Month: February 2013

The Gateway to the Best

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Saint Louis G Jordair Jett

…In the Atlantic 10 that is.  Saint Louis has set itself apart in the league that’s having a great year nationally.

The Billikens have been rolling since starting the season 3-3.  They’ve swept Butler in league play and absolutely destroyed Virginia Commonwealth last week.  Those results are even more surprising when you take into account that it’s all being donw for an interim coach.

Former head coach Rick Majerus passed away on Dec. 1 yet the Billikens have only lost twice since then.  This is a team trending in the right direction and looks to be a threat to reach the second weekend of the Big Dance.

Stock Up: New Mexico.  The Lobos have served notice to the rest of the Mountain West that its their league.  Colorado St had a chance to tie New Mexico at home on Saturday and couldn’t get it done.  Now New Mexico sits with a two-game lead with its next two games at home.  The Lobos could end the race by this weekend.

Stock Down: Cincinnati.  The Bearcats are ruining a perfectly good NCAA tournament berth.  People look to the Bearcats and say they’re missing Yancy Gates, but it’s not him they’re missing.  It’s Dion Dixon.  He gave them an extra punch that JaQuon Parker just isn’t capable of it.

Stock Up: Davidson.  The Wildcats are quietly putting together quite the season.  They’re 15-1 record in the Southern Conference is a full three games better than they’re next closest rival in the conference’s south division; Charleston – a team the Wildcats completely outclassed on the road two weeks ago.  Throw in a good win over Montana in Bracketbusters and this is not the team you want to play in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

Stock Down: Lehigh.  C.J. McCollum went down for the Mountain Hawks and for a while they were making it work.  However, three losses in a row with only two league games remaining is going to make it increasingly difficult for them to make it to the Big Dance given the Patriot League plays all of its games on the campus of the higher seeded team.

On to the bracket.

Last Four In: Saint Mary’s, Boise St, Cincinnati, Creighton

Last Four Out: Kentucky, Mississippi, Alabama, Indiana St

This bracket is good for games played through 2/24

MIDWEST

1.Indiana16.Norfolk St/Charleston Southern Dayton, OH

8.Pittsburgh9.Missouri

5.Oregon12.Louisiana Tech Austin

4.Oklahoma St13.Boise St/Saint Mary’s

6.Saint Louis11.Minnesota  Philadelphia

3.Georgetown14.Davidson

7.NC State10.Iowa St Salt Lake City

2.New Mexico15.Stony Brook

WEST

1.Miami(FL)16.Northeastern/Southern Lexington, KY

8.Wichita St9.California

5.Ohio St12.La Salle Austin

4.Syracuse13.Harvard

6.Butler11.Arizona St Auburn Hills, MI

3.Michigan St14.Stephen F. Austin

7.UNLV10.Villanova San Jose

2.Gonzaga15.Long Beach St

SOUTH

1.Michigan16.Montana Auburn Hills, MI

8.North Carolina9.Colorado

5.Marquette12.Belmont Kansas City

4.Kansas St13.Akron

6.Notre Dame11.Middle Tennessee St Salt Lake City

3.Arizona14.South Dakota St

7.VCU10.Colorado St Lexington, KY

2.Florida15.Niagara

EAST

1.Duke16.Robert Morris Philadelphia

8.San Diego St9.Oklahoma

5.UCLA12.Creighton/Cincinnati San Jose

4.Wisconsin13.Bucknell

6.Memphis11.Virginia Dayton, OH

3.Louisville14.Valparaiso

7.Illinois10.Temple  Kansas City

2.Kansas15.Mercer

In graphical form

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Kentucky Blues

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Kentucky Head Coach John Calipari

It’s hard to do what John Calipari did in the previous three years at Kentucky.  He’s taken extremely young teams, meshed them perfectly and had great seasons.  People may have opinions about his tactics, but he’s found a way to work within the system.

However, relying on freshmen and sophomores every year is going to produce some seasons like the one the Wildcats are currently experiencing.  It’s hard to count on young players to give you consistency  in effort and performance on a night-in night-out basis.

It’s doubly hard in a year when the freshman class just isn’t that good nationally.  Nerlens Noel was arguably the best freshman in the country but Archie Goodwin, Alex Poythress and Willie Cauley-Stein haven’t been what Calipari expected.

People around the country are wondering what’s wrong with Kentucky.  It’s just the natural progression of a young team.  It’s tough for Big Blue Nation this season, but no one should shed a tear for Kentucky fans.  They’ll be back.

Stock Up: Memphis.  The Tigers are making the most of their last season in Conference-USA.  They’re dominating right now with an 11-0 record including a convincing 13-point win over second-place Southern Miss.  They’re poised for a strong finish.

Stock Down: Ohio St.  Now I’m pretty confident that the Buckeyes are going to make the tournament.  However their resume leaves a lot to be desired.  You wouldn’t even be able to call Ohio St paper champions with the way its resume looks right now.

Stock Up: Colorado St. New Mexico is in first place by a half game in the Mountain West, but Colorado St is turning heads out west.  The Rams are following up on an outstanding year last year with another this year and looks prime for a solid seed in the Big Dance.

Stock Down: The end of Bracketbusters.  This was a great event for mid-majors to get a signature win and has directly led to some squads getting an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament.  If George Mason doesn’t have the opportunity to beat Wichita St in Wichita in 2006 then the Patriots end up in the NIT and the Final Four.

This Week’s Bracket Projections.

Last Four In: Alabama, Temple, California, Villanova

Last Four Out: Baylor, St. Mary’s, Indiana St, Iowa

This bracket is good for games through 2/18.

MIDWEST

1.Indiana16.Charleston Southern/Norfolk St Dayton, OH

8.Saint Louis9.Missouri

5.Marquette12.Belmont Austin

4.Oregon13.Akron

6.Illinois11.Creighton Salt Lake City

3.New Mexico14.Valparaiso

7.Pittsburgh10.Virginia Kansas City

2.Kansas15.Stony Brook

WEST

1.Michigan St16.Robert Morris Auburn Hills, MI

8.UNLV9.Colorado

5.Butler12.Mississippi Austin

4.Georgetown13.South Dakota St

6.Ohio St11.Middle Tennessee St Salt Lake City

3.Arizona14.Davidson

7.Cincinnati10.La Salle Philadelphia

2.Duke15.Mercer

EAST

1.Florida16.Niagara Lexington, KY

8.Notre Dame9.San Diego St

5.Wisconsin12.Louisiana Tech Kansas City

4.Kansas St13.California/Temple

6.NC State11.Arizona St Dayton, OH

3.Louisville14.Stephen F. Austin

7.Minnesota10.Oklahoma San Jose

2.Gonzaga15.Montana

SOUTH

1.Miami(FL)16.Northeastern/Southern Lexington, KY

8.UCLA9.Wichita St

5.Colorado St12.Villanova/Alabama San Jose

4.Oklahoma St13.Bucknell

6.VCU11.Iowa St Philadelphia

3.Syracuse14.Harvard

7.Memphis10.North Carolina Auburn Hills, MI

2.Michigan15.Long Beach St

In graphical form

 

Hurricane Larranaga

Miami head coach Jim Larranaga has his team rolling towards an ACC title

You didn’t see it coming.  I didn’t see it coming.  They didn’t see it coming.  One team is taking the college basketball world by storm this season and it’s the Miami Hurricanes.

After fighting through some early season injuries that left unfavorable results, the Hurricanes have run roughshod over the ACC.  They’ve beaten both North Carolina and Duke by more than 20 at home and went to Raleigh to steal a road victory over NC State.

In an era of all-world freshmen, the key to Miami’s success is its age.  Miami is one of the most experienced teams in the ACC and you can see it with the way its being physical with its foes.

Every once a while a team pops up out of nowhere to have a special season a la Saint Josephs in 2004 and Auburn in 1999.  This could be one of those seasons for the ‘Canes.

Stock Up: The Atlantic 10.  The additions of Butler and VCU to the conference are paying instant dividends as the quality of the A-10 rivals most power six conference.  The league could legitimately send 5 or 6 teams to the Big Dance and some of those teams would be real threats to make it to the second weekend.

Stock Down: Colonial Athletic Association. Yikes.  What a difference a year makes.  This was a league you could rely on to possibly send two teams to the NCAA tournament.  Not this year.  The conference champion would do well to get a No. 14 seed in the tournament.

Stock Up: Louisiana Tech.  The Bulldogs haven’t lost a game since December 12 and is coasting through the WAC right now.  At 21-3, they’ve already dispatched Denver, New Mexico St, and Utah St, their chief rivals once and have return meetings set up.  Those three games are the only thing keeping me from declaring that race completely over.

Stock Down: The NCAA.  Collegiate athletics is taking so many L’s these days it’s not even funny.  From the way the organization handled the Myck Kabongo situation to the way it handled the Shabazz Muhammad situation, there’s no consistency and what seems to be selective enforcement.  At a time where colleges are grabbing more power for themselves the NCAA needs to stop self inflicting wounds.

On to the bracket.

Last Four In: North Carolina, Arizona St, Baylor, Temple

Last Four Out: Stanford, Alabama, St. John’s, California

This bracket is good for games played through 2/10

MIDWEST

1.Indiana16.Charleston Southern/Norfolk St Dayton, OH

8.San Diego St9.Colorado

5.Marquette12.Belmont Kansas City

4.Kansas13.Middle Tennessee

6.Kentucky11.Indiana St Salt Lake City

3.Arizona14.Davidson

7.NC State10.Saint Louis Philadelphia

2.Syracuse15.Florida Gulf Coast

WEST

1.Michigan16.Northeastern Auburn Hills, MI

8.UCLA9.Wichita St

5.Oklahoma St12.Temple/North Carolina   Austin

4.Louisville13.Lehigh

6.Cincinnati11.La Salle  Salt Lake City

3.New Mexico14.Valparaiso

7.Minnesota10.Oklahoma San Jose

2.Gonzaga15.Montana

EAST

1.Duke16.Bryant Philadelphia

8.Missouri9.Creighton

5.Wisconsin12.Baylor/Arizona St  San Jose

4.Pittsburgh13.Stephen F. Austin

6.Oregon11.Mississippi Dayton, OH

3.Butler14.Vermont

7.Notre Dame10.Iowa St Auburn Hills, MI

2.Michigan St15.Long Beach St

SOUTH

1.Miami(FL)16.Niagara/Southern  Lexington, KY

8.Memphis9UNLV

5.Ohio St12.Louisiana Tech  Austin

4.Georgetown13.Akron

6.Colorado St11.Virginia Kansas City

3.Kansas St14.Harvard

7.VCU10.Illinois Lexington, KY

2.Florida15.Western Illinois

In graphical form

Bracket for the week of 2/4-2/10, 2013

Last Four In: Virginia, Colorado, Indiana St, Air Force

Last Four Out: St. John’s, Alabama, Illinois, Charlotte

MIDWEST

1.Indiana.Charleston Southern/Norfolk St Dayton, OH

8.UCLA9.Mississippi

5.Georgetown12.Air Force/Virginia Kansas City

4.Kansas St13.South Dakota St

6.NC State11.Saint Louis Dayton, OH

3.Louisville14.Harvard

7.Wisconsin10.Baylor San Jose

2.Gonzaga15.Niagara

EAST

1.Michigan16.Florida Gulf Coast  Auburn Hills, MI

8.Colorado St9.North Carolina

5.Oregon12.Louisiana Tech Austin

4.Butler13.Lehigh

6.Oklahoma St11.Arizona St Philadelphia

3.Syracuse14.Stephen F. Austin

7.Wichita St10.Kentucky Philadelphia

2.Duke15.Long Beach St

WEST

1.Arizona16.Northeastern Salt Lake City

8.Notre Dame9.San Diego St

5.Creighton12.La Salle Austin

4.Ohio St13.Akron

6.Marquette11.Belmont Salt Lake City

3.New Mexico14.Davidson

7.Missouri10.Memphis Kansas City

2.Kansas15.Montana

SOUTH

1.Florida16.Bryant/Southern Lexington, KY

8.UNLV9.Iowa St

5.Minnesota12.Middle Tennessee San Jose

4.Cincinnati13.Indiana St/Colorado

6.Pittsburgh11.Southern Miss Auburn Hills, MI

3.Michigan St14.Valparaiso

7.VCU10.Oklahoma Lexington, KY

2.Miami(FL)15.Stony Brook