Rant of an Angry Hawks Fan by Daniel Seoh

As a writer, one must be weary of the implied obligations to write one’s own opinions with subtlety; like a needle and the intricate designs hidden within clothing. As a Hawks fan, I am obligated to care for my team enough to stick with them through thick and thin, through 13 wins, and through 29 losses. I am obligated to think of ways my team could win a championship. However, as both a writer and a Hawks fan, I have come to realize that it is impossible to be both.  

It is impossible to suggest things without a furious anger filling through my head, so I will write as a Hawks fan and not a writer. As a Hawks fan, this season particularly has become so very frustrating because of one particular reason. The Hawks have lost their potential. Watching the Hawks was even more exciting in their horrible and nearly-historic 04-05 season. It was fun to see the highflying Hawks especially the dunk contest winner Josh Smith, and it was fun to think of the possibilities of the future. I enjoyed my nights thinking of the potential of Smith and Josh Childress. Smith was supposed to be the next Human Highlight Film and Childress had hints of Reggie Miller’s excellent uses of screens.      

With the next season, there was a buzz with a new and exciting freshmen prospect named Marvin Williams. Let’s not blame Billy Knight with this pick because hindsight is always 20/20. In 2004, there were only good things to say about Marvin and one reason for his lack of developement is not because of his lack of potential, but I’d say mainly because of the coaching. For example, one former Hawk is currently averaging around 16 points a game for the Wizards, but I’ll save that for later.      

Now we all know about the 2006 draft and Shelden Williams, but look at the people below him. It’s not such a great list of players either. Now, Brandon Roy and Rudy Gay are better than Shelden Williams, but Brandon Roy’s career is nearing a tragic end, and Rudy Gay seems to be a lost cause. Here is the question you have to ask: would you trade Al Horford for either of those players in a league where a quality big man is extremely rare? It was a horrible pick that no one understood at the moment or understands even now, and Billy Knight deserves full blame, but luckily it was beneficial. For once, luck has come to Atlanta in the form of Al Horford. Do not forget that if the Hawks had any higher than the third, then they would have given the pick to the Suns. With that in mind, do not forget Al Horford is the luck of the Hawks.   

Now with a review of the Hawks recent history, it has become apparent the flaws within the organization. Simply put, the Hawks management always looks for the quick fix. Our current woes begin with 2005. It begins with Joe Johnson. At first, Joe Johnson was a sigh of relief because Hawks fans were glad to finally see a team that looked like they had a future with a leader who was relatively young, which meant there was room for improvement. However, what was not mentioned was Joe Johnson’s contract. Joe Johnson was getting paid 70 million dollars over the course of 5 years. For the quality of player Joe Johnson was, that contract seemed and still is ludicrous. Here’s a question that must be asked: did Phoenix have any major decline because of the departure of Joe Johnson? Wouldn’t that mean that Joe Johnson is not a very valuable asset? My statement may be partially unfair due to Steve Nash’s ability to make everyone around him play better, but it still holds truth. Joe Johnson was and will never be a go to guy. He will never be a franchise player.

To be fair to Joe Johnson and the Hawks, it was anticipated that Marvin Williams would later develop into a franchise player and would help compliment Joe Johnson in leading the Hawks into a championship. With that said, one of the main reason of the Hawks current struggles is largely because of the coaching. How many prospect have the Hawks coaches ruined? The Hawks all had valuable pick which turned to be bust: Salim Stoudemire, Solomon Jones, Acie Law, Marvin Williams, Shelden Williams, Royal Ivey, and Donta Smith. Now most of these players are second round picks, but out of Salim, Solomon, Ivey, and Smith, are there any that can be recognized at all. With 4-5 years of second round picks, not a single one has become a solid contributor for the Hawks. The rest of the second round picks are always wasted on some random international guy that no fan will ever hear of. Did Salim Stoudemire not have the potential to at least become a bench shooter, similar to Eddie House? Solomon Jones could’ve been a valuable big man off the bench and had the potential to may be become a starter. What became of Shelden Williams? He was certainly a waste of a draft pick, but he was still supposed to be a lottery pick either way. If the celtics can make Glen Davis a valuable bench player, why can’t the Hawks make Shelden Williams a player at all? As a matter of fact, why did the Hawks play Tyronne Lue and Anthony Johnson over Acie Law? Does it make sense to keep your first round draft pick on the bench for most of the game? Even if he is a rookie, he must have some potential to be considered a lottery pick, but he was not even given a chance on a team that barely made playoffs, where in San Antonio, Popovich gives each player a role and give each player a chance to display their talents. People may argue that there are always players who turn out to be busts, but when there are so many busts on a single team, then one must think the Hawks are incredibly bad at drafting where they pick players projected to go in the second round with their first pick, or the coaches do not know what they’re doing.

In the case of Marvin Williams, it is apparent that he has talent. However, when watching a Hawks game, it is not so hard to see why the talent is not displayed. When the Hawks play, Marvin Williams plays as if he is confused. Marvin Williams seems as if he is not sure of where to be or what to do. The only thing he knows to do is to pass to Joe Johnson. It seems as if the coaches just tell the players to go out and play their hardest; something a recreational coach can say. Marvin was never given a role on the team. Marvin was never told how to play. You can call him lazy, but at North Carolina, he was neither lazy nor had a bad attitude. He chose to come off the bench because he was a freshmen. He was part of a championship-winning North Carolina team. His teammates had nothing but good words to say about him. Sean May even somewhat compared Marvin to Michael Jordan, by saying something along the lines of Michael Jordan wasn’t the first pick either. Those are some bold words from a player who has seen talent from a pretty deep draft class.  One could attempt to counter my discontent with the Hawks coaches simply by mentioning Josh Smith and Al Horford. However, this can be completely rebutted by surfacing Horford’s 3 years of college under a great coach, and Josh Smith’s incredible potential. Their development is natural and is a result in starting in the NBA. Horford was already a smart and hard working player. He has improved drastically, but he has improved in things that he had to work on himself. He has improved his jump shot and his defense. One could also say that he now has a few effective post moves. However, his understanding of the game, which was already great for a rookie, has improved because of simply starting on an NBA team. Josh Smith is an All Star caliber player, but any NBA scout will tell you the sky is the limit with him. He is truly a freak of nature with a 40 inch vertical and around a 7 foot wingspan. to put that in perspective, Derrick Rose has a 40 inch vertical, and is shorter than Smith. Looking at the NBA pre-draft measurements, Josh Smith’s reach with jumping included is only second to Dwight Howard. With this said, Josh Smith should be a definite All Star, if he received the right coaching. With Josh Smith, there is one thing that I do not particularly understand. Josh Smith has horrible shooting form, which would be fine if he was a decent shooter, but he is not. So I ask, why did none of the Hawks’ Coaches fix his jump shot? Josh Smith has the athleticism to be on par or subpar with Lebron, instead of Kenyon Martin. Josh Smith should’ve been the next Nique, or even Mcgrady. If you see the scouting report of all three players in the first 2 or 3 years, it is nearly identical, except Dominique went to college for 4 years, so as a result, was more developed. Mcgrady came into the league as a super athletic wingman who can block shots. Even their statistics were similar. Even with the coaching failures of the individuals, it seems as if the coaches focused more on team coaching. However, even this was a complete failure. Just like the Hawks, the coaches just wanted a quick fix, which is apparent through the performance in the playoffs: 2 first round 7 game series, and 2 second round sweeps. Switching on defense and 1 on 5 basketball doesn’t work in the playoffs. It does not work against the good teams.

Countless times I see pick and rolls from the opposing team where the Hawks just simply switch. Countless times I heard Hawks players and coaches say switching is a strength of the Hawks. Countless times, I have asked myself, “why?” Switching causes mismatches, and no matter how athletic the Hawks are, mismatches will almost always cause havoc, especially when the center is guarding a point guard. However, to be fair, Al Horford seems to keep up with PGs very well, but on the contrary, he is still a big man guarding a perimeter player. For example, no matter how athletic a player is, nobody in the NBA can guard Steve Nash, a point guard who is not gifted with any athleticism in NBA standards. If the Hawks switch, then we have Marvin, Josh, or Al guarding Steve Nash, a player not even Rajon Rondo can completely guard. On the other hand, when we switch, an even worse scenario occurs. With our switching defense, the Hawks seem to end up having a guard guarding a big man. I do not think there is a need to explain the problems with this scenario, except there is not only a disadvantage in the size mismatch. With a size mismatch favoring the offensive player, a double team is always required. The Hawks are not very good at double teaming and rotating. As a result, when the Hawks play championship caliber teams who know how to move the ball, there is no chance of winning. 

On the other side of the court, the Hawks are extremely flawed in many ways. With such an athletic team, one may expect the Hawks to have a highflying, run-and-gun offense; however, they have one of the top five slowest paces in the league for the past 2 or 3 years. Every year Mike Woodson promised to run the ball more. This year Larry Drew promised a new and improved motion offense. Every year I see no committed or significant difference. Every year I see more and more shot clock violations. The Hawks should only use about 10-15 seconds of the shot clock. They should look for easy offense and run hard on defense. Mike Woodson may have worked under Larry Brown, but it seems as if none of the magic wore off onto Woody. Woodson was supposed to be a defensive specialist, but what kind of defensive specialist plays a 30+ year old point guard that is almost literally non-existent defensively. Woodson’s problem was this: he played his players thinking of only the each single game, instead of thinking of the whole season. He’s the one who let Joe Johnson play league leading minutes simply because Joe wanted to. He never took the time to develop ANY rookies, and the same goes for Larry Drew. Actually to put it more accurately, Mike Woodson coach his team thinking of only each possession, instead of thinking of the next possession. On offense, he gave it to Joe Johnson, because for each possession he’s the best option. However, for the whole game, spreading the ball is the best option. Quick ball movement is the best option. Instead Mike Woodson and Larry Drew rely on iso-Joe offense, where he almost certainly gets double teamed. Double teams can be good, but for some odd reason, Joe Johnson always keeps the ball and only passes it at the last possible moment where someone has to jack up a three point shot with one second left on the shot clock. Even on pick and rolls, Joe never passes it to the roller. He keeps the ball. Joe Johnson is the worst type of ball hog because his stats do not show it, but when he is watched, one can see how he takes good shots; however, those good shots take up around 20 seconds of the shot clock to open up, and if he chooses to pass it, it forces a bad shot by his teammates. Instead the Hawks should work through their true best player. The player who was second to Kevin Durant in a very talented draft class. Even without these facts, basketball is meant to be played from the inside-out. It is common knowledge to try to get it into the post first, so why don’t the Hawks play through Horford and Smith instead of Joe? Give the ball to someone who shoots 55 percent rather than someone who shoots 44 percent. Make a post player who shoots jumpers play more inside, which will open up jumpers. This applies to Josh and Horford. To put things in perspective, Josh Smith is considered a player who takes a ton of bad shots, but he makes 47 percent of his field goals and Joe Johnson, as I’ve mentioned earlier, makes 44 percent, so who is the one taking more bad shots?

What the coaches should of done is give other people chances. What if Marvin was given the ball more often? May be he could have become a player who can do it all. He may have been the next big thing. One thing that is evident with the Hawks is their lack of aggressiveness.  I have seen Josh Smith drive it in and simply lay it up when everyone in the world knows that if he had driven the ball more aggressively toward the hoop, it would have been on Sportscenter. I have seen Joe Johnson back a weaker and smaller defender down until he got double teamed, where he could have made a more aggressive and quicker move to beat the double team and score easily. After 3 seasons of being double teamed, one would think he learned how to beat it. When did the Hawks adapt this easy going push-over mentality? I even remember Marvin specifically mentioning his lack of aggressiveness as a rookie. I remember reading about his father urging him to drive it in to the basket more often. I remember seeing more dunks by Marvin back then. The Hawks have become so soft, which is why Zaza Pachulia’s head butt with Kevin Garnett in the 2008 playoffs were so exciting. For once the Hawks showed some fight. For once the Hawks showed toughness, but that has all faded away since.

This will never be settled because of the lack of chances that Hawks role players are given. However, there is one case that must be carefully observed. The only Hawks rookie in the past 4 or 5 years that has played as a Hawk and traded in their rookie season is playing excellently for his current team. Jordan Crawford is currently averaging around 16 points a game. One may say his shooting percentage is horrible at under 40%, but in comparison to recent rookies, Brandon Jennings averaged 15.5 a game last season as a rookie and shot around 35-37 percent and was still considered a rookie of the year candidate. Jordan Crawford is on a Wizards team that has a lot of talent in the guard positions. Brandon Jennings had no one to seriously compete for playing time. Now I’m not making a bold statement by saying that Crawford is better than Jennings because I didn’t mention any other areas other than scoring, but I am saying that their performance is comparable where if i made this case for Jordan as a Hawk, I would hear nothing but laughter. Does that now show something about the Hawks coaching?

It makes me wonder about Jeff Teague. Does he have the potential to produce numbers that Hawks fans can not imagine? Did Marvin have that potential? This whole Jordan Crawford situation has made the trade for Kirk Hinrich seem ridiculous. The only reason it is acceptable to give a first round pick is because the Hawks are horrible at either drafting or developing players. Or may be it could be both. This situation has made the Joe Johnson signing seem even more ridiculous than it already was. If Joe Johnson was never signed, the Hawks could’ve traded Bibby and started Teague and Jo. Crawford. The Hawks could’ve kept their second round pick from New Jersey instead of trading it for cash. They could’ve used the pick to draft Hassan Whiteside, who is a very raw and athletic center with great length. That way, may be in 2 or 3 years, Jeff Teague would be a quality point guard and Jordan Crawford may be a quality shooting guard with more offensive responsibilities on Marvin Williams forcing him to develop somewhat. May be Hassan Whiteside can be a starting center, which would move Horford to his natural position. May be we could draft a quality player this year or trade this years pick and Josh Smith for another player. With this said, even the resigning of Bibby seemed ridiculous. They signed a declining and old point guard just a year before the amazing free agent class of 2010. This makes the trade for Jamal Crawford even seem unadvisable. With large room under the salary cap, the Hawks could have gotten a super star. 2010 is the only exception in the rule of rebuilding. 2010 was the only year a team could rebuild through signing free agents instead of the draft. It seems as if the Hawks once again look for the quick fix instead of planning for the future. Good GMs create a 2 or 3 year plan. Look at the Thunder who are now a championship contender. Look at the Spurs who have been a championship contender for a decade and a half even after the Admiral’s departure. If you carefully examine the movement of these teams, then their plan seems ingenious. The Hawks, however, tried to make a team full of talent, but uncomplimentary. Jamal Crawford would be a great pick up, but only for a team on the verge of a championship. Jamal Crawford is basically Jason Terry. The moment the Hawks resigned Joe Johnson they settled for average. They settled for good. There may be a money issue. There may be a fan issue, but since when have the Hawks organization given the fans a reason to be proud to be a Hawks fan? Even with Dominique, there was always Jordan to overshadow Niques accomplishments. Who remembers Bob Petit? I mean he was probably the greatest Hawks player relatively, but can someone’s influence really last that long on an organization? Bob Petit didn’t even play for Atlanta. He played for St. Louis. When have the Hawks made Atlanta proud? 

-D2

If You Could Imagine

The beginning of this year’s NCAA tournament was a memorable one as almost every game went down to the final shot and upsets were quickly diminishing the possibilities of a perfect bracket by anyone in the entire world. The Elite 8 consisted of only one #1 seed and two #2 seeds. The Final Four didn’t have any of those and was rounded out with a #3 seed, #4 seed, #8 seed, and a #11 seed. With a #8 Butler-#11 VCU matchup in the semi finals, I feared the worst. As a result, I have just witnessed one of the most boring National Championship games where one team couldn’t break 50 points and the other team barely did so. Butler scored inside the 3-point line only three times in the entire 40 minutes: Extremely hard to believe such a fact. The score at the half was 22-19 in favor of Butler and that was the last time we saw the Bulldogs in one of the messiest displays of basketball. With that being said, congratulations to the Connecticut Huskies (MENS) and I will now move on to what my main focus is in this article, essay, or whatever you want to call it.

This next section is just for “kicks” and a personal opinion, and the idea is something that will probably never happen in the existence of basketball but hopefully it will interest some of you. Don’t get mad and try to argue with me saying that this format would ruin college basketball or whatever because once again, I am just doing this for fun.

Do you know how the world cup works? 32 teams, 8 groupings and a round robin format with 16 teams advancing to a single elimination setting. Now let’s take college basketball’s 32 best teams from this season and place them in this championship format. Now this choice of 32 teams can be debatable, but we’ll just go with what I think since this is just a fantasy world that I’m imagining in my brain as I type. Throw automatic bids and all that out the window…

Ohio State, Kansas, Duke, Pittsburgh, North Carolina, Notre Dame, San Diego State, and Florida would all be the top teams in their groupings.

The next eight would be: Syracuse, Purdue, UConn, BYU, Kentucky, Louisville, Texas, and Wisconsin.

West Virginia, Vanderbilt, Arizona, Kansas State, Xavier, Georgetown, Cincinnati, and St. Johns would be the so-called “third best teams in each grouping”.

And the last eight teams to qualify in this fantasy format would be Washington, Temple, UCLA, Florida State, Villanova, Butler, Illinois, and Richmond.

I would unfortunately have to leave out teams such as George Mason, Marquette, Texas A&M, Michigan, Tennessee, Missouri, Michigan State, and Gonzaga.

This next part, I will do randomly off the top of my head. Bear with me.

Group A: Ohio State, Texas, St Johns, and Washington

Group B: North Carolina, BYU, Kansas State, and Villanova

Group C: San Diego State, Purdue, Vanderbilt, and Illinois

Group D: Duke, Louisville, Georgetown, and UCLA

Group E: Pittsburgh, Kentucky, Xavier, Florida State

Group F: Florida, Syracuse, West Virginia, and Richmond

Group G: Notre Dame, UConn, Arizona, and Butler

Group H: Kansas, Wisconsin, Cincinnati, and Temple

From here, I will predict the outcome of each game in the round robin part of the format and this is just based on probability so don’t freak out and try to argue with me. (I’ve said that about 3-4 times already but if you really feel like complaining about this, do your own simulation!)

In the World Cup, scoring goes like: 0 for a loss, 1 for a tie, and 3 for win.

In this simulation, I’ll do: 0 for a loss and 3 for a win.

Group A

Ohio State over St Johns.

Ohio State over Washington.

Texas over Ohio State

Texas over Washington

St John’s over Texas

Washington over St John’s

Texas and Ohio State move on with Texas as the group winner.

Group B

North Carolina over BYU

North Carolina over Kansas State

North Carolina over Villanova

Kansas State over BYU

BYU over Villanova

Villanova over Kansas State

UNC and Villanova (point differential) move on with UNC as the group winner.

Group C

San Diego State over Purdue

San Diego State over Illinois

Purdue over Vanderbilt

Purdue over Illinois

Vanderbilt over San Diego State

Illinois over Vanderbilt

San Diego State and Purdue move on with San Diego State as the group winner.

Group D (Group of Death?)

Duke over Louisville

Duke over Georgetown

Duke over UCLA

Louisville over Georgetown

UCLA over Louisville

UCLA over Georgetown

Duke and UCLA move on with Duke as the group winner.

Group E

Pittsburgh over Kentucky

Pittsburgh over Xavier

Pittsburgh over Florida State

Kentucky over Xavier

Kentucky over Florida State

Florida State over Xavier

Pittsburgh and Kentucky move on with Pittsburgh as the group winner.

Group F

Florida over West Virginia

Syracuse over Florida

Syracuse over West Virginia

Syracuse over Richmond

Richmond over Florida

Richmond over West Virginia

Syracuse and Richmond move on with Syracuse as the group winner.

Group G (Group of Death?)

Notre Dame over UConn

UConn over Arizona

UConn over Butler

Arizona over Butler

Arizona over Notre Dame

Butler over Notre Dame

UConn and Arizona move on with UConn as the group winner.

Group H

Kansas over Wisconsin

Kansas over Cincinnati

Kansas over Temple

Wisconsin over Cincinnati

Wisconsin over Temple

Temple over Cincinnati

Kansas and Wisconsin move on with Kansas as the group winner.

Okay that took a lot longer than I expected. The “Sweet Sixteen” would then look a little something like this.

Texas vs. Villanova (Texas)

Duke vs. Purdue (Duke)

UNC vs. Ohio State (UNC)

San Diego State vs. UCLA (San Diego State)

Pittsburgh vs. Richmond (Pittsburgh)

Kansas vs. Arizona (Kansas)

UConn vs. Wisconsin (UConn)

Syracuse vs. Kentucky (Syracuse)

“Elite Eight”

Duke vs. Texas (Duke)

UNC vs. San Diego State (UNC)

Pittsburgh vs. Kansas (Kansas)

UConn vs. Syracuse (UConn)

“Final Four”

*So I’ve made some controversial picks throughout this whole process, but if everything were to go as expected, we would have all the #1 seeds in the Final Four every year.

In a monumental match-up between cross-town rivals, Kyrie Irving and Harrison Barnes face off for the first and only time in their one-year tenures in college.

On the other side of this fantasy bracket, The Morris Twins and the Jayhawks take on the super hot Huskies led by Kemba Walker and a young Jeremy Lamb who continues to get better.

I’ll end it here because my biased ways would result in a Rock Chalk Championship and the whole purpose of this was to bring imagination to what the bracket may have looked like if we used the World Cup’s format. This style would statistically eliminate the chance of Cinderella’s making it beyond the round robin portion and deep into the elimination round.

I wish I had the technology to make this simulation more exciting but I’m sorry if this bored you. Hopefully, I stirred the imagination of some of you college hoop fanatics. In reality, we will continue to fill out these large brackets where Cinderella’s will always bust our brackets and our eyes will be glued to the TV as we pull our hairs out and regret the picks that we had changed last minute. March Madness lives on!

Once again, Congratulations to Coach Jim Calhoun and his Wildcats. You guys had a fantastic season and it was a memorable one, winning five games in five days in the Big East Tournament and winning six more to be crowned the National Champions.

-thesportsboy

The Mysterious Final Four 

This past Sunday was a devastating day for me as a Kansas Jayhawk fan. The team went 15-28 from the free throw line and committed multiple turnovers while VCU was on their A-game and had a jump start by pulling nine successful threes in the first half. It was a very hard for me to watch as all the signs were pointing to a nice finish to the season for the Kansas Jayhawks. That’s the beauty of March… With Kansas being the final #1 seed remaining on the field, there are no #1 seeds in the Final Four. In fact, the highest seed in the Final Four is a #3 seed in the Connecticut Huskies. On one side of the bracket, we have an exciting up-and-down the court match-up between two historic basketball schools in Kentucky and UConn. On the other side of the bracket, we have two big surprises in mid-major teams, Butler and VCU. Butler returns to the Final Four for the second straight year, even after losing star guard Gordon Heyward to the NBA and it would be a storybook ending if the Bulldogs could somehow win the big dance. The Cinderella story has come to life this season as VCU has cruised through the tournament. Coming out of the same conference as George Mason, the hard working Rams have taken down five teams from five major conferences to find themselves one win away from the championship game. 

My predictions for the bracket could not have been any worse. All my “cinderellas” (UCLA, St. Johns, Temple), were wrong, and all my top teams faced early exits (Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Texas). This is by far the worst job I have ever done in filling out a bracket and I am slightly disappointed but I will live. To anyone that had the entire Final Four correct, hats off to you (no one out there). So enough talk about the brackets because anything that comes out of my mouth for this season will probably be wrong.

The NCAA tournament is defined by momentum, three-pointers, and the final possession. That is how all four teams have made the prestigious stage of the Final Four. Kentucky needed a final possession to take down Princeton and upset Ohio State and a crucial three in the final minutes got them past a Tarheels team that was making a run. Kemba Walker has done his part of the deal throughout the entire season but even he needed some help from guys like Jeremy Lamb to take down tough opponents like Arizona in the final seconds. Butler should be grateful for the hardworking Matt Howard who made a buzzer beater layup, game winning free throws, and showed veteran leadership. And VCU; well, these guys have shocked the nation by taking down opponent after opponent with their long range sharp shooting from beyond the arc. So, that is how the field has narrowed down.

I can personally say that I am not really interested in this year’s Final Four but I will be pulling for Kemba and the Huskies. I am very impressed by Brandon Knight but other than that, I am definitely not a fan of John Calipari and his highly recruited group of Wildcats. As for the other side of the Final Four, this match-up is either going to be really interesting as they go back and forth, or extremely boring. I probably won’t be watching this game (nor the UConn-Kentucky game) but I honestly hope that VCU can make it one step ahead of George Mason by advancing to the Championship game. Based on what I want, you will probably end up seeing a Kentucky-Butler finale. My final thought is the idea of VCU actually pulling off a 7-game journey and cutting the nets in Houston. I personally won’t be surprised, but imagine what that will do to the world of college hoops. Hopefully, we can maintain some stability in college basketball and UConn (or Kentucky) will come out victorious when it is all said and done.

 

In the Future… 

I’ll stay on the topic of basketball and as I am currently watching the 2011 McDonald’s All-American game, I can say that I’m seeing more than I expected out of this class.

My personal favorite in this class (for those of you who follow basketball recruiting) is Quincy Miller. I truly believe that through hard work and discipline, this young fella will go the distance and make an impact in the NBA within two years. At an estimated 6’10” and with a Kevin Durant-like wingspan, I believe that this combo forward will have the ability to break down any defender at any level. I fear the day that Kansas will have to play him as he will soon suit up in Baylor green and yellow. Unfortunately, the young star was unable to suit up for the AA game with a torn ACL. To Quincy Miller; Get well soon, I look forward to seeing what you are fully capable of in five years or less. 

Another prospect in the class of 2011 that I believe has similar abilities as Quincy Miller is Anthony Davis. In his junior year of high school, the boy stood fairly tall at 6’3” and was a solid guard for his team. In less than a year, the guard grew about seven inches and is now playing a completely different position at 6’10”. The lanky forward should have lost all his ball handling abilities as well as his hand-eye coordination with that overwhelming growth spurt but amazingly enough, Davis has maintained all his skills and is looking like a young Kevin Garnett. I won’t get too far ahead of myself but after watching this kid show some strong work ethics, I believe that he will be very successful in the NBA once he puts on about 20 pounds of muscle. I still believe that Quincy Miller is the top prospect in this class, but Anthony Davis is right there with him. Davis will be joining Coach Cal and another incredible recruiting class as he will suit up in blue for Kentucky. 

Let’s focus on a true guard now. Myck Kabongo is a quick and speedy point guard that can get from end to end in a matter of seconds. Rick Barnes has been lucky enough to recruit him and even though there are other talented point guards such as Marquise Teague and Quinn Cook, Kabongo is my favorite out of the class as he displays incredible court vision with the combination of his speed. I think I mentioned his speed about five times in just two or three sentences. He is fast. The one thing that may hurt him in the pro level and possibly even the collegiate level is his undersized stature and his average bouncing ability. He is not a high flyer but he is more of a DJ Augustin rather than an Avery Bradley. I decided to use former Texas Longhorns as comparisons. Kabongo won’t be an All-Star in the NBA anytime soon, if ever, but he will definitely be a quiet guard moving in and out of the starting rotation. 

Honorable Mention: LeBryan Nash, Austin Rivers, Brad Beal, James McAdoo. (There is plenty more talent in this class but I don’t have all day). 

I will boldly predict Quincy Miller to be an NBA All-Star within his first three years of the NBA if he is a one-and-done player for Baylor. If he stays a second year, which he doesn’t need to from what I believe, he will win the Naismith award and be an instanct impact in the NBA as he makes the All-Star game within his first two seasons in the league. I may sound ridiculous talking highly of a high-school recruit, but in a few years, all I will be saying is “I told you so”. 

Anthony Davis may see the NBA All-Star game once or twice and he will get plenty of votes year after year as he progresses in the league, but he will be a starting forward for a title contending team at best. I personally think that Davis should spend three or maybe even four years at Kentucky in order to get his weight up and learn from one of the best in Calipari. Kentucky will be scary if this kid hangs around. 

Myck Kabongo will see himself on multiple teams in the NBA before he settles in with a team that truly believes that he is their guy. Once that happens, he will do damage in the league and prove to be a nice point guard that can lead the floor. Kabongo follows in the footsteps of many other great guards to play for Texas including recent names such as Daniel Gibson, DJ Augustin, Avery Bradley, and Cory Joseph who may be sticking around for another year or two. An NBA comparison to this guy is Raymond Felton, a guard who likes to quickly get the ball up and down the court and hit quick pull up jumpers. If Kabongo can prove me wrong and start jamming on defenders, he could be a more talented version of Russell Westbrook who didn’t dunk until his senior year in high school. 

Next time, look out for a possible discussion on whether I think Derrick Williams, Perry Jones, Kyrie Irving, Harrison Barnes, and Jared Sullinger will be successful in the NBA or not. Also, expect me to come out strong with a rant on how dumb the Hawks management is. Jordan Crawford, I always believed in you…

-thesportsboy

Who’s got the Perfect Bracket?

I sure don’t. In fact, I’m not even in the 50 percentile on ESPN and I already lost three of my four “Final Four” teams before the “Sweet Sixteen”. With a little bit of biased, and my weak attempts of predicting sleepers and big time upsets, I ended up incorrectly picking a ton of match-ups and missing the actual upsets.

In my official bracket, my “Sweet Sixteen” looked like this (Actual team in parenthesis):

EAST REGION

#1 Ohio State

#4 Kentucky

#3 Syracuse (#11 Marquette) 

#2 North Carolina

WEST REGION

#1 Duke

#4 Texas (#5 Arizona)

#3 Connecticut

#7 Temple (#2 San Diego State)

SOUTHWEST REGION

#1 Kansas

#4 Louisville (#12 Richmond)

#3 Purdue (#11 Virginia Commonwealth)

#2 Notre Dame (#10 Florida State)

SOUTHEAST REGION

#1 Pittsburgh (#8 Butler)

#5 Kansas State (#4 Wisconsin)

#6 St John’s (#3 BYU)

#7 UCLA (#2 Florida)

Wow, that is ugly…  Did I mention I only got 21 out of the 32 second round games correct? I really hope none of you guys took my advice on that earlier post before the tournament began.

The best I think I’ve ever done in the opening round was 27 out of 32. That may have been my senior year in high school. If I want to recall my best bracket ever, we’ll have to get into a time machine and fly back to 2004 when I chose Georgia Tech to beat UConn in the National Championship. Unfortunately, I got second in my school bracket as my friend had picked UConn over Tech… So, as you can see, my picks haven’t been quite accurate during the past few years. I should try a different strategy.

When I predicted that this would be one of the craziest March’s, I did not expect this to happen. In fact, none of my Cinderella teams even made it this far.

The most impressive teams thus far

Ohio State: They just aren’t giving anyone a chance. The inside out combo has been unstoppable in their first two games and they have just been shooting lights out. They’re the top overall seed; do I have to say more?

Virginia Commonwealth: There has been much debate that this team did not even deserve to make the tournament. With a 12-seed play-in game, I personally thought that the USC Trojans would have their way. I was way off as VCU showed their veteran experience and cruised past their first three opponents. If you weren’t impressed by their first victory, I would hope that their last two performances have opened up yours eyes to what they’re capable of. It can still be argued that they didn’t deserve a place in the pool of 68, but they are one of the hottest teams remaining in the tournament. If they can continue playing like this, we might see another George Mason-like run.

Richmond: I told you guys about the talented Kevin Anderson, out of Peachtree Ridge High School. What I didn’t tell you guys was that they would make it to the “Sweet Sixteen”. Given, they had a much more even match-up with Morehead State instead of Louisville, but they shouldn’t be given any less credit for their outstanding run so far. I still believe that a match-up with Louisville would have ended with a different result but that is not the case. Instead, Kevin Anderson and the Spiders look to pull a big time upset on the Kansas Jayhawks. Rock Chalk fans should be scared… I’m not feeling too good about the match-up either.

Tournament Disappointments

11: 11 Big East teams were given bids for the NCAA tournament. Marquette and UConn are the only ones that remain. This conference was expected to dominate the brackets, but they have failed for consecutive seasons.

Syracuse: The Orange were, in my opinion, the strongest team coming out of the Big East. I really expected something big out of Jim Boeheim’s squad this season but the nerves was exposed, as they had to take on a familiar Marquette team in the second round. Syracuse should still be in this tournament, but that is why these first two rounds are played. It’s all about the upsets when March Madness rolls around.

Pittsburgh: The final two calls were controversial, but a foul is a foul and the Panthers got themselves into this mess of a situation where it came down to free throws. Pitt had a chance to escape a scare, but a missed free-throw led to a dumb foul, ending Pittsburgh’s hopes a Final Four appearance.  This team had high expectations, especially with a less than challenging region, but who am I to say all that.

Texas: The Longhorns struggled in their first game as they barely escaped the grips of Oakland. As I had confidently placed them in the “Final Four”, this performance gave me a scare. When the Arizona Wildcats gave them an even tougher challenge, I wasn’t feeling much better about my gut instincts. J’Covan Brown gave the Horns a nice little spark off the bench, but Derrick Williams proved to be too much for anyone that was guarding him. The way they played defense almost made it look like a walk in the park for the Wildcats and quickly led to Texas’ exit from the tournament.  

The Pretenders

St. John’s: I was fooled by their impressive wins in the regular season. They may be a team full of seniors, but did any of them have an abundant amount of tournament experience? Coach Lavin gave many people, including me, high expectations but the tricky match-up with Gonzaga was just too overwhelming.

Louisville: Their weakness in rebounding was exposed against Morehead State as Kenneth Faried had his way in the paint. Despite that powerful presence down low, I still think that the Cardinals should have overcome the challenge. Preston Knowles getting hurt, late in the game, wasn’t helpful but it’s still no excuse that this Big East powerhouse would fall to a mid-major like this.

Notre Dame: Another team out of the Big East that was supposed to do a ton of damage in the tournament. The win against Akron was iffy and the loss to Florida State was plain ugly. Ben Hansbrough had his hands full and the Irish weren’t able to accomplish much in the 2011 NCAA tournament.

My “Not so” Sweet Sixteen Predictions

Ohio State vs Kentucky – Ohio State is looking unstoppable at the moment. All UK can hope for is that this four day layaway has cooled off the Buckeyes a little bit. I like the Wildcats’ chances in this match-up because they have such a talented line-up. The biggest advantage that Ohio State has on Kentucky is not the Big 0 in the paint but it is rather the presence of veterans David Lighty, William Buford, and John Diebler. This trio has been through almost everything in the scarlet red and white uniforms as this may finally be their year. Calipari is a winner and I believe this will be an interesting game, I have Kentucky winning in my bracket actually. But who can bet against Ohio State right now?

Marquette vs North Carolina – I actually had Syracuse beating North Carolina but they aren’t even in the tournament anymore. With that being said, I really like the way the Golden Eagles play but North Carolina might have too much talent and depth for Buzz Williams’ squad to handle. The Tar Heels have shown struggles throughout the season but the freshmen, Harrison Barnes and Kendall Marshall have been very impressive as of late. Also, the size and presence of John Henson and Tyler Zeller seem a little more than much for the undersized Marquette squad. I don’t expect a blow out; in fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if Marquette could squeeze into the Elite Eight but let’s be realistic. Tar Heels in this one.

Duke vs. Arizona – Another game where I had Duke losing to someone else. This time, Arizona knocked off my Final Four contender in Texas. After watching Derrick Williams dominate anyone that has tried to guard him, I can honestly believe that he could single handedly take his squad to the final four. No one on Duke’s roster could match-up with the talented 6’7” wingman. Unfortunately for him, this is a team sport and without the help of his teammates, this one could get ugly. Derrick Williams will be the best player on the floor, but the Blue Devils will find themselves moving on. Duke to the Elite 8.

UConn vs. San Diego State – This is the most interesting match-up in the “Sweet Sixteen” in my opinion. San Diego State has been in the top-10 all year and according to my buddy, have the most athletic lineup in the nation. UConn has been impressive in the Big East but the conference has shown inconsistency during the tournament. The Huskies will likely be the last team standing out of their conference and if they want to stay in the tournament for as long as possible, it will take more than just Kemba Walker. The Aztecs were threatened by the Temple Owls and it took them 50 minutes of basketball to come out with a victory. From what I have seen, they have proven to be the real deal and can run with anyone. My buddy has them winning it all and I think he’s crazy; I hate to do it to Kemba but I think San Diego State will be earning themselves a spot in the Elite 8. Look out for Shabazz Napier to come out big in order for the Huskies to be successful. In my opinion though, everything is going in favor of the Aztecs right now and they move on… For now.

Kansas vs. Richmond – I’m a Jayhawk fan and a preview of this game will be the ultimate bias. So should I write an essay about why they will win this match-up or should I just move on to the next? All jokes aside, Richmond has some serious game and I am legitimately afraid of what the outcome of this game may be. In the end, it’s all about Rock Chalk Jayhawk.

Virginia Commonwealth vs. Florida State – VCU may be the hottest team in the tournament, having won every tournament game by double digits. Purdue and Georgetown were both stunned by this veteran squad and weren’t able to recover. Florida State will be more aware from the get-go and I believe that the Seminoles have a squad that can run up and down the floor while making the opposing half court offenses look like dirt. I’m anticipating a low scoring game and if this one goes down to the wire, the Seminoles will overcome. But the Noles must watch out for a quick start from VCU. An early blowout could be likely, but I like Florida State by single digits.

Butler vs. Wisconsin – Boooooooooring. Matt Howard, Jon Leur, Jordan Taylor… These are the best players that will be on the court for this game. Believe me; they have talent but they play some boring basketball. Add in Butler guard Shelvin Mack and we have a ball game. You’re probably better off watching something else on television rather than wasting your time with this game. I won’t guarantee you anything but watch out, this game might end with a score like 36-33. I apologize in advance if you guys don’t watch this game because of my comments and it goes into triple overtime and the final score is something ridiculous like 123-121. Butler is lucky to have even gotten this far so I’m going with the Badgers.

Florida vs. BYU – The last match-up of the round. Does anyone remember what happened when these two played last year in the big dance? What a game! The Gators will come out angry but Jimmer will not let it bother him. BYU wins if Fredette can accumulate 30+ and 8+ in points and assists. Any other result and Florida wins this one with ease. Irving Walker will be the x-factor as his field goal percentage will be the key to Florida’s success. I hate to say this, but I’m going with the Gators. (Why couldn’t UCLA make it passed them…?)

I’m not going to go any further on my picks since I totally blew it this year. That’s it for now. Rock Chalk!

-thesportsboy

The usual 65-team bracket has now been transformed into a bigger 68-team bracket. This could be, in my mind, one of the wildest March’s in college basketball history. With that being said, I will now begin my game-by-game analysis of each of the match-ups in the first round… Or should I say, the second round… This 68-team thing is making March Madness even more complicated.

For the few of you out there who are reading this, do not use me as a reference to filling out your bracket. You are probably better off going on yahoo or ESPN…. Actually, don’t go to ESPN for help because they are almost always wrong… Especially when it comes to college sports. Just keep in mind that this is all coming form information that I have from watching college basketball this season. I will be picking some unreasonable upsets and I will also have some match-ups where I just pick a team off a coin toss, not literally. I will try to keep this as simple a possible… Here we go.

Ohio State is the top #1 seed and will be leading the way in the East region.

#1 Ohio State - #16 UTSA/Alabama State: Well first off, I don’t care who wins the play-in game… The only people that will probably be watching that game are the students, their family members, and their alumni. Whatever the outcome, the Buckeyes are going to pummel either of them in the official first round. Ohio State.

#8 George Mason - #9 Villanova: This is a tricky one. I have honestly not seen George Mason play once this seen nor can I name a single player on their roster… Heck, I can’t even name a player from their roster when they miraculously made the final four a few years back. Villanova had made a strong statement throughout the first three quarters of the season but the overwhelming strength of the Big East has begun to slow down the Wildcats. An early exit in the Big East Tourney has given Villanova this harsh seeding. Sources have said that George Mason has been hot as of late, but who can honestly bet against a Villanova team that has overcome such a tough schedule. Villanova.

#5 West Virginia - #12 UAB/Clemson: I personally favor Clemson in the play-in match-up. Once again, I have seen Clemson play and I might have caught UAB on TV but didn’t really pay attention. The Tigers have a solid inside out duo with Stitt and the younger Booker. And Tanner Smith out of Wesleyan deserves some Southern love so I’m going to be slightly biased and go with Clemson. Either way, Casey Mitchell and Coach Huggins should have their way against whoever comes out as the 12 seed. Watch out for “Truck” Bryant to play an important role in this match-up. West Virginia.

#4 Kentucky - #13 Princeton: The only piece of Princeton that I have seen this season is that buzzer beater against Harvard that has been replaying on ESPN for the past few days. Besides that, I know Princeton is a “smart” team that can play a solid five-man game. The Wildcats have shown their lack of leadership and experience with their young lineup. With a few stumbles, expect the Wildcats to pull away in the second half, once they can get away from the bright lights and butterflies. Kentucky.

#6 Xavier - #11 Marquette: Jordan Crawford was the leading scorer for the Musketeers last season and Lazar Heyward was the veteran leader for the Golden Eagles. Despite their departures for the NBA, both teams have had impressive campaigns with little expectation coming into this season. I personally believe that this is one of the rare match-ups where the lower seed is favored to win. Marquette has gone through more challenges throughout the regular season as they fought through the treacherous Big East conference. Expect that to play a role in this one as the Golden Eagles come out on top in a tight one. Marquette.

#3 Syracuse - #14 Indiana State: Syracuse against who? Was Larry Bird eligible for another season? I can surely tell you that I have never seen this school play…. If Syracuse doesn’t win this match-up, this will surely be one of the craziest NCAA tournaments ever. Quick and easy, it will be a blur for Larry Bird’s alma mater. Syracuse.

#7 Washington - #10 Georgia: This is a peculiar match-up for me. I am a fan of Georgia Bulldog sports but I have an unusual like for the Huskies. I also have a friend who is torn between the two schools. But besides all that, logic tells me Washington and my heart tells me Georgia. This is a coin flip. Whoever gets to the charity stripe more will win. Making the free throws is essential though… Georgia

#2 UNC- #15 LIU-Brook: Umm, where is LIU-Brook located? Are they even going to have any fans in the stands? Don’t try to defend their case. North Carolina.

Kansas owns the Southwest Region’s top seed as they finished the regular season with just two losses and were crowned the Big 12 Champs in both the regular season and the Big 12 Tournament.

#1 Kansas - #16 Boston University: Kansas? Kansas.

#8 UNLV - #9 Illinois: Being an 8-9 seed match-up, this is obviously a tough choice to make. Demetri McCamey has been outstanding this season and Bruce Weber has an impressive track record in the big dance. I haven’t seen too much of the Fightin’ Rebels to support them. Illinois.

#5 Vanderbilt - #12 Richmond: Both these teams have kept pretty quiet throughout the season while they both have performed fairly well. Kevin Anderson leads the Spiders and is a potential first round draft pick prospect. Look for him to bust out in a numerous array of baskets. Vanderbilt has size and length. Kevin Anderson might just be one player, but that may be enough for Richmond to squeeze past the first round. We’ve all seen what a difference one good guard can make in a game this season (Fredette, Walker). Besides, this is a 5-12 match-up. 12 seeds win all the time. Richmond

#4 Louisville - #13 Morehead State: I know nothing about Morehead State’s basketball team. I do believe that they clinched a spot in the tournament by winning their conference tournament. That’s not enough for them to prove that they can hang with the big boys. Peyton Siva and Preston Knowles will prove to be too much in the backcourt. Hopefully, Knowles won’t make a dumb game deciding mistake if the opportunity arises. Louisville.

#6 Georgetown - #11VCU/USC: VCU comes ready to play in March, almost every season. I have seen what USC is capable of and their impressive defense will get them through to face Georgetown. As much as I like the Trojans chances here, Austin Freeman and company may prove too much in this match-up. I like this one to be close. Georgetown.

#3 Purdue - #14 St. Peters: What the Boilermakers have done this season without their best player, Robbie Hummel, is truly amazing. St. Peter’s should be grateful for an opportunity to play on the big stage and they should make the best of these 40 minutes. Who knows what the Boilermakers would have been capable of if #4 could have suited up this season? Purdue.

#7 Texas A&M - #10 Florida State: Here is another one of those tough first round match-ups. The Aggies have had an up and down season. They have shown signs of toughness and sometimes just looked awful. Florida State didn’t really do much in a less than impressive season out of the ACC but the Seminoles are another one of those tough defense-minded teams. Chris Singleton is in his last season and will prove to be the most dominant player on the floor. Florida State *Update. I was recently told that Singleton will not be able to participate in this game. That is a huge loss for the Noles. I’ll feel pretty stupid if Florida State can still pull it off, but without Singleton I just don’t see it happening. Texas A&M.

#2 Notre Dame - #15 Akron: The Zips have done what was necessary to qualify for the big dance. Little Hansbrough has been big this season as the Big East player-of-the-year. Shouldn’t even be close. Notre Dame.

That takes care of the top half of this crazy bracket. I hope I still have some readers’ attentions, if any. Let us continue.

In the West region, the defending National Champions have managed to get another #1 seed. Even with Kyrie Irving sidelined due to an injury, the Devils have looked very dangerous.

#1 Duke - #16 Hampton: Kyrie or no Kyrie, the Devils will cruise through this one. Duke.

#8 Michigan - #9 Tennessee: The Wolverines have played better than expected but haven’t accomplished too much while the Volunteers struggled with NCAA violations and inconsistency. I like Scotty Hopson and Brian Williams with the inside out dual threat. Tennessee.

#5 Arizona - #12 Memphis: The Tigers have dealt with some personal issues on and off the court as they had lost a coach and some top prospects in the past two seasons. Despite that, they have been crowned the Con-USA tournament champs and in return have to face Derrick Williams and the rest of Sean Miller’s Wildcats. Memphis would have won if this were two or three years ago. I highly doubt that this will go any other way, despite the tricky 5-12 match-up. Arizona.

#4 Texas - #13 Oakland: Texas is coming off a loss in the Big 12 Championship game and they have lost more games than expected over the past two weeks. Rick Barnes will definitely have a few words to pump up his Longhorns before beginning the tough road in the West. Texas.

#6 Cincinnati - #11 Missouri: The Tigers are a lot better than their seeding claims. These are two teams that flirted with the top-25 rankings all throughout the season while struggling in their respective conferences. Fortunately, both of them have landed a spot in the tournament. Unfortunately, one will lose in the first round. If you’re watching this game, expect a crazy up and down game with tons of turnovers. Missouri.

#3 UConn - #14 Bucknell: Bucknell…. Brings back a bitter memory from about five years ago. Either way, Kemba should have a field day… Shabazz Napier and Oriakhi will be the important factor to how this one turns out. The win margin factor… UConn.

#7 Temple - #10 Penn State: Penn State is led by a standout guard in Taylor Battle. I don’t know any players on Temple but I know that they have a solid squad. I can’t really thoroughly explain my pick in this one. Temple.

#2 SDSU - #15 N Colorado: I’m still not sold on the Aztecs but this one shouldn’t be a difficult one to choose. SDSU may get a scare but who can pick against them in a match-up like this? San Diego State.

Last region… Almost done…. Trust me, this is taking me longer than I want it to.

Pittsburgh has handled the Big East craziness the best and in return, they have been rewarded the top seed in the Southeast Region.

#1 Pittsburgh - #16 UNCA/Arkansas-Little Rock: I don’t know what’s going to happen between the two baby schools. I’ll go with Little Rock. Then it’ll be all Panther basketball, soon after. Pittsburgh.

#8 Butler - #9 Old Dominion: I can only think of Matt Howard… He looks really goofy but he can play some basketball. Butler.

#5 Kansas State - #12 Utah State: I really like the Aggies in this match-up as they have a great big in Tai Wesley. Jacob Pullen got what he wanted and they’re not in the NIT. He will have to make something out of this first round match-up or he will never hear the end of it from the haters. Fear the beard. K-State.

#4 Wisconsin - #13 Belmont: Does anybody else remember that scare that Belmont gave the Blue Devils when they were a 15 seed? Well they’re a 13 seed now, and Wisconsin doesn’t impress me too much. They might have one of the rare wins against Ohio State this year, but that 36-33 loss to Penn State just doesn’t make sense to me. Belmont.

#6 St John’s - #11 Gonzaga: Both teams have been excellent this season and the Red Storm have done the unexpected… That is, none of us expected them to win this many games in their conference. Gonzaga has John Stockton’s son and that big giant monster in the paint. Look out for Gonzaga to pull the upset as the Red Storm might be dealing with some injuries. Regardless, I can’t go against this interesting squad of seniors. St. John’s.

#3 BYU - #14 Wofford: Jimmer… Fredette… He takes and makes shots that just don’t make sense to me. The loss of a key big man will hurt the Cougars, but the Naismith candidate should be able to handle this one on his own. Jimmer Fredette.

#7 UCLA - #10 Michigan State: This match-up hurts me dearly. The reason being, I am a huge fan of Tom Izzo and I always like to support the Spartans. Not many people may expect it, but UCLA is slowly regaining their status as a good college basketball team. Tyler Honeycutt is impressive. Josh Smith is just big. Don’t be shocked if the Bruins make a deep run in the tournament. Sorry Sparty. UCLA.

#2 Florida - #15 UCSB: First off, Florida is not a good 2 seed team. They might have the SEC player-of-the-year, but I don’t think they have what it takes to win games in this tournament. I know I’m a Georgia fan, but I will admit a team is good when they come out and perform. This Gator team is not that team. This may be their only win in the tournament. Florida.

I’ve made my picks for the first round. Some are just obvious, some stupid, and some just out-right ridiculous. March Madness is almost impossible to predict but I love college basketball and I usually know what I’m talking about. Otherwise, I wouldn’t waste a few hours of my life writing this… For all I know, I could be 8 for 32 in the first round but it really doesn’t matter to me. These are my picks and in the end, I’m just hoping to watch some exciting basketball in March.

Thank you all for reading and make sure you fill out a bracket if you haven’t had the chance to yet. Don’t just copy my picks and go with your heart. Flip a coin; choose a school based on their names, their colors, or their mascots. Heck, be creative. In the end, tune out the rest of the world and call your friends over. Spend the entire day watching March Madness!

I’ll end with this. Roooooooooooock. Chaaaaaaaaaaalk. Jaaayhaaawwwk. Kaaaaaay. Uuuuuuuu…!

Don’t know what it means? “Wiki” it.

-thesportsboy

Rant of an Angry Hawks Fan by Daniel Seoh

As a writer, one must be weary of the implied obligations to write one’s own opinions with subtlety; like a needle and the intricate designs hidden within clothing. As a Hawks fan, I am obligated to care for my team enough to stick with them through thick and thin, through 13 wins, and through 29 losses. I am obligated to think of ways my team could win a championship. However, as both a writer and a Hawks fan, I have come to realize that it is impossible to be both.  

It is impossible to suggest things without a furious anger filling through my head, so I will write as a Hawks fan and not a writer. As a Hawks fan, this season particularly has become so very frustrating because of one particular reason. The Hawks have lost their potential. Watching the Hawks was even more exciting in their horrible and nearly-historic 04-05 season. It was fun to see the highflying Hawks especially the dunk contest winner Josh Smith, and it was fun to think of the possibilities of the future. I enjoyed my nights thinking of the potential of Smith and Josh Childress. Smith was supposed to be the next Human Highlight Film and Childress had hints of Reggie Miller’s excellent uses of screens.      

With the next season, there was a buzz with a new and exciting freshmen prospect named Marvin Williams. Let’s not blame Billy Knight with this pick because hindsight is always 20/20. In 2004, there were only good things to say about Marvin and one reason for his lack of developement is not because of his lack of potential, but I’d say mainly because of the coaching. For example, one former Hawk is currently averaging around 16 points a game for the Wizards, but I’ll save that for later.      

Now we all know about the 2006 draft and Shelden Williams, but look at the people below him. It’s not such a great list of players either. Now, Brandon Roy and Rudy Gay are better than Shelden Williams, but Brandon Roy’s career is nearing a tragic end, and Rudy Gay seems to be a lost cause. Here is the question you have to ask: would you trade Al Horford for either of those players in a league where a quality big man is extremely rare? It was a horrible pick that no one understood at the moment or understands even now, and Billy Knight deserves full blame, but luckily it was beneficial. For once, luck has come to Atlanta in the form of Al Horford. Do not forget that if the Hawks had any higher than the third, then they would have given the pick to the Suns. With that in mind, do not forget Al Horford is the luck of the Hawks.   

Now with a review of the Hawks recent history, it has become apparent the flaws within the organization. Simply put, the Hawks management always looks for the quick fix. Our current woes begin with 2005. It begins with Joe Johnson. At first, Joe Johnson was a sigh of relief because Hawks fans were glad to finally see a team that looked like they had a future with a leader who was relatively young, which meant there was room for improvement. However, what was not mentioned was Joe Johnson’s contract. Joe Johnson was getting paid 70 million dollars over the course of 5 years. For the quality of player Joe Johnson was, that contract seemed and still is ludicrous. Here’s a question that must be asked: did Phoenix have any major decline because of the departure of Joe Johnson? Wouldn’t that mean that Joe Johnson is not a very valuable asset? My statement may be partially unfair due to Steve Nash’s ability to make everyone around him play better, but it still holds truth. Joe Johnson was and will never be a go to guy. He will never be a franchise player.

To be fair to Joe Johnson and the Hawks, it was anticipated that Marvin Williams would later develop into a franchise player and would help compliment Joe Johnson in leading the Hawks into a championship. With that said, one of the main reason of the Hawks current struggles is largely because of the coaching. How many prospect have the Hawks coaches ruined? The Hawks all had valuable pick which turned to be bust: Salim Stoudemire, Solomon Jones, Acie Law, Marvin Williams, Shelden Williams, Royal Ivey, and Donta Smith. Now most of these players are second round picks, but out of Salim, Solomon, Ivey, and Smith, are there any that can be recognized at all. With 4-5 years of second round picks, not a single one has become a solid contributor for the Hawks. The rest of the second round picks are always wasted on some random international guy that no fan will ever hear of. Did Salim Stoudemire not have the potential to at least become a bench shooter, similar to Eddie House? Solomon Jones could’ve been a valuable big man off the bench and had the potential to may be become a starter. What became of Shelden Williams? He was certainly a waste of a draft pick, but he was still supposed to be a lottery pick either way. If the celtics can make Glen Davis a valuable bench player, why can’t the Hawks make Shelden Williams a player at all? As a matter of fact, why did the Hawks play Tyronne Lue and Anthony Johnson over Acie Law? Does it make sense to keep your first round draft pick on the bench for most of the game? Even if he is a rookie, he must have some potential to be considered a lottery pick, but he was not even given a chance on a team that barely made playoffs, where in San Antonio, Popovich gives each player a role and give each player a chance to display their talents. People may argue that there are always players who turn out to be busts, but when there are so many busts on a single team, then one must think the Hawks are incredibly bad at drafting where they pick players projected to go in the second round with their first pick, or the coaches do not know what they’re doing.

In the case of Marvin Williams, it is apparent that he has talent. However, when watching a Hawks game, it is not so hard to see why the talent is not displayed. When the Hawks play, Marvin Williams plays as if he is confused. Marvin Williams seems as if he is not sure of where to be or what to do. The only thing he knows to do is to pass to Joe Johnson. It seems as if the coaches just tell the players to go out and play their hardest; something a recreational coach can say. Marvin was never given a role on the team. Marvin was never told how to play. You can call him lazy, but at North Carolina, he was neither lazy nor had a bad attitude. He chose to come off the bench because he was a freshmen. He was part of a championship-winning North Carolina team. His teammates had nothing but good words to say about him. Sean May even somewhat compared Marvin to Michael Jordan, by saying something along the lines of Michael Jordan wasn’t the first pick either. Those are some bold words from a player who has seen talent from a pretty deep draft class.  One could attempt to counter my discontent with the Hawks coaches simply by mentioning Josh Smith and Al Horford. However, this can be completely rebutted by surfacing Horford’s 3 years of college under a great coach, and Josh Smith’s incredible potential. Their development is natural and is a result in starting in the NBA. Horford was already a smart and hard working player. He has improved drastically, but he has improved in things that he had to work on himself. He has improved his jump shot and his defense. One could also say that he now has a few effective post moves. However, his understanding of the game, which was already great for a rookie, has improved because of simply starting on an NBA team. Josh Smith is an All Star caliber player, but any NBA scout will tell you the sky is the limit with him. He is truly a freak of nature with a 40 inch vertical and around a 7 foot wingspan. to put that in perspective, Derrick Rose has a 40 inch vertical, and is shorter than Smith. Looking at the NBA pre-draft measurements, Josh Smith’s reach with jumping included is only second to Dwight Howard. With this said, Josh Smith should be a definite All Star, if he received the right coaching. With Josh Smith, there is one thing that I do not particularly understand. Josh Smith has horrible shooting form, which would be fine if he was a decent shooter, but he is not. So I ask, why did none of the Hawks’ Coaches fix his jump shot? Josh Smith has the athleticism to be on par or subpar with Lebron, instead of Kenyon Martin. Josh Smith should’ve been the next Nique, or even Mcgrady. If you see the scouting report of all three players in the first 2 or 3 years, it is nearly identical, except Dominique went to college for 4 years, so as a result, was more developed. Mcgrady came into the league as a super athletic wingman who can block shots. Even their statistics were similar. Even with the coaching failures of the individuals, it seems as if the coaches focused more on team coaching. However, even this was a complete failure. Just like the Hawks, the coaches just wanted a quick fix, which is apparent through the performance in the playoffs: 2 first round 7 game series, and 2 second round sweeps. Switching on defense and 1 on 5 basketball doesn’t work in the playoffs. It does not work against the good teams.

Countless times I see pick and rolls from the opposing team where the Hawks just simply switch. Countless times I heard Hawks players and coaches say switching is a strength of the Hawks. Countless times, I have asked myself, “why?” Switching causes mismatches, and no matter how athletic the Hawks are, mismatches will almost always cause havoc, especially when the center is guarding a point guard. However, to be fair, Al Horford seems to keep up with PGs very well, but on the contrary, he is still a big man guarding a perimeter player. For example, no matter how athletic a player is, nobody in the NBA can guard Steve Nash, a point guard who is not gifted with any athleticism in NBA standards. If the Hawks switch, then we have Marvin, Josh, or Al guarding Steve Nash, a player not even Rajon Rondo can completely guard. On the other hand, when we switch, an even worse scenario occurs. With our switching defense, the Hawks seem to end up having a guard guarding a big man. I do not think there is a need to explain the problems with this scenario, except there is not only a disadvantage in the size mismatch. With a size mismatch favoring the offensive player, a double team is always required. The Hawks are not very good at double teaming and rotating. As a result, when the Hawks play championship caliber teams who know how to move the ball, there is no chance of winning. 

On the other side of the court, the Hawks are extremely flawed in many ways. With such an athletic team, one may expect the Hawks to have a highflying, run-and-gun offense; however, they have one of the top five slowest paces in the league for the past 2 or 3 years. Every year Mike Woodson promised to run the ball more. This year Larry Drew promised a new and improved motion offense. Every year I see no committed or significant difference. Every year I see more and more shot clock violations. The Hawks should only use about 10-15 seconds of the shot clock. They should look for easy offense and run hard on defense. Mike Woodson may have worked under Larry Brown, but it seems as if none of the magic wore off onto Woody. Woodson was supposed to be a defensive specialist, but what kind of defensive specialist plays a 30+ year old point guard that is almost literally non-existent defensively. Woodson’s problem was this: he played his players thinking of only the each single game, instead of thinking of the whole season. He’s the one who let Joe Johnson play league leading minutes simply because Joe wanted to. He never took the time to develop ANY rookies, and the same goes for Larry Drew. Actually to put it more accurately, Mike Woodson coach his team thinking of only each possession, instead of thinking of the next possession. On offense, he gave it to Joe Johnson, because for each possession he’s the best option. However, for the whole game, spreading the ball is the best option. Quick ball movement is the best option. Instead Mike Woodson and Larry Drew rely on iso-Joe offense, where he almost certainly gets double teamed. Double teams can be good, but for some odd reason, Joe Johnson always keeps the ball and only passes it at the last possible moment where someone has to jack up a three point shot with one second left on the shot clock. Even on pick and rolls, Joe never passes it to the roller. He keeps the ball. Joe Johnson is the worst type of ball hog because his stats do not show it, but when he is watched, one can see how he takes good shots; however, those good shots take up around 20 seconds of the shot clock to open up, and if he chooses to pass it, it forces a bad shot by his teammates. Instead the Hawks should work through their true best player. The player who was second to Kevin Durant in a very talented draft class. Even without these facts, basketball is meant to be played from the inside-out. It is common knowledge to try to get it into the post first, so why don’t the Hawks play through Horford and Smith instead of Joe? Give the ball to someone who shoots 55 percent rather than someone who shoots 44 percent. Make a post player who shoots jumpers play more inside, which will open up jumpers. This applies to Josh and Horford. To put things in perspective, Josh Smith is considered a player who takes a ton of bad shots, but he makes 47 percent of his field goals and Joe Johnson, as I’ve mentioned earlier, makes 44 percent, so who is the one taking more bad shots?

What the coaches should of done is give other people chances. What if Marvin was given the ball more often? May be he could have become a player who can do it all. He may have been the next big thing. One thing that is evident with the Hawks is their lack of aggressiveness.  I have seen Josh Smith drive it in and simply lay it up when everyone in the world knows that if he had driven the ball more aggressively toward the hoop, it would have been on Sportscenter. I have seen Joe Johnson back a weaker and smaller defender down until he got double teamed, where he could have made a more aggressive and quicker move to beat the double team and score easily. After 3 seasons of being double teamed, one would think he learned how to beat it. When did the Hawks adapt this easy going push-over mentality? I even remember Marvin specifically mentioning his lack of aggressiveness as a rookie. I remember reading about his father urging him to drive it in to the basket more often. I remember seeing more dunks by Marvin back then. The Hawks have become so soft, which is why Zaza Pachulia’s head butt with Kevin Garnett in the 2008 playoffs were so exciting. For once the Hawks showed some fight. For once the Hawks showed toughness, but that has all faded away since.

This will never be settled because of the lack of chances that Hawks role players are given. However, there is one case that must be carefully observed. The only Hawks rookie in the past 4 or 5 years that has played as a Hawk and traded in their rookie season is playing excellently for his current team. Jordan Crawford is currently averaging around 16 points a game. One may say his shooting percentage is horrible at under 40%, but in comparison to recent rookies, Brandon Jennings averaged 15.5 a game last season as a rookie and shot around 35-37 percent and was still considered a rookie of the year candidate. Jordan Crawford is on a Wizards team that has a lot of talent in the guard positions. Brandon Jennings had no one to seriously compete for playing time. Now I’m not making a bold statement by saying that Crawford is better than Jennings because I didn’t mention any other areas other than scoring, but I am saying that their performance is comparable where if i made this case for Jordan as a Hawk, I would hear nothing but laughter. Does that now show something about the Hawks coaching?

It makes me wonder about Jeff Teague. Does he have the potential to produce numbers that Hawks fans can not imagine? Did Marvin have that potential? This whole Jordan Crawford situation has made the trade for Kirk Hinrich seem ridiculous. The only reason it is acceptable to give a first round pick is because the Hawks are horrible at either drafting or developing players. Or may be it could be both. This situation has made the Joe Johnson signing seem even more ridiculous than it already was. If Joe Johnson was never signed, the Hawks could’ve traded Bibby and started Teague and Jo. Crawford. The Hawks could’ve kept their second round pick from New Jersey instead of trading it for cash. They could’ve used the pick to draft Hassan Whiteside, who is a very raw and athletic center with great length. That way, may be in 2 or 3 years, Jeff Teague would be a quality point guard and Jordan Crawford may be a quality shooting guard with more offensive responsibilities on Marvin Williams forcing him to develop somewhat. May be Hassan Whiteside can be a starting center, which would move Horford to his natural position. May be we could draft a quality player this year or trade this years pick and Josh Smith for another player. With this said, even the resigning of Bibby seemed ridiculous. They signed a declining and old point guard just a year before the amazing free agent class of 2010. This makes the trade for Jamal Crawford even seem unadvisable. With large room under the salary cap, the Hawks could have gotten a super star. 2010 is the only exception in the rule of rebuilding. 2010 was the only year a team could rebuild through signing free agents instead of the draft. It seems as if the Hawks once again look for the quick fix instead of planning for the future. Good GMs create a 2 or 3 year plan. Look at the Thunder who are now a championship contender. Look at the Spurs who have been a championship contender for a decade and a half even after the Admiral’s departure. If you carefully examine the movement of these teams, then their plan seems ingenious. The Hawks, however, tried to make a team full of talent, but uncomplimentary. Jamal Crawford would be a great pick up, but only for a team on the verge of a championship. Jamal Crawford is basically Jason Terry. The moment the Hawks resigned Joe Johnson they settled for average. They settled for good. There may be a money issue. There may be a fan issue, but since when have the Hawks organization given the fans a reason to be proud to be a Hawks fan? Even with Dominique, there was always Jordan to overshadow Niques accomplishments. Who remembers Bob Petit? I mean he was probably the greatest Hawks player relatively, but can someone’s influence really last that long on an organization? Bob Petit didn’t even play for Atlanta. He played for St. Louis. When have the Hawks made Atlanta proud? 

-D2

If You Could Imagine

The beginning of this year’s NCAA tournament was a memorable one as almost every game went down to the final shot and upsets were quickly diminishing the possibilities of a perfect bracket by anyone in the entire world. The Elite 8 consisted of only one #1 seed and two #2 seeds. The Final Four didn’t have any of those and was rounded out with a #3 seed, #4 seed, #8 seed, and a #11 seed. With a #8 Butler-#11 VCU matchup in the semi finals, I feared the worst. As a result, I have just witnessed one of the most boring National Championship games where one team couldn’t break 50 points and the other team barely did so. Butler scored inside the 3-point line only three times in the entire 40 minutes: Extremely hard to believe such a fact. The score at the half was 22-19 in favor of Butler and that was the last time we saw the Bulldogs in one of the messiest displays of basketball. With that being said, congratulations to the Connecticut Huskies (MENS) and I will now move on to what my main focus is in this article, essay, or whatever you want to call it.

This next section is just for “kicks” and a personal opinion, and the idea is something that will probably never happen in the existence of basketball but hopefully it will interest some of you. Don’t get mad and try to argue with me saying that this format would ruin college basketball or whatever because once again, I am just doing this for fun.

Do you know how the world cup works? 32 teams, 8 groupings and a round robin format with 16 teams advancing to a single elimination setting. Now let’s take college basketball’s 32 best teams from this season and place them in this championship format. Now this choice of 32 teams can be debatable, but we’ll just go with what I think since this is just a fantasy world that I’m imagining in my brain as I type. Throw automatic bids and all that out the window…

Ohio State, Kansas, Duke, Pittsburgh, North Carolina, Notre Dame, San Diego State, and Florida would all be the top teams in their groupings.

The next eight would be: Syracuse, Purdue, UConn, BYU, Kentucky, Louisville, Texas, and Wisconsin.

West Virginia, Vanderbilt, Arizona, Kansas State, Xavier, Georgetown, Cincinnati, and St. Johns would be the so-called “third best teams in each grouping”.

And the last eight teams to qualify in this fantasy format would be Washington, Temple, UCLA, Florida State, Villanova, Butler, Illinois, and Richmond.

I would unfortunately have to leave out teams such as George Mason, Marquette, Texas A&M, Michigan, Tennessee, Missouri, Michigan State, and Gonzaga.

This next part, I will do randomly off the top of my head. Bear with me.

Group A: Ohio State, Texas, St Johns, and Washington

Group B: North Carolina, BYU, Kansas State, and Villanova

Group C: San Diego State, Purdue, Vanderbilt, and Illinois

Group D: Duke, Louisville, Georgetown, and UCLA

Group E: Pittsburgh, Kentucky, Xavier, Florida State

Group F: Florida, Syracuse, West Virginia, and Richmond

Group G: Notre Dame, UConn, Arizona, and Butler

Group H: Kansas, Wisconsin, Cincinnati, and Temple

From here, I will predict the outcome of each game in the round robin part of the format and this is just based on probability so don’t freak out and try to argue with me. (I’ve said that about 3-4 times already but if you really feel like complaining about this, do your own simulation!)

In the World Cup, scoring goes like: 0 for a loss, 1 for a tie, and 3 for win.

In this simulation, I’ll do: 0 for a loss and 3 for a win.

Group A

Ohio State over St Johns.

Ohio State over Washington.

Texas over Ohio State

Texas over Washington

St John’s over Texas

Washington over St John’s

Texas and Ohio State move on with Texas as the group winner.

Group B

North Carolina over BYU

North Carolina over Kansas State

North Carolina over Villanova

Kansas State over BYU

BYU over Villanova

Villanova over Kansas State

UNC and Villanova (point differential) move on with UNC as the group winner.

Group C

San Diego State over Purdue

San Diego State over Illinois

Purdue over Vanderbilt

Purdue over Illinois

Vanderbilt over San Diego State

Illinois over Vanderbilt

San Diego State and Purdue move on with San Diego State as the group winner.

Group D (Group of Death?)

Duke over Louisville

Duke over Georgetown

Duke over UCLA

Louisville over Georgetown

UCLA over Louisville

UCLA over Georgetown

Duke and UCLA move on with Duke as the group winner.

Group E

Pittsburgh over Kentucky

Pittsburgh over Xavier

Pittsburgh over Florida State

Kentucky over Xavier

Kentucky over Florida State

Florida State over Xavier

Pittsburgh and Kentucky move on with Pittsburgh as the group winner.

Group F

Florida over West Virginia

Syracuse over Florida

Syracuse over West Virginia

Syracuse over Richmond

Richmond over Florida

Richmond over West Virginia

Syracuse and Richmond move on with Syracuse as the group winner.

Group G (Group of Death?)

Notre Dame over UConn

UConn over Arizona

UConn over Butler

Arizona over Butler

Arizona over Notre Dame

Butler over Notre Dame

UConn and Arizona move on with UConn as the group winner.

Group H

Kansas over Wisconsin

Kansas over Cincinnati

Kansas over Temple

Wisconsin over Cincinnati

Wisconsin over Temple

Temple over Cincinnati

Kansas and Wisconsin move on with Kansas as the group winner.

Okay that took a lot longer than I expected. The “Sweet Sixteen” would then look a little something like this.

Texas vs. Villanova (Texas)

Duke vs. Purdue (Duke)

UNC vs. Ohio State (UNC)

San Diego State vs. UCLA (San Diego State)

Pittsburgh vs. Richmond (Pittsburgh)

Kansas vs. Arizona (Kansas)

UConn vs. Wisconsin (UConn)

Syracuse vs. Kentucky (Syracuse)

“Elite Eight”

Duke vs. Texas (Duke)

UNC vs. San Diego State (UNC)

Pittsburgh vs. Kansas (Kansas)

UConn vs. Syracuse (UConn)

“Final Four”

*So I’ve made some controversial picks throughout this whole process, but if everything were to go as expected, we would have all the #1 seeds in the Final Four every year.

In a monumental match-up between cross-town rivals, Kyrie Irving and Harrison Barnes face off for the first and only time in their one-year tenures in college.

On the other side of this fantasy bracket, The Morris Twins and the Jayhawks take on the super hot Huskies led by Kemba Walker and a young Jeremy Lamb who continues to get better.

I’ll end it here because my biased ways would result in a Rock Chalk Championship and the whole purpose of this was to bring imagination to what the bracket may have looked like if we used the World Cup’s format. This style would statistically eliminate the chance of Cinderella’s making it beyond the round robin portion and deep into the elimination round.

I wish I had the technology to make this simulation more exciting but I’m sorry if this bored you. Hopefully, I stirred the imagination of some of you college hoop fanatics. In reality, we will continue to fill out these large brackets where Cinderella’s will always bust our brackets and our eyes will be glued to the TV as we pull our hairs out and regret the picks that we had changed last minute. March Madness lives on!

Once again, Congratulations to Coach Jim Calhoun and his Wildcats. You guys had a fantastic season and it was a memorable one, winning five games in five days in the Big East Tournament and winning six more to be crowned the National Champions.

-thesportsboy

The Mysterious Final Four 

This past Sunday was a devastating day for me as a Kansas Jayhawk fan. The team went 15-28 from the free throw line and committed multiple turnovers while VCU was on their A-game and had a jump start by pulling nine successful threes in the first half. It was a very hard for me to watch as all the signs were pointing to a nice finish to the season for the Kansas Jayhawks. That’s the beauty of March… With Kansas being the final #1 seed remaining on the field, there are no #1 seeds in the Final Four. In fact, the highest seed in the Final Four is a #3 seed in the Connecticut Huskies. On one side of the bracket, we have an exciting up-and-down the court match-up between two historic basketball schools in Kentucky and UConn. On the other side of the bracket, we have two big surprises in mid-major teams, Butler and VCU. Butler returns to the Final Four for the second straight year, even after losing star guard Gordon Heyward to the NBA and it would be a storybook ending if the Bulldogs could somehow win the big dance. The Cinderella story has come to life this season as VCU has cruised through the tournament. Coming out of the same conference as George Mason, the hard working Rams have taken down five teams from five major conferences to find themselves one win away from the championship game. 

My predictions for the bracket could not have been any worse. All my “cinderellas” (UCLA, St. Johns, Temple), were wrong, and all my top teams faced early exits (Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Texas). This is by far the worst job I have ever done in filling out a bracket and I am slightly disappointed but I will live. To anyone that had the entire Final Four correct, hats off to you (no one out there). So enough talk about the brackets because anything that comes out of my mouth for this season will probably be wrong.

The NCAA tournament is defined by momentum, three-pointers, and the final possession. That is how all four teams have made the prestigious stage of the Final Four. Kentucky needed a final possession to take down Princeton and upset Ohio State and a crucial three in the final minutes got them past a Tarheels team that was making a run. Kemba Walker has done his part of the deal throughout the entire season but even he needed some help from guys like Jeremy Lamb to take down tough opponents like Arizona in the final seconds. Butler should be grateful for the hardworking Matt Howard who made a buzzer beater layup, game winning free throws, and showed veteran leadership. And VCU; well, these guys have shocked the nation by taking down opponent after opponent with their long range sharp shooting from beyond the arc. So, that is how the field has narrowed down.

I can personally say that I am not really interested in this year’s Final Four but I will be pulling for Kemba and the Huskies. I am very impressed by Brandon Knight but other than that, I am definitely not a fan of John Calipari and his highly recruited group of Wildcats. As for the other side of the Final Four, this match-up is either going to be really interesting as they go back and forth, or extremely boring. I probably won’t be watching this game (nor the UConn-Kentucky game) but I honestly hope that VCU can make it one step ahead of George Mason by advancing to the Championship game. Based on what I want, you will probably end up seeing a Kentucky-Butler finale. My final thought is the idea of VCU actually pulling off a 7-game journey and cutting the nets in Houston. I personally won’t be surprised, but imagine what that will do to the world of college hoops. Hopefully, we can maintain some stability in college basketball and UConn (or Kentucky) will come out victorious when it is all said and done.

 

In the Future… 

I’ll stay on the topic of basketball and as I am currently watching the 2011 McDonald’s All-American game, I can say that I’m seeing more than I expected out of this class.

My personal favorite in this class (for those of you who follow basketball recruiting) is Quincy Miller. I truly believe that through hard work and discipline, this young fella will go the distance and make an impact in the NBA within two years. At an estimated 6’10” and with a Kevin Durant-like wingspan, I believe that this combo forward will have the ability to break down any defender at any level. I fear the day that Kansas will have to play him as he will soon suit up in Baylor green and yellow. Unfortunately, the young star was unable to suit up for the AA game with a torn ACL. To Quincy Miller; Get well soon, I look forward to seeing what you are fully capable of in five years or less. 

Another prospect in the class of 2011 that I believe has similar abilities as Quincy Miller is Anthony Davis. In his junior year of high school, the boy stood fairly tall at 6’3” and was a solid guard for his team. In less than a year, the guard grew about seven inches and is now playing a completely different position at 6’10”. The lanky forward should have lost all his ball handling abilities as well as his hand-eye coordination with that overwhelming growth spurt but amazingly enough, Davis has maintained all his skills and is looking like a young Kevin Garnett. I won’t get too far ahead of myself but after watching this kid show some strong work ethics, I believe that he will be very successful in the NBA once he puts on about 20 pounds of muscle. I still believe that Quincy Miller is the top prospect in this class, but Anthony Davis is right there with him. Davis will be joining Coach Cal and another incredible recruiting class as he will suit up in blue for Kentucky. 

Let’s focus on a true guard now. Myck Kabongo is a quick and speedy point guard that can get from end to end in a matter of seconds. Rick Barnes has been lucky enough to recruit him and even though there are other talented point guards such as Marquise Teague and Quinn Cook, Kabongo is my favorite out of the class as he displays incredible court vision with the combination of his speed. I think I mentioned his speed about five times in just two or three sentences. He is fast. The one thing that may hurt him in the pro level and possibly even the collegiate level is his undersized stature and his average bouncing ability. He is not a high flyer but he is more of a DJ Augustin rather than an Avery Bradley. I decided to use former Texas Longhorns as comparisons. Kabongo won’t be an All-Star in the NBA anytime soon, if ever, but he will definitely be a quiet guard moving in and out of the starting rotation. 

Honorable Mention: LeBryan Nash, Austin Rivers, Brad Beal, James McAdoo. (There is plenty more talent in this class but I don’t have all day). 

I will boldly predict Quincy Miller to be an NBA All-Star within his first three years of the NBA if he is a one-and-done player for Baylor. If he stays a second year, which he doesn’t need to from what I believe, he will win the Naismith award and be an instanct impact in the NBA as he makes the All-Star game within his first two seasons in the league. I may sound ridiculous talking highly of a high-school recruit, but in a few years, all I will be saying is “I told you so”. 

Anthony Davis may see the NBA All-Star game once or twice and he will get plenty of votes year after year as he progresses in the league, but he will be a starting forward for a title contending team at best. I personally think that Davis should spend three or maybe even four years at Kentucky in order to get his weight up and learn from one of the best in Calipari. Kentucky will be scary if this kid hangs around. 

Myck Kabongo will see himself on multiple teams in the NBA before he settles in with a team that truly believes that he is their guy. Once that happens, he will do damage in the league and prove to be a nice point guard that can lead the floor. Kabongo follows in the footsteps of many other great guards to play for Texas including recent names such as Daniel Gibson, DJ Augustin, Avery Bradley, and Cory Joseph who may be sticking around for another year or two. An NBA comparison to this guy is Raymond Felton, a guard who likes to quickly get the ball up and down the court and hit quick pull up jumpers. If Kabongo can prove me wrong and start jamming on defenders, he could be a more talented version of Russell Westbrook who didn’t dunk until his senior year in high school. 

Next time, look out for a possible discussion on whether I think Derrick Williams, Perry Jones, Kyrie Irving, Harrison Barnes, and Jared Sullinger will be successful in the NBA or not. Also, expect me to come out strong with a rant on how dumb the Hawks management is. Jordan Crawford, I always believed in you…

-thesportsboy

Who’s got the Perfect Bracket?

I sure don’t. In fact, I’m not even in the 50 percentile on ESPN and I already lost three of my four “Final Four” teams before the “Sweet Sixteen”. With a little bit of biased, and my weak attempts of predicting sleepers and big time upsets, I ended up incorrectly picking a ton of match-ups and missing the actual upsets.

In my official bracket, my “Sweet Sixteen” looked like this (Actual team in parenthesis):

EAST REGION

#1 Ohio State

#4 Kentucky

#3 Syracuse (#11 Marquette) 

#2 North Carolina

WEST REGION

#1 Duke

#4 Texas (#5 Arizona)

#3 Connecticut

#7 Temple (#2 San Diego State)

SOUTHWEST REGION

#1 Kansas

#4 Louisville (#12 Richmond)

#3 Purdue (#11 Virginia Commonwealth)

#2 Notre Dame (#10 Florida State)

SOUTHEAST REGION

#1 Pittsburgh (#8 Butler)

#5 Kansas State (#4 Wisconsin)

#6 St John’s (#3 BYU)

#7 UCLA (#2 Florida)

Wow, that is ugly…  Did I mention I only got 21 out of the 32 second round games correct? I really hope none of you guys took my advice on that earlier post before the tournament began.

The best I think I’ve ever done in the opening round was 27 out of 32. That may have been my senior year in high school. If I want to recall my best bracket ever, we’ll have to get into a time machine and fly back to 2004 when I chose Georgia Tech to beat UConn in the National Championship. Unfortunately, I got second in my school bracket as my friend had picked UConn over Tech… So, as you can see, my picks haven’t been quite accurate during the past few years. I should try a different strategy.

When I predicted that this would be one of the craziest March’s, I did not expect this to happen. In fact, none of my Cinderella teams even made it this far.

The most impressive teams thus far

Ohio State: They just aren’t giving anyone a chance. The inside out combo has been unstoppable in their first two games and they have just been shooting lights out. They’re the top overall seed; do I have to say more?

Virginia Commonwealth: There has been much debate that this team did not even deserve to make the tournament. With a 12-seed play-in game, I personally thought that the USC Trojans would have their way. I was way off as VCU showed their veteran experience and cruised past their first three opponents. If you weren’t impressed by their first victory, I would hope that their last two performances have opened up yours eyes to what they’re capable of. It can still be argued that they didn’t deserve a place in the pool of 68, but they are one of the hottest teams remaining in the tournament. If they can continue playing like this, we might see another George Mason-like run.

Richmond: I told you guys about the talented Kevin Anderson, out of Peachtree Ridge High School. What I didn’t tell you guys was that they would make it to the “Sweet Sixteen”. Given, they had a much more even match-up with Morehead State instead of Louisville, but they shouldn’t be given any less credit for their outstanding run so far. I still believe that a match-up with Louisville would have ended with a different result but that is not the case. Instead, Kevin Anderson and the Spiders look to pull a big time upset on the Kansas Jayhawks. Rock Chalk fans should be scared… I’m not feeling too good about the match-up either.

Tournament Disappointments

11: 11 Big East teams were given bids for the NCAA tournament. Marquette and UConn are the only ones that remain. This conference was expected to dominate the brackets, but they have failed for consecutive seasons.

Syracuse: The Orange were, in my opinion, the strongest team coming out of the Big East. I really expected something big out of Jim Boeheim’s squad this season but the nerves was exposed, as they had to take on a familiar Marquette team in the second round. Syracuse should still be in this tournament, but that is why these first two rounds are played. It’s all about the upsets when March Madness rolls around.

Pittsburgh: The final two calls were controversial, but a foul is a foul and the Panthers got themselves into this mess of a situation where it came down to free throws. Pitt had a chance to escape a scare, but a missed free-throw led to a dumb foul, ending Pittsburgh’s hopes a Final Four appearance.  This team had high expectations, especially with a less than challenging region, but who am I to say all that.

Texas: The Longhorns struggled in their first game as they barely escaped the grips of Oakland. As I had confidently placed them in the “Final Four”, this performance gave me a scare. When the Arizona Wildcats gave them an even tougher challenge, I wasn’t feeling much better about my gut instincts. J’Covan Brown gave the Horns a nice little spark off the bench, but Derrick Williams proved to be too much for anyone that was guarding him. The way they played defense almost made it look like a walk in the park for the Wildcats and quickly led to Texas’ exit from the tournament.  

The Pretenders

St. John’s: I was fooled by their impressive wins in the regular season. They may be a team full of seniors, but did any of them have an abundant amount of tournament experience? Coach Lavin gave many people, including me, high expectations but the tricky match-up with Gonzaga was just too overwhelming.

Louisville: Their weakness in rebounding was exposed against Morehead State as Kenneth Faried had his way in the paint. Despite that powerful presence down low, I still think that the Cardinals should have overcome the challenge. Preston Knowles getting hurt, late in the game, wasn’t helpful but it’s still no excuse that this Big East powerhouse would fall to a mid-major like this.

Notre Dame: Another team out of the Big East that was supposed to do a ton of damage in the tournament. The win against Akron was iffy and the loss to Florida State was plain ugly. Ben Hansbrough had his hands full and the Irish weren’t able to accomplish much in the 2011 NCAA tournament.

My “Not so” Sweet Sixteen Predictions

Ohio State vs Kentucky – Ohio State is looking unstoppable at the moment. All UK can hope for is that this four day layaway has cooled off the Buckeyes a little bit. I like the Wildcats’ chances in this match-up because they have such a talented line-up. The biggest advantage that Ohio State has on Kentucky is not the Big 0 in the paint but it is rather the presence of veterans David Lighty, William Buford, and John Diebler. This trio has been through almost everything in the scarlet red and white uniforms as this may finally be their year. Calipari is a winner and I believe this will be an interesting game, I have Kentucky winning in my bracket actually. But who can bet against Ohio State right now?

Marquette vs North Carolina – I actually had Syracuse beating North Carolina but they aren’t even in the tournament anymore. With that being said, I really like the way the Golden Eagles play but North Carolina might have too much talent and depth for Buzz Williams’ squad to handle. The Tar Heels have shown struggles throughout the season but the freshmen, Harrison Barnes and Kendall Marshall have been very impressive as of late. Also, the size and presence of John Henson and Tyler Zeller seem a little more than much for the undersized Marquette squad. I don’t expect a blow out; in fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if Marquette could squeeze into the Elite Eight but let’s be realistic. Tar Heels in this one.

Duke vs. Arizona – Another game where I had Duke losing to someone else. This time, Arizona knocked off my Final Four contender in Texas. After watching Derrick Williams dominate anyone that has tried to guard him, I can honestly believe that he could single handedly take his squad to the final four. No one on Duke’s roster could match-up with the talented 6’7” wingman. Unfortunately for him, this is a team sport and without the help of his teammates, this one could get ugly. Derrick Williams will be the best player on the floor, but the Blue Devils will find themselves moving on. Duke to the Elite 8.

UConn vs. San Diego State – This is the most interesting match-up in the “Sweet Sixteen” in my opinion. San Diego State has been in the top-10 all year and according to my buddy, have the most athletic lineup in the nation. UConn has been impressive in the Big East but the conference has shown inconsistency during the tournament. The Huskies will likely be the last team standing out of their conference and if they want to stay in the tournament for as long as possible, it will take more than just Kemba Walker. The Aztecs were threatened by the Temple Owls and it took them 50 minutes of basketball to come out with a victory. From what I have seen, they have proven to be the real deal and can run with anyone. My buddy has them winning it all and I think he’s crazy; I hate to do it to Kemba but I think San Diego State will be earning themselves a spot in the Elite 8. Look out for Shabazz Napier to come out big in order for the Huskies to be successful. In my opinion though, everything is going in favor of the Aztecs right now and they move on… For now.

Kansas vs. Richmond – I’m a Jayhawk fan and a preview of this game will be the ultimate bias. So should I write an essay about why they will win this match-up or should I just move on to the next? All jokes aside, Richmond has some serious game and I am legitimately afraid of what the outcome of this game may be. In the end, it’s all about Rock Chalk Jayhawk.

Virginia Commonwealth vs. Florida State – VCU may be the hottest team in the tournament, having won every tournament game by double digits. Purdue and Georgetown were both stunned by this veteran squad and weren’t able to recover. Florida State will be more aware from the get-go and I believe that the Seminoles have a squad that can run up and down the floor while making the opposing half court offenses look like dirt. I’m anticipating a low scoring game and if this one goes down to the wire, the Seminoles will overcome. But the Noles must watch out for a quick start from VCU. An early blowout could be likely, but I like Florida State by single digits.

Butler vs. Wisconsin – Boooooooooring. Matt Howard, Jon Leur, Jordan Taylor… These are the best players that will be on the court for this game. Believe me; they have talent but they play some boring basketball. Add in Butler guard Shelvin Mack and we have a ball game. You’re probably better off watching something else on television rather than wasting your time with this game. I won’t guarantee you anything but watch out, this game might end with a score like 36-33. I apologize in advance if you guys don’t watch this game because of my comments and it goes into triple overtime and the final score is something ridiculous like 123-121. Butler is lucky to have even gotten this far so I’m going with the Badgers.

Florida vs. BYU – The last match-up of the round. Does anyone remember what happened when these two played last year in the big dance? What a game! The Gators will come out angry but Jimmer will not let it bother him. BYU wins if Fredette can accumulate 30+ and 8+ in points and assists. Any other result and Florida wins this one with ease. Irving Walker will be the x-factor as his field goal percentage will be the key to Florida’s success. I hate to say this, but I’m going with the Gators. (Why couldn’t UCLA make it passed them…?)

I’m not going to go any further on my picks since I totally blew it this year. That’s it for now. Rock Chalk!

-thesportsboy

The usual 65-team bracket has now been transformed into a bigger 68-team bracket. This could be, in my mind, one of the wildest March’s in college basketball history. With that being said, I will now begin my game-by-game analysis of each of the match-ups in the first round… Or should I say, the second round… This 68-team thing is making March Madness even more complicated.

For the few of you out there who are reading this, do not use me as a reference to filling out your bracket. You are probably better off going on yahoo or ESPN…. Actually, don’t go to ESPN for help because they are almost always wrong… Especially when it comes to college sports. Just keep in mind that this is all coming form information that I have from watching college basketball this season. I will be picking some unreasonable upsets and I will also have some match-ups where I just pick a team off a coin toss, not literally. I will try to keep this as simple a possible… Here we go.

Ohio State is the top #1 seed and will be leading the way in the East region.

#1 Ohio State - #16 UTSA/Alabama State: Well first off, I don’t care who wins the play-in game… The only people that will probably be watching that game are the students, their family members, and their alumni. Whatever the outcome, the Buckeyes are going to pummel either of them in the official first round. Ohio State.

#8 George Mason - #9 Villanova: This is a tricky one. I have honestly not seen George Mason play once this seen nor can I name a single player on their roster… Heck, I can’t even name a player from their roster when they miraculously made the final four a few years back. Villanova had made a strong statement throughout the first three quarters of the season but the overwhelming strength of the Big East has begun to slow down the Wildcats. An early exit in the Big East Tourney has given Villanova this harsh seeding. Sources have said that George Mason has been hot as of late, but who can honestly bet against a Villanova team that has overcome such a tough schedule. Villanova.

#5 West Virginia - #12 UAB/Clemson: I personally favor Clemson in the play-in match-up. Once again, I have seen Clemson play and I might have caught UAB on TV but didn’t really pay attention. The Tigers have a solid inside out duo with Stitt and the younger Booker. And Tanner Smith out of Wesleyan deserves some Southern love so I’m going to be slightly biased and go with Clemson. Either way, Casey Mitchell and Coach Huggins should have their way against whoever comes out as the 12 seed. Watch out for “Truck” Bryant to play an important role in this match-up. West Virginia.

#4 Kentucky - #13 Princeton: The only piece of Princeton that I have seen this season is that buzzer beater against Harvard that has been replaying on ESPN for the past few days. Besides that, I know Princeton is a “smart” team that can play a solid five-man game. The Wildcats have shown their lack of leadership and experience with their young lineup. With a few stumbles, expect the Wildcats to pull away in the second half, once they can get away from the bright lights and butterflies. Kentucky.

#6 Xavier - #11 Marquette: Jordan Crawford was the leading scorer for the Musketeers last season and Lazar Heyward was the veteran leader for the Golden Eagles. Despite their departures for the NBA, both teams have had impressive campaigns with little expectation coming into this season. I personally believe that this is one of the rare match-ups where the lower seed is favored to win. Marquette has gone through more challenges throughout the regular season as they fought through the treacherous Big East conference. Expect that to play a role in this one as the Golden Eagles come out on top in a tight one. Marquette.

#3 Syracuse - #14 Indiana State: Syracuse against who? Was Larry Bird eligible for another season? I can surely tell you that I have never seen this school play…. If Syracuse doesn’t win this match-up, this will surely be one of the craziest NCAA tournaments ever. Quick and easy, it will be a blur for Larry Bird’s alma mater. Syracuse.

#7 Washington - #10 Georgia: This is a peculiar match-up for me. I am a fan of Georgia Bulldog sports but I have an unusual like for the Huskies. I also have a friend who is torn between the two schools. But besides all that, logic tells me Washington and my heart tells me Georgia. This is a coin flip. Whoever gets to the charity stripe more will win. Making the free throws is essential though… Georgia

#2 UNC- #15 LIU-Brook: Umm, where is LIU-Brook located? Are they even going to have any fans in the stands? Don’t try to defend their case. North Carolina.

Kansas owns the Southwest Region’s top seed as they finished the regular season with just two losses and were crowned the Big 12 Champs in both the regular season and the Big 12 Tournament.

#1 Kansas - #16 Boston University: Kansas? Kansas.

#8 UNLV - #9 Illinois: Being an 8-9 seed match-up, this is obviously a tough choice to make. Demetri McCamey has been outstanding this season and Bruce Weber has an impressive track record in the big dance. I haven’t seen too much of the Fightin’ Rebels to support them. Illinois.

#5 Vanderbilt - #12 Richmond: Both these teams have kept pretty quiet throughout the season while they both have performed fairly well. Kevin Anderson leads the Spiders and is a potential first round draft pick prospect. Look for him to bust out in a numerous array of baskets. Vanderbilt has size and length. Kevin Anderson might just be one player, but that may be enough for Richmond to squeeze past the first round. We’ve all seen what a difference one good guard can make in a game this season (Fredette, Walker). Besides, this is a 5-12 match-up. 12 seeds win all the time. Richmond

#4 Louisville - #13 Morehead State: I know nothing about Morehead State’s basketball team. I do believe that they clinched a spot in the tournament by winning their conference tournament. That’s not enough for them to prove that they can hang with the big boys. Peyton Siva and Preston Knowles will prove to be too much in the backcourt. Hopefully, Knowles won’t make a dumb game deciding mistake if the opportunity arises. Louisville.

#6 Georgetown - #11VCU/USC: VCU comes ready to play in March, almost every season. I have seen what USC is capable of and their impressive defense will get them through to face Georgetown. As much as I like the Trojans chances here, Austin Freeman and company may prove too much in this match-up. I like this one to be close. Georgetown.

#3 Purdue - #14 St. Peters: What the Boilermakers have done this season without their best player, Robbie Hummel, is truly amazing. St. Peter’s should be grateful for an opportunity to play on the big stage and they should make the best of these 40 minutes. Who knows what the Boilermakers would have been capable of if #4 could have suited up this season? Purdue.

#7 Texas A&M - #10 Florida State: Here is another one of those tough first round match-ups. The Aggies have had an up and down season. They have shown signs of toughness and sometimes just looked awful. Florida State didn’t really do much in a less than impressive season out of the ACC but the Seminoles are another one of those tough defense-minded teams. Chris Singleton is in his last season and will prove to be the most dominant player on the floor. Florida State *Update. I was recently told that Singleton will not be able to participate in this game. That is a huge loss for the Noles. I’ll feel pretty stupid if Florida State can still pull it off, but without Singleton I just don’t see it happening. Texas A&M.

#2 Notre Dame - #15 Akron: The Zips have done what was necessary to qualify for the big dance. Little Hansbrough has been big this season as the Big East player-of-the-year. Shouldn’t even be close. Notre Dame.

That takes care of the top half of this crazy bracket. I hope I still have some readers’ attentions, if any. Let us continue.

In the West region, the defending National Champions have managed to get another #1 seed. Even with Kyrie Irving sidelined due to an injury, the Devils have looked very dangerous.

#1 Duke - #16 Hampton: Kyrie or no Kyrie, the Devils will cruise through this one. Duke.

#8 Michigan - #9 Tennessee: The Wolverines have played better than expected but haven’t accomplished too much while the Volunteers struggled with NCAA violations and inconsistency. I like Scotty Hopson and Brian Williams with the inside out dual threat. Tennessee.

#5 Arizona - #12 Memphis: The Tigers have dealt with some personal issues on and off the court as they had lost a coach and some top prospects in the past two seasons. Despite that, they have been crowned the Con-USA tournament champs and in return have to face Derrick Williams and the rest of Sean Miller’s Wildcats. Memphis would have won if this were two or three years ago. I highly doubt that this will go any other way, despite the tricky 5-12 match-up. Arizona.

#4 Texas - #13 Oakland: Texas is coming off a loss in the Big 12 Championship game and they have lost more games than expected over the past two weeks. Rick Barnes will definitely have a few words to pump up his Longhorns before beginning the tough road in the West. Texas.

#6 Cincinnati - #11 Missouri: The Tigers are a lot better than their seeding claims. These are two teams that flirted with the top-25 rankings all throughout the season while struggling in their respective conferences. Fortunately, both of them have landed a spot in the tournament. Unfortunately, one will lose in the first round. If you’re watching this game, expect a crazy up and down game with tons of turnovers. Missouri.

#3 UConn - #14 Bucknell: Bucknell…. Brings back a bitter memory from about five years ago. Either way, Kemba should have a field day… Shabazz Napier and Oriakhi will be the important factor to how this one turns out. The win margin factor… UConn.

#7 Temple - #10 Penn State: Penn State is led by a standout guard in Taylor Battle. I don’t know any players on Temple but I know that they have a solid squad. I can’t really thoroughly explain my pick in this one. Temple.

#2 SDSU - #15 N Colorado: I’m still not sold on the Aztecs but this one shouldn’t be a difficult one to choose. SDSU may get a scare but who can pick against them in a match-up like this? San Diego State.

Last region… Almost done…. Trust me, this is taking me longer than I want it to.

Pittsburgh has handled the Big East craziness the best and in return, they have been rewarded the top seed in the Southeast Region.

#1 Pittsburgh - #16 UNCA/Arkansas-Little Rock: I don’t know what’s going to happen between the two baby schools. I’ll go with Little Rock. Then it’ll be all Panther basketball, soon after. Pittsburgh.

#8 Butler - #9 Old Dominion: I can only think of Matt Howard… He looks really goofy but he can play some basketball. Butler.

#5 Kansas State - #12 Utah State: I really like the Aggies in this match-up as they have a great big in Tai Wesley. Jacob Pullen got what he wanted and they’re not in the NIT. He will have to make something out of this first round match-up or he will never hear the end of it from the haters. Fear the beard. K-State.

#4 Wisconsin - #13 Belmont: Does anybody else remember that scare that Belmont gave the Blue Devils when they were a 15 seed? Well they’re a 13 seed now, and Wisconsin doesn’t impress me too much. They might have one of the rare wins against Ohio State this year, but that 36-33 loss to Penn State just doesn’t make sense to me. Belmont.

#6 St John’s - #11 Gonzaga: Both teams have been excellent this season and the Red Storm have done the unexpected… That is, none of us expected them to win this many games in their conference. Gonzaga has John Stockton’s son and that big giant monster in the paint. Look out for Gonzaga to pull the upset as the Red Storm might be dealing with some injuries. Regardless, I can’t go against this interesting squad of seniors. St. John’s.

#3 BYU - #14 Wofford: Jimmer… Fredette… He takes and makes shots that just don’t make sense to me. The loss of a key big man will hurt the Cougars, but the Naismith candidate should be able to handle this one on his own. Jimmer Fredette.

#7 UCLA - #10 Michigan State: This match-up hurts me dearly. The reason being, I am a huge fan of Tom Izzo and I always like to support the Spartans. Not many people may expect it, but UCLA is slowly regaining their status as a good college basketball team. Tyler Honeycutt is impressive. Josh Smith is just big. Don’t be shocked if the Bruins make a deep run in the tournament. Sorry Sparty. UCLA.

#2 Florida - #15 UCSB: First off, Florida is not a good 2 seed team. They might have the SEC player-of-the-year, but I don’t think they have what it takes to win games in this tournament. I know I’m a Georgia fan, but I will admit a team is good when they come out and perform. This Gator team is not that team. This may be their only win in the tournament. Florida.

I’ve made my picks for the first round. Some are just obvious, some stupid, and some just out-right ridiculous. March Madness is almost impossible to predict but I love college basketball and I usually know what I’m talking about. Otherwise, I wouldn’t waste a few hours of my life writing this… For all I know, I could be 8 for 32 in the first round but it really doesn’t matter to me. These are my picks and in the end, I’m just hoping to watch some exciting basketball in March.

Thank you all for reading and make sure you fill out a bracket if you haven’t had the chance to yet. Don’t just copy my picks and go with your heart. Flip a coin; choose a school based on their names, their colors, or their mascots. Heck, be creative. In the end, tune out the rest of the world and call your friends over. Spend the entire day watching March Madness!

I’ll end with this. Roooooooooooock. Chaaaaaaaaaaalk. Jaaayhaaawwwk. Kaaaaaay. Uuuuuuuu…!

Don’t know what it means? “Wiki” it.

-thesportsboy

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