Category Archives: NCAA Tournament
Andy Katz released his super early predictions of his Top 25 teams for 2012-2013 yesterday and not surprisingly, left the Terrapins off the list. He did, however, show Maryland some love by labeling them as an “On the Cusp” team along with 14 others. Among the interesting points in his Top 25:
- Indiana, despite likely losing their best player in T-Rex armed Cody Zeller to the NBA draft, has taken over the #1 spot. It’s a nice change of pace considering analysts love putting Kentucky, UNC, or Duke in that spot all the time.
- Kentucky slides into the top 5 (#4) even after losing 4 of their 5 best players. It goes to show you just how impressive Kentucky is at reloading with more solid freshman after one class departs using the Cal Model (as it will now be known).
- Duke sits at #15 in his list, but that’s severely underrating them in my opinion. Their only crucial loss is Austin Rivers, and he wasn’t even that spectacular there. Look for Duke to be very similar to the team they had last year, with perhaps a bit more depth.
- Missouri is 25, but Maryland is not. Here’s where I can gripe. Missouri lost it’s top 3 scorers, and I don’t think there’s any way they will be as effective as they were last year (where they trashed mine and everyone else’ bracket). On the other hand, the Terps lost Sean Mosley, but kept their scorers in tact and should have two more studs coming in with Shaquille Cleare and Charles Mitchell. The Terrapins are a top 25 team, and while there isn’t enough of a body of evidence now to justify it, Katz should have taken a flyer instead of plugging in a clearly bereft Missouri team.
Either way, the future looks good for Turgeon’s Turtles.
Another Promising Season Seemingly Cut Short
I’ve spent the last couple of days contemplating how I wanted to do this. After watching what turned out to be the last game of Georgetown’s NCAA Tournament run, I didn’t want to just do a normal review, as I thought that wouldn’t be fitting. In turn, here is the recap of my Sunday through roughly 2:45 pm.
I scraped myself up on Sunday morning and put my life together, hoping that the Hoyas would cure the hangover I had worked up on St. Patty’s. The day before, my favorite Irish Holiday seemed like a blur. It started at noon and ended around 1 am after I’d thankfully remembered I had to write up a preview for Sunday’s game. With the sound of the girl on the metro from the night before that kept grabbing my arm and yelling “I heard you were a wild one!” etched in my pounding headache, I knew I had to get a move on. I felt worse than I looked, and that was saying a lot, but I knew I had a job to do. I had to cover the Hoyas and that gave me hope that today could in fact be a good day.
Early on it looked promising, I still felt like I’d been run over by a Mac Truck, but hey, the Hoyas were executing their offense and controlling the tempo beautifully! Despite the sad state that I was in physically, mentally and emotionally I was sky high; 15 minutes into the game the Hoyas had raced out to an early 25-15 lead. Georgetown had the Wolfpack on the ropes, they were positioning themselves to blow this game wide open.
Then my hangover must have caught up with me, and somehow the Hoyas, because everything went bad from there on out.
That 25-15 lead, the same lead that I just spoke of, evaporated over the next five minutes. I felt my stomach churn as C.J. Leslie stole the ball and soared in for an uncontested dunk right before the half. Life had quickly returned to the doldrums from which I found myself that morning.
The second half continued similarly to the end of the first; Hollis Thompson found his stroke on offense and actually had a productive game but Henry Sims battled early foul trouble and Jason Clark couldn’t find his shot all day. The Wolfpack increased their lead, by way of a 30-9 run stretching back to the five minute mark of the first half, and all Hoya fans began to have flashbacks to Georgetown’s last few NCAA Tournament trips.
When all seemed lost, the Hoyas, helped by a Wolfpack team that struggled from the foul line down the stretch, rallied back to give themselves a chance to tie the game at the buzzer. After a tough jump shot was missed by Otto Porter, the Hoyas, down two points, put N.C. State on the line. After a miss on the back end of the double bonus trip, Jason Clark barreled down the floor, eluded his defender, and got off an open look at the three point line.
Much like the hangover I was nursing, the last second heave did not end well for Georgetown. The jumper sailed wide and with it the hopes of a Hoyas Sweet 16 trip this weekend.
Georgetown had lost 66-63, it was another bitter end to what looked to be a season full of promise. Some may say the Hoyas over achieved with their play this year, but another loss to a double digit seeded team in March is tough for any fan to stomach. My condition at the time was proof of this.
There’s no one person at fault for this loss. You can’t point the finger at head coach JTIII for sitting Sims a majority of the first half after he got in early foul trouble. Henry Sims practically put Georgetown on his back the last two weeks and while he was largely ineffective Sunday, he scored his first bucket in the last minute of the same, its not all on him. Jason Clark did not have a great day from the field, but he had a superb performance just two days before against Belmont that helped get Georgetown in this position. Hollis Thompson woke up from his early March hibernation, but was largely a no show in the Conference and NCAA Tournament before this.
Inconsistency proved to be what killed these Hoyas. Now it’s on to an off season where we have many story lines to look forward to. What will happen with the ongoing saga surrounding the recruitment of prized prep hoopster Nerlens Noel? Will Hollis Thompson forgo his Senior season and enter the NBA Draft? What will be next for outgoing Seniors Jason Clark and Henry Sims? We’ll find out together over the coming months.
Cue up the Hoyas radio play-by-play man with his signature “Hoyas win! Hoyas win! Hoyas win!” call. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Jason Clark to the stage! The Hoyas first team All-Conference selection showed up for his team in a major way today. After a Big East Tournament where Clark, for lack of a better term, couldn’t buy a bucket, he had an offensive explosion against Belmont this afternoon. Not only did he get it done, he got it done with ease, finishing with 21 points on a sweltering 9-12 from the field.
The contributions from Henry Sims and Otto Porter cannot go unnoticed either. The duo that seemed to carry the Hoyas during the Big East Tournament continued their great play today combining for 31 points, 12 rebounds and 5 assists. These types of performances out of this duo must continue for the Hoyas to make a deep run in this tournament. Any time you can rely on multiple players to carry the load on the offensive end you are in good shape. The Hoyas currently fit this mold, and once Hollis Thompson inevitably gets it going on offense they will be an even tougher team to game plan for.
As I wrote in the preview earlier this morning, the biggest key to victory today for the Hoyas was being active on the defensive end. Georgetown, and their match up zone, made sure that the Bruins only had a handful of open looks from behind the arc. It’s amazing the difference a hard close out on a jump shooter can make, and this game showed just that. Teams that average over 80 PPG don’t just get held to a point total in the 50′s by chance. The Hoyas executed their defensive game plan as well as they could have to earn this victory.
There are many teams in this tournament that the Bruins could have snuck up on and stolen a victory from. JTIII said all week that the match up between these two in 2007 would have little to no bearing on today’s game. While he may have been right, as these are an entire group of new players on both sides, the systems remained the same and the Hoyas knew what they needed to keep Belmont from doing to get this W and advance.
This is the Hoyas first victory in the NCAA tournament this decade, and you have to think they aren’t satisfied with just this one win. After N.C. State upset San Diego State earlier today, a match up against the Wolfpack and their star C.J. (Or Calvin depending on the day you ask) Leslie is on the horizon for Sunday and I can assure you it will not be a cake walk. I will have a full preview of that match up this weekend, and we will all prepare for what should be another exciting Georgetown Hoyas NCAA Tournament game. In the meantime I suggest you crack open a cold one and enjoy this Hoyas victory as I plan on doing while watching the rest of the best month of sports we see all year.
Yes, its finally here…your Midwest Regional preview has arrived. I may be writing this from the King Street Metro Kiss and Ride but the fact remains this will be the most knowledgeable preview you’ve encountered yet. The Midwest bracket features some heavyweight contenders from power conferences as well as some under the radar mid-majors that you’d be doing a disservice to yourself not to pay attention to. Everyone knows about North Carolina, Kansas, Michigan and of course your Georgetown Hoyas. What do you know about Detroit, San Diego State and Creighton though? Probably not a ton, fortunately for you however I have entirely too much time on my hands and have followed these teams all year long.
North Carolina: You’d be crazy not to have UNC as one of your favorites to come out of the Midwest. With John Henson back in the lineup, the Tar Heels feature one of the strongest starting five’s in the country. Led by Super Sophomore Harrison Barnes, the Tar Heels are primed for a deep tournament run. Northern Virginia’s Bishop O’Connell Alum, Kendall Marshall, broke Ed Cota’s long standing ACC single season assist mark on UNC’s way to locking up a #1 seed and the ACC regular season title. They are certain to provide some more fireworks before things are said and done this month.
Kansas: The Jayhawks, in this writers opinion, have one of the most complete teams in the country. Their front court, led by presumed All-Amercian Thomas Robinson and Jeff Withey are amongst the best PF/C combinations in all the land. Add in to the equation Tyshawn Taylor, a First Team All-Conference selection at the Guard spot and you have a more than formidable trio. Under Bill Self, the Jayhawks have been susceptible to early round knock outs, however; but with this group I think Rock Chalk Jayhawk could have a deep run in them.
(3) Georgetown vs (14) Belmont: You have to love it when the selection committee pairs us up with an NCAA Tourney rematch. These same two teams squared off in 2007 and the Hoyas won handily 80-55. While this isn’t 2007, and these aren’t the same Hoyas or Bruins, this is a game many pundits are honing in on as a possible upset. Personally, I don’t see their logic. Both teams run similar styles and the fact of the matter is the Hoyas do it with more talented players. It should be one of the more entertaining match ups of “second round” of the tournament but look for Georgetown to get the W.
(2) Kansas vs (15) Detroit
Why is this a game to keep an eye on do you ask? When was the last time you remember a 15 seed having more McDonalds All-Americans on their roster than the 2 seed they were matched up against? Well this match up has that, America: please welcome Ray McCallum to your television screens. The Sophomore guard will, arguably, be the best player on the floor when these two square off on Friday night. “Who is Ray McCallum,” do you ask? He is the son of the Detroit Titans Coach, that’s who he is. The younger McCallum spurned offers from many power conference schools, including these Kansas Jayhawks, to go play for his father at Detroit. I bet Dick Vitale wishes he had that same kind of luck when he coached there in the days of old. The fact of the matter is Detroit is much better than their seeding of 15 and Kansas hasn’t exactly lit up the brackets against mid majors in the past few years. Crazy things happen in March, people.
Potential Match up:
(3) Georgetown vs (2) Kansas
Could there be a better Sweet 16 match up than these two storied programs? You would be hard pressed to find one in my opinion. This is one of the games I am hoping we see come to fruition during the Tourney. An All-Conference selection battle in the back court between Jason Clark and Tyshawn Taylor, who were First-Team All-Big East and All-Big XII respectively, would worth the price of admission in itself. Add to the fact that you have All-American D.C. native (not to mention this writer’s dream draft pick for the Wizards) Thomas Robinson on Kansas, and you have many reasons to hope for this match up.
Detroit: Yes, I did pick Kansas to go to the National Championship game in my bracket (SPOILER ALERT FOR ALL OF YOU IN OUR BRACKET CONTEST!), but I would be lying to you if I said I wouldn’t be shocked to see them lose to these Titans. As I noted before Ray McCallum is one of the top guards in the country, as he showed at the well-regarded LeBron James Skills Academy last summer where he more than held his own with the nations best. The Super Sophomore will be a first round pick whenever he decides to “Take his talents” to the NBA. Unfortunately for teams in this years tournament, that won’t be until after the games commence on Thursday.
Players To Watch:
I’ve mentioned it already a couple of times before but 1.) RAY MCCALLUM IS REALLY GOOD! Now that I’ve finally got that out of my system here are some other players to keep an eye on.
Doug McDermott. Have you heard of him? Probably not. This lanky white guy is the second All-American from a mid-major school to show up in this bracket. The Sophomore guard (Yes, I said Sophomore!) averaged 23 PPG and 8 RPG on the season for the Blue Jays as they won the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament Champions. The 6’7 swingman makes Creighton a team to watch in this years tournament.
Kendall Marshall: Yeah, he went to our Alma Mater but that isn’t why he is listed here. Marshall may just be the most pure point guard in the country. Almost always making the right decision in finding his teammates in positions to be successful. You don’t break the single season ACC assist record unless you’re a pretty good point guard.
Thomas Robinson: The Washington D.C. native has led the Jayhawks all season long. If it weren’t for a man named Anthony Davis he would without a doubt be the Player of the Year in College Basketball. Regardless of the accolades he may or may not receive he will still be one of the top picks in the NBA Draft and is without a doubt one of the top players in this tournament.
I’m sticking to my original prediction, as I am not one to waffle on any subject, and going with Kansas to make it out of the Midwest. While Robinson and Taylor may get most of the publicity I believe that the player that will make the biggest difference will be Jeff Withey. The Junior Center for the Jayhawks has been a major contributor all season long that seems to fly under the radar in the eyes of the media. Withey is one of the more fundamentally sound big men I’ve seen this year and when you pair him with a player like Thomas Robinson you have one scary front court. The Jayhawks front court will prove to be the difference against UNC in the regional final.
We did it guys! Its finally here, the brackets have been selected and the previews have been written. Let the games begin and America’s productivity stall come noon tomorrow!!
By Bohlin & Willis
Since Selection Sunday, we have seen a major shift in power in the East Region. On Tuesday, Syracuse University suspended the anchor of their vaunted 2-3 zone for the duration of the NCAA Tournament. While the specifics of the suspension have not been released by the University it is safe to assume it is related to academics. Earlier in the season Melo was ruled ineligible due to his grades. Consequently the Cuse struggled in his absence, losing their only game of the regular season without having him in the line up. This opens up the East Regional to a host of teams to potentially make a run as the #1 seeded Orange must now rely on their bench to step up now that Melo has officially been ruled out.
Ohio State: Is there a happier coach in the country than Thad Matta right now? The #2 seed in the East have to be feeling good about their chances to march along to New Orleans after Tuesday’s news. Behind Jared Sullinger, the Buckeyes have a legitimate shot at running through this bracket and with the loss of forward Fab Melo for Syracuse I think you have to look at Ohio State as the clear favorite now. Their 3, 4, and 5 positions can ball with any team on the court, as Will Burford and Deshaun Thomas are both fantastic alongside Sullinger.
Syracuse: Even without Melo the Orange boast one of the most talented teams in this region. They’ve got a fantastic coach in Jim Boeheim, and a very deep pool of talent to play with. The loss of Melo is just one of many tough breaks for this team, and yet they have still persevered through all the adversity faced. Despite having quite a bit of size, they’re one of the worst rebounding teams in the tournament, and that’s a statistic to look at for. It could inevitably be their downfall.
Second Round: Vanderbilt (5) vs Harvard (12)
This is one of the more intriguing second round match ups of the entire tournament, let alone the East Region. The Commodores, fresh off their upset of Kentucky in the SEC Title game, have turned into a very popular pick to make a deep run in the NCAA’s. Standing in their way are the Ivy League Champions, the Harvard Crimson. Coached by Tommy Ammaker, this isn’t your fathers Crimson squad. They are full of athletes and spent a good portion of the season ranked in the Top 25. The committee did no favors to the SEC Champs by matching them up with Harvard.
Sweet 16: Ohio State vs Florida State
Florida State appears to be the team everyone is gassing this year. As reported earlier during the ACC tournament, they’re clearly a mercurial team. Capable of beating Duke and North Carolina (twice); just as capable of losing to them in the same breath. The ACC champs have certainly hit their stride, and look to keep it up against Ohio State. Ohio State might be a bit more consistent, but only a tad. Either way, the game would likely be very close and something fans would enjoy
Players to Watch:
1.) John Jenkins, Vanderbilt – The 6’4 junior out of Vanderbilt has some serious stats. Averaging 20 PPG, the guy shoots almost 9 three-pointers a game (and makes 44 percent of them!) He was the SEC tournament MVP, and happens to be coming off a 17 point performance against Kentucky. Jenkins has scored in double figures every game this season, and he’s the main reason that Vanderbilt is as dangerous as they are.
2.) Jared Sullinger, Ohio State – Sullinger came back to school in an attempt to win the big rug cutting festival, and I’m predicting he is going to be on an absolute destruction path during this tournament. You could make the argument that he was better last year than he was this year, and Sullinger is going to have to prove to NBA scouts otherwise. Sullinger plays basketball the right way; he is as unselfish as they come, and it’s why his stats suffer. Nonetheless, look for him to turn it on this tournament.
3.) Kevin Jones, West Virginia – If Jones weren’t a Mountaineer, he’d have attended Ball So Hard University along with Terrell Suggs. The senior forward is the leader of West Virginia’s team, and averages a ridiculous 20 points and 11 rebounds a pop. He’s scored at least 18 points and grabbed at least 10 rebounds in each of his last three games, including one against Andre Drummond and UConn. He’s not a passer, he’s not really a shot blocker; the man just loves to score and rebound.
The ‘Bonas (as my friend and alumni Jeff likes to call them), happen to be one of the hottest mid-major teams in the nation. They just nabbed the Atlantic-10 Championship, and are looking for more. Led by forward Andrew Nicholson (dropped 26 points, 18 rebounds, and 8 blocks vs. Xavier) , St. Bonaventure might just be able to make a lot more noise than people expect depending on which Florida State team shows up.
It’s got to be #2 Ohio State. They’ve got the size, experience, offense and defense. The total package, there is no reason why Thad’s men can’t boogie to the Final Four.
The South Region boasts some extremely intriguing matchups, fueled by a few interesting decisions from the selection committee. Kentucky, the region’s top seed and the top ranked team nationally for much of the season, was rewarded for their play this year with the toughest route to the Final Four of all the top seeds from this Dimers estimation. After a rout of a sacrificial 16th seed, the Wildcats would potentially have to go through the defending national champions, UCONN, one of the two teams that beat them this season, Indiana, and the winner of a Duke/Baylor matchup to take their dance to Bourbon Street. Although most expect Calipari to take Kentucky to a 14th Final Four, there is sure to be a ton of drama from the South Region.
1) Kentucky Wildcats: John Calipari’s bunch has spent this season taking everybody’s best shot each and every night out. Wildcat faithful got to hope this was enough experience to prepare this young bunch for their first (and only) NCAA Tournament. Youth aside, this team is stockpiled with future NBA lottery picks, including POY favorite Anthony Davis. They are primed for a run through the tournament, and anything short of cutting down the nets in New Orleans will be a big disappointment.
2) Duke Blue Devils: Whenever discussing favorites, it’s been hard to keep Coach K’s Devils out of the conversation for decades. The Program consistently puts out extremely competitive teams, and this year’s team is no different. The Plumlee’s anchor the middle, while Austin Rivers, Seth Curry, Andre Dawkins, and Ryan Kelly chuck it from deep. If Duke gets hot from deep, they could make their way through the region and threaten Kentucky for a spot in New Orleans.
1) VCU (12)-Wichita State (5): Last year’s unlikely national runner-up, VCU, drew a Wichita State team that wouldn’t shock most (no pun intended) if they made a run to the Sweet 16. The Shockers are one of the nation’s leading scoring teams (15th in points per game), and VCU’s fast-paced, pressing defense will need to slow down that bunch to make up for their woeful offense (169th in points per game). We will see if Shaka Smart’s bunch brought their glass slippers again to this year Big Dance.
2) Iowa State (8)- Connecticut (9): This matchup is intriguing to me because it could be Hall of Famer Jim Calhoun’s last game as head coach of the Huskies. Over the last few years health issues, and some controversy surrounding the program have caused speculation that this could be Calhoun’s last season. Throw in the fact Iowa State’s Royce White, their leader in all statistical categories, will be looking to put on a great show against the more-heralded Andre Drummond, and this is a juicy first round matchup.
Potential Match ups
1) Kentucky (1)- UCONN (8): Who wouldn’t want to watch the projected number 1 and 2 pick in this year’s NBA draft duel it out in the NCAA tournament?
2) Kentucky (1)- Duke (2): I say it is no coincidence that these two college basketball blue-bloods have a chance to meet again for the opportunity to go to the Final Four in the 20th year since Christian Laettner’s turn-around. The talent on the floor make the game juicy, but it’s the coaching match up that has me hoping to see this scenario play out. No two coaches do things more differently than K and Calipari. Calipari hops from school to school, leaving vacated Final Four’s in his wake. Coach K has been manning the sidelines at Duke for 35 years, graduating seniors and winning championships.
Players to Watch
NBA Lottery Picks: The South Region boasts the deepest pool of NBA Lottery talent of all four regions. Projected top picks Anthony Davis, Andre Drummond, Austin Rivers, Perry Jones III, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Terrence Jones, Jeremy Lamb, Cody Zeller, and Quincy Miller highlight the crop of talent in the South.
CJ McCullum - Lehigh: Two-Time Patriot Year POY, McCullum is the lead guard for the Mountain Hawks and a top mid-major performer. If Lehigh is to pull off the upset against Duke, McCullum will be the reason why. He has averaged 22 points and 6.5 rebounds a game this year, and will be out to show he is in the same class as the guards from Duke.
Mike Moser – UNLV: the UCLA transfer, Moser was a welcome addition to the Runnin’ Rebels this year. Leading the team in both points and rebounds, the big man is the anchor of UNLV’s defense. Expect Moser to eat up the backboard and challenge Baylor’s interior in their potential third round match up.
Tu Hollaway – Xavier: Few players have had a season as trying as Hollaway. After an extremely hot start to the year, the central figure in the now infamous brawl with Cincinnati, has since had a very inconsistent year. Hollaway’s insistence to keep it real after the brawl hurt his image with both Xavier’s fans and potential NBA suitors. Nothing could wash away the bitter season quite as fast as some magic in March.
UNLV: This team has had some up’s and down’s this season, but has the potential to make a run in this South Region. UNLV boasts an athletic squad that likes to play at a high-tempo. If they can get hot from the outside, like they did in their win this season against UNC, the Rebels will be a tough out. Potential matchup Baylor boasts a similar team to that UNC squad, and Duke has historically struggled with teams that are more athletic than they are. If the chips fall in their favor, do not be surprised to see UNLV in the Elite Eight.
Kentucky: The Wildcats are the country’s most talented team. They are fresh off an extremely disappointing loss in the SEC Championship, and this was the wake-up call needed to fuel a deep run in March. I expect to see this team play inspired basketball, take the South Region crown, and challenge for the national championship.