Before you do, read this. I make no guarantees, but this will help you not finish last. Ethel the mail lady won’t read this. Let her finish last.
Like one of my favorite one-hit wonders we will Head East and preview the region nobody is really talking about.
That happens when the Midwest Region has all the best teams and somehow, the 1996 Bulls as well.
East games are in Raleigh, Spokane, San Antonio and Buffalo and finish at Madison Square Garden in The Big Apple.
Favorite: Virginia is the No. 1 seed on the strength of a regular-season and ACC tournament championship. The politicking (reads: whining) about how good the ACC is by Coach K didn’t hurt either.
That’s how the conference ended up with a team in the First Four. Not a great team in my opinion but good enough to make it to New York because of the draw.
Michigan State is the sexy pick here. The Spartans did struggle at times in the regular season due to injuries, but they are healthy now and on a roll after winning the Big 10/11/12 Tournament.
Adreian Payne is a beast inside and Gary Harris makes the Spartans go at both ends. Tom Izzo knows how to coach in the NCAA Tournament as well.
In fact, this senior class is the only one that hasn’t been to a Final Four under Izzo. Don’t think for a second he hasn’t reminded them of that.
But I’m not convinced they are title bound as you will soon see.
Cinderella: Harvard upset New Mexico last year and there is almost always a 12-5 upset. Cincinnati was one of the best teams in the country for a stretch in the middle of the season, but they weren’t as good at the end.
Providence was uncomfortably on the bubble until the Friars won the Big East Tournament, likely knocking Xavier into the First Four. The No. 11 Friars are hot and could knock off No. 6 North Carolina, which is as hard to figure out as one of Dr. Sheldon Cooper’s string theories.
Either of those teams could win a couple games or more.
Most Likely to be an upset: In addition to the aforementioned Providence-UNC matchup, and perhaps Harvard, I would put my money on St. Joseph’s to knock off UConn. Granted it’s only a 7-10 game, and either team is a procedural bump away from being an 8 or 9 so it’s not much of an upset. But it is the Atlantic 10 beating the American Athletic Conference and let’s face it. We were talking about St. Joseph’s as a bubble team and potential First Four participant. The Hawks were seeded 38th overall, UConn 26th.
Unheralded Player: James Bell makes No. 2 Villanova go. He can jump out of any gym and is fun to watch in transition. He has good size at 6-foot-6 and can play a wing or mix it up inside. Bell has solid range from 3-point land as well. Scoring nearly 15 points a game and grabbing 6 rebounds he will have the ball in his hands a lot, especially late in a close game as he is an 81% free throw shooter.
Elite Eight Teams: As I mentioned, I’m not drinking the Green and White Kool-Aid. Someone will beat Sparty before they get to the regional final. I just have that feeling. That said, I like Virginia to make it, even though I think they are not one of the four best teams in the country. The other Elite Eighter is a team I have yet to mention: Iowa State.
Kind of like the San Antonio Spurs, the Cyclones quietly go about their business without much fanfare, although winning the Big 12 title in Kansas’ backyard was impressive and certainly made other teams take notice. Conference player of the year Melvin Ejim scores a ton and he will need to because Iowa State is horrible at defense, like 272nd nationally horrible. Despite that, I like them to play the Cavaliers in the Garden.
Should be an interesting regional final.
We’re one week away from National Letter Of Intent Day, and the excitement (and chaos) is building. We’ll talk a bit this week about the idea of “verbals” and visits, but let’s dig through the news bucket a bit first, shall we? Oh, and Mark Titus’ favorite band brings us our musical inspiration for the morning. Happy Wednesday.
Commentary- Commitment Read More
This week’s soundtrack is colorful, but has a bit of a different taste to it: trust me, it makes total sense in the grand scheme of things. Enjoy… language warning.
There’s no denying it… one group of conference-mates had an incredibly difficult Saturday.
Positioned for excellence, and featured in a number of nationally significant matchups, the on the field results just did not help dissuade the critics who argue that they have lost their prestige, and are rightfully scorned by college fans across the country. Once seen as powerful contenders for titles, it seems as if the results on Saturday have shown that the game may have passed them by.
Yup, it was a terrible day for the Big 12 expats. Who did you think I was talking about?
Texas A&M, Missouri, Colorado, Nebraska all dropped matches on Saturday, with two of these being significant “upsets” in terms of rankings and so forth. The Aggies, after a week full of bravado regarding their new allegiance to the “we can spell three letter words” conference, saw the early lead against Florida disappear in the waning moments of the game, and couldn’t count on Kyle Field to help carry the day. You’ve got to wonder if the different understanding of the word “cheerleader” might have had something to do with it. Ah well, you know they’ll just say that they won later… it’s the SEC way.
Missouri also opened SEC play by welcoming Georgia to play between the… uh… rocks in Columbia. The Bulldawgs emerged victorious, but you’re right in realizing that Mizzou is excited to be in a new home. There were too many Longhorns in the last one, and the B1G never returned their phone calls, so you can’t blame them for being OK with a loss in their prestigious opener. So excited about the new opportunities were they, that they broke out their new school clothes… or someone else’s old school clothes from when they were in the Arena League. As goofy as they looked, though, they didn’t win our “awkward haberdashery of the week award”… more later.
Ah, CoLOLorado… See, here’s how it works. You schedule a FCS opponent in the pre-season, you get them at home, you beat them and build up your alumni/student confidence in your program = profit. But, the Buffs are constricted by no man’s social norms, and instead chose to allow the mighty Hornets of Sacramento State to kick a field goal with time expiring and upset the Buffs in Boulder. I’m sure the fans will have to find some way to console their grief.
Which brings us to Nebraska. Read More
As we get closer and closer to kickoff, we’ll be looking across the nation at other (read “inferior”) conferences. This way, you’ll have just enough information to argue with that guy in accounting. Today we take a look at the Atlantic Coast Conference- nope, FSU and Clemson haven’t left yet.
Where does the conference fall in the national rankings. How likely are they to have a team in the Title game?
It’s not that the ACC hasn’t been able to compete on a national stage over the years or the fact that they don’t get ranked teams. They haven’t been able to finish at the end of the season. The only BCS National Champion they’ve produced is Florida State in 2000 as they beat a then Big East Virginia Tech. As a conference, the ACC is 2-13 overall in BCS bowls they have participated in and 1-2 in the Title game. They double dipped in the BCS last year and everyone knows how both of those turned out.
Who’s the best team in the conference? Who will play for in the conference title game (if there is one)?
Clemson has the best talent in the conference with several players returning on the defense that didn’t show up for their bowl game against WVU last season- They are a team on a mission and the offensive firepower to do it. The conference race will take care of itself more or less as FSU plays at VTU late in the season, Clemson will play at FSU, and VTU has to go to Death Valley. It could boil down to the home team winning out and there not being a clear-cut champion and either Clemson or FSU will play VTU in the ACC Championship game.
I am of the belief that Clemson will hold pat on the road at FSU and finish the season undefeated and take on the Hokies. This isn’t a surprise as Virginia Tech has played in five of the seven conference title games winning three of them and losing last years’ to Clemson.
Who are the worst teams in the conference? Read More