Friday, February 06, 2009

Money’s Midseason Lookie Loo on the NCAA year

Money deserves some credit for pulling the rabbit (Wake Forest) out of his hat. This was an unranked team at the beginning of the season and now is on everyone’s list to win it all. Well, I want out. I am selling this team now. I don’t think they can win it all or get to the championship game. In fact, I think their absolute ceiling would be the final four. I think their youth and inability to make the outside shot will be exposed in the tournament.

In fact, I don’t think Louisville is capable of winning 6 games straight either. They have the athletes, but not the players. They have possibly 4 NBA players on this team, but they won’t win the national title. I want a do-over. I will give you my midseason NCAA champion pick, Final four, sleepers, and the “ceilings” of a few teams.

If there is one thing I am guilty of it is sticking with my predictions too long. I pick someone in November and I will go down with them to the grave. All of my pools and bets will be made, subconsciously, with my picks and thoughts from November. So I am bucking the trend and moving away from November. Here is my new Final Four:

UCONN – National Champions. These guys are the best team. No weakness anywhere. Great guards, forwards, Thabeet, great defense, depth, speed and coach.
PITTSBURGH – Runner Up. I know. Boring pick and two from the Big East. Closest thing to UConn. Very smart pick for Money. This could be your national champion.
GONZAGA and MISSOURI round out the other two teams in my Final Four. I am still sticking with Gonzaga, who faded in December to a tough schedule. They are rounding into form now with a great all-around team. Missouri is my sleeper team right now. They are like Louisville, but better. They play pressure defense, but have better guards and more options putting the ball in the net on the perimeter.

Sleepers; what does this mean? According to Money, who will do better than you think, or another way of saying it, who will get to the Sweet 16 or farther than is not getting national attention.
I already discussed Missouri. They are my top sleeper right now. I have felt this way for about 3 weeks with them but the win at Texas put them in my Final Four. Clemson and Xavier are teams that could surprise some and make it to the Final Four. Don’t give up on Georgetown yet. They still have potential and are a capable of making a deep run. Utah State, number 25 in the AP poll this week, will make some noise.

Ceilings; this is what I believe, if everything goes right, the highest a team could go. This is not scientific and won’t add up to a complete bracket.

North Carolina is not going to win it all. Their defense and their depth will eventually burn them. Still a great team, but not the best. Ceiling – Runner up

Oklahoma is a very, very good team with the best player in basketball, Blake Griffin and one of the most talented freshman, Willie Warren, in the game. Ceiling – Runner up

Duke is the same team as last year, but better. Which means, they still don’t have an inside presence and that will be their downfall. Ceiling – Final Four

Louisville will be a tough draw for anyone, but they do not scare anyone from the perimeter and they don’t have a point guard. Ceiling – Final Four

Clemson will surely burn anyone who hitches their wagon to them, but if everything goes well, they could get to the Final Four. Ceiling – Final Four

Kansas, a team that lost their entire starting five from the team that won it all last year, will likely lose in the first round. However, they still are extremely talented. Ceiling – Final Four

Wake Forest, my team, my pick has already received their fifteen minutes of fame. I would like to think that I gave them the first minute. Too young and nobody other than Teague can hit a 3 point shot. My pick to win it all next year, if Teague and Aminu return. Ceiling – Final Four

Xavier is a tough out every year and this one is no different. Ceiling – Final Four

Georgetown may not even make the tournament, but that does not matter to Money. I am not giving up on them and am still waiting for them to turn the corner. Ceiling – Final Four

Memphis missed a few critical free throws to seal their fate. They will likely never reach that plateau again with Coach Cal, but they still have loads of talent. Their problem; Tyreke Evans is playing point because they don’t have one. Ceiling - Great 8

West Virginia is always a tough out and can be booked for the sweet 16, with an upset every year. This will not change in ’09 either. Ceiling - Great 8

Guard play can get you far, but you can’t win it all unless you have help. Therefore Marquette, will do well, but fall short. Ceiling – Great 8

Davidson and Butler are the same team. Plucky and fundamental. That gets you only so far. Ceiling – Great 8

Before I get to the Sweet 16 Ceiling teams, let me state for the record that no Pac 10, Big 10 or SEC team will make it past the Sweet 16. ZERO!

UCLA, the best team in the Pac 10, won’t make it past the Sweet 16. Their defense is not as good and they offense without Love and Westbrook is very average. They are playing better lately and should beat Notre Dame on Saturday, but I am not a believer. Ceiling – Sweet 16

Arizona State has two good players and nobody else. Ceiling – Sweet 16

Michigan State is one of B. Anthony’s team and we discuss them daily. He likes them. I think they are a good team in a weak league. Ceiling – Sweet 16

Washington is better than you think. I love their freshman Isaiah Thomas. But, Ceiling – Sweet 16

Texas has great players at 2,3,4 and 5, but no 1. Ceiling – Sweet 16

Cal has the shooters to make a small run. It likely won’t happen, but it could. Ceiling – Sweet 16

U$C is one team that I would not want to play. Great players remain from successful teams of the past. Ceiling – Sweet 16

One and done teams:
Purdue, Syracuse, Kentucky, Florida, Tennessee, Minnesota, Ohio State

Not in the tournament:
Saint Mary’s got a tough break with Mills. Their out of conference schedule is bad and they won’t win their tournament.

Notre Dame is done. Pathetic.

Arizona. The streak is over.

Needless to say, this will be one unpredictable and exciting tournament. Is this the year that a #1 goes down in the first round? I'll put Money on it.



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