A way too early, too early top 25.

June 29, 2010
How to seed the new 68 team tournament?

 I make it no secret that I’m a huge “underdog” kind of guy.  If I’m flipping through the channels and run across Siena versus West Virginia, then I become a Saints fan for 40 minutes.  So when the speculation began about how to seed the new 68 team tournament I sided with the “last at large teams” camp.  Even trying to put my bias aside, I still can’t support an option that would punish automatic qualifiers just because of the conference they play in.

 The solution is obvious of course: a compromise.  Simply split the spots between the last at-large bids and the worst auto qualifiers.  The teams from both camps with the worst records go to the play in gam- oops I mean Opening Round.

 Since it makes the most sense though, it probably won’t happen.

 A way too early, too early top 25:

 

1. Michigan State: Tom Izzo.  Period.  The man has proven time and time again that he can coach.  This team returns a talented core group and should quickly learn how to make up for the loss of Raymar Morgan.

 2. Purdue: Matt Painter has built something in West Lafayette.  E’Twaun Moore,  JaJuan Johnson, and Robbie Hummel are serious talents.  The Boilermakers could see some time at the number 1 spot next year. 

 3. Duke: Coach K has an irritating way of keeping Duke up there with the best teams in the country every year.  I don’t think this year’s team will be as successful in the long run as last year’s team; but I do expect them to be a consistent top 5 team all year.

  4. Villanova: I will admit to not knowing a whole lot about this ‘Nova team.  I know they lost Reynolds, who should have been drafted by the way, but that is about it.  This pick is based on what I’ve read from others who put them as the Big East favorites.

 5. Baylor: What Scott Drew has done in Waco is amazing.  They lose Udoh, but they keep LaceDarius Dunn.  This is my favorite to win a slightly weaker, but deeper, than normal Big 12.

 6. Pittsburgh: Pitt is similar to Villanova for me.  I just don’t know a lot about them, but others seem really high on them.

7. Ohio State: Ohio State has become a talent converter.  High School talent goes in, NBA talent comes out.  Losing Turner hurts, but when you return a pretty talented group and add five star players it becomes a little easier to stomach.

 8. Temple:   This is one of those teams that is making people look at the A-10 a little differently.  They won 29 games last year, and hung around in the top 15.  With 3 starters returning they shouldn’t lose anything this year.

 9. Kansas State: Kansas will not be as good as they were last year.  Kansas State should be just as good as they were last year, if not better.  There could be a brief paradigm shift within college basketball in the state of Kansas.

 10. Kansas: Speaking of Kansas, I have the Jayhawks checking in just behind KSU at 10.  A bad year for Kansas is a good year for a lot of schools.  Still the Jayhawks will be weaker than last year, meaning a weaker Big 12, leaving room for KSU and Baylor to work their way into the top of the conference.

 11. Kentucky: Kentucky loses 5 players to the draft.  That is a real team killer, right?  Well, not exactly, at least not when you land the top recruiting class in the country.  This incoming class won’t be as hyped as last year’s class.  It might not even be as talented pound for pound; but it should make for a much more balanced and dynamic team.  More of Coach Cal’s trademark DDM and less standing around outside of a zone.

12. Memphis: Josh Pastner is the Plato to Calipari’s Socrates.  An upbeat recruiter who makes pulling in top prospects look easy.  Going up against a mediocre CUSA should give the Tigers a good record come March, and they will have enough talent to make some noise.

 13. North Carolina: They can’t struggle two years in a row can they?  They will be weak in the front court, but loaded in the backcourt.  A strong conference showing and they should be dancing again, but who knows with this team?

 14. Florida: Florida is one of two SEC teams, along with Kentucky, that I think will jump around the 10-15 range all season.  They have talent, but I’m not convinced they have the right kind of talent at the 1 and 4 spots to properly run the system Donovan has established.

 15. Butler: The Bulldogs lose Hayward, which drops them about 8 spots from they would have been otherwise.  Don’t expect them to slip quietly into the night however, as Brad Stevens is set up for the long haul.

16. Vanderbilt: Vanderbilt loses a significant portion of its scoring, and is going to face questions at PG; but Jenkins and Taylor look ready to step into their own as All SEC caliber scorers.

 17. Gonzaga: I hate to call the ‘Zags a one man band, but they are here because of one man and one man only: Elias Harris. 

 18. BYU: Jimmer Fredette returns to the Cougars with aspirations of winning the MWC title and making another run in March; but they will face some pretty stiff competition from UNLV and New Mexico.

 19. Missouri:  Fun to watch, and now more talented than they have ever been under his watch, Mike Anderson’s Tigers will look to challenge for the Big 12 title.  This is a bunch that could just as easily shoot up the rankings as slip out.  If they can remain consistent then there is nothing holding them back from joining KU, KSU, and Baylor higher up the rankings.

 20. UNLV: A talented group without a real star to take over the game when it’s needed.  Still the Runnin’ Rebels should be the second strongest team in the three team fight for the MWC title.

 21. Tennessee: Where to put Tennessee?  This seems too low, but at the same time I have no idea what the Vols are going to look like this year.  They lose a lot of scorers but retain Hopson and add Tobias Harris.  I’m putting them here for now, with the expectation that they could easily move up.

 22. Syracuse: The Orange won’t be as good as last year.  Short and sweet.  Straight and to the point.

 23. Virginia Tech: I’m not sold on the Hokies.  They do have a great player in Delaney, and a real chance at making the NCAA tournament, but I wouldn’t put money on them.

 24. Murray State: People will sleep in the Racers, and they shouldn’t.  This is a tournament team that won 31 games last year, lost a close one to the eventual runner up, and returns 4 of its top 6 scorers.  Oh yeah, and three of those returning scorers averaged in double digits last year.  They will get their chance to prove themselves early in the 76 Classic with Stanford, UNLV, and Virginia Tech.

 25. Richmond: Another one of the teams that is making people think twice about scheduling A-10 teams.  Their chances of a repeat trip to the NCAA tournament look good.


The Daily Pick And Roll (06/29/09)

June 29, 2009

*UPDATE*(07/01/09)

Yeah, so it is taking me much, much longer to go through the SEC recruits and pick out which ones I think are at the top of the pile, and then do enough research to write a solid tidbit on them.  I spent the last hour and 40 minutes or so working on it and only got about 5 guys down and I have at least 5 more to go.  So it is going to be another day on this…

*END UPDATE*

*UPDATE* (06/30/09)

I didn’t finish the recruiting breakdown last night… ok I’ll admit it, I didn’t even start it.  I absolutely will tonight though.  Won’t be able to work on it untill I get  home from work though because I am swamped tonight.

*END UPDATE*

Well, it has been a few days since my last post; and I just wanted to get something up here to show that the blog isn’t dead.  I have come to the conclusion though that daily updates, during the offseason at least, are just way too much work.  Believe it or not, with no headlines or games to discuss it is more work to come up with an idea for a daily post than it actually is to write it.

So until the season rolls around the Daily Pick And Roll isn’t going to be so daily.  I’m still hoping to do at least one special post each week though.  Closer to the end of the summer when the rosters are more final and schedules are released I am going to profile the SEC teams.

Tonight when I get home I am going to being work on, and might possibly finish and post, a quick look at the top recruits coming into the SEC this year.

Two things of note: UK has filed a motion to have Billy Gillespie’s lawsuit either dismissed or moved to the state of Kentucky.  Former Duke guard Elliot Williams has announced he is transferring to Memphis to be closer to his ailing mother.


The Daily Pick And Roll (06/25/09)

June 25, 2009

 

The question of where Vanderbilt fell in the 09 Maui Invitational came up over on the SECFanatics forum, so I figured I’d take a stab and ranking the field.

 Ranking The 2009 Maui Invitational:

1st place: Maryland                   5th place: Arizona

2nd place: Vanderbilt                6th place: Cincinnati

3rd place: Wisconsin                  7th place: Colorado

4th place: Gonzaga                     8th place: Chaminade

 Maryland and Vanderbilt return key players and add talent.  Wisconsin, Gonzaga, and Arizona lose guys to graduation and/or the draft.  Cincinnati has just never taken off under Mick Cronin.  Chaminade belongs in the Big-12 just as much as Colorado does; or at least that is how it seems with the way Colorado has played over the past few seasons.  Of course all of this really depends on the initial pairings.

 

Hastily Made Cleveland Trade:  (if you haven’t seen the Hastily Made Cleveland Tourism Video then you need to)

 Changing gears a bit I’d like to say something about the Shaq trade in the NBA.  I’ve seen lots of people talking about this and questioning if Shaq is a good move for the long haul.  It’s obvious that he isn’t; but I don’t think the Cleveland brass is thinking about the long haul here.  They know James could be leaving next year, so it is their best shot at winning a title.  When you look at Cleveland from this past season the first thing you notice is that James was the only threat to score.  You could have played a box defense on James, leaving every other player wide-open and the Cavs still couldn’t have beaten most teams in the league.  It took James going every night and being the workhorse scorer.

 By bringing in Shaq you are bringing in a guy who can still put up 15 or 16 points a night and be a second focusing point for the defense.  That is 15 points a night that James doesn’t have to score for Cleveland to win.  This also helps Cleveland’s case for keeping James.  Sure, Shaq isn’t the long-term answer, but this shows that Cleveland is willing to do what it takes to help build something with James instead of on top of James.


The Daily Pick And Roll (06/24/09)

June 24, 2009

In honor of tomorrow’s NBA draft I have decided to use today’s Daily Pick And Roll to talk about a guy you’ve probably never heard of but should have.  His name is Lester Hudson and he played the last two seasons for the University Of Tennessee at Martin.  The 6’3” combo guard averaged over 27 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 assists per game.  He dropped 20 points on both Tennessee and Southern California.  Most guys learn to play the game, but Lester Hudson was born to play it.

Hudson can play at either the one or two positions, though his true ability as a distributing point guard is as of yet unknown- because he scored on the majority of his team’s possessions.  He isn’t a selfish player though, quite the opposite, he loves to make the guys around him better; there just wasn’t another dynamic scorer on the UTM roster. 

How he came to be at UTM is as inspiring as the numbers he puts up.  Hudson grew up in a rough part of Memphis, where he rarely attended school.  The coach at his high school found him in a gym class one day, he got Lester going to classes and playing on the team.  But Hudson was ruled ineligible to play his senior year because of age restrictions.  After losing basketball Hudson began to slip back into his old ways and eventually left school without a diploma.

His coach got him into a junior college where he earned his GED but failed to meet the core requirements for graduating.  An assistant at UTM, and an acquaintance of Hudson’s high school coach, brought Hudson onto campus.  Unfortunately since Hudson hadn’t graduated from junior college, he had to sit out his first year at UTM and take out a student loan to pay his own way.

Now as a senior he is entering in to the NBA draft where he is most likely a lock in the second round.  I personally am hoping Hudson comes in his rookie year and lights it up.


The Daily Pick And Roll (06/23/09)

June 23, 2009

It is the offseason, and the headlines reflect it.  Nothing really to report on today other than ESPNU is playing college basketball games again tonight, and I believe they are also replaying the 1998 Powerade Jam Fest.

 

Since there isn’t much to cover today I’m going to start a segment called Controversial Call where I will give my opinion on a basketball related hot topic making its way around the internet. 

*Update: I also hope to start working on a breakdown of the DDM offense tonight when I get home from work.*
 

Controversial Call

 

The so-called one-and-done rule has inevitably changed the face of college basketball.  Talent that used to go straight to playing in the NBA now spends a year haphazardly attending college classes and pouring in points during the NCAA tournament.  Now, I don’t want to paint all one-and-done players with the same brush.  I know that not all of them take junk classes and skip so much that they kill their teams APR.  Some of them even end up sticking around for more than one year; but lets be honest about it, most of them wouldn’t be in college if it wasn’t for the rule.

This has been a boon for low-major and mid-major programs.  Talent that used to find its way onto the floor in Lexington and Chapel Hill now plays in Starkville and Spokane.  There is a real sense of parity in college basketball these days.  Being a big proponent of mid-major schools, I think this parity is great as a spectator of the game.  One has to ask himself/herself then if parity is worth making a sham of higher education.  Does having players who don’t want to be there watering down what used to make college basketball so great?

The answer, to me at least, is that yes it is ruining what used to be special about college basketball.  The top players in the country no longer care about winning national titles.  They no longer have the same passion for their school or hatred for their rivals.  They are simply there to bid their time until the end of June.


The Daily Pick And Roll (6/22//09)

June 22, 2009

Not a lot going on in the world of college basketball today, but I guess that is to be expected in late June- what great time to start a basketball blog, huh?  There are a few things of note though:

 

1)      ESPNU is running a College Basketball Cram Session full of games from this past season.  I stumbled across it last night in time to watch the end of the Memphis/Gonzaga game.  It ends tonight at 10:30 CST; but they will be replaying the NBA Combine at 2AM.

 

2)      Doug Wojcik has agreed to a six year deal with Tulsa.  His record with the Golden Hurricanes isn’t stellar, but they have won at least 20 games the last three seasons.  With Memphis presumably taking a bit of a step back, and Wojcik’s teams improving every year, Tulsa is looking to make some noise in C-USA.

 

3)      The NBA draft fast approaches and everyone and their mother seems to have a mock draft.  The one thing everyone seems to agree upon though is that Blake Griffin is the number one pick; but after that things get hazy.

 

Well, like I said, not a lot of headlines today.  Check out this video that is making its way around the blogs.  I think the kid got really lucky, but that is still something to be able to brag about!