Wednesday, October 10, 2012

NCAA Hoops Preview: Teams 59-53

I could sit here and write up some thoughts on the baseball playoffs, but I'm going to save all that jazz for one big post maybe later this week.  Instead, here are some more NCAAB Previews, teams #59-#53.

 59.  NEW MEXICO LOBOS.  Losing double-double machine Drew Gordon is going to be tough to handle, but the Lobos get their entire back court back from last season's NCAA team and Alford has turned these guys into kind of a MWC dynasty - or at least in the mix at the top every year.  This season will depend largely on just how good Kendall Williams can be.  He's had two very good years so far in Albuquerque, and if he can take the next step and become one of the best players in the league they should be back in the running for a league title and/or an at-large bid.  Plus Williams is from Ranco Cucamonga and if you don't think that's a fun city name to say then you're probably already dead.

58.  GEORGETOWN HOYAS.  G-Town loses a ton of talent in three departing starters (their three top scorers last year), including Henry Sims who took over for Greg Monroe as the big man with guard skills.  Luckily they've got a heck of a player back in Otto Porter who had a stellar freshman year and now becomes the Hoyas alpha dog.  He doesn't have the ball-handling or outside touch that Sims and Monroe displayed, but he is already an excellent passer and smart player with the ball so he could easily develop into that same mold.  In the last two seasons the Hoyas have lost all of their big 3 guards and their two best post players so they're going to be looking for somebody to become a true playmaker.  If you play fantasy college basketball (TREVOR DON'T READ THIS) look at Markel Starks as a sleeper.  He's shown he can be an explosive scorer at times and this season he'll be their #1 perimeter option.

57.  LEHIGH MOUNTAIN HAWKS.  Naturally everyone loved Lehigh beating Duke because Duke is satan and hitler all in one, but Lehigh has the look of a team that isn't done quite yet.  They have four of their starters back from last year (their four top scorers) including last year's Patriot League player of the year and hero to all C.J. McCollum (30 pts vs. Duke) as well as Gabe Knutson (17 & 8 vs. Duke).  Can a team from the Patriot get an at-large bid?  It would be incredibly difficult and I don't think it's ever happened, but maybe this is the year.  Although the league RPI will be way down and thus drag Lehigh's down, they will have some chances to pick-up big wins they'll need to have a chance.  They open at Baylor, then if they can get past Robert Morris in the Preseason NIT (no sure thing) they would get Pitt and a win their would send them to Madison Square Garden for two more cracks at big-time schools (Michigan, Kansas State, Virginia).  They also play North Texas and Quinnipiac who could both end up as RPI Top 100 schools, as could conference foe Bucknell.  Win enough of those games and then lose only 1-2 in conference/conf. tournament play?  Probably better to win the conference tournament, but watch that Lehigh/Pitt game, could be huge for the little guys.

56.  PITT PANTHERS.  Hey, speaking of Pitt, here they are.  And if you're sick of the Gophers having a terrible non-conference schedule you should get a look at Pitt's.  If they don't get to Madison Square Garden that is absolutely brutally bad other than Detroit.  I suppose they'll play plenty of good teams in conference play, but man having Bethune-Cookman, Delaware State, and Kennesaw State all on the same schedule should be outlawed.  Also it seems Travon Woodall now goes by Tray, which is not as irritating as Terrell Holloway going by Tu, Michael Gilchrist or Maurice Drew adding an extra hyphenated last name, or especially Titus Young adding SR. to the back of his jersey after having a son named Titus, but it's still irritating and I hope Pitt loses every game.  I never liked them anyway.  Brandin Knight sucked and Carl Krauser was even worse.  [NOTE:  Somehow I completely missed that Trey Ziegler transferred here from CMU and is eligible this year, so bump them up a few spots.]

55.  MARYLAND TERRAPINS.  Maryland loses leading scorer Terrell Stoglin to, well, not the NBA since he didn't get drafted but to somewhere, but this might be one of those addition by subtraction kind of situations which yes is possible just look here smart guy:  (-2)-(-4) = 2 IN YOUR FACE.  But what that means for the Terps is that a bunch of guys who are used to standing around watching Stoglin jack shots (38% of shots taken by Maryland last year with him on the floor were his, 3rd highest in the NCAA) are suddenly going to have freedom to play ball and will be like a bunch of college freshman living away from their parents for the first time and will probably go a little nuts.  Of course, they're also pretty unproven due to never getting the ball, so Maryland should be a mixed bag this year.  Like your mom.

 54.  UTEP MINERS.  I know what you're thinking, and to be honest I'm not really sure why I have UTEP this high either, but I liked watching this team (the couple of times I found them on TV last year) and I think there may be something brewing here.  They're a really young team and John Bohannon may be the best center you've never heard of.  He made a huge leap from his freshman to sophomore year, and if he does something similar again this season he could be the best center in Conference USA that I can think of right now.  They also get their point guard back who was one of the top assisters in the conference and I don't know man.  They're young and fun like Kate Upton right now, and the way the team is constructed kind of reminds me of those awesome Memphis teams.  Or something.  I don't know, but now you're thinking about Kate Upton so it doesn't really matter what I say anymore.

 53.  TEMPLE OWLS.  The Owls lose two thirds of their back court to graduation, but should still contend at the top of the A-10 because returning guard Khalif Wyatt may be the best player in the conference.  I also like him because Temple is kind of a consistently successful but boring program, and Wyatt threw a little excitement out there this summer when he was arrested for soliciting a prostitute in Atlantic City.  He cooperated and only had to pay a fine and do some community service so he'll back and ready to play, but I can't wait to see some of the signs and hear some nice chants when Temple is on the road.  Should be fun. 


snacks said...

re: Lehigh/Pitt

isn't the preseason NIT one of those tournaments where the four preselected teams are guaranteed to meet at MSG even if they lose in one of the early games? Maybe I'm thinking of a different preseason tournament.

WWWWWW said...

I know what you're talking about, but I think the Preseason NIT is the one that's more of a "true" tournament. I can't remember which ones have guaranteed spots.