Feb 4, 2013, 10:00 PM EDT
A hearty welcome to those of you just now joining the rest of us in following college basketball now that football season has ended. We’ll be running a series of posts to get all you football fans caught up on the season at-large. To read through them all, click here.
It’s never to early to start thinking about the NCAA tournament bracket and your office pool. In fact, I’d say that’s the reason that 75% of the people that watch college basketball on any given night are doing it. Scouting.
I get it.
It’s been four years since I haven’t finished in the money in a tournament pool. So book mark this page, and consider it my gift to you: a guide of who to focus on while you “scout”.
Five lower seeds that can make a tournament run:
Kentucky Wildcats: Kentucky’s on pace to end up getting somewhere around an eight or a nine seed. If I’m John Calipari, I’m hoping for a seven or a ten seed. Or lower. I don’t know if the Wildcats have the horses to knock off one of the top four teams in the country, but I think they certainly will be good enough to make the Sweet 16, regardless of seeding. They are starting to show some signs of growth, and with (at least) four lottery picks on the roster, I’m not ready to write this group off yet.
VCU Rams: The Rams play such a unique and tough-to-prepare-for style, they can spring an upset on a team with a back court that’s uncomfortable going against their pressure. The key for VCU is and always will be turnovers in the full court; given their lack of size, half court defense is not a strength for Shaka Smart’s club.
Pitt Panthers: The Panthers are almost certainly going to be underseeded as a result of their embarrassing non-conference schedule. And trust me when I tell you this is a good basketball team. They can defend, they are excellent at getting to the offensive glass, they pass the ball well and they have an underrated back court. You don’t want to see the Panthers in the second round of the tournament.
St. Louis Billikens: Tough, physical, half court defense. That’s how St. Louis wins game. And that’s out a team with less athleticism and less talent can win a basketball game. And, like Pitt, thanks to a couple of questionable losses this year, the Billikens are probably going to be seeded lower than they should be.
Long Beach State 49ers: LBSU isn’t going to be getting a seeding much better than 14 or 15, but this is a group with high-major talent and athleticism. James Ennis is legit, and he’s got a slew of talent — Michael Caffey, former top 25 recruit Keala King, DePaul transfer Tony Freeland, West Virginia transfer Dan Jennings — around him.
Five higher seeds that may bow out early:
NC State Wolfpack: NC State doesn’t defend at all, their star point guard has a bum ankle and has been up-and-down all season long, and their most talented player struggles when trying to take a game over and has been ineffective down the stretch. There’s so much to like about NC State this season, which is why it’s frustrating to see them struggle.
Minnesota Golden Gophers: I just don’t trust Minnesota offensively. So much of what they do relies on their ability to get to the offensive glass. Good teams are going to be able to keep them from getting there; it’s going to depend on the matchup. I don’t trust Minnesota to be consistent. They lost four in a row at the end of last month, and needed an impressive choke-job from Iowa to avoid losing to the Hawkeyes.
Creighton Bluejays: The Bluejays are a much-improved defensive team this season, yet they still rank 81st in the country in defensive efficiency, according to Kenpom. Throw in the fact that this is a team that survives because of their ability to shoot the basketball, and they are a risky play. On the nights those threes go down, they’re going to be tough to beat. On the nights they don’t, the Bluejays can be beaten.
Oregon Ducks: How healthy is Dominic Artis? That’s the biggest concern for Oregon right now, because without him, the Ducks simply cannot protect the ball. Already in the bottom third of the country when it comes to turnover percentage, Oregon has seen that number dip to 29.8% — literally the worst in the country — in the last three games without him.
Butler Bulldogs: I realize that it’s sacrilegious to say that Butler might get knocked out of the tournament early. I’m not happy about doing it. But here’s my thought process: Butler is good, but they don’t play the kind of defense that we expect out of Butler teams. They can struggle against teams that defend them physically (ahem, St. Louis) and I don’t love Butler’s point guard situation. But thanks to wins over Indiana, Gonzaga, Marquette and North Carolina, Butler looks like they could be in line for a three or a four seed, depending on how the A-10 plays out.
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.
May 21, 2013, 10:25 AM EDT
There are not many coaches out there that have it as good as Rick Barnes. He’s the head coach of the men’s basketball team for the most recognizable university in the state of Texas which just so happens to have one of the richest athletic departments in the country. And that athletic department also doesn’t…
May 20, 2013, 9:45 PM EDT
With Marcus Smart making the decision to come back for his sophomore season, paired with other key players and a solid recruiting class, Oklahoma State is threatening to be one of the favorites for a Final Four berth next season. Memphis loses studs like Tarik Black and Adonis Thomas, but return Joe Jackson and bring…
May 20, 2013, 8:30 PM EDT
Looks like Juan Anderson had second thoughts about leaving Marquette, because he’s headed back to the Golden Eagles’ program. Anderson had announced he was leaving the program last week. The junior-to-be has played sparingly in his two seasons on campus, and originally wanted to transfer to be closer to home. Turns out he would rather…
May 20, 2013, 7:28 PM EDT
Mike Rice lost his job at Rutgers by repeatedly physically and mentally abusing his players. And it looks like he’s trying to get help with it. A report from ESPN.com’s Andy Katz said that Rice has spent the past two weeks with former NBA guard John Lucas at his rehabilitation center in Houston getting counseled…
May 20, 2013, 6:40 PM EDT
Bill Self might be challenging Rick Pitino for the title of “best college basketball offseason”. At least from a coaching perspective. Less than a week after top prep player Andrew Wiggins committed to the Jayhawks, Self got another big commitment, this one of a different one-year variety, as former Memphis forward Tarik Black has committed…
May 20, 2013, 6:15 PM EDT
Justin Tuoyo’s next stop is with a familiar face. The sophomore-to-be will be transferring to Chattanooga, where he will be reunited with Will Wade, who took over for with the Mocs after spending the past four seasons on Shaka Smart’s staff at VCU. The 6-9 Tuoyo averaged 1.1 points and 1.4 rebounds in his lone…
May 20, 2013, 5:35 PM EDT
Recently, the big trend has been to redesign a team’s home court with a cool graphic. Florida International recently pulled it off with a beach theme, Long Beach State did the same a few years ago. Oregon seemed to be one of the originators (as Oregon can be with this sort of stuff). Add George…
May 20, 2013, 4:50 PM EDT
A big announcement came today for Sacred Heart and Conference hoops as a whole as word came out that Dave Bike will retire as head coach after 35 years at the helm. His replacement has apparently already been found in assistant coach Anthony Latina. A news conference is expected sometime next week. Bike took over…
May 20, 2013, 4:15 PM EDT
There may not be a rivalry in all of college basketball more unique than the Battle of the Boulevard, which pits Belmont against Lipscomb, two schools that are located all of 2.7 miles apart on Belmont Boulevard in Nashville, TN. It dates back to 1953, and over the course of the last 60 years, the two…
May 20, 2013, 12:47 PM EDT
Dominic Woodson no longer plans to attend Baylor in the fall, according to multiple reports. Woodson was rated as the No. 80 recruit in the country, and the No. 9 center in the Class of 2013, by Rivals. But with Isaiah Austin and Cory Jefferson both opting to return to school, and with Rico Gathers…
May 20, 2013, 12:25 PM EDT
Frank Haith has added yet another transfer to his program, as former Baylor wing Deuce Bello will finish up his playing career at Missouri. The news was first reported by Gabe DeArmond of PowerMizzou.com. “I have decided to play for Mizzou,” Bello told DeArmond. “We played them three times while I was at Baylor. I…
May 20, 2013, 12:16 PM EDT
We’ve known that Long Beach State was heading towards some roster upheaval for a few weeks now, but the news will soon become official: five players from last year’s team will not be on the roster next season. The three biggest names: Keala King, Tony Freeland and Deng Deng. They’re 49er careers are caput. A…
May 20, 2013, 11:44 AM EDT
When Steve Alford was hired at UCLA almost two months ago, my initial reaction was one of optimism. Alford had turned New Mexico into the dominant program in a very good Mountain West. Regardless of the post season flameouts that he’s had — he hasn’t made it out of the first weekend of the NCAA…
May 20, 2013, 10:23 AM EDT
Last Tuesday, Andrew Wiggins ended one of the most intriguing recruitments that college hoops has ever seen. Let’s get past the fact that Wiggins is the kind of talent that can change the course of a team’s season. We’re talking about a guy that’s talented enough to do what Kevin Durant did for Texas in…
May 20, 2013, 9:17 AM EDT
It’s official now: Zay Jackson will be returning to the Murray State basketball team next season. That’s according to Andy Katz, who reported on Monday morning that Jackson had practiced with the Racers and earned a 2.75 GPA after spending 49 days in jail. If you’ve forgotten, Jackson was locked up for an incident in…
May 19, 2013, 10:06 PM EDT
Next October head coach Geno Auriemma and the UConn Huskies will begin their quest for a second consecutive (and ninth overall) national title. On Saturday the program continued a streak of sorts, as signee Saniya Chong was named Girls’ Basketball Player of the Year by Parade Magazine. Chong, who hails from Ossining, N.Y., is the…
May 19, 2013, 8:47 PM EDT
On May 8 it was reported by Jeff Goodman of CBSSports.com that Marshall’s leading scorer, guard DeAndre Kane, would transfer to Pittsburgh for his senior season after graduating from Marshall. With an average of just over 15 points and seven assists per game last season, Kane would give the Panthers a needed perimeter scorer for…
May 19, 2013, 7:26 PM EDT
One byproduct of conference realignment has been the rebranding of some leagues, mainly to display the charting of a new path. That’s the case for the Sun Belt Conference, which will welcome multiple new members on July 1. The Sun Belt unveiled new primary and secondary logos on Sunday, as well as its new mantra…
May 19, 2013, 6:21 PM EDT
Following the departure of four seniors (not counting guard Jio Fontan) and the decision of center Dewayne Dedmon to enter the 2013 NBA Draft, it’s safe to say that first-year USC head coach Andy Enfield is in need of some front court depth. USC’s most experienced returnee next season will be 7-2 center Omar Oraby,…
May 19, 2013, 5:06 PM EDT
For all the accolades heaped upon Kansas signee Andrew Wiggins (and deservedly so), Parade Magazine went with another player for its 2012-13 Boys’ Basketball Player of the Year. Semi Ojeleye, a Duke signee from Ottawa, Kansas, averaged more than 38 points per game this season while also getting the job done in the classroom to…
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