Monday, March 15, 2010

A LOOK AT THIS YEAR'S MARCH MADNESS


For a lot of sports fanatics, March Madness is probably one of their favorite times of the year in Sports. There is nothing better than going to the bars with your buddies to watch March Madness, brackets in hand. It is definitely one of my favorite times of the year in Sports! Only during March Madness do we get to see teams like Cleveland State knock off Wake Forest in the first round of the tournament, or a player like Steph Curry carry his team on a magical run, where we get to see teams like George Mason make the Final Four by getting hot at the right time in the tourney. That is why the tournament is so exciting, and why people love it…But to me, the best part about March Madness is if you actually pick these upsets in your March Madness bracket sheets, and if you end up winning your pools! Which 12 seed is going to knock off a 5 seed this year? Which number 1 seed is going to fall first? These are the questions that will take over our minds for the next few days. And when you win your bracket, you can brag and boast to your buddies about your sports knowledge, which is a great feeling if you are a sports junkie.

So, since I watched a ton of College Basketball this year, I wanted to chime in about this year’s tournament. Anyways, here are some of my thoughts about this 2009 tourney that will be starting in a couple of days. Hopefully these thoughts will put you in a better position to win some pools this year, especially if you have not had a chance to watch many of these teams play this year…

Now when picking my overall tournament winner, I usually look for teams with a solid PG, a solid Big Man. A good wing, a nice bench, and a solid Coach help for sure, but you always need a sick guard to lead you to the promise land. This formula has worked for me in the past, so I will stick with it again this year. In my opinion, you need a solid PG to run your team and control the tempo of the game come tournament time, but most importantly, you need a solid PG to keep your team poised in crunch time. Big man wise, you need a solid big man to depend on in the post, when your team’s jump shots are not falling, and you will need your big to defend the post in crunch time. This year’s tournament is probably the most open one in years, but in my eyes these following teams have the most important factors, which is why I think the eventual Champion will come from one of these teams…

The Big Guns…

Kansas - Collins is amazing. Chitown represent baby! The kid controls and dictates the tempo of the game, and comes through in every single clutch situation he has been put in. He is a competitor to the fullest, and he is one of the main reasons why I think this team wins the tournament. Cole Aldridge is a beast to. He will rebound and block shots all game long. Last year I didn’t think they were experienced enough to win it all, but I think last year helped them get to where they are now. This year they have it all, and have been the best team in the nation. They have the talent, and they are experienced in the most important spots, PG and Center. Remember I said if you have a solid PG and a good big you will do well, and this squad has two of the best at their positions there. Henry has kind of flown under the radar this year, but he is one of the best freshmen players out there. Wall has gotten all the hype, but Henry has been a very solid player for the Hawks. Taylor can help with the scoring as well. Marcus Morris has really turned it on too, which definitely helps Cole down low. In the end, Kansas is too well balanced, has too much depth (awesome bench players), and are just too well coached to loose early in this tournament. I know they play in the hardest bracket, but I think they are hands down the best team in this tournament. In my opinion, they will find a way to make the Title game, and win it all.

Kentucky – What an exciting year it’s been for UK fans. They were able to snag Coach Cal, which was huge for them. He brought with him some of the best freshmen in College, including THE best freshmen, John Wall. The kid is just a sick player. If you haven’t seen him play, you need to watch his game. He has a ton of swagger, and always comes through in the clutch. He can score from everywhere on the court, and can really take over a game at anytime. Cal also brought in DeMarcus Cousins, who is a beast down low. The guy is a rebounding machine, and can score with the best of them. Another sick freshmen for this team is Eric Bledsoe. Bledsoe is a very athletic player, and a solid shooter. They also have a great player down low who gets lost in the freshmen hype, and that is Patrick Patterson. Patterson coming back really helped this squad achieve what they did. He gives them that low post presence that is needed deep into the tournament. This team has a sick PG in John Wall, and two solid big men down low. They also have a lot of different scoring options, and a great Coach. They have not played some of the best competition like some other teams have, and they are young, but sometimes talent prevails. In Kentucky’s case, they are just loaded with too much talent not to make it to the Title game. Their bracket isn’t too bad either. Look for a Melo type run by John Wall in this tournament. I think they make it to the Finals, but lose to Kansas.

Syracuse – This squad’s zone defense is nasty. It always has been, but something about this year’s D stands out to me. They cause matchup problems for everyone they face as well. They have some great players in Wes Johnson, Andy Rautins, and Onuaku (who should be ok for the tournament). They have solid guards, a nice big man, a nice bench, great defense, and they are well coached. These things are important if you want to make a deep run in the tourney. I think they got shafted because they have to go west. Their bracket has a couple of land mines, but isn’t as bad as the Midwest at all. If they can play like they have been playing all year long, look for this team to make the Final Four.


One of these three teams wins it all in my opinion. In the end, I’m going with Kansas…
Ok so those are the big guns. Now I will list a couple of contenders for the title, some dark horse teams that are talented and can make runs, and a couple of sleeper teams that no one has probably seen play or heard of. This might help you out when completing your bracket sheet…

Legit Contenders...that I’m not sold on...

Disclaimer - The squads on this list will probably make it deep into the tournament. I have them listed here because I just don't see them actually winning the entire thing...

Duke - Duke is always on TV, so trust me, I've seen them play a lot this year. This team no doubt has some talent with Scheyer and Singler, but they just don't have that "it" factor for me. Their defense has been sick, but they are going to struggle vs. faster, more athletic teams. I just feel like they don't have a PG that can control the tempo in big ball games, and this will hurt them later in the tournament. They do have the easiest bracket out of all the teams out there. How they got this, no one knows, but we know everyone loves Duke, so go figure.

Ohio State – Ohio State has been great all year long. Evan Turner should be the National Player of the Year. Their starting five you can put up vs. almost anyone’s in the country, and not be scared at all. But this team has two weaknesses in the tournament, and that is why I do not think they will have a deep run. Their first big weakness is size. They have Lauderdale, who is a hard working big man, but he really isn’t even that big. After him, there isn’t much there. They have a very tough bracket, and will face a Georgetown team quickly into the tournament. I just don’t see how they beat a team with size like Georgetown. Their second weakness is depth. They have none. In the tournament, if you want to win, you need some decent bench players. OSU doesn’t have that luxury, and that is going to cost them big. Evan Turner can’t keep playing the entire game and keep doing everything for them. He is going to get worn out. GUESS WE’LL SEE, but it’s going to take some heroics from Evan Turner again if this squad wants to contend for the Title.

Kansas State – This is definitely one of the best teams in the country that a lot of people have not seen play. Denis Clemente and Jacob Pullen are a nasty back combo for this team. They have also played and beaten some of the best teams in the country, so they are battled tested, that is for sure. But with that being said, I kind of feel sorry for this team because their bracket is just too deadly. I don’t seem them matching up with a lot of the teams there, especially BYU and PITT.

Villanova – They got a nice team, with a star guard in Scottie Reynolds and a good big man in Pena, but what scares me about this team is that they rely on the 3 ball a little bit too much. They also ended the season by losing 5 out of their last 7 games, which just proves to me that they are to inconsistent to win it all. They got a nice back court in Stokes and Reynolds, but both of them will need to get hot, especially Reynolds. This is a guard oriented squad that can score with the best of them, but in the tournament you have to defend too. In the end, if they go cold, they will be out of the tournament sooner than later. One thing that they have going for them is their bracket. It is a lot easier that some of the other teams listed above, so don’t have them getting knocked off too early on your sheets.

The Rest of the Best…

Georgetown – I love this squad! I was sad to see them in the same bracket as OSU and Kansas though…just doesn’t seem fair at all. They have the guard play with Wright and Freeman and they have a solid big man in Greg Monroe, who can do it all. Vaughn is also another solid contributor for this team as well. Their Princeton style offense also gives opponents fits, with all those cuts and screens. They have played and beaten some of the best teams in the country, which definitely helps. They also have great chemistry, which is huge for the tournament. They just need to be focuses and play at a high level consistently, but their road will be tough. The Midwest is just the toughest bracket out there. While I do see them knocking off OSU, I just don’t think they can beat Kansas in the end.

WVU – Here’s another squad I love. They got robbed in their seeding, that is for sure. If you haven’t seen Da’Sean Butler play, you’ve been missing out. The kid is a big time, big game player, and you will see him put on a show in this tournament. Ebanks is also solid, and Mazzulla is the engine that runs this team. They are well coached and versatile. The only thing that worries me about this team is their offense. It has disappeared at times, which is a cause for concern. I do think they have a nice bracket, so I do see them making a deep run in this tournament, possibly even an Elite 8 type run, but coming up short.

MSU – Every year, everyone counts out MSU, but every single year this team makes it deep into the tournament. It is just amazing. This is a team that can cause mismatch problems and they have good depth on their roster to wear you down. They are also one of the best rebounding teams in the game, which is huge during tournament time. When games slow down and teams play half court basketball, MSU is at its best. Lucas and Morgan are big time players, who will turn it on come tournament time. They also have one of the best coaches in Tom Izzo. Look for them to do well and surprise some people, but they also play in the Bracket of Death, the Midwest. Kansas should knock them off.

Baylor – Here’s a team that not a lot of people have seen play. Take my word for it, they are nasty. You have to give their Coach Scott Drew some credit for turning this program around. People picked this team to be one of the worst teams, and they proved everyone wrong. This is a very streaky team, but they got a pretty nice bracket setup for them. They are led by Tweety Carter and LaceDarius Dunn, another nice back court. The tournament is Guard oriented, and this run and gun squad will give a lot of team’s problems.

Sleepers…

These are some of the teams not too many people have seen play. Hopefully these sleeper sections help you with your early rounds. None of these teams will win it all, but they are capable of winning a couple of games if they get hot…

These are my real sleepers won can win more than one game…

BYU – I don’t know to describe this team to you and I don’t know if this line will make sense, but this team plays like a team. They love to pass and do the little things, and they and is skilled at every position on the floor. BYU is led by Jim Fredette, who is a sick player. His backcourt mate Jackson Emery is awesome too, and they have Tavernari off the bench, who is another major contributor. I really feel like this is a team that if they can get to play Cuse, can give Cuse some problems. Fredette can and will break that zone, he is that good. They also have a nice bench and are playing close to home, so look out for them.

Marquette – I love this squad and what they have done this year. Coach Buzz Williams has also been amazing. This was a Marquette team that lost their three best players from last year, and was supposed to be rebuilding. Instead, come into the tournament as one of the most dangerous teams in it. They are led by forward Lazar Hayward, who can score from all over. Inside, outside, Hayward can do it all. Jimmy Butler is also another solid player for this squad. Butler is always in the right place at the right time, always hits big shots, and always gets his hands on everything. One player that a lot of people sleep on is DJO. Darius Johnson-Odom. This kid has really come on as of late, and can score in bunches, as he showed in the Big East tournament. Those three guys are joined by two other consistent, three point shooting, Senior Guards in Acker and Cubillan. If you go back and look at their schedule you will see that these guys are the cardiac kids. One thing that sticks out to you when looking at their schedule is the fact that they rarely get blown out. They play so hard and are one of the toughest teams out there. I love this team because they play with heart and leave it all out on the floor in every game. That comes from their Coach, who is just as fiery as this team. They definitely have sweet sixteen potential. I think they get by a hot, but inconsistent Washington team in the first round.

Oklahoma State – James Anderson….that is all you need to know about this squad. If you have watched him play, you know this kid is one of the sickest guards out there. Anderson and Houston’s Coleman are the kind of players that can get hot and literally put their team on their backs in this tournament. Also this is the same squad that beat Kansas, Baylor, Kansas State, and Texas Tech this year, so you know they are capable of beating some of the higher seeds in this tournament. Again, James Anderson. If you haven’t seen him play, watch them play in this tournament.

Gonzaga – This team is really not a sleeper but a lot of people don’t get to watch them play because they play out West. Bouldin leads this squad, and they will go as far as he can take them. Elias Harris is another nice player on this team, but like Bouldin, he has been streaky. When it all is said and done, Bouldin is that kind of difference maker that can help his team win some ballgames, so don’t be surprised to see the Zags do what they do best, and that is win. They are also well coached, which is always a plus come tournament time.

Cornell – This is not your typical Ivy League squad. This is a squad that has played together for some time now, and that has one of the best players in the country that no one has heard of in Ryan Wittman. He also has help from another nice player in Dale. They also have good role players in Foote and Jaques, which will help come tournament time. Another thing to check out is their schedule from this year. They actually scheduled and played some of the best teams in the country, and held their ground. The bottom line is that this team has played together for a while and they been to the tournament before and are battled tested. Don’t be surprised if they win a couple of games.

Siena – This team never gets enough shine. They have only knocked off two major conference teams in their last two tournaments. You should remember them from that crazy game last year vs. OSU, which they pulled out. They come back with most of the same squad from last year, which allowed them to coast through the MAAC this year. I know they haven’t really beaten anyone good this year, but this team has the experience to win in the tournament. I think they knock off a reeling Purdue team in the first round.

ND – Luke Harangody’s injury was the best thing that happened to this team. It gave ND’s other players a chance to step into the spotlight, and they stepped up to the challenge. ND changed up their style to a slower tempo game, and it worked. They went from being a bubble team to one of the hottest teams in the country at the end of the year. And now that Harangody is back, they look like they are ready to make a run. Hansbrough, and Jackson are a great back court, and Abromaitis and Nash are solid forwards as well. I definitely see them winning a game or two.

Deep Sleepers...

Richmond – This Richmond squad really impresses me. Check out the schedule they played and some of the good teams they beat. This team can play and Kevin Anderson is a player. I like them pulling the upset in the first round.

UTEP – This team finished the season on a tear, and they played a tough schedule throughout the year. This is a dangerous team. They got two difference makers in guard Randy Culpepper and F Derrick Caracter, who can play inside and outside. I wouldn’t be surprised seeing them winning a game or two.

Northern Iowa – This is a very good defensive ball club. Like a stifling defense type squad. They can frustrate you by dictating the tempo of the ball game. They also got conference player of the year Sr. Adam Koch. This is a senior laden team, and those kinds of teams always do well in the tournament.

Murray State – This team only lost one conference game and four games overall this year. This is also a rowdy squad because all of their starters average double figures in points. When is the last time you saw that in a team? That balance will definitely help them in the tournament, so watch out.

Utah State – This squad is led by PG Jared Quayle and F Tai Wesley. Stew Morrill is also a great Coach, who has a rowdy offense. They have a ton of different kinds of plays and sets, which can confuse teams who have never played them before. This is a squad that won 14 straight games. You don’t win that many games in a row if you aren’t a good squad. They can be this year’s Cinderella, you never know.

Houston – I know this is kind of a stretch but how can you not love this squad? They are led by Aubrey Coleman, the nation’s leading scorer. The kid is a scoring machine. They also got Kevin Lewis who is a nasty three point bomber. They got some decent bigs who do their job and rebound too. And lastly, they are led by a great coach in Tom Penders, also called Tournament Tom. It’ll be tough for them to make a run, but don’t underestimate them.

Anyways, sorry for the long post, but those are my thoughts on this year’s tournament. I hope they come in handy when you are filling out your bracket, so good luck! LET THE GAMES BEGIN!!!

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

MARQUETTE LOC

Anonymous said...

yo pooh this marquette is going to get waxed

On2daNext1 said...

if da louisville cards get past cal, dey will beat duke

Anonymous said...

West Virginia will win it all, YOU'LL SEE!

Anonymous said...

this is great man, i used DSS's suggestions last year and won my brackets! a true leader in march madness bracket prep- DSS!!