Posts Tagged ‘Villanova’

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.

Another Wild Wednesday in College Hoops

January 29th, 2009 by Travis Edwards (Bankroll Sports Contributor) | Posted in NCAA Basketball   Comments Off on Another Wild Wednesday in College Hoops

How’s that popular saying go? Another one bites the dust, or at least another top ranked team that is. The Duke Blue Devils become yet another victim of the growing trend of number 1 ranked teams to fall in the opening month of 2009. The Blue Devils and Wake Forest ACC classic highlighted what turned out to be the second straight wild Wednesday in the last two weeks. Here is a recap of the night and how some of big games turned out.

#4 Wake Forest 70 – #1 Duke 68

Wake Forest controlled this game from the start making plays all over the court. The Demon Deacons highlights probably flooded the top 10 plays of the night with an outstanding put back slam, a between the legs pass followed by a dunk, and also an inbounds pass with less than 3 seconds to go that lead to James Johnson making the winning shot. Yes the Demon Deacons responded nicely after last week’s upset loss to Virginia Tech that knocked them out of the number 1 ranking. Wake Forest controlled the majority of this game. However, Duke did show that they are a very strong team as they made a valiant comeback effort. Kyle Singler and Gerald Henderson may have been the only two Blue Devils on the floor last night or at least that is the only names that were heard considering the rest of the team must have still been back at Cameron last night. Still Duke closed what was an 11 points gap late in the second half to tie the game with 14 seconds to play after a great shot by Gerald Henderson who scored 20 points on the night. Unfortunately Duke poorly covered the inbounds pass to Johnson and perhaps turned it up a notch a tad to late. The Blue Devils become the 3rd team in 3 weeks to get knocked off the number 1 ranking only two days after earning the top spot.

#3 Pittsburgh 57 – #21 Villanova 67

The Pittsburgh Panthers were the 2nd upset victim of the night to 21 ranked Villanova. Early on in the game the Panthers were quick out of the gates and even jumped to a 10 point lead. However, junior guard Reggie Redding came on strong as the game progressed knocking down 18 points and the Wildcats took over. Villanova capitalized off a poor shooting performance from Pittsburgh to grab their first victory over a top 25 opponent this season despite 4 attempts before. Pittsburgh shot a disappointing 41% from the floor and an embarrassing 3-16 (18%) from behind the arc. Not to mention the Pittsburgh starting lineup only accounted for a total of 36 points the entire night. The loss marked the Panthers 2 loss in the last 4 games while dropping them further down in the Big East standings. Considering Marquette and Louisville is still undefeated in conference play, the Panthers can not afford any more defeats or they can say goodbye to Big East regular season title hopes. With the no. 1 and no. 3 teams both losing on Wednesday night you expect their to be some shake up in the rankings amidst the Top 5 as Connecticut will likely take over the top spot.

#6 North Carolina 80 – Florida State 77

The Tarheels barely escaped becoming the 3rd top 10 team to be upset on Wednesday night. By saying barely escaped is a mere understatement, considering North Carolina trailed in the final moments of the game. If you saw the Duke and Wake Forest ending where James Johnson hit the game winning lay-in with less than 3 seconds to go, you still only saw the second best finish of the night. In another ACC classic type game, North Carolina and Florida State battled back and forth over the closing minutes of the game. In a game where former Player of the Year Tyler Hansbrough was held to a season low 8 points, teammates Danny Green and Ty Lawson picked up the slack. Toney Douglas drained 32 points for the Seminoles as they appeared they would get the victory with as they led by 3 under a minute and a half to go in the game. However, Danny Green came up with a huge steal for North Carolina taking it the length of the court and getting the bucket and the foul that eventually led to the game being tied at 77-77. Florida State had a chance to win, but somehow let the shot clock expire with 3.2 seconds to go after a Hansbrough block. Ty Lawson grabbed the inbounds play and sprinted up the court and delivering a floating three pointer that sailed through the net with the buzzer blaring in the background. At first it appeared, the shot came out to late but that did not stop the Tarheels from celebrating. Shortly after, the shot was confirmed legit as the Tarheels escaped Tallahassee capping yet another action filled Wednesday. In case you missed the ending, have a look…