Friday, November 13, 2009

Money's prediction for College Hoops 2009-2010

Here we are again, on the brink of another season of college basketball. It seems like yesterday that I held your hand and walked you through the exact scenario of March Madness. Well, it was not yesterday and I was pretty much wrong on all my predictions except for getting the last few games of the season right.

This brings us to this year and my thoughts. What did we learn from last year? I think the main takeaway for me was to not fight the rankings of the teams at the top. I always like to pick dark horses, or home dogs, usually to a fault, but the good teams were a lot better than everyone else last year and I see the same thing happening this year too. I think there are a few really good teams at the top, but then I think there will be a quick drop-off. Kansas, Texas and Kentucky have the most talent. After them the drop off starts. This year’s final four will have three really dominant teams and then one head scratcher. Let’s start with the AP Pre-season Top 25 for this year.

1) Kansas
2) Michigan State
3) Texas
4) Kentucky
5) Villanova
6) North Carolina
7) Purdue
8) West Virginia
9) Duke
10) Tennessee

This is a good top 10, but not dominant. I see Kansas as the clear cut #1 option and the most reasonable choice to cut down the nets in April. They have good leaders, role players, a point guard, coach and incoming talent. They are totally legit and in my eyes the team to beat. Michigan State returns a lot of talent, could find themselves in the championship game again. Izzo always seems to get to the Final Four, so a return trip seems likely. However, I don’t see them going much further. Last year was an emotional run fueled by the down economy in Detroit. I don’t see the same energy or run coming from these guys again. With that the drop-off has officially started. I look at the number two team in the country and say they can’t/won’t win a national title.

Texas has great talent, maybe the best in the country, but they always find a way to let everyone down come tournament time. Kentucky is similar to Texas, talent-wise, but I do believe in Calipari and I do expect this team will be there in the end. Villanova is small again and a guard led team won’t win the National Championship. Dismissed. UNC is up there on name. They are big. Too big in fact. But they will suffer in guard play and Lawson is what made that motor run. Dismissed. Purdue will now have the same core for the third year now, so a deep run by them is likely if they can stay healthy. I am buying them, at least for a final four run. West Virginia is a team that B. Anthony likes and there is reason for optimism. They will be talented and make a good run, but I am leaving them out of my final four. Duke is no longer Duke and gets a good ranking because of their name. Not buying them. Tennessee is the same team as Villanova; talented guards running and shooting all over the court. Not a final four team.

So, these are the best teams in the country? Pretty weak if you ask me. Where are the teams we expect to see year after year? Where is Uconn, Florida, UCLA?

Well, Uconn is 12, but that is very generous. They lost the best defensive player in the country and their fantastic point guard. This ranking is based on name and they will not be a top 10 team this year. Florida? I don’t know anything about them. Where did they go? UCLA? They lost a lot of talent to the NBA over the last 2 years. They will still get it done this year, by defense, but this will be a down year for them.

One thing that really sticks out to me is Cal being ranked #13. They return all starters from last year and are very deep, but they are not the #13 best team in the country. No way. It is great to be recognized, but they rely too much on the 3 point shot and will get outrebounded regularly. A #13 ranking just shows you how diluted the talent is this year.

So who wins it all this year? KANSAS. Sorry, obvious pick, but it is the right choice. They will meet Kentucky in the final game.

Final Four
Georgia Tech

Dark horse teams: USC, Seton Hall, Siena, Fresno State

Best conference: Big East again

PAC 10 thoughts: This will be a down year. ASU lost major talent. Arizona is reloading. Stanford is horrible. UCLA is down (for them). Cal is up, so is Oregon State. I expect Washington to win the regular season, followed by Cal and then UCLA and USC. Oregon to win the conference tournament. Cal shoots its way into the sweet 16 this year. Jerome Randle is my hero!


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

2009-2010 NCAA Season Preview

Randomly writing a college preseason preview on a blank sheet of paper

A few ideas are popping into my head. The NCAA with its attempt to clean up the recruiting is going to catch some really stupid and obvious cheaters. However, I think they should just put it out in the open and really punish and expose the leeches that are trying to make money off of 15 year olds. Really, why do this people who know nothing about the game and care nothing about teaching the game, want to work a basketball camp in July? They want a free hand-out!!!

Okay, on to basketball. B. Anthony will predictably follow the Calipari train and will likely tout Kentucky for most of the year. I am not a Kansas fan, but I can’t help but be impressed with their squad. I have been on Aldrich since his Freshman year, and think he may be the next “Gerry Cooney”. GWH (great white hope) for you slow folks.

My only concern with Kentucky is that I am not sure all these players are going to be committed to Calipari’s style of defense. They are supremely talented, but if they don’t defend, they won’t get all the way to the Final Four.

John Wall will be fantastic and will have some great highlights as he becomes another #1 pick point guard for Calipari. I am not nearly as impressed with Xavier Henry for Kansas. He is very skilled, but has a lack of foot speed that will be exposed at the college game. Mark my words, he is not an NBA player and will be a journey-man shooter for Kansas by the time his career is over. The reason he didn’t end up with Calipari, is that Calipari didn’t want his slow feet!!!!

Avery Bradley from Texas is going to be a fantastic freshman and fun to watch! He will play hard nosed defense, attack the rim on every occasion, and make a ton of free-throws. Texas will be a final four team this year, and I generally do not like Texas.

My dark horse team for the final four will be Butler. They are not a huge reach, as they will be top 10-15 all year, and will likely venture towards the top 5 because of the win total. They return every starter and non starter from a 26 win team. Throw in the summer trip to Italy when they were able to bond, and you have a still young, but very seasoned team that will win 31 games in the regular season. They may run into a team with too many horses in the elite 8, but they will have a great year.

Big East will be lacking the talent from last year, but look for Villanova and West Virginia to lead the way, and the UConn guards will have a great year. Harangody will have good numbers, but without the great shooting back court, he will face double teams all year. Notre Dame is no longer a power in any sport other than Women’s soccer!!!!

Local Flavor- Cal will not win the Pac-10, and will not advance to the Sweet 16. They just don’t rebound the ball well enough. The Pac-10 will be a wide open race, and considering the lack of real NBA talent and the parity in the league, I think anyone who gets to 10 or 11 wins may win the league. I see Oregon, Washington, Oregon St, and Cal all somewhere around 10-8 and the first one to 11 wins will be the regular season champion. You will notice that UCLA is not included here. They have had a myriad of injuries and they will be just a notch below, about 9-9, along with Washington St, which will ugly its way to some wins, and Arizona St who will play great zone defense. USC and Stanford will be the cellar dwellers, but they will win some home games and each will have at least one marquee win.

The WCC will again be dominated by Gonzaga who may be better with a little less hype. They don’t have the same marquee names, but Bouldin is a winner and they will play better as a team. Portland will win some games, but the rest of the league, particularly San Diego and St. Mary’s are down. Santa Clara will continue to suck, lack of size and talent, and USF will be scrappy but under 500 as well.

Quick Recap-
Final Four Prediction
South-Kentucky. They will be the class of the south. Tennessee will look like a challenger, but since I hate Bruce Pearl (see years of torment in previous postings) I can’t pick the Vols. Dark horse could be Mississippi St with two legit pro’s on the team.

West-Texas, there is no real challenger in the West. Gonzaga possible, but no other teams in the region. Duke or UNC will be shipped west as a #2 seed.

East- West Virginia or Villanova, I am going with Dirty Huggins here!

Midwest- Butler or Kansas- It is just impossible to leave Kansas off this list. They will be dominant in a weak Big 12 and will battle Texas until the league championship game on Selection Sunday. Both will get #1 seeds. Only the upset bug keeps them possibly out. Butler will be the 2 or 3 seed so they will meet in the elite 8 if they both remain unscathed.

Kentucky and West Virginia will meet in the final. Kentucky will squeak out a victory on a made free throw by John Wall with 3 seconds to play, final score 81-80.
On a side note, within five years both teams will be deemed ineligible based on improper benefits received by coaches and players. In 20 years, there will be no official listing of a National Champion in 2010!

All- American Team-
John Wall, Sherron Collins, Cole Aldrich, Da’sean Butler, Robbie Hummell.

All Cover teams.
Butler, early and often because of experience and weak league.
Texas, Big twelve is down and their defense will be great!
Indiana, expectations are low, and they will be getting a lot of points and will be over .500 this year!

Good Luck,

B. Anthony