Thursday, March 20, 2008

Nine Things To Watch During March Madness

1. Pitt has no shot of even sniffing the Final Four, much less winning the whole damn thing. (Did the picture fool you?)

Shortly after the pairings were announced, my Dad told me he had Pitt winning it all. I told him he was nuts. Shortly after that, Bob Knight was on my television agreeing with the Dad. What? Ok, they had a great run in the Big East Tournament, I get it. But don't they always do that? Or something close to that? Pitt's a nice team, and they play hard and I like Jamie Dixon, but you need NBA talent to win six straight in March. Like all other years, Pitt has a bunch of scrappers but no elite level talent. Sam Young is a nice player; he'll play in the NBA one day, but he's not a go-to guy. DeJuan Blair is a burly 6-7 freshman PF with stupid-long arms. He too has a chance to make it to the league one day, but he won't dominate the NCAA tournament.

Jump off the Pitt bandwagon immediately.

2. I'm looking for the following players to improve their draft stock with their performances in March: Louisville SG/SF Terrance Williams, Kansas PG Sherron Collins and West Virginia SF Joe Alexander.

Terrance Williams isn't even in Chad Ford's Top 100 (a Top 100 that somehow includes UNC's Danny Green), which is only the most ridiculous thing I've discovered this morning. He's a super athlete who defends like crazy and happens to be the best passing wingman in the country. How is this not a draftable player, Mr. Ford?

Sherron Collins--hands down--is my favorite PG to watch. He's like Dee Brown, but better (note: Illinois' Dee Brown, not the guy who won the dunk contest). Chad Ford has him as the 58th best prospect for the 2008 draft, which places him in the late 2nd-to undrafted category. No way. 5'11 or not, Collins is a 1st rounder. Watch.

Joe Alexander, when healthy, has been quite awesome this season. He took things to another level down the stretch for West Virginia, with a bunch of 30+ scoring efforts. He is the perfect small forward in terms of build and ability to score in multiple ways; he can post you up, take you outside or beat you off the bounce. He might not have Rudy Gay's athleticism (who does?), but he's in that next tier athletically. Chad Ford has him rated as the 74th overall prospect. I don't see how he's not a lottery pick.

3. Stanford (-14.5) vs. Cornell is the lock of the first round. Lock it. Cornell will have a difficult time scoring 50 points, and Stanford coach Trent Johnson won't take this game lightly. I could be crazy, but I think Johnson's recent history as a successful mid-major coach will prevent Stanford from cruising to an 11-point victory. Stanford rolls, 71-40.

4. Please God, allow Notre Dame and Washington State to win their first round games. If so, they play each other in the second round, and you know what that means, right? It means that white guys will be taking over, if only for two short hours. Seriously though, when was the last time you've seen two really good teams from BCS conferences throw out four and five whities at once? It can happen. It will happen.

5. If OJ Mayo is making his threes, USC will make the Final Four. If I were a Wisconsin player, USC is the last team I'd want to play in round two.

6. Broken record time: UCLA will cruise into the semifinals. Just because everyone else is saying it doesn't mean it ain't true. For the record, I have the Bruins knocking off Kansas in the finals.

7. Indiana's Eric Gordon will not carry his team anywhere. Unlike the fellas I mentioned earlier, Gordon is a guy who will see his stock drop. To me, he's DaJuan Wagner with a jumper. He doesn't have the bounce in his step that you need to play SG in the NBA. Sure, he'll stick in the league, but you can forget about him averaging anything more than about 12 ppg in any one season at the next level.

8. Notre Dame's Luke Harangody will get the best of UNC's Tyler Hansborough in the Sweet 16. This is assuming (a.) their teams will face each other, and (b.) Harangody and Hansborough will actually guard each other. Who knows? Either way, I can't wait for someone to expose Hansborough. Oh wait, I almost forgot, USC's Taj Gibson exposed "Psycho T" in last year's tourney.

9. I'm looking forward to watching Marquette's Dominic James continue on his path to the Belgian B-League. Jesus, that guy's a head case. He hasn't plateaued since his freshman year, he's gotten much worse.

No more words. Leave me alone, I have me some tacos to eat.

-Brad Spieser (