Sunday, February 21, 2010

9 Teams Who Can Actually Win The National Title

We are now three weeks away from Selection Sunday, and the number of teams who are in the hunt for the national championship. Here is our list:

  1. Kansas - Most talented, deep team in the land.
  2. Syracuse - Boeheim's best coaching job to date. Boeheim may be wise to tinker with adding a man to his 7-man rotation.
  3. Kentucky - Wall. Cousins. Coach Cal. Need I say more?
  4. Purdue - Experienced, talented team who have specialists at both ends of the floor
  5. Villanova - 11-man rotation led by Big East POY Scottie Reynolds.
  6. Texas - The 2nd-most talented team in the country. If Bradley and Hamilton continue to grow up, Pittman finds himself, and Barnes finds out how to use his other talent, watch out.
  7. Michigan State - Never doubt Izzo in the tournament. This team has yet to put it all together. If they do, they are no worse than the 4th-best team in America.
  8. Ohio State - Evan Turner is the best player in America this season, and he has the potential to go 'Melo on everyone.
  9. Georgetown - With the right draw, anything is possible. Greg Monroe could be the most complete big man in America. He is athletic, intelligent, and skillful. The Hoyas will need a consistent 4th scorer (behind Freeman and Wright).
The detractors will point out that Duke (who I have consistently seeded #1 or 2 all season), Wisconsin, Kansas State, and West Virginia are all missing from this list and may discuss that Texas and Georgetown do not belong on the list.

Below is the reasoning for why I think each team is not worthy:

Duke - This Duke team's makeup reminds me a lot of last year's Duke makeup. Good guards, Kyle Singler, and bigs who are not game-changers. This team does not play well outside of Cameron or the Meadowlands. And they do not perform well against good teams without favorable officiating. This is why the Blue Devils have only lived up to their seed only once (2003) since their 2001 championship.

Wisconsin - The Badgers have overachieved all season. They're a great story and I love how Trevon Hughes plays. However, they also struggle A LOT away from home, and need production from all of their players every game to be successful. The chances of that happening are slim to none over a six-game stretch.

Kansas State - To be honest, this team lacks the pedigree needed to win the title.

West Virginia - Probably the toughest omission because they have the pieces, and the go-to guy in Da'Sean Butler. The point guard play is volatile at times. They will struggle (and likely lose) against teams who rebound well.


Clement said...

Well said. Here are three thoughts rumbling in my head...

1) How important will impact (i.e. MOP) players be this tournament? There are a few who automatically come to my mind:
A) John Wall
B) Scottie Reynolds
C) Sherron Collins
D) Evan Turner

In a field that many will label with "parity", might one shinning star be enough for a team to cut down a pair of nets?

2) Who is Syracuse's go-to-guy? Rautins is the glue (but can he score with the ball in his hands and not just off of screens), Johnson is the upside (but can he create a series of quality shots with a suspect first-step off of the dribble away from the basket), and perhaps it's Kris Joseph (of all people) who will try and be the mismatch - with ball in hand - against defenders late in games. I'm perplexed, but so proud of the (super) soph's game-changing basket on the road last Thursday.

3) How many people will again underestimate Izzo? Especially if Sparty has a favorable draw.

Solid work. Very UNLIKE our CAA.

Anonymous said...

Texas will be lucky to make the tourney, let alone win it. Mich St. is lucky to be above 500 in Big Ten. These are the two most over-rated teams in the country. That said. I like your other 7 and agree that Wis. is not a real threat. Also, I would say that realistically about 40 teams could win it all. Kentucky's freshman could lose at any moment to any team in the top 50, and a team like Uconn or Minnesota(deep athletic) could get hot and run out the top 3 in a region. That would open it up for a bunch of upsets and a couple of 6 or 7 seeds in the Final Four. I predict 2 of these 7 at the most in Final Four.

Paymon said...

I see your point. Those are some serious overstatements.

Many teams (I'd say up to 25 right now) can win 4 in a row, but only the ones I listed can win 6 in a row.

Texas can beat anyone in the country (except for maybe Syracuse), and they have considerable depth. If they get a 4 seed or better, watch out.

Michigan State's defensive effort has been pedestrian, and you intimate that they have a low margin for error, and it's duly noted. This team will go as far as Kalin Lucas (we assume a healthy one by March 18/19) takes them, and Tom Izzo is a great tournament coach who can't be counted out. Again, Michigan State has considerable depth, though they wish they had a player like Travis Walton on the team.

Mark said...

I agree with every team except Texas. They do not have the guard play to win it all. They will be lucky to get past the sweet 16.

RyanBeingManny said...

I think you are severely underestimating KSt. I understand what you are saying about lack of a pedigree, but for all intents and purposes you are just saying you can't visualize the Cats cutting down the nets. The program is trash and the school really doesn't have a national image at all, so they can't win? They have great guard play in Pullen and Clemente, they can board, they're athletic and deep. You don't have a pedigree until you do. They might not win it all, but they are a final four team.

That being said I also think my Terps are a Final Four team, so obviously I am an idiot. Nice post though.

Paymon said...

Ryan - I could be underestimating K St, and I need to watch more of them. Without seeing the tournament draw, I do not see them winning 6 in a row. I also don't see them winning 4 in a row.

You bring up a great stat. They are 5th in offensive rebounding % nationally.

They have a fortuitous schedule which may confuse the pure number crunchers. They've played most of their tough opponents at home. If they somehow defeat Kansas at Phog Allen, I'll be eating my words. We shall see though.

As for the Terps, I've "overseeded" them the entire year, because they rate well in terms of offensive and defensive adjusted efficiency. I think they're a consistent player short of the elite 8.