FantasySavvy 2016: Elite 8 Analysis

The 2016 Tournament has truly failed to disappoint as there have been a ton of competitive games with some ridiculous endings. The Madness truly has surfaced. Even if you are a casual fan, by watching these games you probably couldn’t help but to be caught up in the craziness. Once again, this tournament has shown why it is so special and unique. The opening weekend brought us things we never have witnessed before. On Friday in the first round, Michigan State, the expert consensus pick for the National Title lost to a 15 seed in Middle Tennessee St, Cincinnati had a basket called back in the last second vs St. Joe’s https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C5ORb2OwkWA and Northern Iowa’s Paul Jesperson hit a half-court buzzer beater to win the game. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SdFB3OGUaGU. Then on Sunday, in the second round we saw Wisconsin hit a game winner vs Xavier https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FtLCqvqO1nk and Texas A&M come back from down 12 points with just 44 seconds left. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DNGmD6FcQdY.

However, after all the unprecedented happenings and huge upsets, the cream has mostly risen to the top in the Elite 8. In the East & Midwest, we have 4 teams repping from the best conference, the ACC. In the East we have the #6 Seed Notre Dame Fighting Irish playing the #1 Seed North Carolina Tarheels and in the Midwest the #1 Seed Virginia Cavaliers playing the #10 Seed Syracuse Orangemen. Then on the other side of the bracket we have two 1’s and two 2’s with the #1 Seed Kansas Jayhawks playing the #2 Seed Villanova Wildcats in the South and the #1 Seed Oregon Ducks, playing the #2 Seed Oklahoma Sooners in the West. We still have all the #1 Seeds alive and two #2 Seeds. At the end of the day, this could be an all chalk Final Four, and I believe that’s exactly how it will go.

South Region, Louisville: #1 Kansas vs #2 Villanova

Kansas, the #1 overall seed, got here by beating Austin Peay, Uconn and Maryland, while Villanova has beaten Unc Asehville, Iowa and Miami. Kansas has not lost since January 30th, winning 17 straight games. Villanova lost in the Big East final and after watching them in person in the Big East Semi’s vs Providence, I didn’t come away overly impressed. But Daniel Ochefu was not healthy in that game and now is and they are playing excellent in this tournament. Kris Jenkins has such a nice stroke, he rarely misses , Josh Hart is playing aggressive, Ryan Arcidiacono who plays with a ton of heart and energy is playing solid also. Ochefu looks healthy and had his best game of the tournament against Miami, dominating inside while creating open shots on the perimeter for Jenkins and Arcidiacono. For Kansas, Perry Ellis has been a revelation. He has gotten so much better this season. He never has been this aggressive and fluid. He also has developed a more consistent outside shot. He is it what makes Kansas goes and nobody has been able to stop slow him yet. Ellis is developing a solid NBA game. 6’10, Jr. Landen Lucas has stepped into the starting rotation and been a force on the boards while playing Solid D.

I think the big factor is here is Ochefu. When he at his best, Villanova is at their best. Miami failed to contain him as he was a force inside and created opportunities for his teammates. I feel Kansas has the depth and strength inside with Lucas, Traylor, and Bragg to slow him down just enough. Add on Perry Ellis contributing defense along with Guards Frank Mason, Wayne Selden and Devonte Graham, Kansas will play much better D then Miami did on the Villanova shooters. If Nova decides to double Ellis, look for Devonte Graham to have a big game. Both these teams are well oiled, but Kansas is more synthetic and will have a lot of fans backing them in Louisville. Kansas 77, Nova 73.

West Region, Anaheim : #1 Oregon vs #2 Oklahoma

The Pac-12 had an awful tournament, but Oregon has shown that they were a step above in that conference and have proven to this point to be worthy of a #1 Seed. Oregon easily took Care of Holy Cross in the opening round, but had to come back in the last five minutes to beat St. Joseph’s. They went on handle Duke in the Sweet Sixteen and looked to be at their best. Dylan Brooks is just an awesome player. He can shoot, drive, plays solid D and displays a ton of hustle. He can give Buddy Hield a run for his money in this game. Elgin Cook can also shoot and can take it to the basket as well. Jordan Bell is a man amongst boys inside, blocking shots and finishing around the rim. Oregon looks extremely dangerous and one of the most balanced scoring teams left in the tournament. Oklahoma defeated Cal State Bakersfield, VCU and Texas A&M to get here. No secret with Oklahoma, it’s all about Buddy Hield. He has a Stephen Curry like release and range. He can put 40 up any given night. But Oklahoma is going to need Isaiah Cousins, Jordan Woodard and Ryan Spangler to play big if they want to win this game.

I believe Oregon, winners of 11 straight games, are the more balanced team offensively and also play better defense. Their D is underrated. Oklahoma has the best player on the court, but they are a little too reliant on him. Also this team lacks depth. I think it’s Oregon’s time. Many people doubted them as a #1 seed, have doubted the Pac 12, but I think they prove a lot of the doubters wrong and show the country how good they are. Oregon 81, Oklahoma 76.

East Region, Philadelphia: #1 North Carolina vs # 6 Notre Dame

North Carolina has arguably looked like the best team in the tournament thus far, especially after they just put up a 100 spot on Indiana last night. Before that they took care of Florida Gulf Coast and sent Ben Bentil and Kris Dunn from Providence to the NBA draft. Notre Dame who nearly made the Final 4 last year by coming up short against Kentucky, returns to the Elite 8 again. The Fighting Irish have lived up to their name by battling in every game and coming from behind to beat Michigan, Stephen F. Austin and Wisconsin. Carolina and Notre Dame, both from the ACC, met twice this year with Notre Dame winning by four on their home court in early February, but Carolina got their revenge in the ACC tournament by molly whopping the Irish with a 31 point win.

Carolina has size all over the court with 6’9 Bryce Johnson, 6’9 Kennedy Meeks, 6’8 Isaiah Hicks and 6’8 Justin Jackson. Balance that out with emerging guard Joel Berry and Sr. Marcus Paige. Paige, who was injured this year and failed to look like his former self, returned to prominence last night vs Indiana shooting 6-9 from three finishing with 21 points. If he plays like that, I don’t think anybody can beat them. Bryce Johnson is just a beast inside, a sure-fire NBA talent. Notre Dame boasts guard Demetrious Jackson and 6’10 Sr.F Zach Auguste on the inside. These two kids are both excellent at their positions. Auguste is a pro as well. He just needs to develop a better jumper. VJ Beachem has emerged in this tournament hitting a ton of big shots and they are also getting good minutes out of Bonzie Colson. Steve Vasturia is also another big piece that has returned from the Elite 8 team last year.

While this game will not be the blowout we saw in the ACC tournament, Carolina is still favored by 9 in this game and is expected to win somewhat easily. I think the Irish, being in all the fights they have been in so far will battle, but ultimately will come up short. Carolina just has too much size to deal with Auguste and on the flip side, Notre Dame doesn’t have the size or strength to stop Carolina inside. It appears Paige has returned to his old roots and like I mentioned earlier, if he’s going like that, Carolina will be the favorites to win this whole thing. North Carolina 83, Notre Dame 75.

Midwest Bracket, Chicago: #1 Virginia vs #10 Syracuse

Virginia is the San Antonio Spurs of college basketball. Smart, fundamentally sound, defensive minded basketball. Coach Tony Bennett personifies this team, humble, high character, patient. They just wear you out over the course of 60 minutes. The Cavaliers went through Hampton, Butler and Iowa St. to get to this point. They have the Size with with Seniors Anthony Gil (6’8) and Mike Tobey (7’0) and big bodied Guard Malcolm Brogdon. Brogdon completely resembles a Spurs type player in my opinion. He’s like a younger Boris Diaw. 6’2 Jr. Guard London Perrantes shot the best percentage in the NCAA from three this season and is another sound player. It would not be a surprise to see this team cutting down the nets in Houston. Nobody expected Syracuse to be here in the Elite 8 and many didn’t expect to see them in the tournament itself after they lost in the ACC tournament to Pitt. But with Michigan St. going out it opened up the doors for them and they took advantage. They easily took care of Dayton and Middle Tennessee St. before having to come from behind to beat Gonzaga. They haven’t necessarily beaten the best competition, but I thought they have played pretty well. 6’7 Sr F/G , Michael Gbinije is a very good player and can shoot and drive with the best of them. He has had an excellent tournament. He’s NBA material. Freshmen Tyler Lydon has also come alive in this tournament, stepping up huge for the Orangemen. Tyler Cooney, after his disastrous ACC tournament, has revived and Malachi Richardson, Tyler Roberson and DaJuan Coleman have all contributed to the cause. Cuse boasts size all around to match Virginia and they have a player that can finish a game in Gbinije.

Virginia and Cuse played back in late January with Virginia winning on their home court 73-65. Virginia pretty much controlled that game and maintained the tempo but Gbinje and Richardson shot a combined 11-19 from three that kept it close. Can they shoot like that again? Doubtful, but Cuse is playing with a lot more confidence then they were then. After the Virginia game in January, Boeheim proclaimed, “We cannot play defense inside”. Cuse also had a very tough time with Gonzaga’s 7’0 Sabonis, so let’s see how they can do against Anthony Gill and Mike Tobey. Although Sabonis really came into his own in this tournament. Tobey had a huge game against the smaller Iowa St and it would be huge if he could repeat that performance against Syracuse. I think this game will be a grind it out battle, but in the end I think Virginia sends Cuse packing. Perrantes seals the deal with a couple big threes and FT’s down the stretch. Virginia 71, Syracuse 63.

Enjoy the games and have a Happy Easter! Please follow me on twitter @FantasySavvy. Thanks for reading.

 

 

 

 

 

 

2016 NCAA Tournament: Players Pool Intro w/ Gary Plonderson

 

YES!! I am finally here, I know you have been waiting. Sorry for the long hiatus. I have been on a plethora of different excursions around the world and my Fantasy Writeups have had to take somewhat of a backseat. Travels to Monaco, Charlestown, Delaware, Ireland, Turkey, Bucketville, Horace Grants Steakhouse, the Arfin Trail, Geef Island and Sarah’s Ricotta Geel Rip.  Safe to say Ol Gary got a fewwww items of that Bucketlist!!! It’s called living, try it sometime.   But seriously, it feels good to be back. After my landing in the beautiful city of Teterboro on my private plane, I headed right over to Steve Sizziling steakhouse for a long dinner with some old Jersey Pals. That is why I wasn’t able to join you guys earlier. But I am here now ready for action, ready to attack like a Zebra with wings against a Lion for Revenge. Ready to saturate the market. Ready to Absorb and spit out numbers and facts like a 23 year-old Korean Stockbroker. Yes Gary is back. Yes Gary. Gary is here, Gary. Gary man. Ok enough about me, although if you want to hear more about my travels,  check out Amazon for my new book, Travels Amongst the Furlong.  Buy the book and get a free GaryWagon at GarywagonGary/Garywagon/Gary/YesIt’sGary.com. Put in the Promo code Chip Lohmiller. Ok let’s get to it, March Madness is here, simply the best time of the year. Pull up your trousers, adjust your contacts or glasses, watch with passion, watch with Zeal, focus like an Owl and get ready for the greatest tournament ever created.

*One note, I have no record of the winner in 2013. Whoever I missed in my title announcements, I apologize.  And I may be off on some things. Feel free to correct me by sending a letter in the Mail to P.O. Box 467 Jenkins Highway, South Dakota. I am using an old history book that I found in my old langston walker briefcase.

Eric Probst aka Hield the Children

Eric Probst a Cuse alum and I believe former roommate in college of our prestigious founder and commissioner Glen Garvin, finally rejoined the fun two years ago after a long break.  In his first year back he took down the crown for his first every title. He wasn’t able to repeat in 2015, but does come back with #1 pick Buddy Hield this year. Probst, a longtime member of the Capital City Fantasy Football league, recently departed after being one of the best owners there. So no doubt, from EP, you are going to see a sound and solid performance each year. His return is welcomed as he improves the overall competitive nature of this magnificent league.

Appearances: 7, Titles 1 (2014)

Best Picks– Buddy Hield (1st Overall pick), Danuel House (2nd round), Anthony Gil (3rd Round), Isaiah Briscoe (9th Round), Makai Mason (17th Round), Tre’ Mclean (last overall pick)

Anti Gary Picks– Jonathan Motley (4th round) Diamond Stone (5th Round) Phil Booth (10th round) Khadeem Lattin (15th Round)

Draft Grade – C+

JJ&Kowalski Aka Deacons

JJ a Wake Forest Alum, longs for the days of  Jeff Teague, Tim Duncan, Randolph Childress.  (one of the most memorable crossovers of all time) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sRJMsoIptQo Wake has been awful of late. Maybe they should bring back Dino.

But historically and for the most part this combo has been pretty competitive and with Wake out of the tournament that should eliminate any bias picks. Kowalski hasn’t made a pick in 5 years says JJ, but perhaps he should utilize his partners knowledge. No I In team, but there is an I in winning?  Kowalski looks like he was the original owner of this team back in 98 with JJ joining or finally being recognized in 2004.

Appearances:  Kowalski 6 Solo, Kevin and JJ 12, Titles 1 (2006)

Best Picks- Denzel Valentine (2nd Overall Pick) DeAndre’ Bembry (8th Round)

Anti Gary Picks– Jalen Jones (2nd Round) A.J. Hammons (4th Round) Jalen Brunson (5th Round) Trevor Cooney (15th Round) DJ Hogg (17th Round)

Draft Grade– D

Ray & Dusty Aka RazorSchmatt

Ahh, my favorite combo Dusty and Ray , Ray and Dusty, they go together like Cheetos and Wet Naps. Dusty also makes some of the best Ribs you will ever taste. I tasted them one time, after I did have some stains on the left side of my shorts, but it was well worth it. Those Ribs were amazing and I await the day when I can try them again. But this combo has had a very successful franchise in the Capital City Football league. The Duck won yet another title this season and are now tied for the league record with 4 titles. But this league is an entirely different story. O’Dell Beckham is not here to save them. According to my records they have yet to claim a title as partners. And many solo runs by Ray before partnering with Dusty were unsuccessful. Dusty an original member of the 87 inaugural season had three solo appearances in 87, 98 & 2003 that were failures before he joined up with Ken Sullivan in 2004. That lasted until 2006 without success and then Dusty  joined with Ray in 2007 after some slight squabbles with Sully. What happened between Ken and Dusty though? Did Dusty see the success his Duck partnership in Football was having and make an executive decision, being the man of vision Dusty is? Or did somebody take a turd in somebody else’s pillow after a long, long night of drinking. Nobody may ever know the truth, nevertheless I believe it was for the best for all parties. But I have not seen all three of these guys in quite some time and I hope to see them soon.

Appearances: Dusty & Ray 9, Dusty (3 Solo, 2 with Ken Sullivan) Ray (6 Solo) ,  0 Title

Best Picks- Perry Ellis (3rd overall Pick),

Anti Gary Picks- Trevon Bluiett (2nd Round) Brandon Ingram (3rd Round) Jordan Loveridge (6th Round) Jordan McLaughlin  (11th Round) Jamel Artis (13th Round) and the two other USC guys and Austin Peay guy.

Draft Grade – F  

Steve DeAngelo & Dennis Severino

Always a dangerous tandem, Steve and Dennis went on a great run from 2007-2009 winning 3 titles in a row, something that has not been done by any other franchise. Steve who first joined this league back in 1996, at just 14 years old , but then took a few years hiatus, claimed his own title in 2004 , until joining forces with Dennis 2006. It truly has been a great partnership. However, they have not won since 2009, which is somewhat surprising, but not surprising because this tournament is very hard to win. Truly a league of extraordinary gentlemen. Usually playing the strategy of stacking a team or two and riding them to the Final 4 and Finals, they went away from that this year and only doubled up on one team which was a 6 seed in Seton Hall. We will see if this new strategy pans out. The lack of an overall stronghold team may have played a part in that.

Appearances: Steve 6 Solo, Titles 1 (2004) Steve & Dennis 10, Titles 3 (2007, 2008, 2009)

Best Picks- Brice Johnson (4th Overall) Angel Rodriguez (4th Round) Ivan Rabb (6th Round) Khadeen Carringon (8th Round) 

Anti Gary Picks- (Landen Lucas 7th Round)

Draft Grade- B

Joe Grippo & Phil DeAngelo 

Welcome to the Players Pool tournament Joe Grippo. It’s been a long time coming. After many appearances in the infamous basement watching the tournament, you have finally joined perhaps the greatest Fantasy Tournament known to Man. Phil DeAngelo who has had many appearances in this league, without any success at all, has brought Grippo in to be his partner and General Manager. Big Phil has had some solo appearances and many partners without positive results. One of his partners one year proceeded to take everybody from the Big East, that didn’t work out well. Grippo recently traveled to Florida to meet Phil, no doubt after Phil called him and told him to get his ass down there to discuss this partnership. On the surface it looks to be a great partnership, but we will see how Grippo’s draft skills fare amongst this skilled group of men. One thing is for sure, Grippo better “Move his Ass” as Phil likes to say or “He’s Gone!”

Appearances: Phil DeAngelo 10, 0 Titles, Phil & Joe (1st year this season)

Best Picks- Malcolm Brogdon (5th Overall) Derrick Gordon (20th Round)

Anti Gary Picks- Josh Hart (2nd Round) Daniel Ochefu (5th Round) Nate Britt (7th Round) Marshall Plumlee (9th Round) Derryck Thornton (15th Round) Farad Cabb (16th Round) and few more.

Draft Grade- F

Glen Garvin Aka Cooney Sucks

The Founder, the Commish, the only participant who has been in this league every single season since 1987. 1987, that was a special year. The year I founded the Pertin Institute in Rockholm, Montana. Unfortunately due to running toilets and poor funding the Institute closed down after just 14 weeks. Still, it was the first Institute of its kind to preserve ancient Corn Rock, once brought here by Christopher Columbus himself and later founded by his successor Blakely the Lion Fef the 34th. It is now a Arby’s I believe or a Sonic, not sure.

But the Founder has done a great job keeping this league going all these years, with passion and excellence. It truly is a joy for the members

Appearances: 29, Titles 4 (1991, 1996, 2002, 2011)

Best Picks- Tyler Ulis *subconsciously wrote Tyler Cooney here, or it’s very late and that Steve’s Sizzler steak is fogging by brain. (2nd Round) Jaysean Paige (3rd Round) Tarik Phillip (8th Round) Wes Washpun (15th Round)

Anti Gary Picks- Peter Jok (6th Round) Abdel Nader (9th Round) Eric McCellan (17th Round) Tyler Lydon (20th Round)

Draft Grade– C+

John Donadio

I have to be honest, I do not know much about the man they call Donadio. I have never met him or seen him. He could be a myth? But one thing is for sure he has not been a legend. It appears he first joined in 2008 and has not a title. He is the secret man, he could be in the CIA? I don’t know, but he must love the game here and who could blame him. Could you blame the damn man? And he must have loved the game Oregon Trail and enjoys stacked Pancakes. But sometimes it’s better to shut your mouth then to be known a fool as they say. But no one will argue with the man who is behind the stage and yet still is profound, with fervor with glee, with strength, with a mighty sword to swing. Or it could be Jerry, the local Postman just delivering the mail again.

*Donadio is known for taking very low point scorers on high seeds. But the Oregon trail strategy could work, perhaps no team looked more impressive this season than Oregon in their Conference Championship blowout over Utah.

Appearances: 8, Titles O

Best Picks- Dylan Brooks (7th Overall) Chris Boucher (3rd round) Eron Harris (4th Round Jevon Carter (8th Round)

Anti Gary Picks- Jarrod Uthoff (5th overall) Melvin Johnson (6th overall) Carlton Bragg (14th Overall) Marvin Clark (15th Overall) Josh Perkins (17th overall)

Draft Grade B-

Kenny D

The defending champ and he’s not hesitant to remind you or shout it from the mountain tops, Kenneth severely needed it after a 13 year hiatus. Can he continue the momentum after last year’s victory? Or will he buried by the masses. Because turn your back for too long and your post is ambushed, taken, and gone. Kind of like when my Kid Sister took my Rambo collection and tossed it off the Briangton Cliff after I took a poopie in her shoe. Ken, an original member of the 1987 inaugural season, will be looking for back to back titles something only two franchises have accomplished in the 29 years of this league. Or maybe it’s 28 years, forgive Old Gary. Somebody please rectify!!! Either way it shows how hard of a feat it is here.

Appearances:  24-26, Titles 2 (2001) (2015)

Best Picks- Jaylen Brown (8th overall) Jabrari Bird (9th Round) Lester Medford (13th Round) Mo Alie-Cox (15th Round) Dyshawn Pierre (16th Round) Derek Walton (20th Round)

Worst Picks- Justin Jackson (2nd Round) Kelan Martin (1oth Round) Michael Young (12th Round) James Robinson (14th Round) Anthony Clemmons (17th Round)

Draft Grade– C

Mike Esposito Aka Neighbor Boy

What is this Neighbor Boy? I have not heard of this. I must have been in the caves for too long. Could it mean that he’s your neighbor? Or he wants to be your neighbor? Will he drop off Apple Pie? Espo used to be the one to bring the excellent Italian spread for each tournament that opening Thursday. It would usually last at least 3 days. Easily one of the most astute and knowledgeable members in this league, Espo is due for another title. He has not won since 1999. Could this finally be the year? Can he break the losing streak? It’s been a longggg time coming for Espo, and I will tell your right now, I may have others that I am rooting for more, but if Espo wins this I will not be a sad man. I will certainly send him some cherries and coins. Will a change come? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y0k5rYcXLYg

Appearances: 18, Titles 1 (1999)

Best Picks- Jamal Murray (9th overall) Elgin Cook (2nd Round) Devin Williams (4th Round) Davon Reed (6th Round) Desi Rodriguez (12th Round) Justin Sears (16th Round)

Worst Picks– Robert Carter (8th Round) Jake Lyman (9th Round) Matt Thomas (11th Round)

Draft Grade– B

Evan Swalling

Evan, the last of the remaining 1987 original members left, has the longest drought of anyone. He has not won since 1988, the year he graduated High School!!! Mullets were still in style. Oh boyyyyy that is a long time. Espo is due, but if anybody is truly due, it’s Swalling. A former High School coach and most definitely a student of the game, needs to get it done!  He understands the game as much as anyone in this league. But again, this is a very hard league to win. There are no keepers and players and teams change every single year. Is there a chance he wins this year? There always is, no matter how high the odds.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zMRrNY0pxfM

Appearances: 25-27, Titles 1 (1988)

Best Picks: Frank Mason (2nd Overall) Sheldon McClellan (4th Overall) Jameel Mckay (11th Round) Isaiah Wilkins (15th Round) Kaleb Tarzu (16th Round)

Worst Picks- Luke Kennard (5th Round) James Farr (6th Round) Matt Jones (7th Round) Lorenzo Bonam (9th Round)

Draft Grade- C+

Ken Sullivan Aka CruCap

Where have all the Cowboys Gone? Rider on the Storm? Hot Blooded? Cherokee Rick and the 4 Horsemen? Sully started solo then partnered with Dusty then went back to solo. Kind of like a Rock n Roll band. He broke off the group to go solo in his own band. Baracudda!!!!!!!!!!!!! He claimed a title in 2012.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s4nWy8pmIM4 .Wow play that song a few times when you hit the elliptical.

Appearances: 10 Solo, 1 title (2012) , 3 with Dusty.

Best Picks– Wayne Selden (2nd Round) Daxter Miles (6th Round) Zach Auguste (9th Round)

Worst Picks – Jakob Poeltl (1st Round) Ryan Ardicianao (3rd Round) Kyle Wiltjer (5th Round) Troy Williams (7th Round) Lamonte Bearden (20th Round)

Draft Grade- D

Marvin & Davies

Marvin changes teams like I like change my underpants, once every 3 years or so. Marvin is infamous for blowing up the bathroom in the basement, perhaps worse than any other member. It has stained the minds of all who had to suffer through that. It’s very hard to track his membership. It appears he also takes a year off every now and then, although it seems like he’s in it every year.  He has since joined up with Brian Davies, who was first spotted in this league dating back to 1994 with Mark “Rolls’ Werner!!!! Wowww. Davies also has changed partners multiple times. Davies is known for making contrarian picks and having them work out. No doubt he has a unique perspective on this tournament and I respect that. I respect Men who go from the norm, blaze their own trails. This seemed like an unlikely partnership, but it has formed. Have they found a marriage here? How will it pan out and how long will it last? Judging from the past, not long, but we shall see.

Appearances: Marvin truly unknown 5-7?, Titles 0? Davies 14, 1 Title (2010)

Best Picks- Tyler Dorsey (1st Round) Bryan Forbes (2nd Round) Isaiah Whitehead (4th round) Marvelle Harris (12th round) Josh Hagins (16th round) Zak Irvin (20th Round)

Worst Picks– Rasheed Suliamon (8th round) Svilaslsaov MookyMook (10th Round)

Draft Grade– B

That is all everyone. Gary must depart now. I am off to breakfast at the famous Bendix Diner. Tell Suzy to send a letter and tell Rose to meet me in the back!!! Tell George to have the muffins ready and tell Lance to pick me up 9am Sharp!! Were headed to bet on some ponies!!! And then we will enjoy the games, just like the rest of you. I love it. We love it. Time to get sooped up. And so, may the best team win. All the best to all, to all the best. I hope to make another appearance somewhere around the Sweet 16 or Elite 8, we shall see. But after this weekend I am headed out once again. Out to venture. Actually, I am going to my Mother in Laws house for 3 weeks to help her build a oven. I hope you respect my draft grades. Ol Gary watches just as much as anyone and this is how I truly feel. Love to all. But I will leave you with this, to get you ready. From the great Gus Johnson, a dear friend, the best College Basketball announcer of All-Time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FantasySavvy: 2013 NCAA Tournament Insight

By: Steve DeAngelo

The NCAA Tournament, to me, is easily the best sporting event we have. Nothing matches the entertainment and excitement value provided from it. I got hooked on this tournament from a very young age and have been obsessed ever since.  Three straight weeks of thrilling games, launched by48 games from Thurs-Sunday. For the next four days, following some light work Thursday morning, I will be doing absolutely nothing but watching, thinking and dreaming about College Basketball.

Below are some quick thoughts on sleeper teams, potential upsets, the Final Four, and some players to keep an eye on. If you have any questions about certain matchups or players, hit me up on twitter @FantasySavvy, email me at SteveDeAngelo@gmail.com or comment below.

Sleeper Teams & Potential Upsets

Davidson: Led by Jake Cohen and De’Mon Brooks, this combo has what it takes to take out Marquette. They play very fluidly and Brooks is a serious force inside. Marquette is a tough team and Buzz Williams is a very solid coach, which makes them hard to pick against, but this game is going to be very close. Davidson could easily play themselves into the Sweet 16.

Belmont: As we know, Belmont is no stranger to the Tournament, but they are a stranger to winning in the Tournament. But, I believe this season they are due for a win and Arizona is ripe for the picking. The Pac-12 was once again a poor conference and Arizona just doesn’t impress me. Look for Belmont’s two Senior Guards Ian Clark (18 ppg) and Kerrom Johnson to give Zona all they can handle. Like Davidson, this is another fluid, cohesive squad that can make a nice run.

Minnesota: This team has size, is battle tested and has the athleticism to make a run to the Sweet 16. UCLA lost arguably their most important player in Jordan Adams for the Tournament, so they, like fellow Pac-12 team Arizona, are also prone to go down in the first round.  Expect the Gophers to control the boards and shut down UCLA on offense.

Northwestern State: This team can’t really play D and that’s not good when you match up with Florida, but they can score and rebound. In fact, Northwestern State leads the nation in scoring and is 12th in rebounding. I don’t trust Florida, Kenny Boynton hasn’t made a big shot his whole career, they have a weak inside game and I am going to take a shot with NW State here, despite them being 20-point dogs. Even if Florida does win this game, I don’t seem them making much noise at all in this tournament, the SEC like the PAC-12 has just been turrible this year.

Players to Watch:

Khalif Wyatt (G)-Temple: This kid can flat-out play and can carry Temple deep into the Tournament. Temple Head Coach Fran Dunphy has a horrible record in the Tournament at 1-5 but he is due for a deep run and this could be the year. Wyatt and Temple will need to get by C.J. Leslie and N.C. State which won’t be easy, but if they do, they could go on and beat Indiana and from there anything is possible. Wyatt reminds me of current Boston Celtic Jordan Crawford or maybe a James Harden lite. He has great range from three and gets to the hoop with consistency. When he gets to the line, he makes his FT’s shooting 83%. Temple has beaten Villanova, St. Louis, Syracuse and VCU this season, this team is legit and it all starts with Wyatt. Khalif has five games where he has scored at least 30 points and 11 games where he has scored 20.

C.J. Leslie (F) -N.C. State: N.C State has underachieved all season, but this team has the potential to go all the way to the Final 4. Leslie is a 6’9 Forward who reminds me a little bit of Kevin Garnett. He is crafty inside and has started to generate a mid-range game. I really am interested to see how he plays in this tournament because I think he has the potential to be a nice pro.

Doug McDermott (F)- Creighton: McDermott has the potential to pull a Stephen Curry and take this Creighton team to the Elite 8 or further, that’s how good he is. He can easily go off for 40 points like when he  put up 41 against Wichita State two weeks ago. He can shoot the three, play with his back to the basket and is just such a refined and fundamentally sound player. Most of the country has seen him, but if you haven’t make sure you check him out.

And of course: Shane Larkin-Miami, Ben Mclemore-Kansas, Kelly Olynk-Zags, Marcus Smart-Ok State, Trey Burke-Michigan, DeShaun Thomas-Ohio St, Otto Porter-G’town, Cody Zeller-Indiana.

Final Four

St. Louis: Just had a feeling about this team all year after I watched them win @ Butler. They have three guards in Mitchell, Jett and Mcall Jr. who all play excellent defense and can get to the rack. Dwayne Evans plays inside and although he’s only 6’5 he plays much bigger than that and is one of the most skilled post players in the country. They won an extremely tough A10, winning both the regular season and the conference tournament and they are beyond ready for a deep run. This team always plays cool, calm and collected and they are playing with a purpose, to win for the their former coach, the late Rick Majerus. Do not sleep on this team.

Ohio State: I’m taking Ohio State to come out of the west. I expect them to take out New Mexico everybody’s darling team this year and get past the Zags or Wisconsin in the Elite 8. The Buckeyes aren’t  a great scoring team, but they are excellent defensively and are led by arguably the best leader in College Basketball in Aaron Craft. DeShaun Thomas is one of the best players in the country and with him they have a go to guy at the end of the game, not many teams can say that.

Georgetown: Bit of a homer pick here and I will admit it will be tough for G’town to beat either Kansas, Michigan or VCU, but their road to the Elite 8 might be the easiest of all the tournament teams. I think they are a lock to make it to the regionals. Otto Porter brings that Jeff Green skillset when Green led the Hoyas to the Final Four and Markel Starks reminds me of former Hoya Jonathan Wallace. Both make big shots and G’town plays a suffocating defense.

Miami: I think the player I’ve been most impressed with has been Shane Larkin. He is probably the best PG in the country and arguably the quickest and most explosive. He has great range from three, makes great decisions with the ball and is truly a masterful floor general. Kenny Kadji can also shoot the three as well as play inside.  Jim Larranaga has been here before with George Mason and I believe he returns to the final weekend, but this time with a more talented team.

Again this is the best time of the year, all these matchups from teams that have never seen each other makes this tournament so interesting. You saw it tonight with the boys from Philly in LaSalle taking out the Boise State Broncos, showing that East Coast Basketball owns the West Coast! Enjoy the tournament everyone!

FantasySavvy Sweet 16 Predictions: 2012 NCAA Tournament


March Madness is in full gear as just today we hear word of Tim Tebow going to the Jets than later we find out the deal hits a snag and isn’t completed, now we here he is indeed going to NY.  Also Sean Payton is suspended a year for their bounty program and the Saints lose two draft picks as well. But let’s stick to what March Madness is really all about and that’s the NCAA Tournament.

South Region

#1 Kentucky vs #4 Indiana

I think it’s pretty clear that Kentucky is the most talented team in the tournament. Anthony Davis reminds of a Bill Russell type player and there is no other player in College Basketball like him and there hasn’t been in a long time. This team just has weapons all over the court with Teague, Jones, Lamb, Miller and Kidd-Gilchrist. The Wildcats will be looking to avenge their 1 point loss against Indiana earlier in the year and will most definitely have revenge on their mind.

The first time I got a look at Indiana I was very impressed. No real stars on the team, although Freshmen Cody Zeller is an emerging player, but overall Indiana is just a solid, cohesive team. I love the way they move the and shoot the basketball. Vegas has the Hoosiers as a 9 point dog, but I think Indiana keeps it closer than that. A lot of people think Kentucky will blow them out this time around, but I disagree. I think Indiana will scare Kentucky once again, but in the end Anthony Davis, Terrance Jones will be the difference makers as John Calipari continues his quest for his first National Championship.  Prediction: Kentucky 72 Indiana 67

# 3 Baylor vs #10 Xavier

If it wasn’t for Brady Heslip reigning in 9 three-balls and being on absolute fire, Baylor might of lost to 11th seeded Colorado. So far Baylor has beaten South Dakota State and a Colorado team team that had to win the Pac-12 Conference Tournament to make it to the big dance. Perry Jones and Quincy Acy really haven’t done anything in this tournament and Jones hasn’t shown up in big games all year. Let’s see with a week off if Baylor can keep up their hot shooting.

Xavier seems to make a run every year in the tournament. This year they are back again, led by star guard Tu Holloway. Xavier has wins over a weak Notre Dame team and a 15th seeded Lehigh squad. The Great White Hope, Kenny Frease had a monster game inside against Lehigh for the Musketeers going for 25 points, but going against Jones and Acy he will not repeat those numbers.  The best player on the court is Holloway, but can he score enough and can Mark Lyons be a solid sidekick to Holloway?. Xavier’s Freshmen Guard Dezmine Wells is also questionable for this game after spraining his big toe against Lehigh. I think Xavier keeps it close and with the leadership of Holloway squeaks out a victory. Prediction: Xavier 67 Baylor 61

West Region

#1 Michigan State vs #4 Louisville

Izzo is back again with another well-balanced and deep team. Draymond Green is arguably the most well-rounded player in the country and has developed bigtime since he was a Freshmen. The team has size with Green, Nix and Payne, they have the shooters in Woods, Thornton and Green and a good point guard in Keith Appling. This is just a very sound team all-around and they will be extremely tough to take down.

Rick Pitino is doing a great coaching job this season in a year where he doesn’t really have a ton of talent. PG Peyon Siva had a terrific Big East tournament leading the Cardinals to the title and has played fairly well in the field of 64. Louisville is good defensively with the big man Dieng in the middle, but they lack a little bit offensively. I think Michigan State just is better all-around and all though this game might be close for a time, I expect the Spartans to pull away towards the middle of the 2nd half. Prediction: Michigan State 70 Lousiville 61

#3 Marquette vs #10 Florida

Darius Johnson-Odom and Jae Crowder are two very physical, athletic, talented players. There is no doubt that this combination has the goods to cut down the nets in New Orleans. Coach Buzz Williams has done a great job with this team.

Florida is led by Senior Erving Walker and Junior Kenny Boynton who love to toss up the three ball, but at times can take some bad shots. Freshmen Bradley Beal has been excellent and the team has size with Patric Young and Eric Murphy who can play inside out. These two teams love to get up and down, so this will be one of the better games to watch. Marquette has the two best players, but Florida has more weapons. This is a tough game to call, but I think Marquette squeaks out a victory and advances to the Elite 8 to take on Michigan State. Prediction Marquette 79, Florida 76

East Region

#1 Syracuse vs #4 Wisconsin

Sex scandals, drug scandals, education scandals, Syracuse has been surrounded with controversy all season. But they have overcome it and find themselves two games away from the Final Four. Scoop Jardine and Kris Joseph were pretty bad down the stretch of the season and in the Big East tournament, but I liked their intensity last game against Kansas State. The Fab Melo loss I believe is a bit overrated as James Southerland, Dion Waiters, Brandon Triche can all fill his void. This team is loaded with talent and they have seemed to put the distractions behind them.

Wisconsin will try to slow Cuse down with their slow methodical offense, but they can be a threat from three led by their star guard Jordan Taylor. Although Taylor’s scoring is down about 4 points from last year he is setting the rock up for other teammates and they are contributing. Bo Ryan is tough defensive minded coach and they will probably give Cuse a scare, but the Orange’s talent will show eventually and they will take over this game. Prediction: Cuse 69 Wisconsin 62

#2 Ohio State vs #6 Cincinnati

DeShaun Thomas has been excellent and has been one of the best scorers in the tournament. Jared Sullinger has maintained his physical presence down low and William Buford is another athletic, solid scorer for the Buckeyes. The X-factor here will probably be Aaron Craft who stepped up last game offensively with 17 points. If he can continue that type of production, then Ohio State is going to be extremely tough to deal with.

The Bearcats have played outstanding towards the end of the year. It started in the Big East tournament when they beat Syracuse until they finally fell in the Championship to Louisville, but this team is coming together at the perfect time. They always had the talent but now Mick Cronin has them flowing. They match up very well with Ohio State and this will be a tough defensive game. Cincy has an array of scorers between Cashmere Wright, Sean Kilpatrick, Jaquon Parker and even Yancy Gates. They are long, athletic and they are going to give Ohio State a battle. A very tough game to pick, I’m going to go with the Bearcats as I believe they frustrate Ohio State defensively and pull of the upset. Prediction Cincinnati 65 Ohio State 64

Midwest Region

#1 North Carolina vs #13 Ohio

North Carolina just gained back John Henson, now they might be without Kendall Marshall. Reports were today that Marshall cast came off, that is a good sign, but realistically can he play just 4 days after surgery?. I suppose there is a chance, but it all depends on how much he can deal with the pain. I think he sits most of the game out against Ohio and will play if they advance. Carolina lacks a solid 3-point shooting attack but they make up for it inside with Henson and Zeller. Also Harrison Barnes is capable of scoring from anywhere on the floor and is easily a top 5 player in the country.

Ohio beat a good Michigan team and a decent South Florida team, but North Carolina is a different animal even without Marshall. Ohio Guard DJ Cooper might be able to keep the Bobcats in it for a stretch, but expect Carolina to control this game throughout and eventually win in the double digits. Prediction: North Carolina 83 Ohio 69

#2 Kansas vs #11 North Carolina State

I’ve always believed Kansas was a bit vulnerable coming into this tournament and that almost proved true when Purdue nearly knocked them off last round. Tyshawn Taylor has had his best year at Kansas, but he still remains somewhat erratic at times, although incredibly talented. Thomas Robinson is a problem obviously, but he isn’t an unstoppable force down low. Elijah Johnson needs to continue to step up for this team if they want to advance to the Elite 8.

I love this N.C. State team. I am a G’town fan and was extremely worried about their matchup with the Wolfpack and I don’t think it was an upset at all when they lost. C.J. Leslie is a future NBA player and Lorenzo Brown is a very crafty, smart and capable point guard. This team is dangerous and they are playing their best basketball of the year. I think N.C. State pulls the upset here, although to me it won’t be one. Prediction: N.C. State 78, Kansas 75

FantasySavvy will be taking to Twitter much more often and aside from focusing specifically on Fantasy Football we will expand a little bit here and there on Fantasy Baseball, Basketball and College hoops. Make sure to follow us on Twitter for most of the thoughts and advice and check here for occasional articles until Fantasy Football season resumes in September. 

2011 NCAA Tournament Breakdown: Year of Parity

(*click underlined for videos)

My first memory of watching college basketball will always be watching Duke beat Kentucky in the elite 8 in the 1992 tournament, when Christian Laettner hit the turnaround buzzer-beater jumper to win the game. I’m 28 years old now so at the time I was 10. From that moment on I was hooked. Already a fan of basketball because of my two older brothers and Michael Jordan, I had found a another way to enjoy the game, March Madness.

The next year would bring about the infamous Chris Webber timeout against North Carolina in the national championship game. My best friends older brother was a huge Michigan fan, rocking the Michigan shorts and the Michigan jersey. My best friend was a UNC fan, only because Michael Jordan went there and he tagged along and never has frayed from liking the Tarheels from Chapel Hill. It was great to recently watch the Fab 5 documentary on ESPN as it brought back memories, while informing me of tons of new information that I was ignorant to as a kid.

Years after Laettner, there would come many more buzzer beaters, Tyus Edney, Bryce Drew, Richard Hamilton, Drew Nicholas, and many others. March Madness to me is the most exciting post-season tournament. So many teams, so many games in a 3 week stretch.  Me and my friends would simulate the whole tournament, pretending we were the players on the respected teams. We would hit buzzer beaters, and try to replicate what we saw happen in the games.

My oldest brother and his friends were consumed by the madness for years as well and in 1987 started their own NCAA tournament fantasy league. They would draft players from the tournament and keep points as the only stat. Whosoever team scored the most points won, simple. But an idea so simple, became a passion not just for my Brother and his friends, but for me as well. In 1996, nine years after their first league was formed I joined the pool at the age of 14 years old. Despite a four-year hiatus from 1998 to 2002 I have participated every year since then. This is a new way to play fantasy, not many are familiar with it. Everybody is used to the traditional way just picking the brackets. While that can be exciting, picking the players is the perfect recipe for the fantasy player who loves, or just casually enjoys College Basketball.

I watch a lot of college Basketball and I will be honest most of it is in preparation for this players pool. I do love college basketball however regardless and love to watch players dominate the college game and some go onto develop in the NBA. I’m a Georgetown fan only because my oldest brother liked them and I quickly liked them as well. Always liked their colors and to this day black and grey are my colors of choice.

So whether you’re in a player pool already, want to start one or are just picking the brackets, I will give you my breakdown of this years teams that I feel can make the most noise in this tournament and the players on those teams that are the key to their success. This is a year of heavy parody which could bring about some very unexpected events. The great teams really don’t exist in this tournament. The Mid-majors could cause some serious trouble for the power conferences and that’s what we all want to see. However in the end, I feel the Big Boyz will show their superior skill and fill out that the later stages of the tournament, into the final 4 and national championship game.

Before I start I have to give props to two men who I believe have done wonders for college basketball. That is Dick Vitale who is from one of the towns I grew up in, Elmwood Park, NJ and Gus Johnson. Both men totally represent what the college game is about. They match the excitement of the game. They bring the passion and energy that makes watching the game that much better.

NATIONAL CHAMPION

One of the first games I watched all year was Ohio State vs Florida. Florida has been inconsistent the past couple years so I was interested to see how they would play against a pretty good Ohio State team that lost it’s best player in Evan Turner, but at the same time was bringing in a top prospect with Jared Sullinger. Watching that game, the Florida crowd was ruckus and Florida was hitting shots left and right. But Ohio State would counter every shot, David Lighty, William Buford, Jon Diebler all were banging threes. Lighty a Senior now who played on the team that lost to Florida in the 2007 national championship had improved mightily in my eyes. He was getting to the basket and hitting mid-range jumpers and 3-pointers left and right. They also added another freshmen, guard Aaron Craft who is a good ball handler that plays solid defense. But most impressive was probably Sullinger, who has a lot of size and is very crafty around the hoop. It was obvious to me that Ohio State head coach Thad Matta had built himself a great team. From that point I was convinced this team would win the National championship. I usually get a feeling every year about a team, but the feeling came very early this year,  and in my eyes, Ohio St. will win the 2011 National championship.

This team has everything you want really in a tournament winner. They can shoot, they can drive, they can rebound. Jon Diebler shoots 50% from 3-point land and Jared Sullinger is the best big man in the country. David Lighty is a top 15 college player in my eyes and William Buford is up there as well. Aaron Craft doesn’t play like a freshmen, he is very poised and a very smart player.

Besides not having an explosive point guard, that they can offset with other areas of strength this team’s only true weakness is depth. They only play 7 guys. Dallas Lauderdale, a senior, comes of the bench and is a good rebounder and defender , but after that it gets risky. The only other player that logs significant minutes  is Deshaun Thomas.

Most teams in tournament aren’t too deep, maybe 8 or 9 guys tops. A lot are similar at 7 deep, so I truly don’t feel this is a huge problem. Plus these kids are young and I believe they can handle it. Their talent and balance outweighs their depth. I have stuck with Ohio State all year and they have not disappointed. Thad Matta will win his first Natl title and the Ohio State Buckeyes will be cutting down the nets in Houston.

PATH TO THE FINAL 4

One thing to always look at when analyzing the bracket is which 1 seed or even 2,3 or 4 seed has the best path to the Final 4. You would think Ohio State would get the easiest road being that they were the #1 overall 1 seed, but that didn’t seem to happen. They got put in the same region with Kentucky, North Carolina and Syracuse. Still, I don’t feel any of these teams match up to Ohio State’s overall talent. While all these teams could beat them, I think Ohio State clearly is superior to all 3.

Arguably Kansas and Pittsburgh have the easiest roads to the Final 4. Duke also has a pretty nice road, but it’s a bit harder with Uconn and San Diego State. Also possibly Texas and Arizona could give Duke trouble although I don’t see those teams as a threat.

My next best Bet along with Ohio State to reach the Final 4 is Pittsburgh. While many can argue that Kansas or Duke are better and Pittsburgh always disappoints in the tournament (which is true), I feel this is Pittsburgh’s year but not because they are an extremely talented team. Again, this a somewhat down year for college basketball, most years this Pitt team couldn’t stand up to the other top teams, but this year I feel they can. I don’t see many of the teams in their path as being a threat. I believe they are in the region with the weakest 2 seed and that is Florida. Florida lost their conference tournament, and the committee admitted they had placed Florida in the 2 spot before the SEC Final began. Had they not done that, Florida probably would have been a 3 seed or a 4 like Kentucky is.

Other teams like #3 seed BYU, #5 Seed Kansas St., #4 seed Wisconsin and even #8 seed Butler are all good teams, but I don’ think they are as talented as Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh has the guard play and the big guys to get far in this tournament. Their big guys aren’t great offensively but they can rebound and defend. Ashton Gibbs is one of the best shooters in the country and has shown he can make big shots in big moments. Brad Wannamaker has grown up and can slash and shoot. Also Gilbert Brown is a versatile player.

Like Thad Matta, I think Jamie Dixon makes a run to the Final 4. Pittsburgh didn’t win their conference tournament because of Kemba Walker making Gary McGhee look like a fool. However they did win the Big East Regular season title and were the best team in the best conference in America the whole year. For that they are my next and final guaranteed Final 4 pick.

Kansas is an interesting team. Last year with Sheron Collins and the rest of the team they have in place now, they got bounced out of the second round by Missouri Valley Champion Northern Iowa. This year they have everybody back besides Sheron Collins. The Morris brothers have stepped up their game and can rebound and score as both average double figures. Tyrel Reid and Brady Morningstar sit on the perimeter and wait for the two brothers to kick it out to them so they can hit 3-pointers. And these guys hit them at a high percentage. Tyshawn Taylor who had a great freshmen year, but has regressed since has once again emerged somewhat as he had a nice Big 12 tournament. Bill Self tried bringing in Freshmen Josh Selby who was suspended early in the year, to be Collins replacement, but Selby hasn’t really worked out.

Taylor now has control of the point and I like his potential, but I have my doubts about his consistency. If Taylor can play the way he did in the Big 12 tournament than Kansas should cruise right to the Final 4. But he has been inconsistent for 3 years, so the odds are against him. Regardless, Taylor isn’t really a traditional PG, he doesn’t create and he’s not the type that can make a big shot at the end of the game. Who will take that big shot for Kansas at the end of the game? Marcus Morris in the post? Kansas really doesn’t have a guard who can take that big shot at the end of the game or can create that big shot. Ultimately I think Kansas will suffer because of their lack of strength at the point. We all know it, you need guards in the NCAA tournament and Kansas doesn’t have the right ones.

I honestly could see Illinois or UNLV upsetting Kansas in the second round, although not likely. Louisville with their guards and ball pressure could also knock off the Jayhawks. Notre Dame as well. Kansas could easily make the Final 4 and go to the national championship, but I am picking them to get knocked off in either the 2nd round or beyond because of their lack of guard play. Out of the four 1 seeds I think they have the highest chance of getting knocked off first.

That brings me to Duke, the last of the #1 seeds. I think Duke is almost a lock to get to the Elite 8, but I think this is where it gets sticky. A team like Arizona or Texas could knock them off in the sweet 16, but really I don’t see it. I think Duke will have problems with either Uconn or San Diego State. I like San Diego State a little bit more than Uconn and I think they also have a better chance to beat Duke.

Duke has the a great guard in Nolan Smith and Seth Curry and Johnny Dawkins can bang threes. Also they still have Kyle Singler. But I think teams can out-tough them, like a UConn or a San Diego State. So I am going with Duke to the Elite 8 just not the final 4. I am taking San Diego State with their athletic and defensive abilities to beat them. Steve Fischer gets the redemption after losing to Duke in the 92 Championship. But, don’t count out Kemba Walker and Uconn, I could see them in the Final 4 as well, but I will give San Diego State a slight edge. There is now talk that freshmen stud guard Kyrie Irving could return for the tournament. He has been out all year with a toe injury and it’s unknown at this time when he does return how much he will play. If Duke gets Irving (17 ppg before injury) back for this tournament and he’s back to playing regular minutes by the Sweet 16 next week, then Duke instantly goes to the National Championship favorite behind Ohio State and arguably the out-right favorite.

CONTENDERS

# 3 Seed UCONN

I think we all saw the shot by Kemba Walker against Gary Mcghee (posted earlier) in the Big East tournament final at the garden. But here it is again one more time, it really never gets old. That shot will never be forgotten. Kemba Walker is an NBA player plain and simple. The Bronx, NY native is ultra quick and is incredibly crafty. He knows how to use his speed and slow down and change the pace on his defenders. His shot has developed a ton and he can pass and even rebound a bit. He has the ability, much like Carmelo Anthony did for Syracuse back in 2003 to lead this team to a National Title. Many people think they will be gassed from the 5 games they played in a row in the Garden and that could possibly be true. But Kemba seems to have a motor that doesn’t stop. Also during the Big East tournament, other Uconn players started to step up. Jeremy Lamb started to score and make big shots with his little runners, Alex Oriakhi played much more aggressive in the paint and Shabazz Napier the talented freshmen guard stepped up as well. Jim Calhoun knows how to build teams and he’s got a solid one right here. It will be tough for Uconn to get by both San Diego State and Duke, especially with Kyrie Irving, but Uconn has the talent and the leader in Kemba Walker to get it done.

# 3 Seed BYU

The “Great White Hope”, the next Larry Bird, these are some of the things BYU Guard Jimmer Ferdette is being called and for good reason. Jimmer took the tournament by storm last year upsetting Florida in the first round and scoring 37 points in the double-overtime win. Fredette is now a senior and leads the nation in scoring averaging 28 points per game. He has more range than any other shooter in college basketball. He is extremely crafty with the ball and smart as well. Simply put, Jimmer Ferdette is an amazing player. Like what we saw with Stephen Curry with Davidson in 2008, taking them to the Elite 8 and nearly knocking off the National Champion Kansas Jayhawks, Ferdette can lead BYU that far and maybe further. Obviously losing their best rebounder Brandon Davies for the year hurts, but BYU with Jimmer’s talent has a legit shot to run the table.

#2 Seed North Carolina

The ACC regular season champions are a young talented team who have a chance to run the table. Since the move of Kendall Marshall to the point guard position this team has been red-hot. Harrison Barnes has emerged as one of the best players in the country and Tyler Zeller is a talented big man inside along with John Henson. But Carolina is young and inexperienced. They gave up the lead in every game in the ACC tournament and you can’t do that in the NCAA tournament. But, this team still has all the talent to put it together. But It will be a tough road coming out of the east having to go through Washington, Syracuse and Ohio State.

#4 Seed Kentucky

This is another extremely talented but young group. Freshmen Terrance Jones started out red hot, but has cooled and has been inconsistent of late. If he can get back to the level he was playing at earlier in the year, then Kentucky may be able to upset Ohio State in the Sweet 16 and move on to the final 4. PG Brandon Knight is a smart, savvy point guard who can shoot and penetrate. John Calipari has once again built another solid team a year after losing John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins. This new team isn’t as talented, but they can make some noise and have a chance to get to the final 4. I saw this team handle Notre Dame and Louisville earlier in the year and this team when Terrance Jones is on his game is flat-out dangerous.

Other Possible Contenders- Syracuse, Notre Dame, San Diego State (previously mentioned as my favorite for Final 4)

Quiet Storms

#6 Seed St. John’s

People might be sleeping on St. John’s now that their 2nd best player D.J. Kennedy is out for the tournament. Still, we have seen many times a team lose a star player and step up in his absence. With Kennedy, St. John’s was a legit Final 4 candidate, but even without him they can advance deep. Jimmer Fredette and Kemba Walker get a lot of play, but D.J. Hardy deserves recognition as one of the best scorers in the country as well. Hardy can hit from long-range and can get to the hoop with success. Hardy is the type of player that can carry a team on it’s back. Steve Lavin has done a great job with this senior laden team and the Redstorm are not gonna go down without a fight. If St. John’s beats BYU in the second round, this team could then take down Florida and have a chance to reach the Final 4. It was with D.J. Kennedy but St. John’s has beaten two #1 seeds this season in Duke and Pittsburgh.

#6 Georgetown

Chris Wright has been cleared to play and Georgetown needs his services desperately. Without him, G’town lost 4 straight games and looked completely lost. Because of this many have picked G’town to lose in the 1st round to either VCU or USC. The fact is this is a different team with Chris Wright. This is the team that beat up on Utah St. and Memphis, beat Missouri, Beat Syracuse, Beat Louisville, and St. John’s. Chris Wright hasn’t missed many games and he has been practicing with the team for the past couple weeks. I think G’town will be ready to go and will advance to the second round against Purdue and have a great chance to beat Purdue and then possibly Notre Dame to get to the Elite 8.


#6 Seed Xavier

Another 6 seed, Xavier was the Alantic-10 regular season champ and are a dangerous team. Led by guard Tu Halloway, they also have size with Kevin Freese and Mark Lyons and also have a nice shooter in Dante Jackson. Halloway is one of the best point guards in the country. Their first round matchup against Marquette is a tough one and then if they win that they would battle Syracuse in the second round. But playing in their own state of Ohio in the first two rounds could prove to be a huge advantage, especially with such a talented squad.

#7 Seed Washington

The Pac-10 has been down the past couple seasons, but Washington is still a very talented team. Led by Guard Isiah Thomas, this shifty little guard can make big shots just like Kemba Walker can. He can help this Washington team cause a stir. If they can get past North Carolina in the second round, which will be tough considering the game is in Charlotte, NC, Washington could end up as far as the Elite 8.

#7 Seed UCLA

UCLA didn’t even make the tournament last year, which is shocking, but they were in rebuilding mode. This year they are back with a very talented but young team. Much like Kentucky and UNC when things are clicking for UCLA they can beat almost anybody. This year they beat BYU by 7, St. John’s by 7 and Arizona by 22. They also lost a 1 point game at Kansas on a controversial foul call at the end of the game. UCLA has balanced scoring with 4 players who average in double figures. Freshmen Josh Smith controls the inside at 6’10 305 pounds, Reeves Nelson the versatile forward plays inside and out and Malcolm Lee and Tyler Honeycutt can slash and drain threes. Then of course you have Ben Howland, one of the best coaches in the country. This is a team that could easily beat Michigan State in round one and then upset Florida in round 2.

#10 Seed Michigan State

You can’ t leave Tom Izzo’s team off this list, every year it’s the same story, they start slow and get hot towards the end of the year. But that didn’t really happen this year. They have underachieved all year and if it wasn’t for beating Purdue in the Big Ten tournament, the Spartans wouldn’t of been playing in the NCAA tournament. What happened to this team this year? Well, Kalin Lucas has been getting better but hasn’t been the same since his torn Achilles injury. Darrell Summers has disappeared since his great tournament play last year that took Michigan State to the final 4. Guard Korey Lucious was booted off the team mid-season. So can Michigan State put it together in a pinch? If Kalin Lucas can play to the level he’s capable of and Darrell Summers plays to his potential this team can make a run to the regional final. Delvan Roe and Draymond Green are big bodies in the middle that can rebound and play defense. This team has the talent still, and the coach, but can they accomplish this feat yet again? One thing is for sure, it’s hard to bet against them with their track record.

Sleepers

#13 Seed Morehead State

Morehead State has a tough matchup in the first round against Louisville, but this team has the players to pull the upset. First they have the leading rebounder in college basketball in Kenneth Faried. Faried averaged 14 rebounds per game along with 17 points. The kid is a beast on the boards coming in at 6-8 225. Repping Brick City, NJ (Newark NJ) Faried is the type of player that can change a game. But it doesn’t stop with him, Demonte Harper a Senior like Faried, is a good scorer who averages 16 a game. He scored 25 and 27 in Morehead State’s semi and championship games in the OVC conference tournament. Remember this is the same conference that brought out Murray State who upset Vanderbilt in last years tournament, so watch out for Morehead State to possibly take down the #4 seed Louisville Cardinals.


#13 Seed Oakland

Led by NBA prospect 6’10 Keith Benson, Oakland is a team to be reckoned with. They average over 80 points a game and score in bunches. However they also let up a ton of points as well and are one of the worst defensive teams in the tournament. But facing Texas in the first round, a team that can go through scoring droughts, this may be the perfect matchup. Reggie Hamilton is a guard who can score from all parts of the court and he gives Oakland along with Benson a nice inside out presence. They beat Tennessee earlier in the year and only lost by 1 to Michigan State.

#13 Seed Belmont

Two things stand out in Belmont for me, they have the highest scoring margin of any team in the tournament (top indicator for tournament success) and their depth. This team is flat-out dangerous. They won 30 games this season and did it with their extensive depth. They have 11 players that play 10 minutes or more and not one player plays more than 25 minutes. They are a smart, savvy basketball team. They remind me of the Northern Iowa team that knocked off Kansas in the second round last year. Wisconsin recently scored just 33 points against Penn State in the Big 10 tournament and Bo Ryan’s club may be up to their old tricks. Jordan Taylor is a great player, but Wisconsin is prone to upsets in the tournament. This will be a close game and Belmont could pull the upset and maybe find themselves in the Sweet 16.

#14 Seed Wofford

I was very upset when I saw Wofford matched up with BYU in the first round, because I really wanted to pick this team to upset whoever they played. I just find it so hard to bet against Jimmer. But that’s not to say that Wofford can’t do it, because they easily can. This team is arguably the best mid-major team I’ve seen this year. This same team almost beat Wisconsin last year in the tournament but fell short losing 53-49. The team is led by 3 seniors, Noah Dahlman (20 ppg), Cameron Rundles (14 ppg) and Jamar Diggs (12 ppg). Dahlman is very fluid inside player, Rundles drains 3-pointers and Diggs is a slasher. This team is very good. They can not only beat BYU and get out of the 1st round, but this team could get to the Sweet 16. Again though, it’s just hard betting against Jimmer, but Wofford is a team you don’t want to forget about.

That’s it, take those teams, keep an eye on them and the players I mentioned. Look at their last 5 games scored, check out their scoring averages, fill out your bracket and decide your attack. Those teams are the most dangerous teams in the tournament.If you have any questions feel free to email me at SteveDeAngelo@gmail.com. In part 2 of this article, I will reveal my strategy of building a winning team. If you’re just in a bracket pool then part 2 does not pertain to you. If you are in a players pool or want to get in one check out FantasyPostseason.com and you can start or join a league there.