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.
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
5.Marquette12.Utah St Portland, OR
6.Minnesota11.Arkansas Kansas City, MO
7.Boston College10.UNLV Philadelphia, PA
2.Syracuse15.East Tennessee St
1.Duke16.Jacksonville St Greensboro, NC
5.West Virginia12.Washington Boise, ID
6.Michigan11.Maryland Minneapolis, MN
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
1.Pittsburgh16.Morgan St/Ark-Pine Bluff Dayton, OH
5.Florida St12.BYU Portland, OR
6.Kansas11.Illinois St Miami, FL
7.Louisville10.Florida Minneapolis, MN
2. Michigan St15. Navy