Posts Tagged ‘Marquette’

2009 NCAA Tournament Teams to Watch

March 17th, 2009 by Travis Edwards (Bankroll Sports Contributor) | Posted in NCAA Basketball   Comments Off on 2009 NCAA Tournament Teams to Watch

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One of the most interesting aspects of the NCAA Tournament is the upsets. Every year there are plenty of heart breaking losses and exciting underdog stories that highlight the March Madness venue. The unexpected is always certain in March and that is what makes the NCAA Tournament so intriguing. Every year fans embrace a breakout underdog that will steal the spotlight from the top names in the country. In the basketball world, we call that the Cinderella team. One of the toughest things to do when filling out your bracket can be predicting some of these unexpected upsets and teams that will emerge from the darkness to shine in the spotlight. Last year Davidson was the Cinderella story. Stephen Curry and the Davidson Wildcats surged from their 10th seeded position into the elite eight barely losing to the Kansas Jayhawks who later went on to win the National Championship. Before you complete your brackets this year, we will try to break down the best suited teams that could be the breakout story and wear the Cinderella slipper in 2009.

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Usually by the NCAA Tournament, there are clear favorites on the teams that will be expected to win it all. While of course many people will expect the Connecticut, Pittsburgh, and North Carolina teams to do well there are plenty of less popular names to consider. Perhaps this year more than any, there are many teams who definitely have the capability of knocking off the top seeds. For example, the Wake Forest Demon Deacons appeared unbeatable earlier this season. The Demon Deacons started a perfect 16-0 and were the number 1 team in America for many weeks. However, after a sluggish second half of the season the Demon Deacons are only a 4 seed in the tournament. While a number 4 seed is not considerably a low seed, there are still plenty of lower seeds that could surge in their brackets and there is not a team in America that looks forward to playing a team like Wake Forest.

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One of the first teams on the radar to break out in the NCAA Tournament is the Marquette Golden Eagles. Marquette got off to a brilliant start in the brutal schedule that is the Big East. The Golden Eagles come in the Tournament as a number 6 seed slated to take on Utah State in the opening round. Marquette will be favored to win the first round, but may be an underdog in round 2 where they will likely meet No. 3 seeded Missouri. Missouri was the surprise team of the Big 12 this season and their match-up with Marquette would be very compelling. We got the winner of this game coming out of the bottom part of the bracket meaning they take down Memphis and challenge Connecticut for a spot in the final four. Missouri is a very solid team that won the Big 12 Tournament Championship during conference week leading up to the big dance. However, last time the Tigers were matched up with a smaller type team like Marquette they were blown out by Kansas 90-65. The Golden Eagles smaller lineup and tremendous backcourt make them extremely tough for Missouri to beat. We take a gamble on the Golden Eagles soaring into the elite eight in exciting fashion.

Another team to keep an eye on is the Clemson Tigers. Clemson was another ACC team that got off to a perfect 16-0 start before hitting the blunt of conference play. However, the Tigers blasted Duke midway through the season handing Coach K one of the biggest losses of his career 74-47. Clemson struggled down the stretch in the ACC losing 4 of their first 5 games. One might think the Tigers have lost their way in the 2nd half of the season. On the other hand Clemson will come out of the gates taking on Big 10 opponent Michigan. While the game is expected to be close, if the Tigers come out knocking down outside shots like they tend to do it should be enough to handle the Wolverines. The Tigers will get Oklahoma most likely in the second round and this could be the first really big upset of the entire tournament. Oklahoma would have an extremely difficult time defending the outside shooting that makes Clemson so dangerous. If the two Tigers’ guards K.C Rivers and Terrence Oglesby get hot, you can say goodnight. While these two games may be a long shot for Clemson to overcome, their style of play could present problems for their early round opponents that could work to their advantage.

Even though we mentioned the Clemson Tigers being a surprise team in the South bracket, the Syracuse Orange could also be a surprise team from the lower half of the bracket. Syracuse has the most manageable path of any 3 seed in the tournament. Syracuse gets South Florida in round 1 and the winner of the Arizona State vs. Temple match-up for round 2. The Orange men could easily find their selves in the sweet sixteen taking on anyone from Oklahoma, Michigan, or our surprise pick Clemson in that game. Syracuse could manage a victory against any of these opponents on any given night. Syracuse made a strong run in the Big East Tournament beating Connecticut in the 6 overtime thriller before losing in the Championship game to Louisville. Considering that lone loss was the Orange only defeat in the last 3 weeks of basketball they appear to be peaking at the right time. Would it be crazy to predict Clemson to beat Oklahoma, and then Syracuse beat Clemson? Maybe, but whoever they do play we will take Syracuse to be the biggest surprise threat in the South.

In our final area to keep your eye we turn our focus to the East bracket. There are a number of possible scenarios if you are looking for an underdog in this bracket. The Villanova Wildcats would be a good candidate to take coming of the bottom half of the bracket. Villanova will most likely be favored to win their opening two games and could meet up with No. 2 seed Duke in the sweet sixteen. The Wildcats sets screens, and roll off the ball very well scoring points on cuts to the paint. That is the very type of team Duke has struggled with this year. Not to mention this seems to be the area in the tournament the Blue Devils have failed to get past over the last few seasons. On the upper side of the bracket if there is any team that could knock off Pittsburgh it would be Florida State. The Seminoles knocked off North Carolina in the ACC Tournament and they have played very well at times this season. Standout guard Toney Douglas gives the Seminoles a chance in any close game considering he is one of the best guards in the country. If any team was to pull off an early upset over Pittsburgh, it could be the Seminoles chance to shine.

In attempt to cover every bracket, we finally move a little focus to the Midwest. The Midwest could possibly be the toughest bracket top to bottom in the tournament. The USC Trojans could come out to surprise people if they keep up their momentum that propelled them to their first Pac-10 Tournament Title in history. However, in the end we will expect some familiar faces to square off to represent the Midwest. Louisville defense should carry them solidly through the first two rounds and possibly throughout the tournament. On the lower side of the bracket we may expect a very familiar name to emerge. No. 3 seeded Kansas is different and young team compared to the 2008 National Championship team. However, they captured the Big 12 regular season crown and played extremely well as the year progressed. We will expect the higher seeds to prevail in this bracket avoiding any big upsets. While the upsets may happen in the Midwest, we will just say we predict that Cinderella will come from one of the other brackets in the tournament.

March Madness Outlook

February 16th, 2009 by Travis Edwards (Bankroll Sports Contributor) | Posted in NCAA Basketball   3 Comments »

The College Basketball season enters the final 4 weeks of basketball before we head into the always exciting conference championships and March Madness. We have some numerous events take place already on the college hoops stage with upsets, last second buzzer beaters, to instant classics, and much more. The rest of the season promises to be just as exciting and we will take a look what to possibly expect when the NCAA Tournament rolls around with a prediction of number 1 seeds, along with teams to watch out for, and who could possibly win it all.

The 2009 season has seen many different number 1 teams fall, and a few other teams completely fall apart. However, there are a few that have been rather stellar throughout the year and have a great chance at locking up a number 1 seed in March. The most probable team to lock up a number 1 is the Oklahoma Sooners. Oklahoma stands right now at a 23-1 record for the season along with 13 straight wins since their lone loss to Arkansas in late December. Oklahoma has narrowly escaped quite a few games this season but has managed to get the wins none the less. However, Oklahoma will really get tested in their final 5 games of the season with road trips to Missouri and Texas while also hosting Kansas. Oklahoma benefits from teams like Duke, Wake Forest, Louisville, all having at least 4 losses which are also the teams ranked 4-7 nationally. Even if the Sooners lose 1 or possibly 2 of the last 5 they still have a good chance to receive a number 1 seed because they only have 1 loss at this point in the year. While many have criticized the Sooners schedule, Blake Griffin (22ppg, 13rpg) has proven to be one of the best players in the nation and will likely give Oklahoma a chance to win any game they play in for the rest of the season no matter who they play. Given the Sooners do not completely fall apart they should be a safe bet to holding down the number 1 spot in March.

Another number one seed will likely come out of the best conference in basketball throughout 2009 which is the Big East. The Connecticut Huskies has held the number 1 ranking in America over the last two weeks and they will have a great shot to finish the year strong. Pittsburgh is another strong team that will have a chance as well. The Panthers were the top ranked team in America for a good while during the early part of the year, but suffered two losses rather close together to top 15 teams Louisville and Villanova. However, both of these two teams are first and second in the conference and will battle two more times this year including a showdown tonight at Gampel Pavilion. It is safe to say if one of those teams could win both games they could likely win the Big East will continuing to be one of the top ranked teams in the country. Pittsburgh and Connecticut have only 5 games left to play and you would have to give the Huskies the advantage with their outstanding defense and excellent rebounding. If these two teams split, Connecticut will still have the edge with one less loss at this point in the season and many would have to consider them the biggest favorite to capture a number one seed. However, it is too early to count out Pittsburgh heading into tonight’s big game.

The North Carolina Tarheels came out of the gates this season as strong as any team in recent history. North Carolina won 13 straight games in dominating fashion and had some fans believing in an undefeated campaign. However, the Tarheels would lose 2 out of the next 3 to unranked Boston College and also Wake Forest. Since those slips, North Carolina has returned to early season form with 9 straight wins including double digit victories over Clemson and Duke. The Tarheels have a rather light schedule ahead of them with the season finale at home against Duke once again. North Carolina can lose 1 game and still become a number one seed, but considering how well they have been playing they may not lose any. Tyler Hansbrough, Ty Lawson, and Wayne Ellington make up an all-star type college hoops lineup and there is no doubt they possess the most talent in America.

The final number one seed could be up for grabs. Pittsburgh will have the best opportunity even with their two match-ups with Connecticut that could go either way. The Panthers only have two losses and if they could avoid dropping both to the Huskies they have the best shot at locking up the final number one seed. However, teams like Memphis and Louisville still have legitimate chances. Louisville suffered their 5th loss of the season and will take a slide towards the bottom of the top 10. However if they could get some help from Connecticut taking down Pittsburgh once or twice, the Cardinals will also get Pittsburgh and they have already beat them once this year. Memphis on the other hand is a team that lacks the strength of schedule or RPI as the top teams, but they have racked up 16 straight wins with the optimistic outlook of an easy schedule. The Tigers could very well have the best chance with the other team’s difficult schedules to rally and earn the final number one position in the NCAA Tournament.

Now we move on to one of the more difficult task in predicting a team that many would not expect to turn the NCAA Tournament into their Cinderella story in 2009. Davidson was one similar scenario last year when they seemingly came out of nowhere to make the Elite 8 before losing to Kansas who went on to win the National Championship. There are some teams that would love to impact the tournament this season and make similar noise. One team that could likely breakout in 2009 Tournament time is the Marquette Golden Eagles. Marquette has played against the best teams in America all season as has hung right with the best of them and is currently only one game behind Connecticut in the Big East. The Golden Eagles are a fast pace team that could give the usual power teams a lot of problems with players like Jerel McNeal and Wesley Matthews. Another team that could make an impact in the tournament is an unlikely wonder out of the SEC and the only unranked team we have mentioned in the South Carolina Gamecocks. The Gamecocks have really played well behind new coach Darrin Horn. After two straight seasons of 15 or more losses, the Gamecocks now stand at 18-5 and in the lead of the SEC East division. South Carolina was definitely not considered to even make the Tournament this year much less make an impact in the spectacle. However, South Carolina is a scrappy bunch lead by Devan Downey who is one of the better guards in America. South Carolina has won with some exciting close games this year in the SEC and if they can hang in some ball games they will be tough to beat late in games. All of these teams appear to have the ability to surprise some teams, but we never know what will truly shake out. One thing is for certain and that is the uncertain in March.