Mar 9

National College Basketball Update

Posted By:Brett Haynes - Greenville, SC  Tags:

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As I sit and watch the Seinna-Fairfield game for the MAAC Championship, I realize just how little I know about the college basketball world. But I am going to try, anyway, to give the average fan an update as conference tournaments go down. If you are here looking for insight or trying to get some top secret news about college hoops, you are in the wrong place. But if you are looking to get a quick glance to get you up to speed on who could win the national championship, this might help... Latest team with ticket punched: Wofford!
 
Now do not misunderstand and picture me staring at the screen wondering what the round, orange thing is that they are throwing around. I know a bit about basketball, at one time even played it at an organized level (ok, it was 6th grade), and have been to many, many ACC games. But as my favorite team has never had much luck on the hardwood, I have been an average fan at best. Sad, I admit.
 
Anyway, after a season where I kept up with college hoops even less than usual (Olympics), I am now ready to get geared up for March Madness. Although just a fan who could take it or leave it, I have been known to makes some noise in office pools of past! So with a quick review here, we will be ready to watch the big conference tournaments which start Thursday.
 
If I am just totally wrong about the following quick breakdown, then I apologize ahead of time, but here is how I see it:
 
The Top Contenders. Here are the teams that have a very realistic/probable chance to make the Final Four and play for a national championship. Not coincidentally, they are the teams ranked 1-4 of the AP poll!
 
Kansas (29-2) - Bill Self is looking for his 2nd national title. He is perhaps the top coach in the game, and this is my pick to win it all this year.
 
Kentucky (29-2) - In his very first season, Head Coach John Calipari has the 'Cats seeking it all. He has great coaching help on the actual court in point guard John Wall, who is hands down the best freshman in the country. He may also be Kentucky's first ever number 1 draft pick after this season.
 
Syracuse (28-3)- In a huge, high-profile, tournament type game, the Orange lost at unranked Louisville in the last ever game at Freedom Hall. They must learn from that atmosphere to think national championship.
 
Duke (26-5) - The only ACC team having a big season, I have my doubts about Duke being a legit Final Four team. They will, however, most-likely get a number one NCAA seed, and Coach K is very familiar with the Dance. The Devils are ranked sixth out of 394 teams in free throw percentage.
 
The Serious Threats. These are the teams that may not get a number one seed, but feel they are capable of cutting down the nets on April 5th. Each of these teams, with a little luck, could easily slide into the final Four. These are probably going to be your 2 and 3 seed teams in the NCAA.
 
Ohio State
Purdue
West Virginia (could be in above group)
New Mexico
Kansas State
Villanova
Michigan State
Butler
 
The Ones to Watch. These are the teams that will need some luck to think national title, but do not rule it out - crazier things have happened! There are really too many to teams to begin to list here, but here are a few to keep your eye on. These are your 3 to 6 seed type teams.
 
Wisconsin
BYU
Tennesee
Pittsburgh
Temple
Gonzaga
Maryland
Vanderbilt
 
The early round noise makers. Ok, so one of these teams may make a run and reach a regional final or maybe even the Final Four. But these teams - though very good and fun to watch - are still a player or two away to be a serious threat to win a championship.
 
Baylor
Georgetown
Texas A&M
Xavier
UTEP
Northern Iowa
Virginia Tech
Texas
 
Notes:
 
* UNC. Unless they win the ACC tournament, this will be the first time UNC has missed the tournament since 2003. It will also mark just the third time in history that the defending champ missed the following year's tournament (1980 - Michigan State, 2008 - Florida).
 
* Last champ in: ACC (UNC - 2009), Big 12 (Kansas - 2008), Pac 10 (Arizona - 1997), Big Ten (Michigan State - 2000), Big East (UConn - 2004),  SEC (Florida - 2007), non-major conference (UTEP - 1966)
 
* Is this the last year of the field of 65? Rumors are that hot discussion is underway to double the field for next year's tournament. One sentence: If it ain't broke, don't fix it.



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