It's March Madness time. As much basketball as I watched last week, I still have it in me to see every game of the tourney. I will provide some list of facts to help you win your bracket.
The number one seeds pretty much went as figured with Louisville getting the overall #1 seed, followed by Pitt, UNC and U Conn.
Which #1 faces the toughest challenge to get to Detroit
1. Pitt- The Panthers struggle with real athletic teams and I think the East Region is full of them. After the first round game, Pitt faces a tough test every step along the way.
2.Louisville- Potential games against Wake Forest, Kansas, Michigan St and WVU
3. U Conn- Jerome Dyson's injury may finally catch up to the Huskies. A hot Purdue team and athletic teams in Missouri and Memphis in this region.
4. UNC- Assuming Lawson is 100% healthy, the Tar Heels could see Gonzaga, a potentially out of gas Syracuse team and an Oklahoma team that hasn't played it's best ball lately.
Which teams seeded 5 or lower can make a run to the Sweet 16 or beyond.
1. WVU #6 Midwest- I like this team. They can shoot they ball extremely well and Devin Ebanks provides a whole different dimension to Huggins team.
2. Purdue #5 West- Robbie Hummel is healthy so I like the Big 10 champs to win two or 3 games.
3. UCLA #6 East- I actually like the Bruins to get upset right in the first round, but if they survive, Howland's bunch can make a run. Still a good defensive team, great point guard play and one of the best shooting teams in the nation.
4. Arizona St. #6 South- James Harden maybe the best player in the nation that nobody talks about. We have seen it before that one star can carry a team on a run.
Talking upset? Here are your double digit winners in round 1
Arizona #12 over #5 Utah - I like the Wildcats here. Jordan Hill and Chase Buddinger are studs and Nic Wise is an excellent guard. They only go 7 deep, but that last team in that everyone always complains about always wins a game.
#11VCU over #6UCLA- VCU's Eric Maynor is now a senior. The styles of play are total opposite and VCU could force UCLA into alot of turnovers. Maynor can put a team on his shoulders as we saw in 2007 when they upset Duke and nearly beat Pitt
#12Western Kentucky over #5 Illinois- The Illini may be without floor leader Chester Frazier and Western Kentucky is no stranger to tournament success. The Hilltoppers also have beaten Louisville this year.
Nothing sticks out here, maybe #13 Miss St. over #4Washington or #10 Maryland over #7 Cal if I had to pick one.
Other Lower seeds I like to win include Sienna and USC.
Let's face it, guard play usually dominates tournament play. If deciding between 2 teams isn't clear cut, then I usually go with the better guard play. With that in mind, here are the best point guards in the tourney.
TOP 10 POINT GUARDS
1. Darren Collison Sr. UCLA- the best all around guard in the nation 15pts 5.5 ast
2. Ty Lawson Jr. UNC- Moved him up one spot after seeing the Heels struggle without him. No guard in the country is a game changer like Lawson. 16pts 6.5ast
3. Levance Fields Sr. Pitt- best assist to turnover ratio in the nation. I love senior guards this time of the year. 11pts 8 ast
4. Jonnie Fylnn So. Syracuse- What guts he showed in the Big East Tourney. Big time play maker for the Orange. 17.3pts
5. A.J. Price Sr. U Conn- Same desciption as Flynn. I really like Price in late game situations. 13pts
6. Jeff Teague So. Wake Forest- Amazingly quick guard that can flat out do it all. 19.4pts
7. Tyreek Evans Fr. Memphis- Since Callapari moved him into the starting lineup, the Tigers have been 20-0. A stat sheet filler. 17 pts
8. Eric Maynor Sr. VCU- Maynor put on a show in tournaments past and can do so again in VCU's high octane offense. 22.5pts 6.5ast
9. Toney Douglas Sr. Florida St.- Runner up to Lawson for ACC player of the year. 21pts
10. Jeremy Pargo Sr. Gonzaga- Doesn't man the point all the time but is a good decision maker on the run as the Zags are the best transition team in the nation.
Players you may not know that are worth watching (in no particular order)
1. Isaiah Thomas Fr. Washington- No, not that Isaiah Thomas. The Huskies freshman guard is electric. 15.4ppg
2. Matt Bouldin Jr. Gonzaga- He plays both the 1 and 2 for the Zags and averages 14 ppg
3. Marcus Thorton Sr. LSU- SEC Player of the Year averages 21pts to go with nearly 7 reb
4. Luke Nevill Sr. Utah- The 7"2 nevill was the MWC Player of the Year. He can do it at both ends of the floor.
5. Tyreese Rice Sr. Boston College- The Eagles point guard can take the game over as he did in an upset over North Carolina. 17.5ppg
6. Kenny Hansbrouck Sr. Sienna- Hansbrouck is the best player on a well coached, well balanced Sienna team.
7. Demar DeRozen Fr. USC- I've included 3 Trojans on this list as they are an under the radar team with good players. DeRozan is the best of the bunch. The freshman is a human highlight reel. He s compared to Vince Carter in the open floor.
8. Daniel Hackett Jr. USC- The Trojans point guard produces at both ends of the floor. He can shoot the ball and is a great on ball defender.
9. Taj Gibson Jr. USC- Tim Flyod's Trojans are one of the better defensive teams in the field and Gibson is the best. The PAC 10 Defensive Player of the Year can be a difference maker.
10. Jordan Hill Jr. Arizona- Hill is recovering from an ankle injury, but if healthy he is as good as any bigman in the nation. Expect him to be a top 5 pick in the NBA Draft if he leaves.
11. Ben Woodside Sr. North Dakota St. - This guy can flat out score. 23ppg
12. DeMarre Carroll Sr. Missourri- Carroll is just one of a very athletic Tigers team. 17ppg
13. Justin Dentmon Sr. Washington- He can shoot the ball. 15ppg
14. Jerome Randle Jr. California- Cal has good guards and Randle is the best of them. 18ppg
15. Jarvis Varando Jr. Mississippi St- This guy can do it all. He can score, rebound and block shots. His 184 blocks on the season set and SEC record and are mnore than 325 other Division I teams.
16. Byron Eaton Sr. Oklahoma St.- Eaton is a stat sheet filler. 15ppg
17. Toney Douglas Sr. Florida St.- Douglas is the leader of the Seminoles and he can score. 21ppg
18. Eric Maynor Sr. VCU- This guy is fun to watch. 22.4ppg 6.5reb, 6.5 as
19. Josh Heytvelt Sr. Gonzaga- Once outplayed Tyler Hansbrough, Heytvelt has had his share of off the court issues, but has shed that to have a very good season. I'm looking forward to a Sweet 16 UNC-Gonzaga game. 15ppg, 7 reb
20.MattHoward So. Butler- Howard is a good all around player and like all Bulldogs, he can shoot the ball. 15ppg
21. Dionte Christmas Sr. Temple- I like watching this guy play. He is exciting offensively, averaging 20ppg.
21. A.J. Slaughter Jr. Western Kentucky- He has won games here before and can do it again. 16ppg.
So I have won a bracket almost every year and expect to do so this year, but it looks tough. The 1 and 2 seeds are head and shoulders above the rest of the class this year and the rest are real good teams but with flaws. When I did my bracket I have 6 of the 8 Elite 8 teams coming from the Big East which probably wont happen so I may go back and make changes, but here it is for now.
First Round lower seeds to win
Sienna, Arizona, USC, Maryland, VCU and Western Kentucky
Louisville, Wake Forest, WVU(over Kansas), Mich St., U Conn, Purdue, Missou, Memphis, Pitt, FSU, Nova, Duke, UNC, Gonzaga, Syracuse, Oklahoma
Louisville, WVU (over Mich St.), U Conn, Memphis, Pitt, Nova, UNC (I may take Gonzaga still) and Syracuse (I probably will wind up taking Oklahoma)
Louisville, Memphis, Pitt (they scare me) and UNC
Louisville and UNC