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Tag:Tennessee
Posted on: November 20, 2009 11:22 pm
Edited on: November 21, 2009 2:35 am
 

Tennessee--Maybe the Most Impressive Team So Far

Bruce Pearl has to love what's going on in Knoxville right now. His Volunteers are averaging 104. PPG and allowing just 56.3 a game after three blowouts to begin their season.

Tennessee has made 39 three pointers in three games, an average of 13.0 per game. That puts the Volunteers at fourth best in the country, based on the numbers coming into Friday night. The team numbers are a little skewed a little though. Red hot Scotty Hopson has made 14 of 18 (78%) three pointers this season and is averaging 22.0 PPG. When a player shoots like that, your team three point shooting is usually very high.

While Kansas, Michigan State, Texas, and Kentucky get the national headlines, Pearl's Volunteers are getting the job done better than any other team in the country. That's why the Vols moved up to a one seed in my latest bracketology, although it didn't go over well with the Kentucky faithful. Right now I have Tennessee as the favorites in the SEC and as the top seed in the South bracket.

With DePaul, #7 Purdue/Saint Josephs, Charleston, East TN State, Middle TN State, Wyoming, USC, NC A&T up next, it's very likely that Tennessee will go into the Memphis game on December 31st with a near perfect or perfect record and a top five ranking.  Imagine that.

For now, it's clear Tennessee is one of the elite teams in the country. While others have had their scares, Tennessee continues to roll.


Edited: Had to add in the DePaul, Purdue/Saint Josephs matchups that aren't listed on the schedule.

Category: NCAAB
Tags: Tennessee
 
Posted on: October 19, 2009 11:37 pm
Edited on: October 20, 2009 11:22 pm
 

Dantheman's SEC Preview

John Calipari joined the SEC and everything we know about the conference changed in an instant.

Last season the SEC was the laughingstock of the college basketball world with only three teams selected to the NCAA Tournament. Three years before that it was Florida, not Kentucky, celebrating back to back championships while Wildcat fans were promised that Billy Gillespie would turn their program around.

Meanwhile Calipari sat at Memphis, dominating Conference USA, reaching Final Fours, and bringing in top recruit after top recruit. The Tigers reached the national championship game against Kansas two seasons ago and led late before free throw shooting gave the Jayhawks a chance, and eventually the national championship. That was the Tigers one chance to change their mid-major label and become a true elite program.

That's why when Kentucky came calling, Calipari answered. Who wouldn't? Well there is Billy Donovan, Florida's head coach who turned down the Wildcats twice in four seasons, but honestly who wouldn't want the Kentucky job?

I don't want you to believe that SEC coaches are coaching harder just because of what Calipari has been able to do at Kentucky, because that's not true. It is true that the rest of the league knows big blue is back, will not go around soon, and is the team to beat in the conference this year. All that without even coaching a game at Kentucky.

Don't expect the rest of the league to just sit back and let Kentucky run through the league though. This year the SEC is back in a big way. There's a quiet murmur among SEC basketball fans discussing just how good this conference will be next season. Three SEC tournament teams this season? No way. Think more like five, at the minimum. On paper there are eight teams that appear to be potential NCAA Tournament teams for the SEC, but in this conference there's always the chance that another "Georgia" Cinderella run could take place in the Georgia Dome (site of the NCAA Tournament) to add another team to the mix.

And if you're looking for stars, look no further than the SEC. Jarvis Varnado, the big man you don't want to see when you get to the basket, Tasmin Mitchell, Patrick Patterson, and Devan Downey are among the players that will make highlight reels every night among the nation.

Here's my SEC preview (be sure to check out my preseason bracketology as well), along with a prediction of whether each team will be playing in March:

SEC East

1. Kentucky Wildcats: Let's be honest, Kentucky is loaded. Forget Patrick Patterson for a minute, the Wildcat big man that averaged 17.9 PPG and 9.3 RPG last season. Don't think about Perry Stevenson, the X-factor in a lot of Wildcat wins last season. In marches John Wall, the most anticipated freshman guard since Derrick Rose led Memphis to the national title game two seasons ago. In comes DeMarcus Cousins, the aggressive shot blocker that will join Patterson down low.

Biggest Question: We know that the Wildcats will be the most talented team in the SEC next season, by far. The only question in Kentucky is how the new players gel under Calipari. With Wall, Cousins, and Eric Bledose--all gifted freshman joining one of the nation's most prolific programs--the problem might be that there aren't enough basketballs on the floor at once for all the talent.

Key Non Conference Game: Vs North Carolina (December 5th)
Anytime you host the national champions and you're trying to get back to elite status the game can be used as a measuring tool for how far your team is away. The Tar Heels are less talented than they were less season and as vulnerable as the Tar Heels are ever going to be.

Key Conference Game: At Tennessee (February 27th)
Last year Jodie Meeks torched the Volunteers for 54 in Knoxville. This season Meeks isn't on the Wildcats roster. Tenneesee will have revenge in mind at home against the Wildcats. Make sure you tune in for this one. It could decide the SEC East champion.

Key Player: John Wall
Wall hasn't even played a game but has nearly reached legend status for the Wildcats already. All offseason he's been the talk of college basketball. If he lives up to expectations then Kentucky will be extremely good. From what I've seen of Wall, there's no way he doesn't become a star right away in Lexington.

Postseason: Elite Eight (NCAA Tournament)

2. Tennessee Volunteers: What Bruce Pearl has been able to accomplish in Knoxville is pretty remarkable. This offseason his Volunteers are flying under the radar with a roster flooded with talent due to Calipari's storylines at Big Blue. With J. P. Price, Wayne Chism, Bobby Maze, and Tyler Smith back hopes are very high in Knoxville.

Biggest Question: Last season Tennessee's defense allowed 72.5 points per game. That's the nature of the full court press, but can Pearl's defense force more turnovers and allow less easy baskets this season? If they can then Tennessee will likely get a lot of easy wins, something they didn't have a whole lot of last season.

Key Non Conference Game: Vs Kansas (January 10th)
The preseason number one team in the country against a team that looks, on paper, like a top 15 team. This is what college basketball is all about. While a NCAA Tournament bid is not likely to be on the line, seeding for the tournament will be.

Key Conference Game: At LSU (February 4th)
There's a tough stretch for Tennessee in SEC play, following what looks to be a schedule allowing the Vols to get off to a great start in conference.  From January 27th to February 13th the Vols play six games against potential NCAA Tournament teams: Vanderbilt, Florida, LSU, South Carolina, Vanderbilt, Kentucky. The game against LSU is sandwiched in the middle of that stretch. Going to Baton Rouge and winning could be the key to avouding a February letdown.

Key Player: Tyler Smith
There's a reason he's mentioned as one of the top players in the SEC.

Postseason: Sweet 16 (NCAA Tournament)

3. Florida Gators: Just two summers ago, Billy Donovan's Florida Gators were the talk of the sports world. They had just completed back to back national championships, a feat almost unheard of in the common era, and looked poised to stay an elite program. Fastforwarding to the current state of Florida basketball starts a barrage of questions. How could a team so dominant two years ago fail to make the NCAA Tournament the last two years? The talent level has fallen off, Nick Calathes is gone, and there are more questions than answers in Gainesville.

Biggest Question: Can Dan Werner actually become a dependable player for Donovan? Werner will be the lone senior for the Gators this season, but most Gator fans cannot wait until he leaves campus for good. That's how bad he's been in his career at Florida.

Key Non Conference Game: Vs Michigan State (November 27th)
If Florida wants to get back to the NCAA Tournament, they've got to get nice wins outside of SEC play. The last two seasons the Gators haven't even given themselves an opportunity to get those wins because they've chosen not to schedule tough teams.

Key Conference Game: At Vanderbilt (January 9th)
The Gators opener against the Commodores will be huge for their season with Kentucky and LSU up next. The last thing Florida needs on their mission to get back to the Big Dance is three straight losses to begin conference play.

Key Player: Kenny Boynton
It seems as if the entire existence of the Gators basketball program is hanging in the balance, and Boynton is really the only player left to give Florida fans hope this year. Everyone is expecting big things from Boynton.

Postseason: First Round (NCAA Tournament)

4. Vanderbilt Commondores: With A. J, Ogilvy back last season, the Commodores were expecting to go dancing. Instead, the SEC turned into the worst BCS conference in basketball by far, and Vanderbilt finished as one of nine teams sitting at home and watching the NCAA Tournament. With only George Drake gone, and notables like Ogilvy and Jermaine Beal back, Vanderbilt is expecting to make a push for the NCAA Tournament again this year.

Biggest Question: Can A. J. Ogilvy get tougher? Ogilvy has been a great player for Vanderbilt during his first two seasons, but he's also been a slight disappointment. Vanderbilt needs him to be tougher inside, grab more rebounds, and even become more of a scoring threat after averaging 15.4 PPG last year. How did Ogilvy respond this summer? Reports are that he spent the offseason working on his strength and conditioning. If he did, Vanderbilt will be a tough out in the SEC East.

Key Non Conference Game: Vs Missouri (December 2nd)
The Commodores need to beat other teams that could potentially be on the bubble for the NCAA Tournament. After playing Cincinnati on November 23rd, Vanderbilt gets a large nine day break before taking on Mike Anderson's Tigers. There's no excuse for losing that one, even with Thanksgiving smack in the middle of that break.

Key Conference Game: At Tennessee (January 27th)
When you begin SEC play with Florida, Alabama, South Carolina, and Auburn--four teams that figure to be decent but not overwhelming--then you've got to like your chances of a 3-1 or 4-0 start in conference play. The next two, at Tennessee and at Kentucky, might decide whether Vanderbilt is potentially playing for a higher NCAA Tournament seed in February, still on the bubble, or completely out of the tournament picture.

Key Player: A. J. Ogily
I don't want to pick the best player on every team at this spot, and I refuse to, but it's obvious that Ogilvy is the key to Vanderbilt's season. If he ups his game then Vanderbilt might be able to overachieve the expectations most "experts" have for them.

Postseason: NIT

5. South Carolina Gamecocks: Devan Downey might be the best player in the entire SEC, and he's also the main reason a lot of people think the Gamecocks can make a run at the NCAA Tournament.  With his sidekick Dominique Archie back too, and only Zan Fredrick gone, South Carolina is a gigantic sleeper in the SEC. It's hard to rank them in the absolutely loaded SEC East, but at this point I think the Gamecocks overachieved last season and will take a step back this season.

Biggest Question: How big of a role will Brandis Raley-Ross play for the Gamecocks this season? Last season he was the SEC's sixth man of the year. Now he's expected to get an expanded role in the offense while taking Fredrick's place.

Key Non Conference Game: At Clemson (December 6th)
If I told you I was impressed with South Carolina's out of conference schedule then I'd be lying. If the SEC wants to get back to being a conference taken seriously off the gridiron then its teams need to start playing good teams. Clemson, Boston College, and Baylor are the three BCS conference teams the Gamecocks play in the non-conference. All three are expected to be down this season, although the Tigers should still be a NCAA Tournament caliber team. I must also note that playing in the Charleston Classic gives the Gamecocks another chance to play a couple of good teams OOC.

Key Conference Game: At Vanderbilt (March 6th)
It's just a guess, because I could be wrong, but something tells me that the NCAA Tournament picture only has room for either Vanderbilt or South Carolina. Whoever wins this game, the Commodores' final regular season game, will likely stay in the picture. Obviously this is assuming a lot, but I can't see either team being completely out of the picture early in March.

Key Player: Dominique Archie
Archie will be overshadowed by Downey all offeason, and rightfully so. Downey will make the big shots and he will be the guy that helps the Gamecocks get where they go this season, but Archie is the man who will be expected to be the scorer when Downey isn't producing. For the Gamecocks to be tournament bound this year Archie is going to have to up his game to an even higher level than last season (when he averaged 10.9 PPG, 6.4 RPG) with Frederick gone.

Postseason: NIT

6. Georgia Bulldogs: New Georgia coach mark Fox looks up from the cellar of the conference at John Calipari, Bruce Pearl, Billy Donovan, and superstars everywhere. His team has no success to count on in tough moments and absolutely no experience in big games. Yet he expects to win, quickly. Two years ago the Bulldogs made an incredible run to the NCAA Tournament by winning the SEC Tournament, but last season the program fell back off the map with a 3-13 conference record.

Biggest Question: Will Troy Thompkins continue to develop into a dependable big man for the Bulldogs? Last season, a freshman, Thompkins averaged 12.5 PPG and 7.4 PPG. With Terrance Woodbury gone the scoring duty will now be put on Thompkins, Dustin Ware, and Albert Jackson. Thompkins represented the USA in the Under-19 World Championships this summer.

Key Non Conference Game: Vs Illinois (December 19th)
Let's be honest: Nobody sees Georgia making the NCAA Tournament, not even Georgia fans. It doesn't mean it can't happen. That's what is great about college basketball. If it is going to happen (and like I said chances are it won't) the Bulldogs have to find a way to win nice out of conference games. More than likely games like the one vs Illinois and Georgia Tech will probably have an impact on whether Georgia makes the NIT or CBI.

Key Conference Game: At Kentucky (January 9th)
Georgia wants to show the world it's on its way back. What better way to do that than by beating Kentucky, in Lexington, to begin SEC play? Who knows, in this crazy world of college basketball parity it might even mean something come March, should it happen.

Key Player: Troy Thompkins
With Woodbury gone, the scoring output might be more than Thompkins can handle as a sophmore. His experience this summer will help, but without huge performances from him in key games it's very unlikely that Mark Fox's team will be anything more than a spoiler in mid-February.

Postseason: None

SEC WEST

1. Mississippi State Bulldogs: Last year the Bulldogs won the SEC Tournament and saved the SEC from a great deal of embarrasment. This season the expectations in Starkville are higher than they've been the few seasons. With Jarvis Vanardo, the shot blocker extraordinaire, back along with Ravern Johnson, Bulldog fans want a Sweet 16 run (at the very least). If freshman Renardo Sidney is cleared to play then Mississippi State could be one of the nation's elite teams.

Biggest Question: Outside of Sidney's clearance (which Missisippi State cannot control) the key for the Bulldogs is whether Vanardo can develop offensively. Vanardo has been the best shot blocker in the country (this side of NBA bound Hasheem Thabeet anyways) for years. Now Rick Stansbury and Mississippi State are hoping he do more on the offensive end and produce big numbers on both sides of the floor. If he can then he will likely have NBA scouts salivating.

Key Non Conference Game: At UCLA (December 12th)
Any time you play at UCLA, one of the nation's most storied programs, it's a big deal. As a conference this is a huge game for the SEC in general, but it's also a gigantic test for Mississippi State. A win would likely propel the Bulldogs into a lot of December bracketologies and help them overcome some bad losses that are likely to occur over a long season.

Key Conference Game: Vs Kentucky (February 16th)
What a nice schedule the Bulldogs got from the SEC scheduling crew. They avoid any of the big dogs from the SEC (KY, TN, FLA, SC, VAN) until February. The first major game (not counting LSU January 30th) is when the Wildcats come to Starkville in what could be the best team in the East against the best team in the West.

Key Player: Barry Stewart
Stewart hasn't been mentioned thus far, but he is the leader for the Bulldogs. He scored 12.4 PPG last season and should add to that total a little this season. Ravern Johnson, another good choice for this spot, is hte sharpshooter for Missisippi State and will be trusted to take some big time shots.

Postseason: Second Round (NCAA Tournament)

2. LSU Tigers: Last season I correctly predicted that the Tigers would win the SEC West. This year I think the Tigers will once again be in the running to be the best team on the SEC's "lighter" side. With Tasmin Mitchell back to lead the way this team could be very good, or it could miss Marcus Thornton, Garrett Temple, and Chris Johnson as much as it looks like they will on paper. I feel like LSU will be the surprise of the conference, just like they were last season. While everyone continues to pick exactly what the media picks, I will mix things up since I've never seen a conference finish the way the media believes it will.

Biggest Question: How far can Tasmin Mitchell carry the Tigers? With the talent cellar running dry in LSU due to three of the team's best four players gone, it's going to be all on Mitchell and Bo Spencer offensively. Mitchell has shown us what he can do (16.3 PPG) and has to take his game to the next level (if that's even possible).

Key Non Conference Game: At Washington State (December 22nd)
After not playing any teams of note in their first seven the Tigers finally play a noteworthy opponent. The game against the Cougars begins a three game stretch of games against BCS, non conference foes: Washington State, Xavier, Utah.

Key Conference Game: At Mississippi State (January 30th)
Does the SEC West still go through Baton Rouge? If it does the Tigers will show the rest of the conference by winning in Starkville against the Bulldogs.

Key Player: Bo Spencer
With Thornton, Temple, and Johnson gone Mitchell is going to need some help. Who else is better to spotlight than the only other returning starter from Trent Johnson's squad? Last season he averaged 11.4 PPG, but he might have to take that total up to 15 PPG if the Tigers don't find some scoring help and hope to be competitive.

Postseason: First Round (NCAA Tournament)

3. Mississippi Rebels: Chirs Warren is back after blowing out his knee last season, and he's joined by two other guys with injuries that kept them off the court: Eniel Polynice and Trevor Gaskins. With everyone finally back and healthy, Andy Kennedy is expecting the Rebels to make their first NCAA Tournament since 2002.

Biggest Question: Can Ole Miss stay healthy? I know this is a big question for every team nationwide, but it's a big if for Mississippi. As I mentioned, Warren, Polynice, and Gaskins were all lost by the twelth game last season and it really hampered a Rebels squad that went 7-9 in a down SEC. If Mississippi can keep everyone on the court they will likely leave it with a lot more victories.

Key Non Conference Game: West Virginia (December 23rd)
The Rebels are one of eight SEC teams that look to have a defnitite shot at making the NCAA Tournament. Like I've stated many times in this article the first thing the conference has to do is establish itslef so that its wins will be taken seriously. A win over West Virginia would be great for Mississippi and give them a boost heading into conference play.

Key Conference Game: At Tennessee (January 16th)
Following what should be a sure win in Athens against Georgia, the Rebels get a chance to knock off the Volunteers in Knoxville. Games against South Carolina, LSU, Auburn, Arkansas follow this one, so a great start in conference is likely with a win.

Key Player: Terrice White
While all the talk is focused on Warren and the other injured players returning, the key to Mississippi's season might just be White. Last season he averaged 13.7 PPG and will likely take David Huertas place in the backcourt.

Postseason: NCAA Tournament (First Round)

4. Arkansas Razorbacks: Last season I had the Razorbacks ranked dead last in the SEC West, but quickly made corrections in my bracketology after Arkansas knocked off Texas and Oklahoma early in the season. Then, almost as quickly as it began, Arkansas fell off the map with a 2-14 conference record and became the team most "experts" thought they would be. This year they have to be considered a sleeper due to their big early wins last season and desire to get better.

Biggest Question: Can Courtney Fortson grow up and become one of the SEC's elite talents? Even head coach John Pelphrey said that Fortson was going to have to become an all-league player for the Razorbacks to have success this season. If he does Arkansas could exceed expections and have an outside shot at making the Big Dance.

Key Non Conference Game: At Louisville (November 17th)
Get ready for this early season gem. Not only do we get to see how Rick Pitino's Cardinals deal with a decent BCS league opponent after a turmoil-filled offseason, but we also get to watch Arkansas try to knock off another elite program. If Arkansas can pull off some non-conference upsets like they did last year, the hope in Fayetteville is that they won't go to waste this year.

Key Conference Game: Vs Alabama (January 16th)
It's tough to mark one game for a team with limited expectations. A win in their opener against Alabama would give a team that won only two conference games all of last season a taste of conference success and might propel them into a top three finish in the SEC West. A loss could send them flailing to another under .500 season.

Key Player: Michael Washington
With all five starters back, the Hogs really feel like they can make a big leap this year. While Fortson will get the headlines, Washington (15.5 PPG, 9.8 RBP) is the big man NBA teams want, and will lead the Razorbacks as far as they go. If he takes another step forward this Arkansas team can be very good as long as Fortson takes a step along with him.

Postseason: CBI

5. Auburn Tigers: Last season the Tigers were one of the last teams left out of the NCAA Tournament, but the overall strength of the SEC was the main reason why they weren't invited to the Big Dance. With Korvotney Barber, Quantez Robinson, and Rasheem Barrett gone the Tigers basically have to rebuild the team that took them to the fringe of the tournament last year. The good news is that DeWayne Reed, Tay Walker, and Lucas Hargrove return so the talent is still there.

Biggest Question: Can point guard DeWayne Reed get everyone involved and help the Tigers avoid what looks to be a year where they take a step back? It's not all on Reed, but he's got to be the leader when on the court for Auburn this year. Last season he averaged 13.2 PPG and 3.7 assists but with Barber on the floor his job was easier then it will be this season.

Key Non Conference Game: At Florida State (December 17th)
The Tigers play the worst non conference schedule of any SEC team this year with their biggest games being N. C. State, Florida State, and Virginia. If you're going to play the ACC, at least avoid playing North Carolina and Duke, right?

Key Conference Game: Vs Alabama (January 30th)
With Nick Saban in town and Auburn's football team becoming the state's second best team, Tiger fans will take any win over the Crimson Tide they can get. While this could conceivably be to avoid last place in the SEC West, it's not completely crazy to believe one of the two Alabama teams will compete for the West crown.

Key Player: Frankie Sullivan
With Robertson and Barrett gone in the frontcourt, Auburn will attempt to find a replacement that can score in bunches. Sullivan was one of the top high school players in Alabama two years ago and could break out this year.

Postseason: None

6. Alabama Crimson Tide: When I made my SEC preview for last season, I really felt like the Crimson Tide could compete for the West crown and a NCAA Tournament spot. Unfortunately the disappointing, injury-filled career of former star point guard Ronald Steele finally came to an end and left Alabama without anyone to lead the team on the floor. Without Steele, Alabama won only seven games in league play. With new head coach Anthony Grant, the forgotten man behind the scenes when Florida built their championship teams, the Crimson Tide have high hopes. For starters, they'd like to avoid the SEC West basement.

Biggest Question: Who will play point guard for Alabama? After Steele left the team last season, Mikhail Torrance became the main figure at the point. Grant will have to find a floor leader before he can venture into the season. A better question might be: How many dunks will Senario Hillman have on Sportscenter this year? Hillman is a dunker made for television and with the talent-well coming up dry in Tuscaloosa (at least on paper) he might be the single highlight off a bottom-feeding team.

Key Non Conference Game: Vs Purdue (December 12th)
If Alabama wants to compete for a postseason birth then it has to find a way to win some of their bigger out of conference games. The NCAA Tournament may be out of reach on paper, but a win over Purdue (even though it may sound unrealistic) might change expectations in Tuscaloosa quickly. Plus, it might be December 12th before Alabama football fans realize basketball season has started. Seriously.

Key Conference Game: At LSU (January 9th)
When your first conference game is a road game in Baton Rouge, it's best not to look too far ahead. It's not exactly LSU football on a Saturday night, but it is still a tough place to play for SEC opponents. If Alabama wins this one it might be best to blow up my SEC West predictions completely.

Key Player: JaMychal Green
To be honest, a lot of Alabama players are going to have to be a lot better than they were last season if the Crimson Tide expect to compete game in and game out in the SEC. With Alonzo Gee gone and Demetrius Jemison lost for the season, it will be guys like Green, Anthony Brock, Torrance, and Hillman that decide where this program is at the end of the year.

Postseason: None




Posted on: February 22, 2009 12:56 am
Edited on: February 22, 2009 1:19 am
 

CBB Nightly: Ten Thoughts from Saturday

10 Thoughts From Saturday:

1) I'm tired of harping on this but I feel as if nobody is listening to me. Tennessee has been given the benefit of the doubt all season long. After their second loss to Kentucky on Saturday I think it's about time any recognition we were giving the Volunteers should be ended. At this point Tennessee is only the FOURTH best team in the SEC East and is struggling to win games against the easiest conference foes (Auburn, Mississippi). Joe Lunardi is one of big backers of Tennessee, keeping them as at least a 7 seed all season no matter how many losses they received. It will  be interesting to see where Lunardi has the Vols after another loss.

2) I began my "pre-Saturday thoughts blog" with a statement about bubble teams needing to show they really want to go to the NCAA Tournament. Maryland answered that call by knocking off North Carolina by coming from 16 down in the second half. The Tar Heels, as I've stated countless times, are the nation's best team in my opinion. Therefore beating North Carolina opens by eyes. Keep in mind that this is the same Maryland team that has lost to Clemson by 29, Duke by 41, Georgetown by 27, and Gonzaga by 22. That shows how crazy this world of college basketball is.

3) Blake Griffin left Saturday night's game with rival Texas just thirteen minutes into the game, leaving the Longhorns with the perfect oppurtunity to snatch a big win.  Beating Oklahoma without Griffin makes the win look less important on paper but it saved Texas' season. Griffin showed his important to the Sooners in this one, who lost their second game this year.

4) Bracketbuster Saturday taught us quite a few things. First of all Stephen Curry has struggled in big games this season (check my previous blog), probably due to the defensive attention focused on him and the lack of a secondary scorer. Saint Marys knocked off Utah State, another team that will likely need to win its conference tournament to get a NCAA Tournament bid. The Gaels may not be done with at large berth contention just yet, especially if Patty Mills comes back healthy. Creighton keeps winning its way towards a potential at large berth as well.

5) Virginia Tech has officially done everything possible to play itself out of a NCAA Tournament bid. On Saturday the Hokies lost their third straight ACC game, this one to ACC. Miami (FL) finally got a big win by knocking off Boston College. I think the Hurricanes can safely say they are back in serious discussion for an at large bid.

6) Everyone has been writing off UNLV & New Mexico but both won big games on Saturday. The Rebels knocked off BYU while the Lobos dominated San Diego State.

7) LSU keeps winning and dominating the SEC West. I've already harped on Tennessee's resume (see #1) but I think it's about time to recognize the Tigers a little bit more. Their SOS is absolutely terrible but wins are wins and at this point LSU is looking like the SEC's best team. Before the season I had them in my preseason bracketology and was laughed at on a LSU message board by a couple of fans that said it was ridiculous to think that their basketball team would even be decent this year. Guess who got the last laugh?

8) Congratulations to Oregon, which won its first Pac 10 game on Saturday by beating Stanford. Two other things stick out in the Pac 10 after Saturday. UCLA continues to struggle after losing to Washington State and Oregon State has now won seven conference games after going winless in Pac 10 play last season.

9) My new bracketology will be out either tomorrow afternoon or tomorrow night. I apologize for not getting it out after today's games but there's a lot of changes to be made.

10) A few other winners that deserve getting a shout out: Washington, Florida, Siena, and Gonzaga.

Posted on: February 21, 2009 12:32 am
Edited on: February 21, 2009 10:52 am
 

Dantheman's Pre-Saturday Thoughts

Well guys I've had a very long night. I won't jump into details but I was already pretty down and upset, and this tripled it by about 100. So what do I do when I'm upset and down in the dumps? Talk college basketball to ease my mind.

Here's some pre-Saturday thoughts:

1) I'm posing a question to all bubble teams and it goes something like this: What does making the NCAA Tournament mean to you? At this point we haven't really seen any heart from Florida, Virginia Tech, and UNLV. All three are bubble teams that keep killing their NCAA chances by losing to teams they shouldn't. On Saturday both the Hokies and Rebels have big games that could make or break their at large hopes. Florida has to avoid going to sleep against a Vanderbilt team they've already mopped the floor on once. Is there any way we can see some heart from some bubble teams for once? Anyone have an objection to that? I am still waiting for a bubble team not named Arizona to make a run to the Big Dance. Who wants it? Anyone? I feel like I am yelling out for an answer but all I get is an echo of my own voice. Maybe on Saturday a bubble team will make a big move.

2) Who's the bubble team with the best chance to make that big move? I think its Georgetown. The Hoyas play a Marquette team that really isn't as battle tested as the rest of the Big East powers. Georgetown is really due a big win, but they have to take advantage and win this one to have any at large hopes. The Hoyas are as talented as any NCAA Tournament team that will be that is seeded from 6-16 but they haven't won the games to get there. If they win tomorrow they will be 6-8 in Big East play and probably in most bracketologies (like mine).

3) Will the real Tennessee Volunteers please stand up? I'm ready to see Bruce Pearl's squad play like they actually need to win a game instead of playing like their games are meaningless. On Saturday they take on Kentucky, who is in need a serious morale boost that only a win like one over the Vols can supply. Last time Kentucky played Tennessee Jodie Meeks basically won the game by himself in Knoxville. The key words there are in Knoxville. That means this game is played in Lexington. I have the over/under for Meeks points set at 29.5. What does everyone think? I will go under. Tennessee won't let him beat them again.

4) Bracketbusters will be absolutely everywhere on Saturday. If you don't catch a bracketbuster game tomorrow then you might as well just not be a college basketball fan. Butler-Davidson is the key game but there are many more important ones. Kind of like Illinois State-Niagara and VCU-Nevada. Want to know how good I am at picking bracketbusters? Well I am 0-2 on them and in my picks challenge I lost 41 points tonight since I lost both. I learned a very valuable lesson. In bracketbusters (and in most college basketball) playing at home is key. I already knew that of course, but I must've temporarily forgot it about 3 CT today. Thanks a lot brain.

5) By the way how about the over/under for Stephen Curry's points at 18.5. Why so low? Mainly because we're not even sure how many minutes he is going to play coming off of his ankle injury.

6) Anyone got a big upset on the agenda for tomorrow? Like I stated earlier, I picked Georgetown to knock off Marquette but there's another upset I like that I didn't pick. I had to play this one on the safe side, but I do think Auburn can knock off LSU in Baton Rouge. Very quietly the Tigers (AU) have been sneaking themselves up the SEC West ladder. All of a sudden they are in second and in prime position to knock off very untested LSU.

7) New Mexico is another team getting absolutely zero respect. Sure, the Lobos aren't beating good teams but they are in the middle of the logjam that is known as the Mountain West conference. Their loss to BYU really hurt their at large chances, but winining out in the regular season may still be enough to get them into the field as an at large. Why do I say the Lobos are getting no respect? ESPN's weekly bubble watch was published today and New Mexico, widely known as a contender for an at large, was not even listed.

8) Who is the best team nobody knows about? At this point I'd have to say it's UAB. The Blazers are playing very good basketball right now with their depleted roster. More than likely UAB will have to knock off Memphis in a week to get into the NCAA Tournament. I'm not sure of the exact rules and procedures for selecting bracketbuster teams (although I should, shame on me) but I think it's very weird that the Blazers were not picked to play in one. Maybe Conference USA isn't considered a bracketbuster conference, but I'd think it would be. If UAB makes the Sweet Sixteen this year I doubt more than 5% of the country has that picked. I'd consider that a bracketbuster.

9) Blake Griffin and Oklahoma have not been tested on the road this season, which is something I continue to harp on. Is going to Austin the ultimate road test? Heck no, but at least it's something. I can't wait to see how the Sooners handle the pressure of playing their biggest rival on the national stage tomorrow night.

10) I don't think anyone caught my joke on Luke Harangody in Wednesday night's ten thoughts but I considered it funny anyways. If Harangody wants to play in the NCAA Tournament then the Irish have to start their climb right now. A loss tomorrow sends them to the Big East Tournament in serach of a Big East title, with anything less meaning a NIT bid.

Now I will get back to my bad night. Not only did what I mentioned earlier create a terrible night, but so did my -41 score in today's college basketball picks. I guess that's the great thing about life though isn't it? Wake up and try again tomorrow. I'm out guys.

-Daniel Evans
OnlineSportsFanatic.com

Posted on: February 19, 2009 12:39 am
Edited on: February 19, 2009 12:44 am
 

CBB Nightly: Your Nightly Hoops Fix

Tonight's 10 college basketball thoughts:

1) Remember when St. Louis only scored 20 points last year in a game? Well if they had played Illinois tonight (who lost by five despite only scoring 33 points) they would've only lost by 13. How about that? How does a potential NCAA Tournament top six seed lose while only scoring 33 points?

2) LSU stormed back to knock off Arkansas tonight. The Tigers are for real if there are any doubters left. They lead the SEC and have played well, despite the lack of national attention the entire conference is getting.

3) UNLV lost AGAIN on Wednesday, this time to Wyoming. Coming in the Cowboys had lost three straight games and were reeling faster than Luke Harangody on a bicycle with a Georgetown bumper sticker. The Rebels are now in big NCAA Tournament trouble. I had them in coming into tonight but that might change when my new bracket comes out.

4) Boise State knocked off Utah State on Saturday, ending the nation's longest winning streak. The Broncos lost by two against Idaho on Wednsday while the Aggies bounced back to destroy Cal State Bakersfield. This just proves how crazy this college basketball season has been (but aren't they all).

5) Northwestern lost three straight games in which they blew leads to Iowa, Illinois, and Michigan before ending their losing streak to Ohio State. Remember the Wildcats are STILL the only team in a BCS league that has never made the NCAA Tournament. If not for those three straight losses the Wildcats would probably be on the good side of the bubble right now.

6) Why does Tennessee keep getting a free pass? After their blowout loss to Ole Miss they've now lost 5 out of 11 and 3 of their last 7 games.  Do wins over Marquette, Florida, Georgetown, and Siena really mean you're a lock? No it doesn't, but for some reason people are giving the Volunteers a free pass into the tournament. Their computer numbers are good, and this is a very talented basketball team but they aren't playing well. Bruce Pearl needs to rally his guys before the home stretch begins.

7) Virginia Tech lost again tonight, blowing another chance to win a game before closing with a tough remaining ACC schedule. I don't see any give me wins in a schedule that includes Florida State (twice), Duke, North Carolina, and Clemson. Don't worry though VT fans, because Miami (FL) is not helping themselves out either. Another loss, this time to FSU, has the Hurricanes at 4-8 in the ACC and playing themselves out of a NCAA Tournament bid.

8) Other teams that missed big chances tonight (not including MIA) include Providence (who lost to Louisville), Notre Dame (who lost to West Virginia), and South Carolina (who lost to Mississippi State). UAB, Utah, and Georgetown are all bubble teams that stay won games they couldn't lose tonight.

9) My new bracketology will be out sometime tomorrow afternoon/tomorrow night. I am sorry it's not out tonight but there's just too much to change/factor in after tonight's lowly peformance by bubble teams.

10) I haven't mentioned this in a while because I figure people will get bored with it, but March Madness on Demand is really awesome. I have been told it's got some new features this year. Sign up here and be ready for when the NCAA Tournament starts (less than a month away). Also be thinking of excuses to get off work ahead of time!

Posted on: January 30, 2009 11:38 pm
Edited on: January 30, 2009 11:54 pm
 

Complete Preview of Saturday's College B-ball

It's the time of the year that most of wait for. Bubbles are about to start popping everywhere, and on Saturday we see the first real glimpse of what we can truly call bubble games. Sure, we have seen some bubble games since the season started in November, but none of those games were "official" bubble contests. Now we can officially break games down into a couple of different categories. Gary Parrish does a fantastic job with his "Friday Look Ahead" article to preview each weekend, but I have a different style.

Like I said there are going to be three categories. "Bubble Games", "Seeding Games", and "Best of Both Worlds Games". I think these are self explanatory but for those that aren't the brightest crayon in the box I will give a quick rundown.

Bubble Games: Games where at least one of the two teams playing is on the bubble and in need of a big victory
Seeding Games: Games where both teams are considered NCAA Tournament locks
Best of Both Worlds Games: Games where a team is locked in and playing for a higher seed against a potential bubble team

There aren't any "Seeding games" this week because I only have a few locks right now. Unfortunately none of those locks are palying each other on Saturday. Here's my complete breakdown of the entire weekend:

Bubble Games:

Washington State at Arizona: Who wants to stay alive? Apparently both of these teams are working hard towards getting into the Big Dance after both pulled large upsets off on Thursday night. Arizona followed up a 10 point comeback against Houston with a win against Washington. I devoted most of last night's blog to the Wildcats. A win here would put them back within the last eight teams in/out of the dance right now. Pick: Arizona

Michigan at Purdue: No disrespect to Purdue, but I'm not ready to call them a lock just yet. Michigan is not playing well. A 10-3 start has turned into a 14-7 record overall and a 4-5 conference record. A loss here would make their climb back into my bracketology even tougher. A win would get them back in, thanks to wins over UCLA & Duke out of conference. Pick: Purdue

Oklahoma State at Texas A&M: One of these teams is probably going to the NCAA Tournament, and this game will probably be mentioned a few times on Selection Sunday. Oklahoma State (RPI: 27, SOS: 7) has the edge in the computers over the Aggies (RPI: 43, SOS; 75). Expect Texas A&M to pick up a big win at home. Pick: Texas A&M

South Carolina at Kentucky: Big time SEC East battle (along with UF-UT) that will help decide who gets into the NCAA Tournament. Barring a huge collapse the Wildcats are going to be in the field of 65 in March. The question is whether or not South Carolina will be. The Gamecocks have a huge win over Florida at the buzzer to hang their hats on already (as well as one over Baylor), but a win in Lexington would be their most impressive so far. Pick: Kentucky

 Arkansas at LSU: After pulling off back to back wins over Texas & Oklahoma the Razorbacks lost four straight SEC games, but rebounded with a win over Alabama. Meanwhile LSU is 4-1 in the SEC West and on the bubble. Arkansas is just hoping a few wins will get them back to playing meaningful games in February. Pick: LSU

Washington at Arizona State: The Huskies loss to Arizona sent shockwaves around the Pac 10. Washington had been the most consistent team in the conference up until the loss. Arizona State also fell on Thursday, but is still in pretty good shape to get into the NCAA Tournament as well. If you need a goofy reason to watch then I have one. These two teams are #29 & #30 in the RPI. Pick: Arizona State

Baylor at Missouri: Mike Anderson won't talk about the job opening at Alabama because he knows his Missouri Tigers are quietly playing some good basketball. Both of these teams would be in the NCAA Tournament if it started today, but neither are locks at this point.  Baylor is in better shape with a SOS of 15, although Missouri does have a better conference record. Pick: Missouri

Florida at Tennessee: The Gators-Volunteers matchup is one of the best rivalries in the SEC. I actually read on a Tennessee forum earlier today where Volunteer fans were calling Dan Werner a "dirty" player. Whether that's true or not a lot will be on the line in Knoxville on Saturday night. Both teams need a big win to add to the resume. Pick: Florida

Miami at Maryland: How about these two ACC teams? Both have had up and down seasons, but a loss here would be very costly. Both teams have four losses in conference play already and both are very much on the bubble. Gary Williams is on the hot seat, and he's not making things easier for himself after running his mouth a little this week. Plus his team lost by a gagillion to Duke last week. Well almost that much. Pick: Miami

Wisconsin at Northwestern: Jerry Palm has even went as far as to say the Wildcats are headed towards the NCAA Tournament this season for the first time ever. The loser of this one is going to need a miarcle to climb back onto the bubble. I will take Northwestern at home, a place they've proven is very tough for road teams to win at. Pick: Northwestern

Virginia Tech at Boston College: The Hokies blew a game they probably should have won against Clemson on Wednesday. Meanwhile Boston College has struggled since their win over North Carolina. Tyrese Rice might be the best player on the court but the Hokies need a big win to keep pace in the ACC. They also have the better team on paper. Pick: Virginia Tech

California at USC: This is a big time Pac 10 bubble game. USC is coming off a win over Stanford but California has been one of the biggest surprises this season. I have to go with the Golden Bears, although playing at USC is not easy. A California win should keep their seed on the top six seed lines (which is a safe place to be right now) while a loss would push them directly towards the cutline. Pick: California

 

Seeding Games:

This week, due to it only being early January, there are not any "seeding" games between top teams.

 

Best of Both World Games:

West Virginia at Louisville: This is a great example of a "best of both worlds game" where the Mountaineers need to keep winning to stay ahead of other Big East bubble teams, and the Cardinals need to win to keep pushing towards a potential #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Nobody in the country is playing better basketball than Louisville right now. PicK: Louisville

Notre Dame at Pittsburgh (upset special): Notre Dame has lost four in a row and their reward is playing a Pittsburgh team that is angry after losing against Villanova on Wednesday. If the Irish lose and fall to 3-6 in Big East play their NCAA Tournament hopes will take a large blow. This may just be a hunch, but I think Notre Dame finally finds a way to win a Big East game on the road. Pick: Notre Dame

Georgetown at Marquette: Does anybody notice the Big East theme here yet? Who would've thought a little over a month ago that Marquette would be the team practically locked into the Big Dance (at this point) while Georgetown was struggling at 11th in the Big East standings. Just like Notre Dame's road game at Pittsburgh is a must have, this one is also a must win for the Hoyas. Pick: Georgetown

Stanford at UCLA: UCLA has proven to me that they are the Pac 10's best team by staying steady while the teams around them have faltered. Stanford is one of those teams. Since a 10-0 start the Cardinal have now lost five of eight to fall to 13-5. A win here puts them right back into the mix but a loss brings them closer to being out of at large consideration. Pick: UCLA

Providence at Connecticut: Everyone is sleeping on Providence, and believe me, you will not hear any complaining from the Friars. Let them sneak into the NCAA Tournament unnoticed, they won't complain one bit. A win here would ruin that plan though, but start a push towards the NCAA Tournament. How many wins is it going to take in the Big East? A win here would give them a 7-2 conference record. Connecticut is eyeing their first #1 ranking this year, so it will be tough sledding for the Friars. Pick: Connecticut

 


NOTES: If you see any mistakes its because I'm dead tired. I honestly don't feel very good.

I tried to add logos but it didn't work for some reason. The logos showed up but tonight they didn't want to left align or change size.

 

LIVE BLOG: Tomorrow I am planning on doing a LIVE COLLEGE BASKETBALL SATURDAY BLOG. In order to do this I need questions, comments, and ideas from you guys. Email me here tonight and throughout tomorrow and give me a good question. Please list your first name (and last if you want), your hometown, and your question/comment.

-Daniel Evans
OnlineSportsFanatic.com

Posted on: January 28, 2009 11:53 pm
Edited on: January 29, 2009 12:01 am
 

Make Your Case: Which Team is Really #1?

Are Blake Griffin and Oklahoma the nation's best team? Over the next few months you are going to hear a lot of commentary from me, your official NCAA Tournament blogger, so I'd loving nothing more than to get some feedback from you guys. Now that #1 Duke and #3 Pittsburgh lost on Wednesday the conversation about who the nation's best team is has started back up.

The Blue Devils ran into a Wake Forest squad ready to take out revenge on whichever team was next on its schedule, and the Blue Devils just happened to be that team. Duke has been playing exceptional basketball, including a absolute domination of Maryland in Cameron Indoor on Saturday.

But guess who is sneaking back into the #1 picture?

Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons last second win over Duke showed that they aren't going to just fade away after their loss to Virginia Tech last Wednesday night.

Duke's loss brings a lot of teams into the mix though. Oklahoma, Connecticut, and North Carolina are in the mix along with Wake Forest. I can't argue with people that want to still claim Duke or Pittsburgh either.

So what I want from you guys is the answer to a couple of questions.

  • Who should be ranked #1 in the country?
  • Who is actually the best team in the country (in your opinion)?
  • Who is playing the best basketball in the country?

And then I want to know which one of these three things is the most important to you when you create a top 25.

If you want my opinion North Carolina is the best team in the country. Louisville is playing the best basketball but after their win tonight Wake Forest should be ranked #1. Go figure.

 


 

Just a few quick nuggets from tonight's games:

  1. Michigan is not playing well right now, and it's making everyone forget about those two early wins over UCLA & Duke. I've received a lot of criticism for having the Wolverines outside my bracketology, but at 14-7 and losers of four of their last five it's hard to believe Michigan is one of the best 65 teams in the country right now.
  2. Remember the argument about Villanova? You know the one I'm talking about, it's the one where they don't have any big wins. Well scratch that. 
  3. Providence has me dying to do my bracketology right now. The Friars win over Syracuse showed that they can beat good competition and that their 6-2 Big East record...yes 6-2...is no fluke. Syracuse is 5-4 now in Big East play.
  4. Georgetown is in a lot of trouble. Teams that only win 12 of their first 19 games usually aren't even on the bubble. The Hoyas are because they've played the nation's hardest schedule and because they play in the Big East. The Hoyas have now lost four games in row, but they have the computer numbers to fall back on. Don't sleep on Cincinnati (who knocked off Gtown tonight). The Bearcats are 4-4 in Big East play.
  5. What is it about struggling powers right now? Notre Dame, Georgetown (as previously mentioned), Wisconsin, and Tennessee are struggling to find themselves. The Volunteers lost again at home on Wednesday, their fourth home loss this season. LSU picked up a huge win and is even arguably now even/ahead of Tennessee in the SEC pecking order for an at large bid. The Volunteers computer numbers and sheer talent can only count for so much when the NCAA Tournament committee looks at their profile. Next up? Florida with College Gameday in the house.
  6. Remember that this was the year that Memphis was suppose to have some road blocks in Conference USA? Well mark down a 48th consecutive win, this one over East Carolina. I am planning on seeing the Tigers in person when they travel to Bartow Arena to take on UAB in February.
  7. Northern Iowa showed who the real power is in the Missouri Valley conference. It looks like Illinois State was a early season Cinderella that has lost its slipper sometime way before Midnight was suppose to strike.
  8. Ty Lawson should be in the POY race. I have said that before tonight's games, but after his three lifted North Carolina past Florida State tonight at the buzzer I think it proves it. Sure Stephen Curry, Jodie Meeks, Blake Griffin, and Tyler Hansbrough are all great candidates, but so is Lawson.
  9. Jerry Palm might be on to something . If you haven't seen CBS' guru's latest 'Projecting the Field' he has Northwestern in his field. The Wildcats barely escaped tonight against lowly Indiana and although it was close a win is a win. The Wildcats are 3-5 in conference play but they do have some nice wins and pretty good computer numbers. Maybe just maybe they can make their first ever NCAA Tournament, although I'm still not counting on it.
  10. On an unrelated note, if you guys have used March Madness on Demand the last couple of years to get NCAA Tournament games outside of your area then listen up. This year I'm told they have a brand new player set up and it's suppose to be better than ever. It's not ready just yet, but here's the link where you can sign up to get an email notification for when it is.

Just a few quick things I want to add aside from my post. I am considering moving my bracketology here as well, although it will always be on OSF. A new bracket will be available tomorrow night since I did not have time to create one tonight, and I apologize for that.

-Daniel Evans
OnlineSportsFanatic.com

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com