In college basketball this year, the #1 seed stays #1. The Louisville Cardinals are the 2013 men’s college basketball champions. The Cardinals had a roller coaster season from being #1 to not even ranked at all. This team deserved the championship because they played with heart. Along with some great coaching, Louisville was able to play with anyone in division 1.Rick Pitino is a hall of fame coach that has coached at all levels of the game. Overall, Pitino has coached 27 years of college basketball, spending 12 years at Louisville and has danced around in the pros a bit as well. Pitino may not be statistically a “better” coach than Mike Krzyzewski butPitino has taken four different schools to the NCAA tournament and won two national championships with different schools (Louisville and Kentucky). He has also gotten to the final four six times other times not counting winning the championship. Even though Pitino has been successful, he is most known for the way he coaches. Pitino coaches with such a tough mentality on all his players, especially his point guards. Pitino will get every last bit of potential of his point guards and most definitely makes them better the hard way. It takes a certain player to play for him because of how tough he is on his players. Although, it does pay off as shown this year. A coach can’t win for his players though. All the Louisville players play with a tremendous amount of heart. Russ Smith and Peyton Siva are both maybe 6 feet tall. These to guys play bigger than 7 foot Gorgui Deng because they play so hard and with so much heart. Russ Smith is Louisville’s leading scorer averaging 18.1 points pergame. Peyton Siva is the assist man with 5.9 per game. To think these to undersized guards can take over agame and win a national championship just shows what kind of players they really are. It doesn’t matter how big you are whether you are Russ Smith or Gorgui Deng its the size of your heart that shows a true champion.
As the end of the college basketball season approaches, you start to look forward to the NBA draft. The one thing that almost every team wants to add is a skillful big man. The only problem is that it is very hard to find one. The draft class of 2013 has 5 players of that height who have moves inside that are outstanding. These players all have potential. As all basketball coaches say, “You can’t coach height.”
Mason Plumlee of the Duke Blue Devils is a senior and has improved every year under Coach K. This Duke team has little depth, so Mason plays almost the whole game. Mason and Ryan Kelly make up the most feared frontcourt in the nation. Mason has the ability to beat his defender off the dribble, or to go in the post and use his array of moves there. He is having an incredible senior season, averaging 17.2 points per game and 10.3 rebounds per game.
Alex Len of the Maryland Terrapins is from the Ukraine, and has made this Maryland squad a “bubble” team for the NCAA tournament. He is already built like an NBA player, weighing 255 lbs and all muscle. The scary thing is that he is only a sophomore. He is averaging 11.8 points and 8.1 rebounds per game. He has accomplished this being his team’s only “real” post presence. He is double teamed almost every time he catches the ball. Also, Maryland is a guard dominated team, meaning that the offense is based on three-pointers and isolations for various guards.
Kelly Olynyk of the Gonzaga Wildcats from British Columbia is the main reason that his team is currently ranked #1 in the nation. Teamed with Elias Harris in the frontcourt, Kelly is a force on the glass. He is averaging 17.3 points per game, and 7 rebounds per game, while maintaining an unheard of .665% shooting percentage. The most intriguing aspect of his game is that he runs the floor like a guard, constantly beating opposing forwards down the court for easy hoops.
Nerlens Noel of the Kentucky Wildcats is the next prodigy of the “one and done” rule. His draft stock has dropped significantly because of a torn ACL injury that cost him the rest of his freshman season. The #1 prospect in 2012 ESPN 100, he has not lived up to the expectations. He had just begun to take control of the Wildcat squad when he went out with the season ending injury. He powered his team to a victory over then ranked #16 Ole Miss team, with 14 blocks. Nerlens averaged 10.5 points per game and 9.5 rebounds per game. He has been valued so highly because of his uncanny leaping ability and his overall defensive presence.
- Cody Zeller of the Indiana Hoosiers was considered the best player in the draft by many before the season started. He and Christian Watford have become one of the top 1-2 punch duos in the nation. While standing 7 feet tall, he can still hit the mid range jump shot, and is fairly consistent from the free throw line. The Hoosiers team has so many options on offense that it is simply outstanding that Cody is still averaging 16.8 points per game and 8.1 rebounds per game. I believe that Cody will surprise people with his immediate impact in the NBA.
While none of these players will be the next “LeBron James,” any NBA team would be very happy if they fell to them during the draft. These players could all take an NBA team to the “next level”. Of this group of players, none are the same as the next, but they are all worthy of a lottery selection in the upcoming draft.
Every coach says that defense wins games, but honestly someone has to score. The usual scorer breed are shooting guards or point guards. As the NBA draft approaches, teams begin looking in the college landscape for players who can put the ball into the hoop for their team. I believe that there are 5 players that will provide an instant impact in the NBA in the scoring department.
Victor Oladipo of the Indiana Hoosiers is the best defender of shooting guards and small forwards in the nation. He constantly draws the assignment of guarding the opposing team’s best player. As a junior under Tom Crean, he has been compared to Dwayne Wade on numerous occasions. He is averaging 13.7 points per game, while shooting an incredible .614% from the field, and .464% from outside. On the defensive end he has been averaging 2.2 steals per game, and as a guard he has grabbed 6.2 rebounds a game. With great jumping ability, a great basketball IQ, a rapidly improving outside shot, and great defensive ability, Victor will be a presence in the NBA for a long time.
Brandon Paul of the Illinois Fighting Illini is the true definition of a scoring guard. He has improved his game every year at Illinois, and as a senior he has had a breakout year. Brandon is averaging 16.3 points per game. His defining game of the year came against the Gonzaga Bulldogs. He had 35 points, shot 10-11 from the charity stripe, and propelled the Fighting Illini to a victory over the now ranked #1 team in the nation. In a victory against Indiana he scored 21 points while Victor Oladipo was guarding him. With a quality jump shot and the ability to score inside, I believe that Brandon will make a career in the NBA.
Erick Green of the Virginia Tech Hokies is a senior on one of the worst teams in the ACC. This means that he is constantly receiving double and sometimes triple teams. Teams know that he is the Hokies’ only real scoring option, but he is still scoring 25.4 points per game, which is the best in the nation. Because of Erick Green opposing teams don’t want to face the Hokies. He has done all this shooting .482% from the field and .392% from three point range. He can score from anywhere on the court, and any way possible.
Shabazz Muhammad of the UCLA Bruins can score with any shot in the book. Pull up jumpers, three pointers, dunks, or floaters, it doesn’t matter. He can take his man off the dribble or spot around the three point line and make them. As the #2 rank in the 2012 ESPN 100, a lot was expected of him. He is averaging 18.3 points per game, while shooting a .417% from outside the three point line. Maybe the best features of his game are that he isn’t afraid of the pressure and he demands the ball in pressure situations.
Ben McLemore of the Kansas Jayhawks is the only starting freshman on the Kansas team. The other 4 starters are all seniors, and all of them want to score. As a freshman he is on pace to break scoring records for Kansas freshman of all time. Ben is averaging 16.7 points per game, while shooting .501% from the field, and .434% from deep. Even though he is only a freshman, he has taken over a leadership role to lead the Jayhawks into the Big 12 and the NCAA tournaments. In a game against Iowa State earlier in the season, while being double teamed with 3 seconds left in regulation, he banked in a three pointer to send the game into overtime, where he led his squad to victory.
These guards are all fun to watch play, and they all have room to continue improving in the NBA. As they get more mature, any of these players could have an immediate impact on a team in the NBA. These players can all play within a system, create for others, or get their own shots.
The Duke Blue Devils have been known for having a rich tradition in basketball, and being the biggest basketball powerhouse in college basketball for years. Duke is the classic college team with crazy fans, an outstanding coach, and the top recruits in the country. The fans of the Blue Devils’ basketball team are special. These fans are more than dedicated to their team, they are absolutely crazy. Which is why they are famously known as the Cameron Crazies. Cameron Indoor is Duke’s home court and the Crazies home. These fans take up nearly half of the stadium and feast on any poor sap that is near the sidelines. The most famous Cameron Crazies action is the the fingers. When the opposing team is taking the ball out of bounds on the sideline the whole section near that player will point, yell, and wiggle their fingers at that player. These fans are notorious for getting into the opponents head. Unfortunately, Duke did not do enough for the Blue Devils in the tournament. Although, it is not the crazies that make Duke who they are, it is Coach K. Mike Krzyzewski is the all time most winningest coach in college basketball history and has been the Duke head coach for 32 years. Coach K is the man behind Dukes success in the past three decades with 4 national championships, 11 final four appearances, 79 tournament wins, 12 regular season ACC championships, 13 ACC tournament championships, and 12 National Coach of the Year awards. If that still doesn’t prove Krzyzewski’s skills as a coach, then he is the most winningest coach ever with 932 wins and counting. Since Krzyzewski has proven to be the coach he is, he brings in some of the top recruits in the nation every year. Because of Dukes academic standards there are only certains prospects that can go to Duke. That really shows how Coach K can get the full potential out of his players. In the class of 2013, Duke will be getting 3 top 100 recruits coming in. The most talked about prospect is Jabari Parker. Parker is a versatile 6’8” shooting guard that can get to the basket with force and stretch the defense with his shooting ability. He is also a matchup nightmare for his opponents. Jabari Parker is the #2 player in the country and will be a large part of Duke’s team for years to come. The next big recruit for Duke is #32 in the nation, Matt Jones. Jones is a guard that can handle the rock and is known for his catch and shoot game. His shooting allows him to put the ball on the floor and get to the rim. He will join the backcourt with Parker next year. The final big recruit is Semi Ojeleye. Semi is a slashing small forward that can shoot the ball well. Adding Ojeleye into the mix next year will really help the Blue Devils because of the seniors leaving. Duke is one of college basketball’s most prestigous powerhouses and will be very fun to watch next year with many new talents heading to Durham, North Carolina.
The third round of the tournament is where everything becomes interesting. After the upsets of the second round, everyone wants to see if they can keep winning and beating more power teams. After every team has played a game, the nervousness is gone and teams just want to keep dancing. The #1 and #2 seeds are the teams usually picked to advance into the Final Four, but this makes them marked teams as the other teams will do anything to take them off the top. I believe that some teams ranked from #6-10 can beat the teams ranked #1-3 in the third round of the NCAA tournament. There are 3 matchups in which heavy-weights could fall to lesser teams.
1 Gonzaga vs. 8 Pittsburgh
Gonzaga: While Gonzaga was ranked #1 in the polls in the last week of the regular season, many people (including me) thought that this team was the worst best team in the nation ever. Kelly Olynyk and Elias Harris are usually too much for a team to handle, but Pittsburgh has big men, as big and agile as Gonzaga’s. The key for Gonzaga will be guards David Stockton, Kevin Pangos, and Gary Bell Jr. They will have to shut down opposing guards, and be able to score from both inside and behind the arc.
Pittsburgh: In the Big East conference, this team finished 4th and had double digit victories over Syracuse and Georgetown. They create turnovers, get offensive rebounds, make shots from both inside and outside, and are experienced. Steven Adams and Talib Zanna are talented enough to compete with Kelly Olynyk and Elias Harris. Tray Woodall and James Robinson are very poised shot makers and shot creators. The x-factor on the Panthers squad is Lamar Patterson. When he is scoring and attacking the rim, they are one of the most dangerous teams in the nation.
I believe if guards Tray and James outplay the opposing guards, and Steven and Talib hold their own against Kelly and Elias, then a win for the Panthers could be in store.
1 Indiana vs. 8 North Carolina State
Indiana: Indiana is the best team, talent wise, in the country. With lottery selections Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo running the show they are unstoppable when they play the way that they can. Talented shooters in Jordan Hulls and Christian Watford spread the floor, and Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell is a very steady point guard on the offensive and defensive ends. When this team plays poorly, they get down on themselves, miss makeable shots, and lack effort on defense.
North Carolina State: This Wolfpack squad had very high expectations in the preseason. They were chosen to finish first in the ACC and were ranked #8 in the preseason poll. While this team has not lived up to those goals, they have the talent to play with anyone. Richard Howell and C.J Leslie are one of the best frontcourt duos in the nation. Lorenzo Brown is a first round draft pick, and Scott Wood is one of the best long range shooters.
NC State will win if Richard Howell doesn’t give Cody Zeller anything easy, the Wolfpack control Victor Oladipo, and if C.J Leslie plays as if he is the best player on the court.
2 Ohio State vs. 7 Notre Dame
Ohio State: This Ohio State team won the Big Ten tournament championship, and Thad Matta is one of the nation’s best coaches. Deshaun Thomas is the best scorer in the country out of the forward position because he is able to score in the post, mid range, or from behind the arc. Aaron Craft and Shannon Scott are the best defensive backcourt in the nation, and Aaron Craft stepped up throughout the Big Ten tournament. Lenzelle Smith Jr. has displayed toughness throughout his career as a Buckeye, and he has the ability to score 20 points on any given day. If Sam Thompson and LaQuinton Ross play their best in the NCAA’s, then they are very hard to beat.
Notre Dame: This team’s best win was against Louisville in a 5 overtime game, and they also beat a very good Marquette team in the Big East tournament. This team goes 4 big man deep, in Jack Cooley, Tom Knight, Garrick Sherman, and Zach Auguste. Eric Atkins, Jerian Grant, and Patrick Connaughton play almost the entire game at the guard spots. All three guards have specific skill sets that fit perfectly into the Irish system. Pat is a long range shooter, Jerian is an all around fantastic scorer, and Eric is a defensive minded point guard who knows how to get his teammates the ball in scoring positions.
If Jack, Tom, Garrick, and Zach dominate inside on the glass and in the paint, and Pat knocks down threes, then I believe that the Buckeyes could be facing an earlier exit than they imagined.
All three of the higher seeds have a chance to win it all, so if they lose in the third round, it will create chaos in a lot of people’s brackets. All the underdogs have the talent to defeat them, but you never know what will happen in the big dance.
My favorite time of the year. March Madness. The brackets are out, and the 68 teams in the field couldn’t be more pleased. Everyone loves seeing the “Cinderella” teams battle against the “heavyweights”. Of course there are the snubs and surprises, but overall I believe the selection committee did a great job. The bracket this year may be the hardest one ever. In the NCAA there are so many good teams, but no super powers that have a definite position as the best in the nation. The reason some people watch this tournament is for upsets. I am predicting four second round upsets in this year’s March Madness.
6 Butler vs. 11 Bucknell
Butler: The Bulldogs have always been a fearsome foe in the NCAA’s ever since their remarkable Final Four run with the Gordon Hayward team. This year’s team starts with long range shooter, Rotnei Clarke, averaging 16.7 points per game. Big men Roosevelt Jones and Andrew Smith provide power inside. I believe that this Butler squad relies too much on its perimeter shooting and when shooting poorly could see a second exit at the hands of Bucknell.
Bucknell: Coming from the Patriot League, this team went relatively unknown throughout the regular season in the eyes of many. Senior center Mike Muscala averages 19 points per game. and 11.2 rebounds per game for the Bison. This team plays exceptional defense, and is very unselfish on offense.
Bucknell’s defense and Mike Muscala (left) may be enough to power the Bison past the Bulldogs in what should be a very tight and fun game to watch.
6 University of California Los Angeles vs. 11 Minnesota
UCLA: The Bruins were in place for a victory but second leading scorer Jordan Adams (15.3 ppg) went down with a season ending injury. The scoring now comes down to Shabazz Muhammad and the Wear twins. With very little depth, and a lack of a true interior presence, they must make this game into a marathon, running up and down the court, in order to win.
Minnesota: The Golden Gophers have been the most inconsistent team in the nation this year, with victories over Indiana and Wisconsin, but also losses against Nebraska and Northwestern. Trevor Mbakwe has shown traces of dominance, but also has been a “no-show” in some games. Guards Andre Hollins and Austin Hollins have been even more inconsistent, scoring 20 points a game then shooting 1-15 in the next game.
I believe if the Gophers come in with the right mindset and are ready to play, they can beat anyone. If they play poorly the Bruins will take the victory.
7 San Diego State vs. 10 Oklahoma
San Diego State: This team has achieved great things under coach Steve Fisher. The Aztecs have only one good player in Jamaal Franklin. The thing is, he is great. He is averaging 16.7 points per game and 9.5 rebounds per game, which is unheard of for a team’s only good player. He is his team’s leading rebounder at 6’5” and he plays at guard. This team is in a slump of late and they could ride that bad wave into an early exit from the dance.
Oklahoma: I believe that they can bully San Diego State on the glass with Romero Osby. Romero is this team’s best player since Blake Griffin, and he is averaging 15.8 points per game and 7 rebounds per game. Under coach Lon Kruger, they will be experienced enough to win a game in the dance.
If the Sooners can take control of the paint and control the glass, then I believe a victory awaits them at the end of this game. Overall, this game is 50/50 with the winner most likely losing to Georgetown in the next round.
7 Illinois vs. 10 Colorado
Illinois: John Groce, as a first year coach in the Big Ten, did a great job. Brandon Paul and D.J. Richardson are the only real “players” on this team. The Fighting Illini are all isolations, and players don’t create for each other, just for themselves. They are weak on the glass, and are constantly beat in the paint.
Colorado: Tad Boyle has improved Colorado over the year. Andre Roberson is a walking “double double,” and Spencer Dinwiddie (15.6 ppg) and Askia Booker (12.4 ppg) are guards that can score the ball. This team is great under pressure and in close games, so if this one comes down to the wire, don’t be surprised if the Buffaloes get the victory.
If Illinois misses shots and Colorado uses their advantage on the glass, an early round exit for the slumping Illini could happen.
When this tournament is all said and done and a victor is crowned, these upsets may not occur, but I can guarantee that a Cinderella team will emerge and a power will fall early. In the NCAA tournament you never know what will happen, and that is part of the reason that I love watching college basketball.
A gust of terror swarming in your face, strong winds not allowing anything by them, and an attacking force that will not be stopped. This is how the Miami Hurricanes men’s basketball team plays. The Hurricanes are fierce just like their name, they don’t back down to anyone and have proven to be one of the elite teams in college basketball this season. This Miami Hurricanes team is the most underrated team in the country. They have one of the best records in basketball and have beaten top teams, yet they still did not get the ranking they deserved.
In my mind, the Miami Hurricanes are one of the best teams in the country. Miami had a shaky start to their season, but they got it together and now are among the best. Miami has one of the best records in college right now with twenty two wins and four losses. Miami has lost to some bad teams and some good teams as well. The Hurricanes had an early season tough losses to Florida Gulf Coast, and Indiana State. Miami’s other two losses came to better teams in Arizona, and Wake Forest. Even though this Miami team has proven themselves as streaky, they have beaten some quality opponents. Some of the Canes best wins were against Michigan State, Duke, North Carolina State, Virginia, Maryland, and North Carolina twice. Although, Miami has been doubted throughout the season, they have proven to be able to beat top teams down the stretch.
Jim Larranaga is a terrific head coach and has such a large part of Miami’s success. This coach has been working so hard to develop a winning team, and he got it. Jim Larranaga has truly shaped this Miami team. Each day he would have goals for his team that he recorded in his daily planner. Larranaga was determined to get those things done or fixed. Clearly, coach Larranaga’s strategy has worked because the team is currently ranked #5 in the country and are starting to play better going into March. Coach has taught this team how to take pride in their defense and be unselfish on offense. That is what makes Miami such a solid and terrifying team to play against. The Hurricanes are well balanced in size and strength. Miami’s guards, especially Shane Larkin are strong and shoot the ball well. Down low the Canes have athletic big men that can run, have great touch around the hoop, and great shooting ability. A team like Miami gives coaches nightmares when preparing their game plans.
The Miami Hurricanes are an “under the radar” team that has given the top teams in the country a very hard time. With such a strong, athletic, and experienced team Jim Larranaga and his team will definitely be dancing when it comes tournament time.
Wolverines are vicious animals that will run you down and don’t give in for anything. That is exactly how the Michigan Wolverine men’s basketball team plays. The Michigan Wolverines are an extremely talented team filled with young kids with bright futures. The Wolverines have many pieces of their team that fit together making them what they are.
The Michigan Wolverines are currently #4 in the country. This team is very worthy of this ranking, proving themselves with a 23 wins and 4 losses record. All of Michigan’s losses are to teams in the BIg-10 conference, for the Big-10 is the best conference in college basketball. Michigan lost to four Big-10 teams: Indiana, Wisconsin, Ohio State, and Michigan State. All four of these teams are ranked or have been ranked in the top twenty five at more than once this season. All these losses are good losses, Three out of four of their losses were by single digits. For the most part, Michigan played all four of their losses tough. Although they have lost some games, the Wolverines have had multiple quality wins. The Wolverines have beat North Carolina State, Ohio State, Minnesota, Kansas State, and Illinois twice. All of these teams are basketball powerhouses that for most of the season have been ranked. Overall, Michigan has been very consistent with no bad losses, and several good wins.
Michigan has a variety of talent all throughout their team. Their most talented player Trey Burke Naismith Player of the Year Award candidate, along with being a top ten NBA draft prospect as only a sophomore. Trey Burke is a great leader who knows where his shots are and how he can get there to help his team. Burke is an outstanding scorer that can nearly score on anyone. He has an unique skill set of a great shooting ability allowing him to have range and hit the shot of the bounce. Burke is also the captain and main leader of the young Wolverine team. Trey is the coach on the floor and makes sure everyone is following through with their assignment. Any NBA team would be lucky to have this young man in their backcourt for years to come.
The Michigan Wolverines have had a great season so far in 2012-2013.They are a young talented team that has had their ups and downs in the season, but they are starting to play better leading into March. Hopefully, behind their captain Trey Burke the Wolverines can make a run in the big dance in March.
This year in college basketball is a special one, with such a wide range of elite teams there is no saying in who will be upset next. The college basketball AP rankings change every weekend, top teams go down, and bubble teams get their shot to prove why they should be #1. This week incollege basketball was a good one, as always. Quite a few upsets and once again a bunch of shifting in the rankings. This past week was also big week for a few bubble teams showing they mean business too. Along with that comes with a few disappointed top teams that needs to get back to the film room and see where they can improve. The #1 spot has been passed around between a handful of teams. Indiana started off the year #1 until Rotnei Clark and the Butler Bulldogs came along sending the message that the Hoosiers were not going to keep that #1. Duke has held the #1 spot the majority of the year. With a 17-2 record the seniors Seth Curry and Mason Plumlee have lead the way for the doubted Blue Devils. The surprising 27 point loss to the Miami Hurricanes put the Louisville Cardinals temporarily in first, but after this week that was certainly not the case. Some other notable teams this week were Villanova Wildcats, Wisconsin Badgers, and La Salle Explorers.
The Villanova Wildcats certainly had a wild week this week. The students rushed the court twice this past week. (Yes, that mean two upsets)This underrated Big East nightmare took down two top five teams back to back in the same week. One January 22 #1 Louisville came into the Wells and Fargo Center not prepared for what the Wildcats had for them. Although, in their 9 point loss, senior guard Peyton Siva scored a double- double with 15 points and 13 assists. Louisville is on a 3 game losing streak including the most recent loss to Georgetown by 2 points (51-53). Peyton Siva did not score and only had 2 assists. The Cardinals are really going to need more out of him if they expect to win against tough teams. Later in the week Nova had another huge overtime win against #4 Syracuse. Nova’s freshman, Ryan Arcidiacono had a great game with few turnovers, and 10 points. Three of those points were the points that tied the game and sent it into overtime. This young freshmen is special, already among the team leaders in points and assists.
In the Big Ten, the Wisconsin Badgers are eagerly trying to stabilize a position in the top 25. They have had a up and down year but Bo Ryan’s team got a great quality team win January 26 against formerly #12 Minnesota in a 44-45 thriller that game down to the foul shooting of Minnesota that couldn’t come through. For Wisconsin Sophomore point guard, Traevon Jackson made two big pull up jump shots to put Wisconsin ahead late in the game. We will see if that good play will carry into Tuesday, January 29 game against #14 Ohio State in conference play. La Salle is an underrated mid major team that deserves credit in knocking off #9 Butler earlier this week by 1 point. Although Butler did not have star guard Rotnei Clark due to a neck injury, it was still a great win for the La Salle Explorers.
On Thursday, January 17, 2013 the Duquesne Dukes took on the University of Massachusetts Minutemen in an A-10 conference game. The Duquesne team is a young team on the rise with a new head coach, Jim Ferry. This is a young exciting team with a lot of potential. It is tough for this young team to be matched up against the veteran, NIT (National Invitation Tournament) Tournament finalist, Minutemen who are among the best in the A-10 this year. After a hard fought battle by the Dukes, the Minutemen pulled away with a 13- point conference win, final score Duquesne 66 and UMass 79. Sean Johnson lead the way for the Dukes with a 29- point performance (18 coming in the second half). For the Minutemen Junior Guard, Chaz Williams with 22- points.