Month: February 2010

2/27-2/28 What We’re Watching

Villanova's Scottie Reynolds has his eyes set on another deep run thisyear

Villanova at Syracuse: Clearly this is the game of the day. The two best teams in the Big East all year finally go toe-to-toe. Villanova really needs to score in transition because Syracuse’s zone is too good for ‘Nova’s smaller guards to penetrate and finish. The Orange can get out and run but I’m not sure it wants to test the quicker Wildcats. I like Syracuse in a REALLY close game.

Kentucky at Tennessee: After its performance in Gainesville, Tennessee needs this game. Kentucky has been vulnerable on the road the past couple of weeks and Tennessee has already beaten a top-5 team at home this season. Something isn’t right with the Volunteers and playing the Wildcats isn’t going to fix it. Kentucky by 10…at least.

New Mexico at BYU: This one has the opportunity to be the best game of the weekend. Not a lot separates the two teams and their meeting a month ago was decided by four points. This game will have a similar outcome. I just pray that most of you have Versus, because I don’t. BYU wins in overtime.

Maryland at Virginia Tech: The Hokies need this game. There’s no two ways around it. If they don’t win, it might bury their at-large chances. They had the worst lost of any bubble team this week when Boston College beat them by 20. They have to win this game, but I like the way Maryland is playing. I like the Terps.

Michigan St at Purdue: Nothing breaks my heart like the late-season injury. I really feel badly for Purdue. It’ll still be a good team without Robbie Hummel. I don’t know how good yet, but I do expect an inspired Boilermaker team to show up and beat Michigan St.

Richmond at Xavier: I have watched both these teams play recently and let me tell you something, they’re good enough to hang with anyone. This will be one heck of a game. I think Richmond is the better team, but they won’t be in the Cintas Center on Sunday. Xavier wins.

Louisville at Connecticut: I don’t know who needs it more but I expect both squads to leave it all on the court. UConn has been strong for a couple weeks now and outside of been attacked by Austin Freeman, Louisville has been playing well too. However, the Huskies are the one team I’d hate to have to play right now. I like UConn in this one.

I have a bracket for you too!

Last Four In: Virginia Tech, Cincinnati, Old Dominion, Saint Mary’s
Last Four Out: Charlotte, Mississippi St, Notre Dame, Minnesota

Click the link below
NCAA Projected Bracket

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Steamin’ Deacons

Al-Farouq Aminu and the Deacons are flying high

There’s a team in the ACC that may be a legitimate Final Four contender and I’m not talking about Duke. Wake Forest is quietly having an outstanding year sitting in second in the ACC with an 8-3 league record. Throw in four RPI top-25 wins and it’s easy to see why the Demon Deacons sit with a RPI of 11.

Wake Forest is led by Al-Farouq Aminu and Ishmael Smith. The two players combine for almost 30 points per game and are one of the best inside-out combos in the country. They’re incredibly athletic and are load for anyone to guard.

Many have already anointed Duke as the ACC champions, but I’d hold off on that prediction. While they might not have the name cache, they’re seem ready to remove the bad taste left from last season’s disappointing finish.

If you’re looking for a sleeper Final Four team this year, you’d better keep an eye on the Deacons.

Stock Up: Gonzaga. Outside of a mystifying loss to San Francisco, Gonzaga is rolling. The Bulldogs have followed their Maui Invitational championship with wins at Illinois and Memphis in conjunction with a regular season sweep of St. Mary’s. Freshman Elias Harris has provided a huge presence in the post and with their typical guard play, Gonzaga is a tough out once again.

Stock Down: Georgetown. Talk about schizophrenic. Georgetown has beaten Duke, Villanova, Pittsburgh, Temple and Butler. They’ve also lost to Rutgers and South Florida. The Hoyas seem to go as Chris Wright goes. Wright needs to be as consistent as his All-American co-horts if Georgetown expects to make it to the second weekend of the NCAA tournament.

Stock Up: Texas A&M. The Aggies are quietly moving up the charts in the Big 12. Some thought the Aggies would fold after the season-ending knee injury to Derrick Roland, but they’re just rolling along. After posting their fourth win in a row on Saturday, the Aggies appear to be the only left that can put a dent in Kansas’ undefeated conference record.

Stock Down: Jordan Eglseder and Northern Iowa. Eglseder, in a lapse of judgement was arrested and charged with DUI with his team having one of the best years in school history. Northern Iowa’s response was to suspend him for 3 games. He basically got a week and a half off. Way to enforce the law Ben Jacobsen (Northern Iowa’s Head Coach).

This week’s bracket projections:

Last Four In: Cincinnati, Mississippi, Dayton, Florida St
Last Four Out: Maryland, San Diego St, Florida, Northwestern

Click the link to see the bracket.

NCAA Projected Bracket

Evan the Terrible

Ohio State's Evan Turner may be the best player in the country

Ohio St. has that guy. That guy who might be the only player in the country who can single-handedly carry his team to a national championship. Evan Turner has bounced back from his early-season back injury to become the favorite for Big Ten Player of the Year and one of the favorites for national player of the year.

Turner is averaging 19.7 points, 9.4 rebounds, and 5.7 assists per game. His athleticism makes him a nightmare to guard and his versatility allows him to beat you in so many ways.

The Buckeyes struggled without him, but have won 8 of 10 games since he’s returned. He gives them a presence that can take over a game at any given moment.

Ohio St now only trails Michigan St by a game for the Big Ten lead and with a trip to East Lansing coming up, still have a chance to win the regular season title. Something it probably didn’t think was possible this time a month ago.

Stock Up: New Mexico. If someone asked the casual fan who the best college basketball team out west was, they probably would name Gonzaga, California, or maybe even Washington. However, you might have to go to the Mountain West to find New Mexico. The Lobos lost 3 out of 5 from late Dec. to early Jan., but have been rolling outside of that. They’ve done it on the road and against good competition. This is a team on the rise.

Stock Down: Mississippi St. I’m not sure what to make of the Bulldogs. They started the season losing 2 of their first 5. Then they went on a run where they won nine in a row. They’re 4-5 in their last nine including losing 4 of their last 5. Their wins over Old Dominion and Ole Miss will not be enough to save them on Selection Sunday if they don’t turn it around. Beating Ole Miss and Auburn at home this week would go a long way to saving their season.

Stock up: Richmond. For some reason, the Spiders are getting no love and I don’t know why. They have outstanding out-of-conference wins over Missouri, Old Dominion, and Florida to go along with the rout they gave to Temple on Saturday. The Spider’s schedule toughens up down the stretch, but they may have enough fire power to get their first at-large bid since 2004.

Stock Down: Sun Belt Conference. This is normally one of the better mid-major conferences in the country, but it is struggling this year. Denver has the conferences highest RPI at 148, which is lower than three teams from the Atlantic Sun Conference, which has nowhere near the history of the Sun Belt. For a conference which has won NCAA tournament games the past two seasons, this is definitely a down year in the Sun Belt.

This week’s bracket projections:

Last Four In: Washington, Old Dominion, Wichita St, Maryland
Last Four Out: Clemson, Oklahoma St, South Florida, Louisville

MIDWEST
1.Kansas16.Lehigh/Jackson St Oklahoma City
8.Mississippi9.Xavier
5.Gonzaga12.Northeastern Spokane
4.New Mexico13.Kent St
6.Vanderbilt11.Dayton New Orleans
3.Michigan St14.Coastal Carolina
7.Georgia Tech10.Siena Buffalo
2.West Virginia15.Weber St
WEST
1.Villanova16.Arkansas St Providence
8.Richmond9.Illinois
5.Texas A&M12.Wichita St Spokane
4.Tennessee13.Pacific
6.BYU11.Maryland San Jose
3.Ohio St14.Murray St
7.Pittsburgh10.Florida Oklahoma City
2.Kansas St15.Robert Morris
EAST
1.Kentucky16.Jacksonville Milwaukee
8.Missouri9.UAB
5.Wake Forest12.Old Dominion New Orleans
4.Butler13.New Mexico St
6.Northern Iowa11.California Jacksonville
3.Georgetown14.College of Charleston
7.Rhode Island10.Florida St Milwaukee
2.Purdue15.Morgan St
SOUTH
1.Syracuse16.Stony Brook Buffalo
8.Cornell9.Charlotte
5.UNLV12.UTEP San Jose
4.Texas13.Washington
6.Baylor11.Virginia Commonwealth Jacksonville
3.Duke14.Oakland
7.Temple10.Marquette Providence
2.Wisconsin15.Sam Houston St

Green With Envy

Michigan St guard Kalin Lucas has the Spartans rolling again

Once again Michigan St is rolling along and looking a lot like the team that made it to the national championship game last season. For all intents and purposes, the regular season title is locked up and they’re just really playing for NCAA tournament seeding.

Led by reigning Big Ten player of the year, Kalin Lucas, the Spartans are balanced offensively and can do more than just win with defense and rebounding. Three other starters are averaging double figures in points.

The schedule does begin to stiffen for the Spartans though. They still have games coming up against Wisconsin, Ohio St, and Purdue. While they might slip up a little down the stretch, expect the Spartans to win another Big Ten regular season title walking away.

A brief sidenote: This rumor about the NCAA tournament expanding has me concerned. It is so unnecessary. I can understand expanding it to include three other teams. This reeks of greed by the NCAA and it de-emphasizes conference tournaments.

Stock Up: SEC. Last year, the SEC had an uncharacteristically down season, but it seems to be back in a big way this year. After needing a surprising run by Mississippi St to get three teams in last season, it looks like the SEC has at least seven teams with legitimate NCAA tournament hopes. It’s been a great bounce back year for the conference.

Stock Down: Notre Dame. It was a rough week for the Irish. After Villanova blew Notre Dame out on national T.V., Notre Dame completed it’s terrible week by losing to Rutgers. It is going to be a real challenge for the Irish to get an at-large bid at this point.

Stock Up: Murray St. It is no surprise that the Racers are racking up wins in the Ohio Valley. However, what they’re doing right now is nothing short of amazing. The Racers are 13-0 in conference, have won 11 games in a row, and beat the next best team in the OVC, Morehead St, by 30. The Racers are now rolling towards a Bracket Buster showdown with Morgan St with the momentum of a freight train.

Stock Down: Harvard. There was talk that there might be a chance that the Crimson could get an at-large bid. Not now. In the much anticipated showdown in the Ivy League, Cornell destroyed Harvard and buried any thoughts Harvard had about reaching the NCAA tournament. Looks like Harvard will have to be satisfied with the NIT.

This week’s bracket projections:

Last Four In: California, Marquette, Wichita St, South Carolina
Last Four Out: Illinois, Virginia, Maryland, Connecticut

MIDWEST
1.Kansas16.Lehigh/Jackson St Oklahoma City
8.Xavier9.Florida St
5.Gonzaga12.South Carolina Spokane
4.Butler13.California
6.Mississippi11.Old Dominion New Orleans
3.Wisconsin14.Coastal Carolina
7.Missouri10.Clemson Jacksonville
2.Georgetown15.Maine
WEST
1.Kentucky16.Arkansas St Milwaukee
8.Wake Forest9.Texas A&M
5.BYU12.Marquette San Jose
4.Ohio St13.George Mason
6.Northern Iowa11.Florida Oklahoma City
3.Texas14.College of Charleston
7.Rhode Island10.Arizona Providence
2.West Virginia15.Morgan St
SOUTH
1.Syracuse16.Jacksonville Buffalo
8.Oklahoma St9.UNLV
5.Georgia Tech12.Wichita St Spokane
4.Temple13.Pacific
6.Tennessee11.Cincinnati New Orleans
3.Kansas St14.Murray St
7.UAB10.Richmond Milwaukee
2.Michigan St15.Weber St
EAST
1.Villanova16.Robert Morris Providence
8.Cornell9.Charlotte
5.Vanderbilt12.Utah St San Jose
4.Baylor13.Kent St
6.New Mexico11.Mississippi St Jacksonville
3.Duke14.Oakland
7.Pittsburgh10.Siena Buffalo
2.Purdue15.Sam Houston St