Tuesday, October 16, 2012

DWG's NCAA Basketball Preview: Teams #52-47

I know plenty of people are busy tonight with the debate and the Tigers/Yankees game, but I can only watch the debates 30 seconds at a time without falling asleep or dying of self-inflicted gangrene and it seems silly to write about the Tigers/Yankees game because I don't really feel like writing "Verlander gets another stupid Yankee out easily" twenty-seven times.  Thus insteadly here are some NCAA Basketball previews.  I hope you enjoy them.

I'm just kidding.  I really don't give a crap.  I know you're reading this at work and have nothing better to do with your time anyway.

52.  Illinois State Redbirds.  Creighton, Wichita State, and Northern Iowa seem to get most of the Missouri Valley headlines and hype, but this could end up being Illinois State's big year.  Last year's team took Creighton down to the wire in the MVC Championship before losing in overtime, then beat Ole Miss in the NIT before falling to eventual champ Stanford (also in OT).  That same team returns pretty much intact (including stud Jackie Carmichael who, according to anything you read on ISU on the internet "wowed" people at the LeBron Skills Academy).  They do lose their starting point guard from last season who transferred to SMU to tag along with the Redbirds' coach last year, and nobody's sure if they have a player who can fill that role capably, but who cares?  Their nickname is the Redbirds for christ's sake, and if the baseball playoffs have taught us anything (other than the Yankees suck) it's that Redbirds never die.

51.  Marshall Thundering Herd.  Marshall hasn't been to the NCAA Tournament since 1987 and has never won a game, but they've been awfully close lately which seems interesting or something I guess.  Last year they were in the hunt until a killer loss to a terrible ECU team knocked them out of the at-large running and then they were crushed in the C-USA Tournament Championship game by Memphis.  Two years prior they came out of the blocks at 15-2 before sucking the rest of the year.  Will this be the year they finally break through?  No.

50.  Belmont Bruins.  Belmont takes a big step up in the world this year, shifting from the Atlantic Sun to the Ohio Valley which means capturing an at-large bid goes from impossible to simply unlikely.  And once again, this will be the same kind of hyper-efficient team that takes care of the basketball and shoots well, but likely lacks the athleticism to truly compete with the big-time programs and really good teams.  And once again they'll probably end up in the NCAA Tournament matched up against somebody better, and everyone (myself included) will talk themselves into how Belmont could be a sweet 16 sleeper and end up picking them to beat a #4 seed in round one only to watch in horror as they get blown out by 20 and a have to put a big red X on my bracket before the first games of day 1 are out.  Looking forward to it already.

49.  Arkansas Razorbacks.  What's the best way to rebound from John Pelphrey trying to run the program straight into the ground?  Hire the sweet Mike Anderson, Nolan Richardson's protege, and let the Hogs run wild.  It didn't quite kick in for year 1, but based on his track record at UAB and Missouri I'd imagine we'll see Arkansas back in the tournament in a year or two.  Guard play is the key to running Anderson's system and Arkansas is plenty loaded here.  B.J. Young, who flirted a bit with the Gophers (while, they more threw themselves at him and he didn't say no right away - like your sister at a kegger) had a monster freshman year and probably could have gone pro but stayed on for another year, and he's got plenty of other perimeter help.  You know fun Missouri was to watch the last several years?  Yeah, that's coming to Fayetteville.  I wish I could bet on things like, Arkansas will be ranked in the top 10 at some point in the next 3 years.  I'd totally win a bunch of money.  Just like how Snacks will owe me fifty bucks when the Royals win the AL Central sometime by 2014 (a bet we made 2 years ago).  Yeah.  It's coming.  I've already spent that money investing in pumpkins.  They've been going up the month of October.  I figure if I hold those babies until January and then cash out.  BAM!  BOATLOADS!

48.  Colorado State Rams.  I don't think anyone would dispute that losing Tim Miles (to Nebraska) is a blow considering how he builds programs, but if you're going to lose a guy like that (and it was inevitable) you could do a whole lot worse than hiring Larry Eustachy.  I know it's easy to think about the scandal where he was busted partying with young college chicks but let's be honest who wouldn't want to do that, but don't forget the guy is a damn good coach.  This is the same guy who just took a garbage program in Southern Miss to the NCAA Tournament last year and had lots of success at Iowa State, and he's also the guy who started Utah State's run of brilliance back in 1998 (hadn't been to the tournament in 10 years).  And now he inherits a team that made the tournament last season and he gets most of the team back, plus Colton Iverson.  Eustachy and Iverson!  Count me in.  That's like a modern day Balki and Cousin Larry.

47.  Cal Bears.  These guys could end up with one of the best backcourts in the Pac-12 and, sad and horrifying as it is, part of the reason is Justin Cobbs.  Freed from the restraints of Tubby's molasses style offense Cobbs ended up averaging 12.6 points (16th in the conference) and 5.0 assists (2nd) per game last season, and he's probably not even the teams best guard - that would be Allen Crabbe.  They have to figure out how to replace two big losses including their lead point guard and their best post player, but having two good guards and playing in the shitbox Pac-12 pretty much assures Cal will at least be in the running for an NCAA bid.  Mother-effing Cobbs.

Teams #68-60
Teams #59-53

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