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As the clock hit zero in Reliant Stadium (Houston, TX) there was Kemba Walker pounding his chest, with his teammates celebrating around him as his school, The University of Connecticut Huskies punched their ticket to the National Championship Game.
The Huskies will take on the Butler Bulldogs who have reached the National Championship for the second straight year, one of few teams to ever do so. Butler who knocked off this year’s Cinderella team, VCU. Led by Matt Howard and Shelvin Mack, Butler can play both inside and outside in their half-court system led by head coach Brad Stevens.
While it’s a great story for the Butler Bulldogs, no one should be overlooking the story of UConn and more importantly the story of Kemba Walker. Sure they’re a storied university but not like Duke, North Carolina, or Kentucky (who they beat to reach the National Championship).
Led by head coach Jim Calhoun, who has over 850 wins in his coaching career he might have one of his best team’s ever in this year’s UConn team. The growth of his team has been led by Naismith candidate, Kemba Walker.
Most of us know about what Walker brings as a player, this year. but the numbers were there his last two seasons because unlike most highlighted college players, Walker is an upperclassman. The numbers are there, Walker’s point average (23.7), rebound average(5.4) and assist-to-turnover ratio (2.02) have all risen over his past two seasons, but it’s the leadership that matters most.
Any coach whether they have 850 wins or 85 wins, wants a team leader and by all accounts, actions speak louder then words. No actions have been more impressive then Walker’s, the kid from Bronx, NY has not only put up the points but has led by example, it seems as if almost every game, Kemba is not only scoring, but allowing his teammates to take the game over, whether it be freshmen Jeremy Lamb hitting from deep or big man sophomore, Alex Oriakhi grabbing rebounds and defending the paint.
All college basketball fans loved “The Jimmer”, all fans and scouts jumped through their chairs for Derrick Williams of Arizona, and everyone took notice of the skills of Duke’s Kyrie Irving. Yes, all these players were deserving of the attention they received but with Walker, he has a great game but it seems to go under the radar.
This is not saying Walker is underrated because everyone is now paying attention. Keyword is, now. Now that UConn is left out of all the powerhouse colleges, now everyone goes back and looks at what he’s done. Here is exactly what he’s done this year:
Walker has had ten games in which he has scored 30 points or more, he has had one triple-double this season but has nearly had a triple-double in many games. Walker went only two games without having a steal, contributing to his defense, and the most turnovers he’s committed in one game was five which came against Louisville, a game UConn eventually won.
The point trying to be made is that Kemba Walker is the NCAA’s flavor of the year, but that was after Jimmer, after Derrick Williams, after VCU and still doubts are arising. The NBA doubts that is, there is no debate that Walker has great NBA draft stock at this current moment, but whispers of Ben Gordon have come up with his name.
It can’t be true, with all due respect to Ben Gordon, he is nowhere near the talent level of Kemba Walker. Walker takes a game over, he leads by example, and his emotions drive him. He grew up with basketball in his veins as almost all college players have, but as told to ESPN in an interview after the Big East tournament Walker admitted that hitting his game-winning shot against Pittsburgh at Madison Square Garden was a “dream come true”.
The spotlight is on, the stage is set, we’ve been blessed to watch plenty of great college talent, and one remains above the rest and will showcase not only himself but his entire team come Monday night against the Butler Bulldogs with the Championship on the line.
Fun fact: UConn is 13-0 in neutral-site games this year (all tournament games) and Kemba Walker has been MVP of both tournaments that UConn has won (Maui Invitational and the Big East Tournament)
Here’s Walker in “Beast Mode”
Take a look at the EE Sports World Sweet 16 preview from Brandon Berg and Andy Erickson.
1. Ohio State vs. 4. Kentucky – 3/25 9:45 EST
Berg: Ohio St. has gone through by pure domination so far this tournament. I don’t see any reason for it to end now. They are easily the most well-rounded team in the nation. Kentucky is led by John Calipari, who is trying to lead his 3rd team to a final four, a feat that has only been done by none other than Rick Pitino. Better luck next year coach.
Pick: Ohio State
Andy: Ohio St. absolutely demolished an upset-minded George Mason team by 32 points and hasn’t had a tough task so far in the tournament. Kentucky on the other hand has had a couple tough battles. In order for Kentucky to keep this one close they will need to pressure the Buckeyes into making mistakes and capitalizing on their own fast-break opportunities. If they try to slow the game down it will definitely favor Ohio State
Pick: Ohio State
1. North Carolina vs. 11. Marquette – 3/25 7:15 EST
Berg: North Carolina was on a tear to finish off the season and they’ve picked up where they left off. Kendall Marshall has done wonders at the point and Barnes, Benson and Zeller are averaging 23.2 points and 11.2 rebounds combined. As a team, they’re averaging over 92 points in the tourney so far. Marquette did a good job against Xavier and even more impressive against Syracuse, controlling the game and playing how they want to play, but UNC pushes the ball too and probably will dispose of the Golden Eagles fairly easily.
Pick: North Carolina
Andy: This could be the game to watch if you’re looking for a major upset. Marquette is one of just two Big East schools remaining and has a lot to prove for their team and conference in this game. The key to this game for the Golden Eagles is rebounding. UNC is the best rebounding team and if Marquette can keep the edge about even they will keep it close down to the end. For the Tar Heels, they need their bench to step-up. Washington’s bench outscored UNC’s 41-5 on Sunday. This should be a pretty good game and I can’t imagine a double-digit win either way unless it comes down to free-throws at the end, which UNC is pretty darn good at.
Pick: North Carolina
1. Duke vs. 5. Arizona – 3/24 9:45 EST
Berg: Kyrie Irving has returned to Duke, Nolan Smith is on fire and they have the reigning Final 4 Most Outstanding Player in Kyle Singler. Need I say more? The main deciding factor is how well the Plumlee brothers and Ryan Kelly do down low. If they can get Derrick Williams into foul trouble like Williams has been in, they should play well enough to win. Arizona, on the other hand, has played very well taking out Texas and Memphis to get to this point. Derrick Williams’ draft stock is soaring, but do they have enough support to take out the one seeded Blue Devils? Probably not.
Andy: To say Arizona has skimmed out their two wins to get to this point is an understatement. In the first-round it was a blocked shot at the Buzzer against Memphis, and in the second it was a 5-second call on Texas that gave Arizona a chance that they took advantage of. Arizona’s Derrick Williams made some huge plays at the end of both games and will need to be a force inside against Duke for his team to advance. Duke will need a much better performance from Kyrie Irving who made just one shot from the field against Michigan. Duke just has too much depth from the outside for Arizona to be able to handle.
3. Connecticut vs. 2. San Diego State – 3/24 7:15 EST
Berg: Kemba Walker has been doing it all for the Uconn Huskies. He’s been carrying them on his back to this point. Against the Cincinnati Bearcats, Uconn managed to contain impressive center Yancy Gates and win the rebound battle while winning by 11. Chalk that one up as an impressive victory. San Diego State, on the other hand, wound up fighting to the death with the Temple Owls as their game went into double overtime. We’re about to see how lethal the trio of Kawhi Leonard, Billy White and Malcolm Thomas really are.
Andy: To be honest, if I’m a UConn fan, I am really not all that worried about this game. Kemba Walker has been on a roll and looks nearly unstoppable. He was only two rebounds shy of a triple-double in UConn’s 81-52 win over Bucknell in the first round. Then he had a huge 33-point performance in the Huskies 11 point win over Big East rival Cincy. The Aztecs obviously know they have to slow down Walker in order to advance. Fortunately I think SDSU just might be good enough defensively to hold him in check. With a defense ranked 7th in the nation in scoring defense at 58.8 points allowed a game and 13th in field-goal percentage defense. I think San Diego State has an athletic enough defense that they can slow down Walker.
Pick: San Diego State
1. Kansas vs. 12. Richmond – 3/25 7:27 EST
Berg: Kansas has gotten off to a slow start in each of their tournament games so far. They can’t let that happen against Richmond. Against Boston and Illinois, they started slowly, but picked up speed and crushed the opponent by the end of the game. Richmond likes to come out of the gates early and firing. If Kansas lets Richmond get ahead early, it could be doomsday for KU. Richmond has enough leadership and firepower to hold the lead through the end of the game. I’m not saying Richmond is going to win, but this may be an upset in the making.
Andy: Like Brandon said, this game has upset written all over it. Kansas needed over a half in both of their tournament games to get in a groove, and against a team like Richmond, they could find themselves in a deep hole by then. Once the Spiders get on a roll, they don’t stop, so the last thing the Jayhawks need is this Richmond team’s confidence to build as the game goes on. Richmond held Morehead St. to 37% shooting from the field on Saturday. Kenneth Faried had a solid outing with 11 points and 13 rebounds. Justin Harper will need to repeat his salty 19 point, six rebound performance to keep Richmond throwing punches in this one. The Jayhawks haven’t hit their stride yet, and they are bound to choke soon.
11. Virginia Commonwealth vs. 10. Florida State
Berg: First off, I know very little about both of these teams except Florida St. is the best defensive team in the nation and VCU isn’t supposed to belong here. The Florida St. fact holds true as evidenced by their ownage of Notre Dame. The VCU opinion proves to be no more than opinion. That opinion has also gone away. I do not hear the same screams I was hearing five days ago. In the end, defense wins championships.VCU has a very balanced attack on offense that really helped in the pummeling of Purdue. However, as well as Florida St. plays defense, I have a hard time seeing them struggle to game plan for VCU.
Pick: Florida State
Andy: Florida State’s defense was stellar in their upset win over Notre Dame, forcing the Irish into taking 30 three point attempts. The big thing about the Seminoles is that four players scored in double-figures against the Irish. They will need that type of team effort to advance. VCU has obviously proven they belonged in the tournament after thrashing Purdue. They had six players in double figures which may just be the best overall team performance of the tournament thus far. Granted, it will be tougher to score on FSU, but as long as VCU can stay balanced on offense, they have a great chance of beating the Seminoles.
8. Butler vs. 4. Wisconsin – 3/24 9:57 EST
Berg: Call me arrogant, but I’m still not quite buying into Butler’s hype. They won by a last second basket in each of their first two games and I had Pitt busting early for a quick exit anyways. Now we have a team in Wisconsin that I picked to reach the Elite Eight, and I can see them simply overpowering Butler. Matt Howard and company are going to fall short in another upset bid in this one.
Andy: In my regional preview, I said Butler didn’t have near the talent to make a run deep into the tournament like they did last year. Boy have they proven me wrong. Granted they only won with last second baskets, it is that kind of a performance in the clutch that sends the other team home. Wisconsin’s defense just isn’t good enough to contain Shelvin Mack and Matt Howard.
3. BYU vs. 2. Florida – 3/24 7:27 EST
Berg: I’ve been saying it for a while now, and I’ll repeat it again. BYU isn’t going far without Davies in the lineup. I figured they would beat Wofford considering Wofford’s tallest player is 6’6”, then planned on them playing St. Johns, but we all know that didn’t happen, so I wasn’t surprised one bit to see them take out the lesser Gonzaga team. Now they go up against the Gators who man a dominant trio in the middle, Alex Tyus, Chandler Parsons and Vernon Macklin. Jimmer Fredette is indeed very super, but he really can only take this team so far.
Andy: Jimmer Fredette did it once again against the Zags on Sunday, torching Gonzaga for 34 points as he led his team to a blow-out win. This is BYU’s first Sweet Sixteen appearance since 1981, and a sweet one it could be at that. The Cougars had a great performance from Jackson Emory who is starting to prove he can be just as effective as his Fredette counter-part. On the other side is Florida whose defense had a great performance against an upset minded UCLA team. The Gators held the Bruins to less than 42 percent shooting from the field and only allowed 23.1 percent from beyond the arc. This game is going to come down to the one, the only…..Jackson Emory. We know Fredette will be a “Studette” like always, but it is going to be his sidekick that will have the final say on whether or not the Cougars advance.
Brace yourself, because the Southeast Region could have the most upsets this year. Looking up and down this bracket and trying to decide who will move on can make a man’s head spin. Honestly, there really isn’t a clear-cut favorite to come out of this bracket. Chances are, if you pick most of the games right out of this region, you are going to be sitting pretty well. Let’s get started.
It really won’t matter who wins the play-in game, Pittsburgh will win by 20+. Pitt is the favorite to come out of this region in many brackets but it sounds like repeating history to me. They have had the #1 seed three out of the past four tournaments without a Final Four appearance.
Butler and Old Dominion is one game that I do not want to miss in the first round. Butler is a tough team, but asking them to repeat last years’ Final Four appearance is way too much. They get a very tough draw in the first round with an Old Dominion team that is on a roll, winning 13 of their last 14 games. Both teams rely on defense to be successful, but I give the nod to ODU on offense and they move on into the second round.
Analysts have claimed Pitt to be the weakest number one seed, and ODU will give them a run for their money. There is just something about this game that has upset written all over it. ODU definitely deserved a 6 or 7 seed and beat the likes of Xavier, Richmond, St. Johns, Clemson and George Mason in the regular season. However, I am still going to take Pitt to advance. But, if you want to take a salty upset, this is the one.
#5 Kansas State
#12 Utah State
Kansas State is a team I extremely like in this region. Jacob Pullen is a guy who has the tools to take a game over. They have had a roller-coaster season that included putting together a string of really great wins, and then tripping up against Colorado three times. Despite their 30-3 record, Utah State would still be classified as a Cinderella if they somehow pull off a win against K State. It won’t happen though. The Wildcats win by 10+.
Wisconsin fans have to be a tad nervous about drawing this Belmont team. Belmont is a very well-balanced team and won 12 straight games. The four loss Belmont team also boasts the nation’s second best three-point shooter in Rick Byrd. Wisconsin has won some big games, including a win over Ohio State earlier in the season. Playing the tougher schedule and having the nation’s best free throw percentage is going to give the Badgers the edge here.
A Wisconsin – K State match-up will be very intriguing. The Badgers definitely have the better D, but Pullen and the Wildcats have the better offensive attack. Kansas State will continue their run and beat Wisconsin pretty impressively.
#6 St. Johns
The St. Johns and Gonzaga match-up is another can’t miss game in the first round. These two teams also met in the 2000 NCAA Tournament when a then 10 seed Gonzaga, knocked off second seeded St. Johns. Gonzaga has a lengthy front line and could cause some problems for St. Johns as they rely a lot on penetrating to the basket. I like the Red Storm and their fast break offense to outpace the Zags and move on.
As everyone knows by now, BYU isn’t the same team without Brandon Davies. If the Cougars didn’t still have the nation’s leading scorer in Jimmer Fredette this could be a scary game for the BYU faithful. If this game does get close, BYU is an excellent free-throw shooting team and should be able to outlast Wofford, that is, if they even put up a fight.
I think BYU will be rooting for St. Johns to beat Gonzaga, just for the simple fact that without their main big man, it would be easier to get opportunities against a quick, fast paced team like St. Johns. The Red Storm are the kind of team I would like to see move on and upset BYU. This game will be close, but there’s no way Jimmer goes down this early.
#10 Michigan State
The UCLA, Michigan State match-up should be another dandy in the first round. Michigan State, regardless of their seed, is always a tough out in March. Although UCLA could be a real dark horse in the region if they can play to their full potential. This could be one of the best games of the first round and I think UCLA will come up with the win.
Florida has gotten a lot of flack from some, and praise from others. Do they truly deserve their #2 seed? Yes. The Gators won 11 games against top 50 teams and are 10-2 in their last dozen games. If you look up and down their schedule, they had a resume that doesn’t make their #2 seed seem that unreasonable. It will also help that Florida won’t have to travel real far for any of their regional games.
The Florida, UCLA match-up will have a lot of eyes on it, but I just don’t think this UCLA team is ready to take the next step and become an elite team in college basketball again. Florida is just overall a better team and shouldn’t have much of a problem with UCLA.
Sweet Sixteen Matchups
#5 Kansas State
This could be an epic game as both teams are more alike than one would think. Both average 73-74 points a game, both allow 61-61 points a game and Pitt has only lost one more game than K State over their past 12. Like I said earlier, I really think Kansas State has what it takes to make noise throughout the entire tournament. Pitt gets upset once again.
Florida drew a pretty lucky card in the bottom half of their bracket and without Davies I just don’t see how BYU can match-up against Florida. Jimmer will do all he can to keep this game close, and it might come down to the wire if Jackson Emery takes some of the load off Fredette. But Florida will just be too much to overcome.
Elite Eight Matchup
#5 Kansas State
I said right away I really like this K State team and I am going to ride them all the way to the Final Four. Pittsburgh, Kansas State and Wisconsin are better teams than Florida in my mind. Kansas State will be battle-tested. The Wildcats are also out looking for revenge from the 13 point loss to the Gators earlier in the year. I’m taking Kansas State to move on to the Final Four and get into the championship game.
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In the West, I feel like only one team can have a chance at making a Cinderalla run. That team is Missouri. I love how fast they play and the constant defensive pressure they put on the opposition, which could be key. However, they have to get by UConn in the second round, and I don’t see that happening.
First round(Teams marked in bold are my winner):
#1 Duke vs. #16 Hampton
#8 Michigan vs. #9 Tennessee
#5 Arizona vs. #12 Memphis
#4 Texas vs. #13 Oakland
#6 Cincy vs. #11 Missouri
#3 UConn vs. #14 Bucknell
#7 Temple vs. #10 Penn State
#2 SDSU vs. #15 Northern Colorado
#1 Duke vs. #9 Tennessee
#4 Texas vs. #5 Arizona
#3 UConn vs. #11 Missouri
#2 SDSU vs. #7 Temple
That leaves my Sweet 16 at #1 Duke vs. #4 Texas. I don’t feel Texas is as complete of a team than Duke. Duke lives and dies by the three, but it is rare when they are off on the perimeter. Nolan Smith is a true Player of the Year Candidate, Kyle Singler is the leader of the team who will make big shots, and then don’t forget Seth Curry, who is known for knocking down the long range shots. I believe the combination of Mason and Miles Plumlee will be enough to contain Tristan Thompson on the inside. I’ll take Duke.
Then #2 SDSU vs. #3 UConn. UConn had lost seven of eleven games before making a very impressive run in the Big East tournament. The fact that they survived that tournament and won shows what they can go. If SDSU can contain Kemba Walker, than they would have a chance. However, I don’t see that happening. I like UConn to make it to the Elite Eight.
I believe it will come down between #1 Duke vs. #3 UConn. UConn is young and doesn’t have as much experience as Duke, and I feel that will be the difference. Coach K will figure out a way to slow Walker down enough to ground UConn all together. Duke’s 3-point shooting isn’t off often, and I don’t see any reason for it to slow down now. Duke wins the West region, making a second trip to the Final Four.
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Why in the world is there only a couple guys on the selection committee that actually know basketball?
I mean, I can see them wanting an outside source to come in and not play favorites, but I mean, come on. I’m not usually one to complain over teams that didn’t make the tourney, but Colorado got jipped big time.
A line needs to be drawn.
Obviously, Colorado isn’t going to win the National Championship and probably would be lucky to win one game, but contracts, recruiting and coaches’ job security is all affected by this.
It’s not simply putting teams in there that you think could win, it’s about getting the teams that deserve in, in. Let me tell you, Colorado deserved in.
I guess I know 21-13 isn’t a very great record, but the teams they have beaten should’ve vaulted them into a tourney spot (K-State three times, Texas and Missouri.) Maybe they should’ve left, oh, say VCU out, someone who doesn’t have an RPI top 50 win? That’s just naming one team, not mentioning Clemson or UAB.
Either way you look at it, people are going to be snubbed each year. I don’t understand why people thought there would be no more complaining, when all they did is move the bar down a little bit to get a bid to the big dance. There still are going to be teams deemed as snubs no matter how much farther you go.
Dick Vitale brought up a very intriguing thought last night on ESPN. He thought there should be a selection committee commissioner. He also thought it should be Jay Bilas.
Now I don’t know if it should be Bilas or anything, but I like the idea. Bring in a basketball minded commissioner to set everything straight.
Couldn’t make it any worse, right?
For this preview, I’m going to take a look at the bracket four teams at a time and who I think will make the Sweet 16 out of that group. After that, I’ll go from there to determine who will make it out of the bracket.
16. Texas-San Antonio/Alabama St.
8. George Mason
I don’t think the winner of the play-in game is going to matter one bit. Ohio St. should manhandle either team that wins.
George Mason is a team that I adore as a Cinderella team, but they had a bad draw. I expect them to win by 10-12 points against ‘Nova.
Ohio St. is by far the best team in the tournament, and I don’t see George Mason taking them out. The Buckeyes are just too powerful all around, however, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a game that comes down to the wire.
UAB and Clemson are both controversial picks, but they are lucky and are in the coveted 5/12 matchup, where people generally look for upsets. I expect Cameron Moore to dominate and UAB is going to win the play-in game, but great guard play is supposed to win championships in college basketball, and that holds true here for West Virginia.
Princeton is another school trying to put on the glass slipper, and it’s going to fit. They gutted out a huge win against Harvard to win the Ivy League Tournament just a week after they lost to them. Kentucky saw last year how they had trouble winning win freshman, and this year Brandon Knight and Terrence Jones are the leading scorers and I have trouble seeing them take the team out of this game on a winning note.
Princeton’s slipper is not going to break until they get out of the second round at least. I just see them riding out the hot streak to get to the Sweet 16 over WVU. West Virginia is battle tested, and I see a letdown when they see they’re playing Princeton.
14. Indiana St.
Xavier closed out the season by with a 16-2 record in their last 18 games. Marquette is a dangerous team with Jimmy Butler, but I don’t see enough signature wins in accord to how many opportunities they played to overtake Xavier.
I don’t see much competition going against Syracuse in this one. Indiana St. does not stand a chance.
Syracuse is a team that really scares me. They finished the season on fire in the tough Big East, but Xavier finished even hotter in a decent A-10. Each team matches up with each other evenly. Jamel McLean and Rick Jackson will be a fun battle to watch down low, and Dante Jackson and Kris Joseph will be another interesting match-up. In the end, I’m going to go with the team with the best player, and Xavier has just that with Tu Holloway.
2. North Carolina
15. Long Island
Washington has Isaiah Thomas, and that should be enough leadership to take them to the next round. Georgia is a worthy adversary, will bring a close game, but in the end, Washington prevails.
Long Island had a pretty good season, but there simply isn’t enough to challenge UNC.
This is another game where I just don’t think there is enough talent to match-up with each other. UNC is simply going to overwhelm Washington.
1. Ohio St.
Princeton’s buck stops here. The ride was fun while it lasted, but in the end, I do not see how they can even give Ohio St. a game. Princeton gets there thanks to a weak draw, but Ohio St. will squash any hopes and run away with it.
2. North Carolina
I love both of these teams, but unfortunately for one, it ends. Xavier has absolutely no depth. They don’t get any more than six points from the bench in most games and there’s no way they can hold up the whole game against North Carolina. Harrison Barnes keeps the UNC revival going and takes them to the Elite Eight.
2. North Carolina
I know you’re thinking I’m taking the easy way out in this bracket by taking the top two seeds in the region, but I don’t feel anyone else is good enough to make it this far. The only other team I can see getting here is Syracuse.
Ohio St. is a well-led team on the court, with three of their top four scorers juniors or older, have great guards and can compete down low.
UNC’s doesn’t have a senior that gets any playing time and as of late, have been playing from behind to win games. They just simply can’t fall behind against the Buckeyes.
Like I said before, guard play wins championships, and Ohio St. earns a spot in the final four because of it.
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EE Sports World is presenting the NCAA Tournament preview for this year, as an in-depth preview for each region. Come back next week on monday-wednesday for all of the action, you won’t regret it!
They haven’t been playing great throughout the ACC tournament, but North Carolina is doing what good teams do; they are finding ways to win.
North Carolina has been behind for the most of the tournament thus far. They trailed Miami by 19 points at one point in their first game. Their only lead of the game was the 61-59 final score after a Tyler Zeller game-winning lay-up at the buzzer.
Then against Clemson, trailing for most of the game, finding themselves down 73-66 with four minutes left. UNC went on a 7-0 run to close out the game and force overtime, where Harrison Barnes scored 12 of his freshmen ACC Tournament record 40 points to lead UNC to a 92-87 victory.
Next up for UNC will be the winner of the Virginia Tech-Duke battle in the ACC Championship game. It won’t matter who they play, because if they fall behind like they have the last two games, they won’t make another comeback. Both of these comeback’s the Tar Heels have rallied are both physically and emotionally draining. Playing two games in a row, and with one going into overtime, the legs won’t be 100 percent. The Tar Heels won’t be able to rally a comeback, simply because they will most likely run out of the energy needed to do it. They use an 8 player rotation, barely.
UNC is guaranteed a bid even if they don’t win the tournament. But if they were to win, they could climb to a possible #2 seed in their respective region. There have even been talks of a #1 seed floating around, but that is not going to happen, even if they do win. If they fail to win the tournament, chances are that they will land a #3-6 seed, which, at the same time, isn’t anything to complain about either.
UNC has the tools to make a run with Kendell Marshall seeing the court the way he does and Harrison Barnes knocking down any and all big shots that float his way. John Henson is a defensive force, and Tyler Zeller has been key on the offensive end. You also can’t leave Dexter Strickland hanging around in the open space.
Come NCAA Tournament time, the Tar Heels of North Carolina could be that closet Final Four team that no one expects to make it.
As March Madness turns the corner and teams prepare to join the dance, there are a lot of new teams that find
themselves among the top, and many surprising teams who have knocked down the powerhouses.
Leading the way among the new teams reaching the top are BYU and San Diego St, and in both head-to-head matchups with these two teams, BYU has come out on top. While one of the most surprising teams this year has been, St John’s who has knocked off the likes of Duke, Pittsburgh, Georgetown, and Villanova while catching the attention of college basketball fans across the country.
While we’ve all heard of BYU and San Diego St’s Cinderella’s season, on a player aspect we’ve mainly heard of the NCAA’s scoring leader, Jimmer Fredette, who just so happens to play for BYU.
While Fredette has been BYU’s leadman, he’s also had another big time player beside him in Brandon Davies. Davies a sophomore, averaged eleven points and six rebounds a game this season. Davies has not only helped Fredette rise but has also been a main factor in helping BYU reach a top five spot in the rankings, before losing to New Mexico.
Davies, was dismissed from the team due to an honor code violation in which he had premarital sex with his girlfriend, which is against the Mormon faith, BYU, is a Mormon-based university. After the loss to New Mexico, in which Davies did not play, BYU fell to the number eight spot in the rankings and lost BYU’s hope of a #1 seed.
While all students and student athletes do sign an honor code before attending BYU, religion and sports should never mix together. BYU should run its program by university standards but they should not effect a student-athlete’s athletic career. It is right to honor you school but how strict should the code be? Davies has already been dismissed from the basketball team, yet he is still fighting to remain a student at BYU.
The honor code has effected not only Davies but it has also hurt the BYU basketball program, and while blame is to be on Davies, is this honor code to much?
During the time in which BYU is recruiting a student-athlete one must feel that the honor code is brought to the student’s attention. If it has been presented is BYU at a disadvantage when scouting players? Davies is not the first ever NCAA student-athlete to violate his school’s honor code and he certainly should have been aware of the consequences that would lie ahead.
NFL player Tim Tebow, who is very strong in his faith and NBA star Amar’e Stoudemire who has taken time out of his life to learn about other faith practices have both came out and said it best when defending Davies saying “a young kid in that situation deserves a second chance.”
While BYU heads to the dance, Davies heads to find about his future at BYU. Sports and religion should not be mixed, but a school still deserves to have an honor code, a certain line should be made.
BYU won their MWC championship, and BYU coach Dave Rose broke the school’s ruling of Davies not be allowing to represent the team, when he allowed Davies to cut down the net after the Cougars’ championship win.
As Rose gave hope to Davies coming back next season, BYU fans cheered, as they should. A young student-athlete who has violated an honor code, should be given a second chance, for his own honor.
Don’t get me wrong. I love the Xavier Musketeers. I follow them more closely than every other major sports team except for the Bengals. It’s the rest on the NCAA that I could care less about.
It’s starting to get ridiculous. What’s even the point of liking a top power conference team anymore; more specifically nearly any top-10 team in the rankings. I don’t get it. Maybe I’m wrong, but it just seems like any decent player that plays well his freshman year at a Duke, UNC or Ohio St. enters the draft right away.
Sometimes, it’s okay because I understand the player may have financial issues in the family, but this whole ‘must play one year of pro ball overseas or one year in college.’ All this is doing, is creating more one and done players at the NCAA level. It’s making following college basketball not fun anymore.
I could care less about anyone else in the NCAA anymore except for the A-10, the conference Xavier plays in.
The part where it starts to get a little ridiculous is when players average under 10 points per game their freshman year, but still enter the draft because of their ‘upside.’ It makes it impossible to keep up with the power conference teams.
You’re reading this thinking, “Wow. Rant and whine much? What do expect to be done about it you big baby?”
Now, I’m not saying that there even is a solution, and yes, that’s exactly what I’m doing. Ranting. It’s nice to get these off your chest every once in a while.
Is there any possible way that there could be an evaluation process? First off, determine if the player is ready to make the jump straight from high school to the NBA. Then, after the evaluation process, make some exceptions for aforementioned financial issues.
I know it’s far-fetched, and that there probably isn’t a solution simply because of the way it is nowadays, I think I’m allowed to dream.
Please don’t eat me alive.