Thursday, March 18, 2010


Here's where I try to look smart, but will make a fool of myself to anyone who reads it in 24 hours. The greatest sporting event of the year kicks off tomorrow. So, pressure under fire, done this before, these are the things I look for in the young winning team:
  • Pressure Under Fire, Done This Before: The most important thing to me is whether or not the team is used to a pressure situation. When the rubber hits the road, when the going gets tough, when the cliches flow -- who's not going to be afraid. Yes: Kansas, Butler, Siena, Villanova, Michigan State. No: Kentucky, Syracuse, Ohio State.
  • On Point: We need a good backcourt in general, but we especially need a point guard who won't turn the ball over and won't take bad shots. Bring the ball up through the pressure, get it to your best scorer, hit some free throws. Yes: Kansas, Northern Iowa, Kentucky, Villanova, New Mexico, Kansas State, Siena, Richmond, Washington, Duke, Baylor. No: Georgia Tech, Pittsburgh. A lot of very good point guards in the field.
  • Attack The Rim: A post player is nice, but you need big guys who can clean up the boards to give the team more opportunities to score and control the clock. Yes: Kansas, Georgetown, Kansas State, Baylor, West Virginia, Kentucky. No: Marquette, Ohio State, Villanova, Richmond.
  • Depth: Bench depth is important because of foul trouble, but you're only playing two games a weekend, so I'm also looking for teams that have multiple options if one of their main guys is taken away. Yes: Kansas, Northern Iowa, Kentucky, Kansas State, Siena. No: Ohio State, Georgetown, Villanova.

So who do I like:

  • Best player in each region that you've only heard of if you watch Championship Week like a rat on crack: Darrington Hobson, New Mexico (East); Ronald Moore, Siena (South); Jordan Egelseder, Northern Iowa (Midwest); Jordan Crawford, Xavier (West). Crawford is the guy who famously dunked on LeBron at a camp and Nike hid the video.
  • My most-likely-to-be-Cinderella team for each region: Missouri (East); Siena (South); San Diego State (Midwest); Murray State (West).
  • Dark horse teams that would scare me the most: Missouri (East) with their frenetic style of play; Richmond (South) with their matchup zone and Princeton offense; Oklahoma State (Midwest) with one of the best scorers in the country and one of the only two teams to beat Kansas; Xavier (West) because of their athletic ability and their play in an underrated conference.
  • Player I most trust with the ball in a tight situation: De'Sean Butler, West Virginia (East); Scottie Reynolds, Villanova (South); Sherron Collins, Kansas (Midwest); Wesley Johnson, Syracuse (West).
  • Reasons my bracket is screwed up: No 5-12 upsets, three Big 12 teams in the Final Four, all 1-seeds getting to the Elite 8.
  • Best subplot: Will Calipari make the Final Four and then vacate his third Final Four appearance in three tries when it comes out that he paid/took the SAT for/gave a car to John Wall?
  • Final Four: West Virginia, Baylor, Kansas, Kansas State.
  • Champion: Kansas. They say this is a season without a great team, but 32-2 and champion of the best conference (yes, I said it) in the country has to stand for something. They have the guard I trust the most (it was Collins who got Chalmers the ball for the game-tying three in the 2008 title game). They have the best big man. They have multiple guys who can get to the rim or shoot from outside. They have a coach and seniors who have won a title. Anything can happen in this crazy tournament, but the Jayhawks are head and shoulders above everybody.

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