland St

6.Arizona St11.Notre Dame Minneapolis, MN

3.Illinois14.Northern Iowa

7.Missouri10.Tennessee Philadelphia, PA

2.North Carolina15.Long Beach St


1.Connecticut16.Robert Morris Philadelphia, PA


5.West Virginia12.Penn St Miami, FL

4.Clemson13.Western Kentucky

6.UCLA11.Villanova Boise, ID

3.Xavier14.Stephen F. Austin

7.Gonzaga10.UNLV Dayton, OH

2.Michigan St15.Vermont


Meeks Shall Inherit the Court

Kentucky G Jodie Meeks

Kentucky G Jodie Meeks

Dan Issel, Pat Riley, Jamal Mashburn, Antoine Walker, Rex Chapman, Kenny Walker.  He beat all of them the way he beat Tennessee.  He beat all of them the way he beat history.  A college game is on 40 minutes, so to score 54 points in that amount of time is extroardinary.  Of course, Jodie Meeks is proving to be an extroardinary player.

Just think of long history of Kentucky basketball.  The great teams under Rupp and Pitino.  All of the national championships.  All of the All-Americans.  Jodie Meeks 54 points is a number that no one had touched.  The crazy thing is, he’s capable of doing it again.  He’s posted 39, 37, 32 and 46-point games as well this season and is light years ahead of anyone in the SEC player of the year race.  I’ll definitely be watching for the rest of season because he’s going to put up numbers the SEC hasn’t seen in a long time.

Stock Up: Marquette.  Quietly, the Golden Eagles have been going about there business in a workmanlike fashion.  They’ve won eight in a row including a 22-point pasting of a good West Virginia Team last weekend.  Marquette hasn’t gotten into the teeth of it’s Big East schedule yet, but they’ve set themselves up quite nicely.

Stock Down: Maryland.  I feel sorry, but I’m not sure who I feel sorry for.  I could feel sorry for Gary Williams because he looks like he’s working so hard to everything out of his team.  I could feel sorry for the fans because it’s pretty obvious there are players on that roster which shouldn’t be seeing the light of day on an ACC basketball team.  In any case, the Terps have lost three of their last four including a game to Morgan St and blown lead of 17 points to Miami.

George Mason G Cam Long

George Mason G Cam Long

Stock Up: George Mason.  Here come the Patriots again.  Clearly Jim Larranaga has a stranglehold over the CAA now.  He’s definitely making the most out of going to the Final Four.  They’re currently undefeated in conference play with two tough road games coming up at the Northeastern and Virginia Commonwealth.  If they can get past those, we’re looking at an at-large bid for the Patriots.

Stock Down: Missouri Valley.  I’m used to seeing at least one team from the MVC with a strong case for an at-large bid.  Right now, it looks pretty grim with just Illinois St as a possibility and the Redbirds’ case is weak.  Might be time to go back to the drawing board at league headquarters.

This week’s Bracket Projections:

Last Four In: UNLV, Arkansas, BYU, Utah

Last Four Out: USC, Stanford, Texas A&M, Illinois St

This bracket is good for games played through Sunday, January 18, 2009.


1.Wake Forest16.Robert Morris Greensboro, NC

8.Ohio St9.Kentucky

5.West Virginia12.UNLV Portland, OR

4.Texas13.George Mason

6.Florida St11.Villanova Minneapolis, MN

3.Xavier14.Weber St

7.Arizona St10.Oklahoma St Minneapolis, MN



1.Pittsburgh16.Alabama St/Western Michigan Dayton, OH

8.Gonzaga9.Utah St

5.Minnesota12.Arkansas Boise, ID

4.Butler13.Long Beach St

6.Florida11.Utah Miami, FL


7.Baylor10.Michigan Philadelphia, PA

2.North Carolina15.North Dakota St


1.Connecticut16.East Tennessee St Philadelphia, PA


5.Purdue12.Siena Boise, ID

4.UCLA13.Western Kentucky

6.Notre Dame11.Wisconsin Miami, FL

3.Clemson14.Stephen F. Austin

7.Dayton10.Tennessee Kansas City, MO

2.Oklahoma15.Austin Peay


1.Duke16.Morgan St Greensboro, NC


5.California12.BYU Portland, OR

4.Georgetown13.Northern Iowa

6.St. Mary’s11.Miami(FL) Kansas City, MO


7.Memphis10.Washington Dayton, OH

2.Michigan St15.Albany


Oklahomas Blake Griffin

Oklahoma's Blake Griffin

With apologies to Stephen Curry and Tyler Hansbrough, it’s clear that being First-Team All-American will have to be enough for them.  That’s because Blake Griffin is a man among boys right now.  He’s putting up Michael Beasley-type numbers, but with more talent around him.  He’s the most dominant player in college basketball since Tim Duncan.  He’s strong, athletic, can run the floor, has great hands and great touch around the basket.

I know this disappoints all of my folks with East-Coast bias, but you can’t hide from reality.  That reality is Blake Griffin is the National Player of the Year…without question.

Stock Up: Louisville.  The Cardinals were on the verge of becoming the biggest disappointment in college basketball this season.   After losing to Western Kentucky and not performing well against the better teams on their schedule, the Cardinals looked as if they weren’t who everyone thought they were.  However, they’ve won four straight including wins over Villanova and Notre Dame.  It appears as if this team was having an identity crisis.  They’ve found it.

Stock Down: Utah State’s strength of schedule.  I have the Aggies in the bracket this week, but they have bubble team written all over them.  Any team on the proverbial bubble is going to need some key wins to strengthen it’s resume.  Hard to get that quality win against Utah Valley St, Houston Baptist, Southern Utah, or Howard though.

Stock Up: Michigan St.  How is it that a program with the reputation of Michigan St not be getting recognized?  I don’t know why, but the Spartans are rolling right now.  They’ve followed an early-season blowout loss to North Carolina with a nine-game win streak.  Expect this team to do some special things in the Big Ten this season.

Stock Down: Boston College.  I praised them last week, but this week they NEED to be criticized.  Under no circumstances, is it acceptabale to follow a win over the number one team in the country with a loss to Harvard.  Just for good measure they lost to Miami too.

This week’s Bracket Projections:

Last Four In: Arizona, Washington, Texas A&M, Miami(FL)

Last Four Out: San Diego St, Utah, Maryland, Boston College

This bracket is good for games played through Sunday, January 11, 2009.


1.Duke16.Hampton Greensboro, NC


5.Michigan12.Texas A&M Portland, OR


6.Baylor11.Utah St Boise, ID

3.UCLA14.Long Beach St

7.Florida St10.Ohio St Minneapolis, MN



1.Connecticut16.North Dakota St Philadelphia, PA


5.Purdue12.Arizona Boise, ID


6.Arizona St11.Villanova Miami, FL


7.Dayton10.Wisconsin Kansas City, MO

2.Oklahoma15.Middle Tennessee St


1.Wake Forest16.Austin Peay Greensboro, NC


5.Louisville12.Washington Miami, FL

4.Texas13.George Mason

6.Butler11.Miami(FL) Minneapolis, MN

3.Notre Dame14.Lamar

7.Oklahoma St10.UNLV Dayton, OH

2.Michigan St15.East Tennessee St


1.Pittsburgh16.Robert Morris/Alabama St Dayton, OH


5.Minnesota12.Siena Portland, OR


6.West Virginia11.BYU Kansas City, MO


7.St. Mary’s10.Missouri Philadelphia, PA

2.North Carolina15.Weber St

Big Bad Beasts

Pittsburghs Levance Fields and DeJuan Blair

Pittsburgh's Levance Fields and DeJuan Blair

I’ve thought Pittsburgh was one of the top teams in the country all year, but I was skeptical about them being able to win the national championship.  This past Saturday as I sat in the Verizon Center and watched them dismantle Georgetown, the Panthers changed my mind.

I knew about DeJuan Blair, Levance Fields, and Sam Young.  However, Pitt’s supporting cast is what leads me to believe THIS is the Pitt team that will get over the hump and get past the Sweet 16.  This team can score, it’s athletic, and it is flat out the toughest team in the country.  Make no mistake about it, this is a team full of grown men.  They are going to bully themselves into the best season in the history of Pittsburgh basketball.

Stock Up: California.  No one is talking about them, but California is making some serious noise in the Pac-10.  With a Top-20 RPI and two top-50 wins already, it looks like the Golden Bears are ready to contend in a relatively weak Pac-10.  Remember the names: Jerome Randle, Patrick Christopher, and Theo Robertson.

Stock Down: Every Davidson starter NOT named Stephen Curry.  Please give the man some help.  Last year, you knew Curry was the first and second option for the Wildcats.  This year he appears to be the only option.  For Davidson to even sniff that kind of success, someone besides Curry is going to have to score on a consistent basis.

Davidson F Andrew Lovedale

Davidson F Andrew Lovedale

Stock Up: Boston College.  I’m rather shocked that North Carolina lost.  I’m even more shocked that they lost to BC.  Coach Al Skinner has a knack for finding hidden gems and being able to mold them to fit his personality; tough, gritty.  That’s exactly what this squad is. Tyrese Rice is the most underrated player in the ACC, but trust me, Roy Williams knows all about him.

Stock Down: Northwestern.  It was such a promising start for Bill Carmody’s Wildcats.  They were 7-1 and it appeared as if this might be the season they finally get to the tournament.  Alas, normalcy reigns and the Wildcats have lost three of their last four to come back down to earth.  There’s still time to turn it around, but that’s going to be a difficult task in the unforgiving Big Ten.

This week’s Bracket Projections:

Last Four In: BYU, Washington, Arkansas, Texas A&M

Last Four Out: Oklahoma St, Creighton, Evansville, Utah

This Bracket is good for games played through Sunday, January 4, 2009.


1.North Carolina16.Wagner Greensboro, NC

8.Arizona St9.Villanova

5.Marquette12.Utah St Portland, OR


6.Minnesota11.Arkansas Kansas City, MO

3.Texas14.Portland St

7.Boston College10.UNLV Philadelphia, PA

2.Syracuse15.East Tennessee St


1.Duke16.Jacksonville St Greensboro, NC

8.Ohio St9.Memphis

5.West Virginia12.Washington Boise, ID

4.Xavier13.Western Kentucky

6.Michigan11.Maryland Minneapolis, MN

3.Notre Dame14.Vermont

7.Stanford 10.Gonzaga Kansas City, MO



1.Connecticut16.Cornell Philadelphia, PA


5.Tennessee12.Texas A&M Boise, ID


6.Baylor11.Davidson Miami, FL


7.St. Mary’s10.Butler Dayton, OH

2.Wake Forest15.Oakland


1.Pittsburgh16.Morgan St/Ark-Pine Bluff Dayton, OH


5.Florida St12.BYU Portland, OR


6.Kansas11.Illinois St Miami, FL

3.Clemson14.George Mason

7.Louisville10.Florida Minneapolis, MN

2. Michigan St15. Navy