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Monday, March 27, 2006

FINAL FOUR

Picking the Final Four is so easy. All you needed was 2 teams from the same major conference, throw in a mid-major, and add a regular season major conference champion. Even with that criteria, there's no way you came up with the right 4 teams. Your two teams from the same conference? I bet they come from the Big East, ACC, Big XII, or the Big Ten. Everyone said the SEC was having a down year, and while its not extreme to have either Florida or LSU in the Final Four, the chances are slim you would have picked both to fill this criteria. Your regular season power conference champ? While you can have a legit claim if you say you had UCLA in the Final Four, there's a good chance they wouldn't be one of the top 4 teams you chose to fill that section of the criteria. And as for the mid-major? Outside of Gonzaga, there was no real team that seemed to be able to fill this criteria. But even if you were to take a chance on another mid-major, I bet you Wichita St., George Washington or even UW-Milwaukee would have made your Final Four before George Mason. But all of these surprises are what make this the greatest sporting event in the world. Sure you would love to win your pool, or see the clash of perennial powerhouses like UCONN, Duke, Kentucky, Michigan St., or UNC. But sometimes that's not the way it shakes out. And this Final Four is proving that with each passing year, the "lower level" conferences are making up ground on their more high profile opponents. Maybe the new age limit in the NBA will tip the scales back in favor of the major conferences, with high profile recruits staying a little longer, but only time will tell us if that's the case. Right now, the world of college hoops is flat. When not a single #1 seed makes the Final Four, that should be enough evidence to prove that no matter the conference, no matter the ranking, any team can lose to any other team on any given night. So while the ratings may be down a bit due to high profile teams taking a dive, this tournament has provided the most excitement than any in the past. Hopefully the last 3 games can live up to the hype. So let's take a look...

Final Four Matchups

(4) LSU vs (2) UCLA
UCLA had one of the ugliest wins in recent tourney memory to get in the Final Four against Memphis. LSU meanwhile, has played two great games back-to-back against two worthy teams in Duke and Texas. The Bruins have been winning by playing lockdown defense, the style Ben Howland brought to the Pac-10 from the Big East. They will finally run into a team they truly can't match up against. While some people thought the Memphis Tigers were too athletic for UCLA, even they don't have the athleticism of LSU. Tyrus Thomas and Glen Davis present major matchup problems. UCLA 7-footer Ryan Hollins has had a breakout tournament to compliment Luc Richard Mbah a Moute down low, but if Shelden Williams, PJ Tucker and LaMarcus Aldridge had problems with LSU down low, it doesn't look good for the Bruins. LSU is just too athletic, and they will be able to answer the defensive pressure of UCLA with their own tenacious ball-hawking style. It's been a great run for the Bruins, but if LSU can continue to out jump and out hustle people, they should be the ones emerging to play for the National Title.

(3) Florida vs (11) George Mason
Lord knows I would love to see George Mason win this game, but even after seeing them beat Michigan St., UNC, Wichita St. and UCONN (in perhaps the tourney's greatest all-time upset) to get here, I just can't imagine them taking out yet another power. Now granted I didn't see them beating any of the teams I just mentioned either, and its clear they were an underrated team, but they still have slay yet another Goliath. It's also surprising to find this young Florida squad in the Final Four. While not nearly as shocking as the Patriot's run, many thought the Gators were just too young to sustain a run deep into the tourney. They have been able to do it with a balanced attack led by Taurean Green, Corey Brewer and Lee Humphrey in the backcourt, and of course the breakout play of Joakim Noah and Al Horford in the frontcourt. They bring so many weapons to the table that it will be tough for Jai Lewis, Tony Skinn, Folarin Campbell, Will Thomas and Lamar Butler all to keep pace. But this is the same George Mason team that knocked off the deepest team in the country in the UCONN Huskies while getting only 3 points and 5 rebounds in 25 minutes from its bench. So George Mason has the starting 5 to hang with any team in the nation. The question is, will their lack of depth finally catch up with them? I hope not, but it seems inevitable. If they do somehow find a way to pull this one out, I think they will be nearly impossible to beat in the Finals. But again, I'm going to pick against them. Hey, it's worked for them so far, so maybe more doubters will bring them to even greater heights.

Predictions
It definitely wouldn't be a bad thing to see an all SEC final. It's great when teams see each other during the year and get to settle their rivalry on the greatest stage the game has to offer. That being said, it would be greater if George Mason were to make the finals as both a "mid-major" team and an 11 seed. But both SEC teams look to be overwhelming for both their national semifinal opponents. Therefore, although I truly would love to see the George Mason Patriots win the whole tournament, my brain is telling me that isn't going to happen. Here they are...

National Semifinal

Florida 76 George Mason 73

LSU 67 UCLA 60

National Championship

Florida 74 LSU 70

So there you have it. In a week the tournament will be over, and at that time i believe the Florida Gators will be your National Champ. Hopefully the last three games will be a great ending to what has truly been an outstanding tournament. Next week there will be a recap of the Final Four to go along with news from Major League Baseball, the NBA and any other important happenings in the sports world (most notably what Prince did to Carlos Boozer's house).

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

How Sweet It Is

We now live in a world where either Wichita St. or George Mason will be in the Elite 8. Deal with it. Seth Davis on CBS has been saying all week long that the world of college hoops is "flat", and he may be right. The balance shown so far in this tournament is amazing. Whether its the Bradley Braves taking out both Pittsburgh and Kansas, or the Wichita St. Shockers dismantling two major conference schools in Seton Hall and Tennessee. There are plenty of interesting storylines to watch, including young big men making their mark. Whether it's Joakim Noah, Patrick O'Bryant, Glen Davis or LaMarcus Aldridge, one of these guys wants to lead their team to the top of the NCAA heap. You also have all four #1 seeds still alive, meaning their is still a chance that for the first time in history all of them could make the Final Four. And of course some of the nations best talent is still performing to its peak. Whether it's Reddik and Morrison still battling out for the scoring title, or All-Americans like PJ Tucker, Brandon Roy, Kevin Pittsnogle, Rodney Carney, and Craig Smith, their is still a lot of star power to wow us the rest of the way.

Sweet 16 Matchups
Atlanta
(1) Duke vs (4) LSU - The Dukies have been fairly solid and so have the Tigers, but neither team has been that impressive so far. Duke definitely has the experience, but some of LSU's athletes could give them some issues. Glen "Big Baby" Davis and Tyrus Thomas will give Shelden Williams and Josh McRoberts all they can handle, and if McRoberts can match his performance against GW, Duke should be in good position. Look for JJ to continue leading Duke, for at least one more round.

(2) Texas vs (6) West Virginia - The Longhorns looked very dangerous, getting balanced scoring while routing NC State. West Virginia also looked good in taking out both Southern Illinois and Northwestern St., but this Texas team is at a whole other level. WVU will have to keep up their intensity on defense, and hope they are on target from 3-pt land to have any chance to hang with Gibson, Tucker, Aldridge and company. The Longhorns look as good as any team in the tournament right now. Add to that, Texas is one of the best rebounding teams in the nation, while WVU is ranked in the 300s as a team. The Mountaineers will have to force a ton of turnovers to compensate and keep the game within reach.

Oakland
(1) Memphis vs (13) Bradley - Too surprises here. Many thought Memphis would be the first of the 1 seeds to fall, but instead the Tigers have the largest of margin of victory over the first two rounds, smacking both Oral Roberts and Bucknell. On the other hand, there are the Bradley Braves, who busted many a bracket by taking out Final Four pedigree teams in Kansas and Pittsburgh. Bradley has shown just how good the Missouri Valley is, and doesn't plan to stop anytime soon. If you thought Memphis was ripe to fall, then maybe this Cinderella is ready to dance all the way to the elite 8. If they are to do that, Bradley will have to run with the most athletic team they have seen all season, and deal with the likes of Darius Washington Jr, Rodney Carney and Shawne Williams. It's a tall order, but they have already proven they are up to the task.

(2) UCLA vs (3) Gonzaga - Two west coast teams that have played all of their games while most of us out here are in bed, and both crave a Final Four appearance to validate their seasons. Ben Howland has his Big East coaching methods working at UCLA, and his tough squad has battled injuries all year to a Pac 10 regular season and tourney title. They meet up with a Gonzaga team that finally made it to the Sweet 16 as a favored seed and is looking for a Final Four to finally shed the Cinderella image and establish themselves as a true top tier program. Whoever wins will have a huge home court advantage in the next round, that's for sure. I look for UCLA's much improved defense and multiple scoring options to prevail over the Adam Morrison show.

Minneapolis
(1) Villanova vs (4) Boston College - Former Big East mates meet up in a region where 3 of the 4 teams were in the Big East last year. As if the Big East didn't get enough bids, a former member has emerged in a somewhat down year in the ACC, and after almost stumbling out the door against Pacific, Al Skinner and the BC Eagles have a chance to make a real statement. Their season is probably validated by a Sweet 16 appearance, but to make the Elite 8 and knock off Villanova, would knock the Eagles up a notch on the power totem pole. Nova on the other hand, anything less than two more wins would make for a disappointing ending to a great year. I picked BC when the tourney started, but it looks like Allen Ray is back to normal, and if they can keep BC moving up and down, their guard play will be the difference in leading them to victory.

(3) Florida vs (7) Georgetown - One of the matchups I saw coming, and still don't know how it's going to play out. Georgetown has been playing their tough brand of ball, and sophomore big Roy Hibbert has continued to emerge as a serious inside threat. For the Gators, Joakim Noah has also been soaring, blocking everything in site, and just in general being all over the court. A win for the Gators can help erase all those years they choked in the tourney as early favorites, while a win for Georgetown will reward the hard work of John Thompson III and his seniors that have battled through some down times in Hoya land. Essentially, Florida may be a little too athletic for G'town, but if the Hoyas can keep the game in the half court, their ability to make shots and their defensive mindset will keep them hanging around.

Washington DC
(1) UCONN vs (5) Washington - Somebody call Rick Tocchet and put me down for 5 large on the Huskies. Ok so maybe that wasn't funny, but someone had to say it. This matchup has the much deeper UCONN having to again see if they have the motivation to advance. They are clearly the better team, and despite star guard Brandon Roy, Washington shouldn't have the fire power to hang with UCONN. After getting a lackluster effort from Utah St., Washington was able to roll an overrated Illinois squad, meaning that they are facing by far their toughest test so far. For UCONN, everyone knows the players, and everyone knows the issue, EFFORT. If Calhoun can get his boys to play a full 40 minute game, this one shouldn't be close.

(7) Wichita St. vs (11) George Mason - While both squads have to be loving their success in the tournament, their has to be the bittersweet reality that one or both of these teams will lose their coaches soon after their run ends. Everytime a mid-major teams makes a run in the tourney, they lose their coach. They get a bigger offer from a major school, and usually they can't help themselves. So we will call this one the "Promotion Game". Both teams had a taste of the top 25 at some point this season, and the Patriots beat the Shockers only a month ago in ESPN's Bracket Buster weekend. This rematch has a little more on the line, a trip to the
Elite 8 and possibly representing the mid-majors in the Final Four.

True Bracket Busters
(14) Northwestern St. - Jermaine Wallace's shot to sink Iowa was enough. They may have only won one game in the Big Dance, but taking out a #3 seed will almost always bust a couple brackets.

(13) Bradley - Now I have been a Bradley fan for about the past month as they played solid games in the Missouri Valley, and I was set to pick them as an upset winner in the tourney until they were matched up with the 4th seeded Jawhawks. Not only did basically nobody have the Braves in the Sweet 16, but many had either Pitt or Kansas making a big run. File this one under "Ooops".

(11) George Mason - One of the toughest decisions I had filling out my bracket was whether to have (3) UNC or (6) Michigan St. make a big run out of this region. Well the George Mason Patriots made that decision an easy one. Even without one of their main players (Tony Skinn) in the first round, GMU out hustled the Spartans and took that attitude into the 2nd round to do the same to the defending champion Heels. Next up? How about basically a home game against a #7 seed. These Patriots may be trying to start their own dynasty.

Air Balls
The Big 10 - Out of the 6 teams that made it to the dance, only 3 won their first round games and none advanced to the Sweet 16. Haven't you been listening to me all year when I told you the Big 10 was overrated? I sure hope so. They may have had the highest conference RPI, but nobody in the Big 10 could win games on the road the entire season. Usually doesn't bode well when trying to win multiple games in a row at neutral sites.

(2) Tennessee - Please tell me you saw this coming, because ESPN obviously didn't. Somebody in Bristol had to have lost their job for electing to pick the Volunteers, the weakest 2 seed in Big Dance history, to have all-access coverage to throughout the tournament. I think by "all-access" they must have meant "Greensboro coliseum we hardly knew ye".

(2) Ohio St. - Did it with smoke and mirrors all long in the Big 10. Had a chance to make a run, but a draw that included G'town in the 2nd round was too tough for the Buckeyes.

(3) UNC - Too young? Well I guess so. Didn't show up in the 2nd round against George Mason, which means Hansbrough and Co. will be watching the rest of the tourney from Chapel Hill.

(4) Kansas - I know I was impressed by this young squad and their run to the Big XII title. Turns out they were probably reading their own press clippings. No excuses here, the 'Hawks should have moved on, but instead face a long summer of wondering how many of their young blue chippers will return to Lawrence.

(5) Syracuse - Hope you didn't get caught up in the hype. The once NIT bound Orange showed their true form against A&M with a sloppy performance. Not a good way for McNamara to go out, but after that run in the Big East tourney, anything else would have been gravy.

(3) Iowa, (6) Michigan St., (4) Illinois - see Big 10

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Let the Games Begin!

Regional Breakdown
I took it upon myself to break down all four regions in the NCAA tournament, updating and adjusting after every round. So, these aren't really my picks, as much as they are how things shape up right off the bat and right before the start of each round. With the completion of each round I will give a summary of what each game meant, where more possible upsets could lie, or maybe which team is really clicking. My goal is to provide you with information that will help you when filling out your bracket, not fill it out for you (unless of course we have a prior monetary agreement). So keep checking here after every round for more stats, updates and predictions on the March Madness that is the NCAA Tournament...

Atlanta

Favorites
(1) Duke - The Blue Devils have been on on near the top all season, and despite some talk of tiring, they again took the ACC Tournament title. So Duke remains the regional favorite barring them losing or some major injury to either JJ Redick or Shelden Williams.

(2) Texas - Texas has a tendency to lose big when they do, but also has shown a tenacity that could land them in the Final Four. With beasts like Aldridge and Tucker, and solid, tough guard play from Daniel Gibson, the Longhorns could be looking at a double dip in National Championships if they catch a couple breaks.

1st Rd
Sleeper Watch
(11)Southern Illinois/(6)West Virginia - These two squads matchup in the first round in a dangerous game. Whichever team comes out on top has a good chance of making a nice run in the tourney. Both teams rely heavily on creating turnovers, but don't make many, so something has to give. If West Virginia can start making 3's like in last years tourney, they could be a very tough out yet again.

Major Upset Watch
(10)NC State over (7) California - A classic 7/10 battle of two lower level major conference teams. While a 10 beating a 7 is never an upset, I didn't really see many other higher seeds getting a first round win out of this region. NC State has tourney experience, while California has Leon Powe, one of the most dangerous players a lot of people in the country haven't seen.

Washington DC

Favorites
(1) UCONN - Still the most talented all-around team in the country. Whether its Rudy Gay, Marcus Williams, Josh Boone, Rashad Anderson, Denham Brown or Hilton Armstrong, at least one of the Huskies is gonna get ya. The only team that can beat them is themselves. If they come into the tourney with the right mindset its theirs for the taking.

(3) UNC - Might be just a little young to make a strong push this year, but nonetheless their tough defense and enthusiasm will keep them in every game and give them an opportunity to win it at the end.

1st Rd
Sleeper Watch
(5) Washington - 3-point shooting teams with at least one star guard always have a good shot in the Big Dance. Brandon Roy is a dangerous scorer, but their role players will need to consistent to get by both Utah St. and a possible matchup with Illinois.

(6) Michigan St. - There is no reason this team shouldn't make a run. But there wasn't much reason for them to have such a poor regular season either.

Major Upset Watch
(14) Murray St. over (3) UNC - File this one under "stranger things have happened". A red hot conference team usually takes a dive in the first round, and who better than the young guns from Chapel Hill?

(13) Air Force over (4) Illinois - Again, no real reasoning here. But a team that people usually think should be in the NIT (Air Force), often comes out with at least one big tourney win, so beware.

(12) Utah St. over (5) Washington - Team shoots 41% from 3 and is relentless on defense. Narrowly lost to Nevada on the road in the WAC tourney, and has two very capable scorers in Nate Harris and Jaycee Carroll who average more than 15 per game each.

Oakland

Favorites
(1) Memphis - I almost didn't put the Tigers here, but seeing as they are a 1 seed I'll give them a little credit. Memphis fell out of favor when they played a few months in a weak Conference USA. If they can prove they are the same team from the beginning of the year, when they went toe-to-toe with Duke, then they could bust a lot of brackets.

(2) UCLA - The Bruins have played well of late, and have the right backcourt to produce some March magic. Throw tournament savvy couch Ben Howland into the mix, and a possible date in Oakland, and things may be shaping up well for UCLA.

(4) Kansas - Ever since Bill Self made a change in his backcourt, these young Jayhawks have been not only the class of the Big 12, but one of the fastest maturing teams in the nation. These kids don't know their not supposed to win, and that attitude could carry them all the way to the Final Four.

1st Rd
Sleeper Watch
(7) Marquette - One of the best freshmen in the country in Dominic James, and one of the best pure shooters in Steve Novak. Looks like they may have hit the wall at the end of the Big East season, but maybe some new competition will spark the Golden Eagles to a run.

(8) Arkansas/(9) Bucknell - Another star player you might not have heard of in Ronnie Brewer of Arkansas, and a mid-major in Bucknell that beat Syracuse at the Carrier Dome this year, won their conference tourney and regular season, and has a NCAA win just one year ago against Kansas. Winner of this game should make for a handful in the 2nd round for Memphis.

Major Upset Watch
(14) Xavier over (3) Gonzaga - Worried that the Zags haven't played anyone decent in a few months? Well its not like the Musketeers won a strong conference or played well this year, but they have some tourney vets on their team. Plus, the last two years the favored Zags haven't made it out of the second round (Nevada, Texas Tech).

(10) Alabama over (7) Marquette - Again, if Marquette can't find a spark, they could have a really short tourney run. But if you want to believe the SEC is having a down year, then don't sweat the Tide in this one.

Minneapolis

Favorites
(1) Villanova - Of course everyone wants to know how Allen Ray will play after his eye injury. If he can bounce back, the Cats could roll into the Final Four. If he comes back at a fraction of what he was, Foye and the boys may only have enough juice for a Sweet 16 run.

(3) Florida - Impressive play by youngsters like Noah, Greene and Horford brought this team the SEC tourney title. If they can avoid the classic Florida flop, they are poised to make a deep run that could take them all the way to Indy.

(4) Boston College - Strong run to the ACC title game makes a case for the Eagles. Two superstars in Craig Smith and Jared Dudley, as well as a tough defensive mindset and a good supporting cast make them a tough out for anyone in this region.

1st Rd
Sleeper Watch
(11) UW Milwaukee - I don't even get how they can be a sleeper with the success they had last year making the Sweet 16. Beast Jonah Tucker, to go with senior wingmen Adrian Tigert and Boo Davis, make for an impressive collection of versatile players with tourney experience. Only worry is their recent struggle, with losses to both Missouri St. and Illinois-Chicago.

(7) Georgetown - Fresh off a Big East semifinal loss to the 'Cuse, John Thompson III has a big, experienced team that has played at a top level all season long. After being ranked in the top 25 all year, they somehow ended up a 7 seed, so look for them to play above their heads. Look out Ohio St. in round 2.

Major Upset Watch
(11) UW Milwaukee over (6) Oklahoma - See above. I love Kelvin Sampson and his Sooners, but this is as tough as first round games get.

(10) Northern Iowa over (7) Georgetown - A lot of talk about Northern Iowa and the Missouri Valley in general. If they could pull off this upset it would make a good case for the MVC to make the move to Major Conference status.

(15) Winthrop over (2) Tennessee - It's been 5 years since (15) Hampton beat (2) Iowa St., and while this Tennessee team has had its moments this year, they are one of the weakest 2 seeds in tournament history.

Major Snubs?
Cincinnati Bearcats - So you're tryin' to tell me if Gerry McNamara's shot doesn't go in, this team makes the field of 65? You're gonna need to do better than that. But its that simple. The Cats win that game and they are in. And don't tell me the selection committee doesn't look at how many bids a conference is getting. They knew the Cats would make 9 for the Big East, so they got left out. Pretty pathetic if u ask me. Especially for a team that went .500 in the nations toughest, got 18 wins, was 40 in the RPI and played the nations 7th toughest schedule. Doesn't add up.

Missouri St. Bears - Highest RPI team to not be invited as an at-large candidate in the history of the NCAA tourney at 20. Finished with 20 wins in a top 10 conference, had a strength of schedule of 35 and boasted an adequate 4-8 record against RPI top 50 teams, and a perfect 13-0 vs RPI 50+. Again, did the committee fear taking too many teams from the MVC? Maybe, and if they did they are helping to kill the one way smaller conferences have to compete with the big boys come selection Sunday, smart scheduling. They played in a tough league, scheduled well, and still got the shaft. Maybe next year they will just go out and win their conference tourney, might be the only way they could get in.

Who Shouldn't Have Made the Field?
(13) Air Force Falcons - Lost in the quarterfinals of MWC tourney, RPI of 51 and an SOS of 173. I don't even see their argument to get in, let alone trying to figure out how they ended up as a 13 seed. 17-3 against RPI 100+ this year, and major wins are Georgia Tech and Miami way back in December. Didn't even finish as MWC regular season champ. But San Diego St, who won both the tourney and the regular season crown, is only an 11 seed. Something doesn't add up here, and the Falcons should be in the NIT.

(12) Texas A&M Aggies - A&M basically got in based on their win against Texas 2 weeks ago. A down year in the Big 12, combined with their 200+ non conference strength of schedule and 1-5 record against top 50 RPI teams should have been enough to keep them on the outside looking in

What Were They Thinking??
(2) Tennessee - Huh? Did the committee make their brackets a month or so ago or what? I like Bruce Pearl as much as the next guy, but no team in the midst of a 6-4 stretch in the 4th or 5th best conference in the country deserves to be a 2 seed unless they somehow took their conference tourney title, which the Vols didn't come close to doing.

(4) Boston College - Little respect for the ACC new kid on the block. Took Duke to the wire twice on their way to 20+ wins and what do they get? A likely matchup with Nevada in Salt Lake City in round 2.

(5) Syracuse - From the outhouse to the penthouse. I commend the run by the Orange, but I don't see one week of play, no matter the competition, taking a team from the bubble to the top 20.

(8) George Washington - 26-2 record, even in a down year for the A-10. Granted Pops may be hurting a little bit, but show a little respect for a top 10 team with only 2 losses and a top 40 RPI. I could see a 5/6 seed, but 8 is really absurd.

(11) Southern Illinois - All this talk about the Missouri Valley, and one of their powers gets shafted like this? Wichita St. took the regular season crown, but Southern Illinois finished in a tie for 2nd, while winning the conference tourney. All this while virtually having the same RPI and SOS as the Shockers. So Wichita St. is a 7 but the Salukis are an 11? Hmmmmm.....

My 05-06 NCAA Awards
All American Team
*JJ Redick Duke (27.8 ppg 2.0 reb 2.7 asst 42% 3-pt)
Adam Morrison Gonzaga (28.4 ppg 5.5 reb 1.7 asst 44% 3-pt)
Brandon Roy Washington (19.6 ppg 5.8 reb 4.1 asst 39% 3-pt)
Shelden Williams Duke (18.8 ppg 10.4 reb 3.7 blk 1.2 asst)
Randy Foye Villanova (20.2 ppg 5.4 reb 3.2 asst 38% 3-pt)

*player of the year

2nd Team
Rodney Carney Memphis (17.8 ppg 4.3 reb 1.3 asst 40% 3-pt)
Tyler Hansbrough UNC (19.0 ppg 7.6 reb 1.2 asst 58% FG)
Leon Powe Cailfornia (20.0 ppg 9.9 reb 1.5 asst 72% FT)
Mardy Collins Temple (17.1 ppg 4.6 reb 3.8 asst 2.7 stls)
PJ Tucker Texas (16.2 ppg 9.2 reb 2.7 asst 1.8 stl)

3rd Team
Rudy Gay UCONN (15.3 ppg 6.7 reb 2.2 asst 1.9 blk)
Aaron Afflalo UCLA (16.6 ppg 4.3 reb 2.0 asst 37% 3-pt)
Craig Smith BC ( (17.3 ppg 8.9 reb 2.8 asst 61% FG)
Nick Fazekas Nevada (21.8 ppg 10.3 reb 2.1 asst 1.4 blk)
Glen Davis LSU (18.7 ppg 10.0 reb 1.5 asst 52% FG)

Honorable Mention: Kevin Pittsnogle WVU, Maurice Ager Michigan St., Terence Dials Ohio St., Marco Killingsworth Indiana, LaMarcus Aldridge Texas, Jared Dudley BC

All Freshmen Team
Tyler Hansbrough UNC (19.0 ppg 7.6 reb 1.2 asst 58% FG)
Tyrus Thomas LSU (12.7 ppg 9.3 reb 1.4 asst 60% FG)
Marcus Williams Arizona (12.4 ppg 4.4 reb 1.9 asst 44% 3-pt)
Brandon Rush Kansas (13.6 ppg 5.9 reb 2.0 asst 50% 3-pt)
Dominic James Marquette (15.3 ppg 4.6 reb 5.4 asst 1.6 stls)

Honorable Mention: Shawne Williams Memphis, Greg Paulus Duke, Trent Plaisted BYU, Jon Brockman Washington, Rodney Stuckey Eastern Washington

Coach of the Year
Roy Williams UNC - Let's see. Roy lost his top 7 scorers from last year's national championship team, and has still managed to put a top 25 team on the floor night in and night out. Granted UNC gets a lot of talented recruits on name alone, but to mix talented freshmen with veteran role players and get results in a major conference is still impressive. Looks like Roy's career is only getting better with age.

Honorable Mention: Bruce Pearl Tennessee, Al Skinner BC, Thad Motta Ohio St.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Conference Tourney Time

This is the last week of the Top 10, because next week I will have my NCAA Bracket Predictions. Of course, there is still a lot of basketball to be played between now and then in the form of conference tournaments. Seedings are still up in the air, and the bubble is always ready to burst for somebody. It looks like it may have already burst for teams like Syracuse and Creighton, while top seeds like Duke and Memphis suffered setbacks as well. For teams that feel like they are on the outside looking in, they will be rooting for Gonzaga, Bucknell, Nevada and GW. Those teams represent one-bid conferences, and if they fail to win their conference tourney, at-large bids will essentially be wasted on them. You can never be too safe with the selection committee, so every additional win in the conference tourney is crucial The action will only get more intense from here on out, so stay tuned...




**And anyone that thinks they got what it takes to hang with me in an NCAA pool can step right up. Go here (http://tournament.fantasysports.yahoo.com/men) and sign up to take me on. Ask me about group name and password if you want in.**

College Hoops Top 10 (3/6)
1. UCONN (27-2) 2
2. Duke (27-3) 1
3. Villanova (24-3) 4
4. Ohio St. (23-4) 8
5. Memphis (27-3) 3
6. Gonzaga (26-3) 6
7. Washington (24-5) 9
8. Texas (25-5) 5
9. LSU (22-7) 10
10. UCLA (24-6) NR

just missed: UNC, Florida, Illinois
dropped: (7) Pittsburgh

Overrated: Oklahoma, BC, GW, Arizona, George Mason
Sleeper Teams: Hofstra, Nevada, Marquette


Automatic Bids
Winthrop (23-7) Big South
Belmont (20-10) Atlantic Sun
Murray St. (24-6) Ohio Valley
Southern Illinois (22-10) Missouri Valley
Davidson (20-10) Southern
Penn (20-8) Ivy
Gonzaga (27-3) West Coast
UNC-Wilmington (25-7) Colonial
Iona (23-7) Metro Atlantic
S. Alabama (24-6) Sun Belt
Oral Roberts (21-11) Mid-Continent
UW-Milwaukee (21-8) Horizon
Monmouth (18-14) Northeast
Montana (23-6) Big Sky
Albany (21-10) America East
Xavier (21-10) Atlantic 10
Syracuse (23-11) Big East
UCLA (27-6) Pac 10
Pacific (24-7) Big West
Memphis (30-3) Conference USA
Kent State (25-8) Metro Atlantic
Hampton (16-15) Mid-Eastern
San Diego St. (24-8) Mountian West
Bucknell (26-4) Patriot
Southern (20-12) South Western
Nevada (27-5) Western