Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Welcome to Bracketville--ESPN 24 Hour Marathon Edition

The return of college basketball is finally here…in spades. How wonderful.
My two cents worth: I think North Carolina State, Missouri, UCLA, and Duke (despite their 75-68 victory over #3 Kentucky) are over rated.
Miami, Florida, Notre Dame and Gonzaga appear under rated to me.
Of course, I think Gonzaga is under rated every season…one year I will be correct.
In the first week, we have been rewarded with a multitude of Top 25 match-ups.
Yesterday’s ESPN Marathon was a real treat.
The big name players did not disappoint, and there were enough games going down to the wire to please even the most discriminating fan.
Keith Appling carried Michigan State past Kansas, in arguably the most exciting finish of the day.
New Mexico’s comeback over Davidson was a thrill. I was cheering for Davidson all the way.
UMass and Harvard was a helluva game.
Gonzaga creamed West Virginia. I just love it when Huggins takes a beating, especially when it is from a team led by a coach who is a gentleman.
Wichita State’s victory over VCU (at VCU) might qualify as the biggest upset.
Harvard’s Syani Chambers played all 40 minutes…14 points, seven assists and just one turnover.
St. John’s center Obekpa finished with an impressive stat line: 7 points, 2 steals, 11 rebounds and 8 blocks…pretty dominant.
What happened to Butler?
Kentucky’s Nerlens Noel wowed me.
Mason Plumlee was impressive for Duke against all the more athletic players Kentucky threw at him.
Eleven of St. John’s 13 scholarship players are underclassmen, making them one of the youngest division one teams this season.
Ohio returns all five starters from last season’s Sweet Sixteen squad.
The Thanksgiving weekend Battle 4 Atlantis has about the best lineup going of the early tournaments: Duke, Louisville, Memphis, Missouri, VCU, Minnesota, Northern Iowa and Stanford. There will be some great games and a major upset or two. Too bad, no one will be able to see the games…NBCS is carrying the game. NBCS is available in fewer homes than ESPNU.
New addition to the ESPN basketball announcer/analyst lineup, Seth Greenberg, is officially terrible…just awful.
Coach K has now produced the most first round draft picks of any coach in ACC history.
This season there are 346 Division I teams that will count in the RPI.
Ten teams are not eligible for NCAA Tournament play for various infractions.
Kenny Boynton stayed all four years at Florida, and should have a big-time season. Last season (on a team with five players averaging double digits) he averaged 15.9 a game…remarkable. He made 40.7% of his threes and 50% of his twos…remarkable.
Lehigh returns four of their top minute guys.
Until beating Georgetown in last year’s NCAA second round, North Carolina State lost to every quality team they played.
Miami returns all five starters and top seven scorers from last year.
Duke is down to nine scholarship players…due to injury.
The Duke women’s team is the only Elite Eight team to return its Top Five scorers from last season. Their preseason rank is #3, but with All World center, Elizabeth Williams out with a stress fracture, it’s going to be a tough proposition to live up to the hype.
Last season Indiana was ranked fourth in the country in adjusted offensive efficiently…64th on the defensive end. Their 102-90 tournament loss to Kentucky was thrilling evidence of this disparity.
Not so fast: Before Thad Matta arrived, Ohio State had won just two NCAA tournament games in the previous five years. In the eight seasons since then, Matta has guided the Buckeyes to two Final Fours, three consecutive Big Ten regular season titles, and a No. 1 or No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament in five out of the last seven years. Even more remarkable is the fact that Matta has done so while losing seven non-seniors to the NBA.
One more thing: All five starters for Notre Dame return.

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