We have reached the conclusion to the College Basketball Season as the Final Four starts in less than 24 hours. As much as I love the Final Four. I hate to see the CBB season end. End is exactly what it's going to do, however. Everyone is wondering who's going to win the whole enchilada and take home the bacon. And every other bad metaphor you can think of. If your one of those people you've come to the wrong place. I will oblige all six of my readers however and make my picks as I've done all along.
Florida Vs. UCLA
If Florida wins this game the odds of me getting caught with a shank on the way to the mess hall greatly increase. As a Gators fan I think my friends are getting tired of hearing about them. As far as the game goes I think it all really depends on the Brewer-Afflalo match up. If Brewer can completely remove Afflalo from the game like he did in last season's championship game the Gators would likely coast into the title game. Collision is certainly an upgrade over Farmar at the point and I expect him to have a big impact on the game. Another Key match up will be Collision-Green at the point. If Collision can frustrate Green and create turnovers with his defense the Gators could be in trouble. Otherwise I think Green will get his and the Gators will win. UCLA's defense was outstanding against Kansas and if they can keep the pressure up and get the Gators into foul trouble I think the Bruins win.
Ohio State Vs. Georgetown
This game will likely be decided by which big man stays on the court and out of foul trouble. I'd put my money on Oden as he's much more athletic than Hibbert and I'd imagine he'll give the G'town big man fits inside. As for the perimeter I like Ohio State there as well as Ron Lewis and Mike Conley have both been fantastic throughout the tournament and I'd expect that to continue. The only way G'town wins is if Jeff Green has a monster game on both ends of the floor. I just think OSU has too much for the Hoyas.
Prediction: Ohio State
If I don't get time to pick a Champion here ya go. I think Ohio State will win despite the fact that I thought they were soft and overrated all season. I'm not to happy about this thought. But what can you do?
Friday, March 30, 2007
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
For my MLB season preview I have elected to put myself against my Xbox 360. The game of choice is MLB 2k7, which features some of the most realistic baseball graphics yet. My pride is likely to take another hit if and when I lose to a video game. I'll be checking in with these picks as the season progresses and finishes up. Just to see how far off I was. Shall we get on with the embarrassment?
Boston Red Sox 94-68
*New York Yankees 90-72
Toronto Blue Jays 82-80
Baltimore Orioles 79-83
Tampa Bay Devil Rays 61-101
New York Yankees 92-70
Boston Red Sox 84-78
Toronto Blue Jays 79-83
Baltimore Orioles 67-95
Tampa Bay Devil Rays 60-102
Thoughts: The Machine goes out on a bit of a limb here taking the Red Sox to win the division outright. I on the other hand in all my spineless glory will take the Yankees. I think the pitching will be good enough and the offense is still stacked from top to bottom. If I had to put Clemens somewhere I'd be in New York. I expect the Blue Jays to finish close to 2nd but miss out on a top 2 spot once again. I wouldn't be shocked to see the Devil Rays finish 4th and drop the O's into the cellar.
Detroit Tigers 94-68
Minnesota Twins 84-78
Chicago White Sox 82-80
Cleveland Indians 75-87
Kansas City Royals 72-90
Detroit Tigers 99-63
*Cleveland Indians 94-68
Minnesota Twins 88-74
Chicago White Sox 81-81
Kansas City Royals 66-96
Thoughts: A little bit of bias here as I live In Detroit and am an avowed Tigers fan. With that said I just don't think Cleveland has the pitching to win the division. While its possible the Tigers pitching staff has a hangover ala the White Sox last season. I don't think it'll happen and I like the addition of Sheffield and resigning of Casey a lot. I know Sheff's old but as power bat is all the Tigers needed. I think the Indians will slug their way into the playoffs but I still do not like the bullpen a whole lot. I think the Twins will miss Liriano and Radke a great deal as Garza and Johan will not be enough on the hill. The Sox I think will still struggle a little bit finishing forth. But considering the strength of the division and how often they'll play their divisional foes this isn't too bad. I almost penciled in KC as the last place team in the AL but I think they'll be just a little better than Tampa.
Seattle Mariners 89-73
Oakland Athletics 81-81
Texas Rangers 80-82
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 74-88
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 88-74
Oakland Athletics 86-76
Texas Rangers 80-82
Seattle Mariners 77-85
Thoughts: While I don't have them quite reaching 90 wins I think the Angels will be a lot like last years Tigers squad. The top of the rotation should be good with Colon, Lackey, Santana and Weaver. The Machine goes a different direction with the Mariners finishing at the top while the Angels bring up the rear. The A's could steal this division if Crosby and Harden can stay healthy.
New York Mets 94-68
Washington Nationals 88-74
Atlanta Braves 87-75
Florida Marlins 72-90
Philadelphia Phillies 68-94
New York Mets 91-71
*Philadelphia Phillies 89-73
Florida Marlins 77-85
Atlanta Braves 76-84
Washington Nationals 62-100
Thoughts: I think the Mets will regress slightly this season as their pitching woes continue. They should have went harder after Zito in the off-season to solidify the rotation. The offense will carry them once again as they narrowly escape an improving Phillies team to win the division. The Phillies I think are a year away from winning the division but they should be very good this year. All the walks Ryan Howard's going to get should have the Bonds effect on the offense. The machine surprises again here picking the Nationals to finish in second place just ahead of the Braves. I'm making a bit of a leap with the Marlins but I think if the pitching is anywhere near as good as it was during the second half last season the Marlins will compete to the end again.
Houston Astros 87-75
Chicago Cubs 80-82
Milwaukee Brewers 80-82
Cincinnati Reds 77-85
St. Louis Cardinals 77-85
Pittsburgh Pirates 70-92
Houston Astros 85-77
Milwaukee Brewers 83-79
St. Louis Cardinals 81-81
Chicago Cubs 80-82
Cincinnati Reds 70-92
Pittsburgh Pirates 67-95
Thoughts: I think the Astros offense will finally be better with the addition of Carlos Lee. They'll be the last team standing in the worst division in baseball when all is said and done. I think the Brewers make a solid run but just miss the playoffs. The Cardinals will slide as Wainwright and Carpenter are not enough on the mound. The Machine seems to agree this is a bad division as we pick the majority of it the same.
San Diego Padres 93-69
*San Francisco Giants 89-73
Los Angeles Dodgers 78-84
Arizona Diamondbacks 77-85
Colorado Rockies 76-86
Los Angeles Dodgers 89-73
San Diego Padres 84-78
Arizona Diamondbacks 81-81
San Francisco Giants 80-82
Colorado Rockies 76-86
Thoughts: The Machine seems to think this is a big year for the NL West as it send two teams into the playoffs. I like the Dodgers a lot this year as I think they'll improve over last season's first round playoff exit. I expect the pitching to be at least as good as it was last year and for Nomar and Co. to continue to get on base regularly. Padres could also win the division as they have solid top of the rotation starters and an up-and-coming young bat in Adrian Gonzalez.
Yankees over Tigers in 5
Mariners sweep Red Sox
Yankees over Mariners in 4
Tigers over Angels in 5
Yankees over Indians in 4
Tigers over Yankees in 7
Mets over Padres in 5
Padres sweep Astros
Padres over Mets in 7
Mets over Astros in 4
Dodgers over Phillies in 5
Dodgers over Mets in 6
Yankees over Padres in 5
Tigers over Dodgers in 6
Thoughts: The machine in no real shock takes the Yankees over a surprising Padres team. I like to very similar teams to meet in the World Series this year in LA and Detroit. I also like the Angels a lot because of their pitching and if they can get consistent production from the young bats they could be representing the AL in the series. In a bit of a homer pick I took the Tigers in six.
MVP - Manny Ramirez
Cy Young - Mike Mussina
Reliever Of The Year - B.J. Ryan
Rookie Of The Year - Kei Igawa (NYY)
MVP - Carlos Guillen
Cy Young - John Lackey
Reliever Of The Year - Fernando Rodney
Rookie Of The Year - DICE-K!! (BOS)
MVP - Jose Reyes
Cy Young - Noah Lowry
Reliever Of The Year - Brad Lidge
Rookie Of The Year - Matt Albers (HOU)
MVP - Albert Pujols
Cy Young - Roy Oswalt
Reliever Of The Year - Takashi Saito
Rookie Of The Year - Chris Young (ARZ)
Thoughts: Rather than go with what seems to be the norm and take Alex Gordon for AL rookie I took a chance on Dice-K. I also like Delmon Young a lot but I'm not sure he qualifies. Going out a a small limb with my AL picks as I took Carlos Guillen for MVP and John Lackey for Cy Young. I would rather take a chance that take Johan like everyone is. I like Jeremy Bonderman and Roy Halladay a lot this year as well. In the NL the Machine has some inspired picks with Noah Lowry winning the Cy Young. If that happens I'll defecate in my pants. The Reliever of the year category is a complete shot in the dark. It's only here because it was one of the top awards on the game.
That's it for me. I should be back in the next day or two with my final four thoughts among other things.
Friday, March 23, 2007
Signal To Noise knows that Kobe wants the damn ball. So give it to him. (Signal To Noise)
Hurricanes Are For Drinking doesn't have a lot of interest in Fantasy Dancing With The Stars. (Hurricanes Are For Drinking)
A Price Above Bip Roberts has a letter for Tubby Smith. (A Price Above Bip Roberts)
Mini Me thinks its time to fire Danny Ainge. (WBRS Sports Blog)
OMDQ is fine with Papelbon closing if... (One More Dying Quail)
Well I looked good for about 25 minutes on the Tennessee game but what can you do when a team blows a 20 point lead? Tennessee gave a valiant effort but the fact is their shooters just didn't stay hot. Vanderbilt could be in the very same situation tomorrow and I wouldn't be at shocked. Same goes for Oregon, Butler, and UNLV as well. Ohio State is clearly vulnerable though and I wouldn't be at all shocked if Memphis knocks them off in the Elite 8.
Kansas and Memphis should be thanking whoever it is they thank for those missed layups. Acie Law's missed layup, like it not, cost his team the game. That, however, was not even the worst part of the game. The worst part was sitting in my car trying to listen to it on Chicago A.M. 1000 (I live in MI). It went from sounding great to nothing but static every three to four seconds. I still cannot figure out WHY the Red Wings game was on TWO channels while the tourney games were not on any of the local sports channels. It still baffles me to this very minute. Not to mention listening to it for the 4-5 minutes it took them to figure out the clock situation. Law had a great career though and I look forward to watching him play for money.
As far as the Salukis go not only did Matt Shaw miss a layup but Jamaal Tatum missed the wide open follow. If the Salukis get that bucket theirs a very good chance they pull off the upset and go on to play UCLA. In what would have without a doubt been one or the ugliest games ever played for the right to advance to the Final Four. The Kansas-UCLA game should be interesting though I like Kansas. I think they have a defense that's arguably just as good as UCLA's and a much better offense.
If tonight was any indication tomorrow games should all be very good with the exception of one. Which of those games will mirror the Pitt-UCLA game I have no idea. I'll let you all know after all the game are over.
As far as the Tubby Smith move to Minnesota goes I really don't know what to think. Tubby got out to avoid a future axing it appears. He wasn't going to get fired this year though as Kentucky would have had to pay him 4 million to do that. Minnesota though? They haven't been any good since Bobby "Action!" Jackson was running the show. The Michigan job I thought would have made more sense for him but what do I know? Your right. Nothing. Michigan according to the local sports radio outlets appears interested in Lon Kruger.
Who's declared for the draft so far you ask? Two people NO ONE cares about. Glen Davis is probably a second round pick at best. He could be a solid pro in time ala Jason Maxiell here in Detroit but I think he'd be better served to go back to school. His size really turns "scouts" off. OK that sounded dirty. I feel the same way about Josh McRoberts who only hurt himself this season. He should have come out last year. Now he needs to stay. He's said he's hiring an agent though, so he obviously coming out. Their are too many big men in the draft this season if all those expected to come out do so. I don't think Josh reacts well to criticism and his NBA career will be less entertaining than the LPGA.
Steve Lavin quit calling EVERYONE big a LOAD. Your making Rick Majerus look brilliant which is a tough pull. That's it I'm done.
Thursday, March 22, 2007
#1 Kansas Vs. #4 Southern Illinois
This game has the potential to be ugly to watch given the defensive prowess of both teams. I'd love to say SIU will win but I just don't know if they can score enough to keep up with the Jayhawks. Especially with Matt Shaw likely to miss this game. My guess is Brandon Rush slows down Jamaal Tatum and Julian Wright does the same to Randal Falker and Jayhawks win by 10+.
#2 UCLA Vs. #3 Pittsburgh
This one should be even more unpleasant to watch than the Kansas-SIU game as neither of these teams score a whole lot. It's all defense and no offense in this one. Pittsburgh as far as I'm concerned is not very good and Aaron Gray is ineffective more often than he's effective. With that said I think the Bruins score just enough to advance.
#1 Ohio State Vs. #5 Tennessee
When these two teams played earlier this season the Buckeyes won a highly contested game by two points. Chris Lofton shot badly yet they still only lost by two. The Vols can win this game and I'd love to see them do it. Greg Oden is the key to this game. If his teammates get him involved early and keep him involved throughout I think the Buckeyes could dominate in this one. If the Vols are successful in pulling Oden out of the paint with Wayne Chism then the Vols have a very good chance to win. I say Lofton plays better and Tennessee sends home the first #1 seed this year.
#2 Memphis Vs. #3 Texas A&M
This one should be a lot like the Memphis-UCLA game in the Elite 8 last season. All defense and not a whole lot of offense. That game came down to who made plays late in the game. If I had to pick one guy to rely on late in a game I'd be the obvious choice Acie Law IV. If Joseph Jones establishes himself against Joey Dorsey and Dominique Kirk contributes even half of what he did against Louisville then the Aggies could win easily.
#1 North Carolina Vs. #5 Southern California
If anyone has the defense and offense needed to knock off the Heels the Trojans may be it. They showed in the Texas game they can take one player out of the game. If the Trojans can slow down Ty Lawson and keep this game in the half court I like their chances. UNC struggles defensively from time to time in the half court and this is USC's best shot to knock them off. When all is said and done though I think Lawson will get his team up and down the court at a fast enough tempo for the Heels to win. It'll be close all the way but I just think the Heels have to much.
#2 Georgetown Vs. #6 Vanderbilt
In beating Florida earlier this season Vandy showed they're shooting can negate any size. Will they shoot up near 60% though? I doubt it even as good as Derrick Byars has played I just don't see Vandy shooting well enough to pull this off. They have virtually no size and Roy Hibbert should dominate if he tries to. This one should look a lot like the match up earlier this season when G'town won by 16.
#1 Florida Vs. #5 Butler
This one really comes down to Taurean Green and Lee Humphrey's shooting. When they shoot poorly Florida loses and looks bad doing it. When they shoot well the Gators are virtually unbeatable. If those two shoot well the Gators should roll in this one. If they don't as they haven't recently the Gators could be in for a dog fight and it could come down to who makes plays down the stretch of the game. I won't be shocked if Butler does win this game but I think Florida will shoot well enough to advance.
#3 Oregon Vs. #7 UNLV
This could turn out to be the best game of the Sweet 16 as both of these teams like to shoot it from three. If they're both shooting well this one could end up in the high 80's and Oregon probably wins. Because when Oregon's hot they're on fire there seems to be really no in between. Wendell White will be the key to this game as he must penetrate and create for his teammates like he did in the two previous game if they're going to win. Kruger needs to shoot well from outside as well. I think UNLV has enough size to cause a few problems for the Ducks and they can certainly shoot it with them. I like the Rebels despite my bracket.
I only took two upsets here but I wouldn't be shocked if their were as many as four as we cut down to eight. Outside of UNLV and Tenn I think Butler, USC and Vandy can all win as well. No matter who wins the A&M-Memphis game it's not an upset so I didn't count that one. Anyhow I'm off to do homework. I'll be posting a little more next week.
Monday, March 19, 2007
For everything the opening round was not (exciting mainly) the second round was. Saturday had three overtime games, one of which was double overtime. Sunday had larger point spreads but still some solid games overall. The only way the second round was any better is if VCU completes the comeback with a win over Pitt on Saturday night. That and Florida knocks off Purdue by 60 but you don't always get what you want right? My issues with the CBS coverage continued though as with good games comes more mishandling. My Final Four is still intact though I'm not doing well overall. That's alright though as the games have been exciting over the past few days and that's all you can really ask for. Some other thoughts:
-The Greg Oden no-call highlighted the early games on Saturday. While on one hand I wish they would have called the Flagrant foul at the same time I do not like the Officials deciding games. But at some point the refs have to quit swallowing their whistles no mater what happens. They did, however, have no issue calling the last second foul in the Pitt-VCU game. (I found this interesting as I watched UNC get one call after another against Michigan State.) Levance Fields choked away those last second free throws but it didn't matter as Pitt won in OT.
-But is starting to shoot better and I can see them knocking off the Gators. The Gators would have to shoot poorly again and continue to play as if they're going to win regardless of effort. Watching Florida play is mind boggling to me as the talent is certainly there. This switch flipping is going to backfire on them sooner, rather than later as I see a possibility they miss the Final Four. You heard it here first though folks, Florida will not repeat as National Champions.
-CBS' brilliant coverage of the Vanderbilt-Washington State game still has me confused. This game went to double overtime yet I was not allowed watch but the end of regulation, OT 1 and then the majority of the second OT. I only got to watch the second OT because BC-G'town had ended.
-The Aggies have got to be excited about next year even without Acie Law. Dominique Kirk and Joseph Jones will be a formidable combo next season and they should still be a top-10 caliber team. How about Kirk on Saturday though? He knocked down one shot after another in route to a career high 21 points in the biggest game of his life. He played all 40 minutes of the game yet never really looked tired. Law was great but Kirk was the difference in the Aggies win over Louisville.
-UNC and UCLA both closed Saturday impressively by letting two teams they should beat easily hang around. UCLA probably looked worse as they let Indiana make a 16-3 run to tie the game with one minute left. The Bruins held on but how do you let this happen? Looked like they were just coasting to the finish line and I, for one, wish it would have cost them. In UNC"s case MSU was just out manned or they would have probably sprung the upset of the weekend. I said Neitzel would need forty and I was right as 40 for him would have sent the game to overtime at least. Did anyone else think it was wrong that Drew's dad made him do everything with his off-hand when he was 5 for a future basketball career? Borderline child abuse I'd say.
-I don't know if Southern Illinois can beat Kansas but I very impressed with their win over Virgina Tech. Maybe it's a good thing Illinois choked away the win in round 1 as the Illinois-SIU game could have been a brutal watch. Kansas probably has too many weapons but I'll be rooting for the Salukis.
-It's hard not to like UNLV after watching them blow a sizable lead against Wisconsin but still comeback and win. They never panicked and I think it's safe to say Lon Krueger will be coaching at a Big 6 school by next season.
-USC's Tim Floyd deserves an Oscar for his game plan against Texas. He took DJ Augustin out of the game eliminating Durant's sidekick and completely negating Durant's 30 points. Their was never any doubt USC was going to win that game. I wasn't shocked they won but I was very surprised how dominating they were. I won't be surprise din the least if they knock off the Tar Heels this weekend.
-Tennessee can actually win even when Lofton has an off night which has to be encouraging for the Vols. Lofton was 4-16 from the field on Sunday (though he still had 20) yet his team still came back from a halftime deficit to knock off the Cavs. Sean Singletary's 4-14 outing certainly helped though. The Vols re-match with Ohio State should be a good one as OSU won by 2 in Columbus earlier this year.
-Ohio State may actually be better without Greg Oden. Remember they gave UNC all they could handle before Oden returned from injury earlier this season. After Oden fouled out they definitely played better. I think it has more to do with the fact that Conley is better when he's the first option. Rather than them being a better team without the big man.
-The ACC (UNC) and Big Ten (Ohio State) have got to be disappointed as they each have one team remaining while the Pac-10 (Oregon, UCLA, and USC) and SEC (Florida, Vanderbilt, and Tennessee) each have three. I thought the ACC was over hyped all year and I'd say this proves that. I still have no idea how the Big Ten got 6 bids in the first place. They showed decently in the opening round and I think MSU, Purdue and Indiana will all be even better going forward. Wisconsin was disappointing but it was expected by nearly everyone after the Butch injury. I felt like regardless of who won the GT-UNLV game they'd beat Wisco and that's exactly what happened.
-The best game of the Sweet 16 should be the Memphis-Texas A&M game on Thursday evening. I anticipate a similar contest to the Memphis-UCLA game last year. A slow it down defensive team against a run n' gun team usually results in quality viewing.
That's it for me today. I'll be back tomorrow with some linkage and at some point before Thursday I'll make my Sweet 16 picks.
Friday, March 16, 2007
I don't just say that because today I went from either leader, or near leader in all of my pools to very near the cellar. In the two blog pools I'm completely ok with that because those guys (and girls) watch games and seem to know what they're talking about. But in my two personal pools, not so much. The current leaders in both of those pools have all chalk and that's it and this is why I'm losing. Because I take chances and truly look at match ups. These people watch two Michigan State games this year and then pick based on seeding. Those are the people who are supposed to be punished for wasting their money at this time in the year. Those non-fans who just try to make a quick buck but never pull it off. Well this year is the year of casual fan. The year of the Big Six conferences. The only upsets we'll be seeing will involve one "Major" knocking off another in the later rounds. The only two exceptions to that would be VCU and Winthrop who could win the Midwest the way things look right now. They did take Wisconsin to overtime this season remember. Their game with Oregon should favor them and it won't be a surprise if they win again.
After two days here are your upset total ladies and gentlemen: FIVE! Three of which are 9 seeds beating 8's. Which don't even count. Those are pick em's just like the 7-10's.
If you want to talk to me about SIU, Butler, Nevada and UNLV then you deserve to be slapped. All of those teams were the higher seed and a win by them at this point isn't really an upset. Some will claim if Nevada knocks off Memphis (they won't) or UNLV beats Wisconsin (they will) that those are upsets. Well they're not, sorry. Wisconsin isn't very good hence my Ga. Tech pick. I believe I said in my picks I thought whoever won the Ga. Tech-UNLV game would beat Wisconsin. After the stellar performance Wisconsin had today I think that's a legitimate thought.
I don't mind not winning any of my pools, thats fine. But to mostly "Hey a 1 is better than a 16 right?" kind of guys bothers me. Maybe I over analyzed or maybe Illinois just choked so hard I think Deron Williams coughed. I'll admit the Arkansas and Albany picks were probably more wishful thinking than anything. Moving on from my "I'm going to lose my pool and I'm wanted that $100 rant."
The tournament has still been horrible this year anyway you slice it. Even if I was looking at a perfect bracket I wouldn't be happy with this. IF VCU and Winthrop both miss out on the sweet 16 I may need Florida to win the whole thing to satisfy me this season. Last season it wasn't needed, this year it is. The best part of the tournament is watching some team you didn't even know existed beat the Duke's of the world. (VCU doesn't quite fit this category.)
Anyway I'm done complaining. It's just frustrating when the biggest sporting event of the year for me personally has sucked at this magnitude. Only 9 of 32 games decided by less than double digits what a joke. Now looking at tomorow's second round games...
Winners In BOLD (well who I think will win anyway)
#9 Xavier V #1 Ohio State - It'll be close though.
#4 Maryland V #5 Butler - Pace should dictate the winner here.
#6 Louisville V #3 Texas A&M - Only because I have them as National Runner-Up.
#6 Vanderbilt V #3 Washington State - I truly do not know so I'll take Wazzu because they're the higher seed.
#7 Boston College V #2 Georgetown - Dudley probably gets into foul trouble again.
#11 Virgina Commonwealth V #3 Pittsburgh - A VCU win could save this years tournament for me.
#7 Indiana V #2 UCLA - UCLA's D should be too much but I think Indiana can keep it close.
#9 Michigan State V #1 North Carolina - Lets hope MSU can end the day on a high note. I doubt it.
That's it for me. If you actually read the entire rant tan you deserve a gold star. Anyone else feeling like this years tournament has been disappointing so far?
My prediction of an upset heavy tourney seems way off thus far as only one true upset took place on Thursday. That one upset was a great one, however. Eric Maynor is the reason I picked VCU to advance to the Sweet 16 and on Thurday he did not disappoint. Let me just say though, I hate CBS. I don't care where I live when MSU is up by 20 and Duke is up by 2, I do not need to see the end of the MSU game. They didn't cut to VCU-Duke until the MSU-Marq game was under a minute. Hating Duke has never felt so good. My brother who doesn't follow college hoops at all seemed a little shocked at my excitement in the closing minutes of the Duke-VCU game. Some people just don't understand do they?
-Louisville was very impressive against Stanford. I know it's hard to play an east coast game in the morning for west coast teams but that was brutal. My Runner-up Texas A&M is in for a dog fight on Saturday. I'll nervously be watching that one with my fingers crossed.
-Vanderbilt also looked very good in their complete domination of George Washington. If Vandy comes out that hot on Saturday Washington State may not have a chance.
-My biggest upset picks take place tomorrow as I have Illinois, Creighton, and Georgia Tech all winning and advancing to the Sweet 16. Plus Albany and Arkansas picking up one win.
-In my main Bracket (JMCJ Blog Pool, and two work pools) I have the above picks and today I missed on BYU, Old Dominion and Texas Tech.
-I have to slap myself for the ODU pick after picking Butler on this very blog earlier this week.
-Let's all hope that the favorites start losing with a little more consistency. The NBA rule's affect is clear so far. All those potential Lottery picks having to go to school appears to have widened the gap for the time being. I expect it to close dramatically over the next few years though. More and more should be Blue Devils will end up at Davidson and the like. The future of college basketball should be exciting even if this years tournament lacks the upset punch that made last years so special.
-UNC may lose earlier than many expected. They let EKU back into the game before blowing them out all over again. I expect the Spartans to give them a run for their money come Saturday.
-On my Awful Announcing bracket I'm perfect with the exception of Texas Tech. My thirst for Bob Knight quotes seems to have blinded me on that one.
-Xavier will give Ohio State a game on Saturday, I'm certain of that.
-If your looking for a place to catch the game at work and you don't wanna pay for MMOD check out all the live blogging going on at WBRS Sports Blog and Awful Announcing.
I'm sure I'm missing some things that I wanted to mention here but I can't wait for tomorrow non the less.
A few questions for all six of you readers. How does your bracket look after one day? What do you see happening on Saturday? Do you think VCU can not only beat Pitt but stun UCLA?
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
Alright it's time to take a look at the last two regions just 12 hours before the first game. The two regions below are probably the two toughest to pick as I think the #1 seeds road is tougher (UNC) or their overrated (Ohio State). I consider these two regions the hardest to pick because of my lack of faith in both of the #1 seeds. Yet in Ohio State's case the question becomes, who in the hell is going to beat them before the Elite 8? Here's what I've got:
#1 North Carolina - #16 Eastern Kentucky
Unfortunately for EKU UNC will absolutely walk here. Thanks for coming I guess.
#8 Marquette - #9 Michigan State
They're saying Jerel McNeal will not play in this game. With that in mind I'm taking the Spartans as McNeal the Big East defensive player of the year would have given Drew Neitzel fits. With him out I expect Neitzel to play well and will his team into the 2nd round.
#5USC - #12 Arkansas
I'm taking the Razorbacks here as I think their size up front will be the difference. As long as Charles Thomas is at 90% after injury his ankle against Floirda I think the Hogs can will pull this one off.
#4 Texas - #13 New Mexico State
I really liked Reggie Theus' team this season but unfortunately they've drawn the best player in the country. Durant will not let his team go down in round 1 and the Horns will advance. Don't be shocked however if The Aggies make it a close one.
#11 George Washington - #6 Vanderbilt
This appears to be the trendy first round upset pick among blogger's. I won't be biting as I think Derrick Byars will play well and the overall athleticism of Vandy will be too much for GW.
#3 Washington State - #14 Oral Roberts
I like Caleb Green a lot and I think the Golden Eagles can definitely win this game behind Green and Ken Tutt. With that said I'm going to take Washington State as I got to watch them play a few times this season and I think their defense will play well enough to win. This one, however, could go either way.
#7 Boston College - #10 Texas Tech
The two arguably worst teams from their conferences to receive bids to the tournament square off here. I greatly dislike them both in round 2 so I'll take Tech with the hope that Bob Knight is his usual candid self during the round 2 interview session.
#2 Georgetown - #15 Belmont
This should be an hard game to watch as the much bigger Hoyas will likely dominate Belmont. Here's to hoping its not the game that's on in my area.
Well after my power flashed and I lost these picks. Lets do them again shall we.
#1 North Carolina - #9 Michigan State
Assuming Drew Neitzel doesn't score forty points I think North Carolina rolls here. The Spartans are going to need to dominate the glass as well something I consider unlikely. This season's Spartan team lacks the experience to close the talent gap between them and the Heels. UNC could walk in this one but it'll be competitive early.
#4 Texas - #12 Arkansas
The hogs won't have anyone who can even slow Durant down let alone stop him. I think he score in the neighborhood of 30 as Texas advances to the Sweet 16.
#3 Washington State - #6 Vanderbilt
This one should be a good one as I think Vandy will shoot well enough to keep it close and maybe even win. The Cougars will have too much defense and Derrick Low is the reason I'm going with them.
#2 Georgetown - #10 Texas Tech
The Hoyas finish a rather pedestrian first weekend with a win here. Though I do think the Hoyas are in for a let down as Jay Bilas picked them to win the whole thing. Rooting for a blowout though so and hoping Knight gets asked a stupid question.
#1 North Carolina - #4 Texas
This one has instant classic written all over it. Numerous future NBA stars will face off for the right to go to the Elite 8. Now that the build up is over with I can make my pick. Until tonight I was sure that Texas would win this game. I now think UNC will get it done. They have plenty of athletic guys that they can throw at Kevin Durant to try and slow him down. I expect this one to be a lot like the two Kansas games as Texas falls short just barely.
#2 Georgetown - #3 Washington State
This could be a very interesting game as Washington State's up and down style could take the Hoyas out of their comfort zone. If the Hoyas can keep it slow their size should dominate the Cougars inside. I expect the latter to be the case as Georgetown wins in a surprisingly close one.
#1 North Carolina - #2 Georgetown
After playing a tough Texas team just two days earlier UNC comes out flat and gets down early as Jeff Green puts his team on his back in the early going. Johnathan Wallace and Patrick Ewing Jr. provide much needed energy for the Hoyas as Roy Hibbert spends a lot of the game on the bench in foul trouble. In the end I think its a little too much Green for the Heels as Georgetown manages to dodge the kiss of death that is Jay Bilas and knocks off a tired UNC team to reach the Final Four.
#1 Ohio State - #16 Central Connecticut State
Greg Oden should have a big day against the other Blue Devils as the Buckeyes advance.
#8 BYU - #9 Xavier
A lot of people like Xaveir here but I'm taking Keenen Young is the real deal inside and the Cougars will advance in what should be a pretty close game.
#5 Tennessee - #12 Long Beach State
As much as I hate Tennessee I think Chris Lofton will show up and be ready to go for this one. These two teams play a very similar style on both ends of the floor so it should feel like practice for them both. I think LB will keep it close but I like Lofton and the Vols to advance and avoid the dreaded 12-5 upset.
#4Virgina - #13 Albany
The Great Danes almost knocked off UCONN in the first round of last season's tournament and returned their best player. I expect Jamar Wilson to have a big day as Albany knocks off the over seeded Cavaliers. I know Sean Singletary is a fantastic player but it's his 39% shooting percentage that scares me and is a big part of the reason for my pick.
#6 Louisville - #11 Stanford
Stanford is among the last four in like Illinois and Arkansas two teams I've picked to advance past the opening round. Stanford is where it ends as I expect Louisville in Lexington to take advantage of the hometown crowd and advance to the second round.
#3 Texas A&M - #14 Pennsylvania
The Aggies shouldn't have a lot of problems here as I think they're the best team in the region. It's their second round game where I have concerns.
#7 Nevada - #10 Creighton
I've noticed a lot of people are hopping onto the Nevada bandwagon over the last few days. All I have to say about that is watch your step as your jumping right back off. The Wolf Pack play absolutely NO defense and they come into the tournament in a bit of a slump. I expect Creighton's to stifle the Pack's shooters and and Anthony Tolliver to push Nick Fazekas around inside.
#2 Memphis - #15 North Texas
Memphis blew one Conference USA team after another out of the water this season. I expect this to be similar to those games as Memphis walks moves on to round 2.
#1 Ohio State - #8 BYU
I almost want to take the Cougars here as I think their big's will give Oden trouble. Conley Jr and co. will be a little too much on the perimeter for the Cougars.
#5 Tennessee - #13 Albany
I think Chris Lofton continues to shoot the lights out in this one as he's got to be looking forward to that rematch with the Buckeyes in the Sweet 16.
#3 Texas A&M - #6 Louisville
This may be the toughest game The Aggies will face before the Elite 8. Louisville's youngsters create all kinds of problems the fact that the game is in Lexington is only one of them. I think Derrick Caracter falls off the wagon and Acie Law's refusal to let his team lose in the 2nd round again this year is enough to get A&M into the Sweet 16.
#10 Creighton - #2 Memphis
Here's an upset for you my second #10 seed to advance to the Sweet 16 is the Blue Jays. They outlast their MVC counterpart SIU and reach the Sweet 16. I think they're defense and is just too much for Memphis. It'll be close but the Tigers will miss a bunch of free throws and allow the Jays to steal it.
#1 Ohio State - #5 Tennessee
While the Buckeyes have improved a great deal since these two met in Columbus on January 13th (The Buckeyes got a controversial 2 point win). I think Tennessee has a great shot to knock off the #1 seed. In the end however I think the Buckeyes size inside will be a little too much as they squeak out another close one.
#3 Texas A&M - #10 Creighton
This one should be all defense a very little offense. Nate Funk and Acie Law would be a fun match up to watch. In the end I think the Aggies win. This team is on a mission.
#1 Ohio State - #3 Texas A&M
This one will be very good and I think it could go either way, like most of the late round match ups. Joseph Jones and Antanas Kavaliauskas are bangers inside and will give Oden fits. On the perimeter Acie Law's defense is likely to do the same to Mike Conley. It'll be close though and an interesting tidbit about Law from Yahoo.com: " If Law's scoring in the final four minutes of Big 12 games was projected over 40 minutes, he'd average 63 ppg." That right there is the difference folks as A&M advances to the Final Four.
#1 Florida - #2 UCLA
A re-match of last season's title game seems inevitable looking at the brackets. I for one am excited to see if this season's Bruin squad can make this one a little closer than they did last year. Having a week to prepare will certainly help Ben Howland's group. I just think Al Horford and Noah inside are too much for a Bruins team that really doesn't have an inside presence at all. Corey Brewer should give Aaron Afflalo fits once again as the Gators get back to the championship game.
#3 Texas A&M - #2 Georgetown
This one is the toughest call of of the two final four match up. After very little thought I decided to go with my heart and take the Aggies. Seeing their second seven footer in under a week won't seem like such a big deal after dispatching the better one the previous weekend. I think Acie Law is on a mission and his taking his team mates along for the ride. Green should continue his good play here but I think Hibbert disappears and A&M commands the inside with its two big men men.
#1 Florida - #3 Texas A&M
For me its been between these two since the Aggies knocked off my third contender Kansas on the road a month or so ago. A&M had no business wining that game but they did and that's a big part of the reason I want to pick them here. I however, will not be doing that as Florida's balance will be just too much. I think Horford takes home tourney MVP this time around as he and Humphrey must play well for them to even think about pulling this off. I'm hoping they do find a way to get it done. But I won't be shocked if Texas A&M walks out of Atlanta with the trophy.
That's it for me. I'm generally pretty good at picking Final Four teams. Its getting the champion right I'm not too good at. Enjoy the Madness all, I know I will.
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
Let me first say that I am probably so far off base here in the long run that I have successfully cost myself $20 dollars. Not only that but in trying to figure out how to not pick the same Final Four as 97.5% of ESPN I may have completely destroyed what was once a promising bracket. Oh how far I've fallen since picking 6 of last seasons final eight correctly. I have on MORE than one occasion completely ignored my own pre-bracket release predictions. I have officially filed Jay Bilas, Digger Phelps and even Hubert Davis under the growing "should be unemployed" list that is set to debut in the next few weeks. Whether they're right or not, picking strait chalk across the bracket is nothing but cowardly. Doug Gottlieb should be spending more time on the Game Day set than any of those three. At least he had the cajones to pick UNLV into the Elite 8 to go with all his chalk. Also for more preview action from your favorite analyst you don't have to listen to check out my rundown over at JCMJ.
#1 Florida - #16Jackson State
Obviously taking the Gators here, but it should be fun the watch the Nations #2 scorer in Trey Johnson of J-State.
#8 Arizona - #9 Purdue
I'm going to take Arizona here even though my head screams Purdue will win. Arizona has the talent for sure but they've played so bad over the past month or so you wonder if Marcus Williams is just ready to be drafted already. Arizona is getting the same "could beat the #1 seed" hype it got last year from ESPN. I'll ruin my predictions now and say they will not.
#5 Butler - #12 Old Dominion
I almost don't even care anymore who wins this game. I'd rather ODU had drawn USC and Butler was hosting Arkansas but what can you do? I expect Butler to force ODU to shoot a lot of three's something the Monarchs are not the greatest at. ODU getting handled by George Mason decides this one for me. I'll take Butler in what I could argue is an upset.
#4 Maryland - #13Davidson
Trust me I want to take Davidson because Maryland is a threat to the Gators but I'll go with the Terps here. I'm looking forward to getting a look at Stephen Curry as I missed the SoCon final last week.
#6 Notre Dame - #11 Winthrop
I'm taking Winthrop but I think this game could resemble the VMI-Winthrop Big South final. I look forward to Digger's boys going down in round 1. I just wish I could they'd get blown out.
#3 Oregon - #14 Miami, Ohio
I'm going to assume Miami is a 14 because they pre-seeded the MAC winner expecting a Toledo or Akron champion. Miami finished the season 18-14 and needed the ugliest buzzer beater of all-time to beat Akron. I think Oregon walks in what could be the most lopsided first round game of this region.
#7 UNLV - #10 Georgia Tech
So Ga. Tech hasn't won but one true road game in two years you say? Well its sink or swim for me with this pick as I'm taking Ga. Tech here and that my friends is not all.
#2 Wisconsin - #15 Texas A&M-CC
I think this will be closer than the fans in Madison would hope. But the game is in Chicago and if Wisconsin lost this I one of my friends may indeed bust out the noose. With that in mind I'm taking Wisconsin but I wouldn't be shell shocked if TAMU-CC pulls it off.
#1 Florida - #8 Arizona
Arizona shows up about as well as they did against Oregon and Florida blows through the first weekend forgetting they even played a game.
#5 Butler - #4 Maryland
Congratulations Butler you performed perfectly as far as seed expectations go. Maryland should shut Graves down and knock off the Bulldogs without too much trouble.
#11 Winthrop - #3 Oregon
Much like Winthrop first round game this one will be a fast paced three point shootout. I want to take the Eagles here but they got a bad draw. Oregon wins in a close one.
#2 Wisconsin - #10 Georgia Tech
My falling opinion of Wisconsin since Brian Butch's injury is well documented. I like the Yellow Jackets and their horrendous road record to spring the upset. If UNLV beat Ga. Tech I like them to beat Wisconsin also for the record.
My original bracket had a Sweet 16 of Florida, Old Dominion, Winthrop and Georgia Tech. I felt I was a little double digit heavy and cut it down. Plus I did some actual research on a few teams.
#1 Florida - #4 Maryland
The winner of this game WILL win the region. I'm going to take Florida as I think their overall balance will be enough to get past the Terps.
#3 Oregon - #10 Georgia Tech
I'm going to take the Ducks and their quartet of guards in this one assuming the shooting touch is still there two weeks removed from the Pac-10 tourney championship.
#1 Florida - #3 Oregon
It pains me to have nearly the same two at the end of this bracket as the rest of the nation. But what can I say I like both of these teams a lot. The first Nine N' 5 will attest to that. To bad the Ducks didn't fall into the South they could have ruined some brackets. But in this region they're one of the favorites, go figure right? It's somewhat ironic Florida will take out another four guard team to make the Final Four.
#1 Kansas - #16 Niagara
As much as I love Purple Eagles, especially the occasional sighting over the falls. I think Kansas wins this one but it'll be a little bit closer than expected.
#8 Kentucky - #9 Villanova
It looks like Nardi's not going to play in this one but I'll still take Villanova. I say Scottie Reynolds goes insane and drops 41 for a new career high.
#5 Virgina Tech - #12 Illinois
Here I go completely ignoring my previous predictions as I take Illinois to knock off Virgina Tech. Va. Tech is way to inconsistent for my taste and as bad as Illinois was this season I think they'll slow the Hokies down and take them out of their comfort zone. It'll still be tight but I think Illinois sneaks by.
#4 Southern Illinois - #13 Holy Cross
This could be one of the best games of the first round as both teams specialize at the defensive end. These two have nearly identical PPG (63.15/64.24) and PPGA (56.45/57.36) totals and I wouldn't be shocked to see this game end in a 1 point win for.... Southern Illinois. I almost have to pick them so there you go.
#6 Duke - #11 VCU
While they're from the CAA they're not George Mason, its VCU. New head coach, and former Florida Assistant Anthony Grant steps in and leads VCU to the CAA regular and conference titles in his first year. That's impressive given the strength at the top of the CAA this season. I'm going to roll with VCU here as I hate Duke, and they'd lose in round 2 anyway so who cares. That damn Sweet 16 streak ends this year Coach K.
#3Pittsburgh - #14 Wright State
I was all set to take Pitt who I think is the most over rated team of all those in the "Major" conferences. But to hell with it, I said last week I'd take Wright State if these two played so to hell with it that's what I'm going to do. DaShaun Wood I'm counting on you to make me a genius.
#7 Indiana - #10 Gonzaga
This one is quite the toss up from my perspective. I'll take Indiana as I think the D.J. White and Earl Calloway will play well against Gonzaga's no defense approach.
#2 UCLA - #15 Weber State
See Ben Howland take on his Alma-mater. See Ben Howland's Bruins trounce his Alma-mater.
#1 Kansas - #9 Villanova
I think Brandon Rush for the most part puts the clamps down on Scottie Reynolds as Kansas advances to the round of 16 for the first time in three seasons.
#4 Southern Illinois - #12 Illinois
As much as I hate to say it Bruce Webber will meet his former team and send them home earlier than I'd like. This one could be ugly to watch as I'd expect the final score to barely get over 50.
#11 VCU - #14 Wright State
As much as I'd like to pick Wright State here a #14 seed has never beaten a #11 in the second round. Not to mention I'm already on a huge limb taking WSU to beat Pitt.
#2 UCLA - #7 Indiana
The Gonzaga rematch is avoided but the result is just the same for the Bruins. They'll get past Indiana without a whole lot of trouble as D.J. White gets into foul trouble early.
#1 Kansas - #12 Illinois
Much like it would have been with the Southern Illinois boys Illinois's defense will annoy Kansas. In the end the 'Hawks pull away for a relatively comfortable win. By relatively I mean 6+ by the way.
#11 VCU - #2 UCLA
For all those Ben Howland plays two teams he has ties to fans I'm sorry. Pitt will not make it this far or anywhere for that matter and UCLA will win again. I wish VCU was Final Four bound but I just don't see it. UCLA should win in a somewhat close game by 10.
#1 Kansas - #2 UCLA
It looks like nothing but chalk if you scrolled directly to this spot but it's not. The Bruins get Julian Wright into quick foul trouble running one guy after another at the big man forcing him to spend most of the first half on the bench. This allows UCLA to build a comfortable 9 point halftime lead that they barely hold onto in one of the most thrilling game of the tournament so far.
Well that's it for the first two regions. Thoughts? Am I a complete jackass? Let know if you feel so inclined.
Monday, March 12, 2007
As I visited all the major sports sites today I found myself shocked. Not only was I generally agreeing with all the so called experts I currently have the same Final Four as a number of them. The so called experts are wrong every year. These guys get paid to cover this stuff yet they can't pick a bracket to save their lives. Now that I'm suddenly agreeing with them I see something very, very interesting coming this weekend. If you thought last year was crazy just wait for this weekend.
I have a feeling we may be looking at the most upset heavy opening weekend in recent memory. Never mind a Mid-Major in the Final Four because I don't see one who can pull it off this season. Instead settle for a pair of potential #14 seeds in the Sweet 16 (Wright State, Oral Roberts). Three double digit seeds still standing come the second weekend in the Midwest (Ga. Tech, Winthrop, and Old Dominion). The supposed bad SEC should show well, I see a little Tennessee vengeance if the rematch with Ohio State happens. Both Missouri Valley schools should survive the opening weekend Creighton as continues to roll after their Conference Tourney win.
In the next few days I'll really dive deep into this as I try to slowly overhaul my bracket so it looks nothing like anything Jay Bilas would pick. Because we all know Jay Bilas is a moron who likes to start arguments with Joe Lunardi when all Lunardi is doing is trying to predict what the committee will do. Tomorrow night when I return from class I will start looking at the regions making my official upset picks and locking my bracket down so that I can end this month about $500 richer than I started it.
Sunday, March 11, 2007
For the final edition of The Nine N' Five this season I'm throwing out all previous standings. No longer does it matter where you were in the last nine a week and a half ago. The following nine are the most likely to walk away Nation Champions in order of most to least likely. Without further ado here are my Nine most likely Champions come April 2nd.
1. Florida Gators
I have to give Florida the #1 slot after playing well in the SEC tournament winning each game by 17+ points. They key for the Gators is defense and keeping their bigs out of foul trouble. If they can do that I think The Gators will be repeat National Champions in 2007.
2. North Carolina Tar Heels
Arguably the most talented team in the country, not to mention the deepest. The Tar Heels ended NC State's Cinderella run in the ACC tourney 89-80 today to capture their first ACC Tourney championship since 1998. They're the biggest threat to Florida in large part because of their inside depth. They'll be able to run one guy after another at Noah and Horford to try and get the two Florida bigs into foul trouble. I expect Florida to miss playing them though as both should be a #1 Seed and UNC could get beat by a more experienced and consistent club before they reach Atlanta.
3. Kansas Jayhawks
Probably the second deepest team in the nation after UNC. The Hawks fantastic trio of perimeter guys (Rush, Collins, and Chalmers) combined with Julian Wrights versatility make the Jayhawks a very tough team to defend. It's important for Wright to stay out of foul trouble if the Jayhawks are going to reach Atlanta and compete for the National Championship.
4. Georgetown Hoyas
Jeff Green alone has carried this team over the last month or so with unexpected help from Patrick Ewing Jr. in the Big East Tournament. Roy Hibbert needs to be more aggressive inside and impose his will on defenders if they do indeed hope to win the National Championship.
5. UCLA Bruins
No team has ever won the National Championship after losing their first game in their conference tournament. UCLA could be the exception to the rule but their lack of true quality up front will ultimately be there undoing. Not to mention Aaron Afflalo can be shut down as we seen in the Cal game. Something likely to happen should they run into a team with a perimeter stopper.
6. Texas A&M Aggies
The Aggies defense alone makes them a Final Four contender but will their lack of offensive punch due them in? Acie Law is fantastic but outside of him no one on the team other than maybe Joseph Jones has been consistent enough on the offensive end. I think in the end their offense probably costs them the Championship but a Final Four berth is what I'm expecting.
7. Texas Longhorns
They've morphed from the greenest team in the country to arguably the most dangerous. No one wants to see this team as the 3-4 seed in their region. Kevin Durant is incredibly difficult to defend because of his length. He can get his shot off whenever he wants and he also dominates on the glass at both ends. This team does seem to tired down the stretch of games and I could see that costing them the Final Four this year. Next year Durant or not though this team will be back in the mix.
8. Ohio State Buckeyes
Its not secret I do not like the Buckeyes at all. They tend to forget who their playing with at times and tend to fall in love with the 3-ball. I think theirs a goo chance they don't even make the Elite 8. That said I'm not a genius by any stretch and it wouldn't totally shock me if the Buckeyes cruised to Atlanta. When they get their though they'll be going home. They've lost to every top tier team they've played except Wisconsin. I for the record do not have Wisconsin on the top tier anymore.
9. Wisconsin Badgers
I feel like I have to include the Badgers on this list given what they've accomplished this season. With that said I think Wisconsin is the worst of all the teams projected to land on the top 2 seed lines. Since losing Brian Butch they're offense, which was already slow has bogged down even more. They scored just 26 points in the first half of the Big Ten final against Ohio State. The Badgers only chance for a title is Alando Tucker taking over every game they play. Tucker doesn't really have that personality and I'd be very surprised if he suddenly developed it over night.
Honorable Mentions: Memphis, Louisville, Oregon, and Southern Illinois.
The Final 5: Most Likely First Round Upsets at First Glance
5. #11 Winthrop over #6 Notre Dame
4. #12 Old Dominion over #5 Butler
3. #14 Wright State over #3 Pittsburgh
2. #14 Oral Roberts over #3 Washington State
1. #13 Albany over #4 Virgina
A few notes, Drexel getting left out when Stanford, Illinois and Purdue all got in. At least ODU got in. Kinda thought the reason Drexel would get in was because Syracuse was likely to get and they beat them. Neither get in though and the ODU-Drexel head to head may have cost the Dragons.
I'll have more tourney coverage as the week progresses.
Wednesday, March 7, 2007
After winning the Battle for the Aggro-Crag College Hoops Pick 'em over at Just Call Me Juice (along with Signal To Noise) I was given a guest spot on JCMJ. I elected to stay in the CBB vein and posted "Who Could Be This Years.." a look at who could be this years versions of George Mason, LSU etc. It's all just speculation based on what I've seen this year and how the brackets look come Sunday could change my mind entirely. That said I wanted to do it now as next week will be dedicated to the brackets themselves.
NOTE: The Nine N' Five for this week will be up in the next few days. I want to let as many conference tourneys as possible finish up and those that do not finish get a little deeper.
Sunday, March 4, 2007
Yesterdays VMI-Winthrop was one of the best games I have watched all year and it emphasized why championship week (technically two weeks) is one of the best of the year in College Basketball. VMI lead the nation in scoring and steals this season running an all out press on defense and a less organized version of the Phoenix Suns offense all season. These particular philosophy's led the Keydets to a 5-9 conference record and #6 seed in the tournament. In this game VMI actually broke the Division I record for steals in a season with 490. The Keydets shocked their conference foes switching from the fun-n-gun to a more slow paced offense with a 2-3 zone base defense. After Winthrop torched VMI by 32 points and then 13 this season many expected this game to be much more of the same. This game however was very, very different. Winthrop's largest lead was nine, on the same floor that the 32 point spanking had taken place. That nine point lead was followed by a quick VMI rally to pull it close again. Every time it looked like the Eagles would pull away VMI rallied back to within 2-3 points and kept it interesting. While VMI only held maybe 1-2 leads the entire game they played very well and certainly had the Eagles a little nervous. After all this Eagles team isn't quite a lock if they lose this game despite all four of their losses coming against the RPI top 16 including an OT loss to Wisconsin. In the end Winthrop triumphed over VMI to capture the auto-bid in the Big South and save themselves from sweating it out until next Sunday night.
As much as I like the Eagles and want them to get into the tourney I almost wish they had lost just to see if they could get the at-large I think they deserve. Despite his great year I'd have to think Reggie Williams will stay in school for his senior season and if the Holmes twins (Chavis and Travis) play the way they did Saturday VMI should be good next season. I'd have to imagine the new style will stick given their tourney success. Can't help but wonder how good they might have been had they played it all season though. The familiarity would have certainly helped out I would imagine. But at least for next year I think Winthrop might just have some company on top of the Big South, don't you?
Saturday, March 3, 2007
Well I've always liked Dick Vitale for the most part even with his constant yammering on about the ACC. His distinctive ability to put Duke into the tournament whether they're 7-19 (unrealistic I know) overall or 22-4 is amazing. But this time Dickie V loses his free pass with me. Duke is one thing this is another.
"I'd take Horford over him [Noah]. You know who told me that in confidence? Billy Donovan grabbed me all alone and said the pro scouts are making a mistake. He said there's no way I would take Noah over -- he said he would never say that publicly -- over Horford." Audio Link
I realize this isn't technically his fault but regardless, it's inexcusable. I'm going to go ahead and blame Dick for Florida's lack of defense, three point shooting and all of their other recent woes while I'm at it. Actually thats a lie, but so was saying I've always liked Dickie V. He's annoying and I more or less hate the ACC and all the people who line up to give Coach K mustache rides. I haven't seen this anywhere other than where I found it so I thought I'd chuck it out there for the rest of you to digest. The Gators have generally appeared to be quite the level headed bunch but for a reeling team could this be the final straw? After all the ugly kid needs to at least get drafted first doesn't he?
Credit: Luke Winn of SI for the link
Thursday, March 1, 2007
Teams continue to fight for tournament position as we head down the home stretch of the regular season. Two top teams head into the week on two game losing streaks (UF, Wisc). Whoever wins the Big 12 surely deserves a one seed now that Florida has coughed it up, don't they? The list takes a new look this week as I drop not two but three top tier teams off the list all together after losses this past week. Partially because they don't deserve they're spot and partially because we need some fresh blood in The Nine.
1. Kansas (1) 26-4 13-2
The Jayhawks hold steady at the top spot after blowing out Iowa State and then escaping Oklahoma with a two point victory. I'm beginning to like the Hawks a lot heading into March and a Big 12 tournament title could convince me this team is finally ready for prime time. First though the Hawks must host Texas with the league title on the line in the two's only meeting of the season.
This Week: Regular Season Finale 3/3 Texas
2. UCLA (3) 25-3 14-2
The Bruins continue to be one of, if not the most consistent team in the country with a wins over Cal and Stanford. The Cardinal you may remember knocked off the Bruins earlier this season at their place. Standford didn't even make it much of a game when they traveled to Pauley falling by 14. Wazzu's loss this past week pretty much guaranteed the Bruins the Pac-10 regular season title with a win in either of their final two games. That win they'll get for sure in the season finale at Washington, that is if they don't get it Thursday in Spokane.
This Week: 3/1 @ Washington State, Regular Season Finale 3/3 @ Washington
3. Ohio State (4) 26-3 14-1
The Buckeyes finally find a way to get past Florida and that 26-point beat down the Gators handed them earlier this season after clinching the Big Ten regular season title. They barely got by Wisconsin, squeezing out the narrowest of victories with a one point win. Brian Butch's injury gives them the inside track to the Big Ten tourney title as well as a #1 seed in the dance. I still think they're going down early in the tournament regardless of their regular season achievements. They should be able to handle Michigan on the road to close out the regular season and put an end to the Wolverines season officially.
This Week: Regular Season Finale 3/3 @ Michigan
4. Florida (2) 25-5 12-3
The Gators dropped two more this week but didn't fall too far thanks to losses by the majority of those behind them in the standings. This team is finishing a lot like last years team did but I just don't know if they can pull off the repeat the way they're playing. They're no longer a #1 seed though I think that could be good for a team that would prefer to be the underdog. Al Horford is the only player who still plays defense when they get down and if that continues the Gators will end their repeat bid on the first weekend. The LSU loss in unforgivable though LSU has looked better without Glen Davis in the lineup if you can believe that. The Tennessee loss didn't really surprise me as I was expecting it the way they've played on the road recently. If they lose their finale to Kentucky at home this week and go out early in the conference tourney the Gators could be looking at a #3 seed if those below them can close strong.
This Week: Regular Season Finale 3/4 Kentucky
5. Southern Illinois (9)
The Salukis wrapped up the MVC regular season title last Saturday with a win over Evansville. If they can win the conference tournament they could get as high as a #3 seed, but I see them as a #4. I don't expect them to win "Arch Madness" as it usually features quite a few upsets and a Mo State, or Bradley tourney victory isn't out of the question.
This Week: Conference Tournament 3/1-4
6. Memphis (UNR) 25-3 14-0
I am finally giving the Tigers their due in The Nine with the six spot this week as they have already clinched the Conference USA regular season title and are looking likely to sneak into the dance as a #3 seed. While I think Memphis has talent just like last year I think they benefited from a good draw last season and it's unlikely that happens again. For that reason I think the Tigers go home earlier than they're expecting but the Sweet 16 is not out of the question.
This Week: 3/1 @ UTEP Regular Season Finale 3/3 @ SMU
7. Washington State (5) 23-5 12-4
The loss this week at Oregon really didn't surprise me as the Ducks did beat them in Spokane. The Ducks however had been struggling of late and I expected that to continue but was wrong. I still like Wazzu a lot in the dance and they should still get at the very least a #4 seed. A share of the Pac-10 title would help and they can take a step in that direction with a win over UCLA on Thursday. I think they find a way to beat the Bruins but I like UCLA's chances of knocking off Wazzu's in-state rival on Saturday.
This Week: 3/1 UCLA, Regular Season Finale 3/3 USC
8. Nevada (UNR) 26-2 13-1
The Wolf Pack also garners a little respect this week finally moving from the "Also Considered" into the The Nine after picking up their ninth consecutive win this past week at Boise State. Nevada was shaky in their Bracket Busters game two weeks ago actually trailing Northern Iowa at halftime before cruising to a fifteen point victory. That raised some red flags for me and I wouldn't be surprised to see the Pack go down in round one again this season. I'd like to think Nick Fazekas won't go out like that and that Marcellus Kemp won't let him. Only time will tell but I think Nevada absolutely has to win the WAC tourney to try and get themselves a #4 seed to have a better chance to advance in March.
This Week: 3/1 @ Utah State, Regular Season Finale 3/3 New Mexico State, Conference Tourney 3/6-10
9. Texas (UNR) 22-7 12-3
This spot was all A&M's if they had beaten Texas tonight in Austin, they obviously did not. Texas outlasts their in-state rival in double overtime despite some heroics by Acie Law who just did not want to lose. Texas has continued to show improvement over the weeks and qualify as a decent sleeper come dance time. If they do beat Kansas on Saturday that sleeper talk goes by the wayside and Texas is officially a contender. I don't think it happens but I wouldn't be shocked to see Texas in Atlanta come April as they certainly have the talent, they've definitely been tested this season, and that youth seems to be starting to ware off unlike those guys in Columbus. Remember folks Texas A&M blitzed these guys 100-82 less than a month ago tonight ti took two overtime's for A&M to get within four points off 100. The venue certainly plays a factor but I think Texas is playing much better over the last month and I wouldn't want to see Kevin Durant in an elimination situation that's for sure.
This Week: Regular Season Finale 3/3 @ Kansas
Dropped Out: Wisconsin (6), North Carolina (7), Georgetown (8)
Also Considered: BYU, Louisville, Maryland, Drexel
This Weeks 5:
My favorite Bracket Busters if they get into the dance and draw a team like Pittsburgh or Oregon in the first round.
5. San Diego State - What can I say? I like this team and have since last year when they should have beaten Indiana last year.
4. Winthrop - How do you not like a team that barely lost to UNC on the road and took Wisconsin to overtime?
3. Old Dominion - They can play with anyone, need evidence? They beat G'Town in D.C. by 13 earlier this year.
2. Appalachian State - With wins over Vandy, VCU, and Wichita State its hard not to think this team can pull off an upset. They need to win the conference tourney though and Davidson will have something to say about that.
1. Drexel - All I can say is Road Warriors and with the tourney at neutral sites its hard not to like the Dragons. They've knocked off 'Cuse and 'Nova both, and while they're best basketball may be behind them they showed @ Creighton they can still get it done.