Where is the fun in today’s March Madness?

By Joe Hines
PSDC Staff & Chicago Guru

March-Madness-NCAA-Basketball

I enjoy the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, AKA March Madness, as much as the next guy. I dutifully fill out brackets and watch them go up in flames along with 99 percent of the rest of the population midway through the first day of the tourney. Here in Northern Illinois, there isn’t much of a regional interest since, for the second straight year, no team from the state made the tournament. The University of Wisconsin is only about 60 miles from where I sit now, and most of my basketball-loving friends have adopted the Badgers as they wind their way through the West Region as a No. 1 seed. Here in my hometown of Rockford, we root for Wichita St. because the Shockers excellent guard, Fred Van Vleet went to high school here. [Read more…]

The Definitive Guide to March Madness Glory

By Josh Wiggins
PSDC March Madness Contributor

Selection Sunday is in less than a week. Conference tournaments are in full swing. Tension and excitement will be building every game from now until the final buzzer sounds.

I know it may seem overwhelming, but don’t worry, we will get through this together. Just follow the guidelines set out below, and you are guaranteed to have a great time.

March-Madness-NCAA-Basketball

First things first, go ahead and fill out a bracket. Maybe even fill out a couple if you have multiple groups of friends or Steve from the finance department is running a poorly managed bracket pool. However, keep a few things in mind: [Read more…]

How Far Will Kentucky’s Talent Take Them?

By Josh Wiggins
PSDC March Madness Contributor

Kentucky is absolutely stacked with talent this year. You will be hard pressed to find anyone to argue against that. This lineup is filled with future stars that have undoubtedly been well coached with John Calipari at the helm. If placed on vast majority of their opponents’ rosters, the Wildcats’ starters (maybe even some of their bench players) would be the star player for their team. As a result, expect Kentucky to be the most popular choice for NCAA champion as brackets are filled out.

However…

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Photo Credit: Getty Images

What makes a champion? Are championships won based on the talent level of the team, especially that of its key players? Or is it more dependent on team’s experience and ability to execute? [Read more…]

March Madness Preview: The Elite Six

By Corbett Smith
PSDC March Madness Contributor

As March Madness nears, everyone prepares for the tournament, constantly refreshing the mock brackets in hopes of knowing if their team will make the cut or who they will likely face. The tension that is felt as this season nears is unrivaled. The tournament is a special being in itself. One game to decide your fate. Winner take all. It’s a magical time that gives everyone a fighting chance.

Photo Credit: USA Today Sports

Photo Credit: USA Today Sports

The tournament typically falls down to a point where you can predict a top grouping of teams and be close in knowing who the winner will be. Then there are the years like last season. Conecticut was a stunner last year, the No. 7 seed who eeked through their first round matchup. Shabazz Napier, Ryan Boatright and DeAndre Daniels put the team on their back and carried them to the highest peak attainable in NCAA basketball. That’s the magic of the NCAA tournament. A No. 7 seed who slips through their first round can find themselves still alive, fighting in the end and come away with the much sought after trophy. [Read more…]

March Madness: The Factors at Play

By Josh Wiggins
PSDC March Madness Contributor

march-madness

March is upon us and we are only two weeks away from Selection Sunday. The frenzy of March Madness is already taking hold and will soon captivate a nation. Fans and analysts alike have been watching all year, and every one of them seem to have a unique perspective on how this tournament will play out. Whether driven by heart or head, these predictions often fail to turn out exactly as planned year after year. The reason for this? Everything. The thing about college basketball is that there are so many factors at play in each round, each game, even each possession. The field is always filled with brilliant coaches, prolific players and a few spoilers. This year will be no different, and the only thing we can be certain about is the uncertainty of each and every result. [Read more…]

The Myth of ‘One Shining Moment’

By Michael Conway
PSDC Writer

MYRA FLEENER: You know, a basketball hero around here is treated like a god…I’ve seen them, the real sad ones. They sit around the rest of their lives talking about the glory days when they were seventeen years old.

NORMAN DALE: You know, most people would kill… to be treated like a god, just for a few moments.

norman-dale-hoosiers-1

~Hoosiers (1986)

But time is short and the road is long. In the blinking of an eye, that moment’s gone.

~“One Shining Moment 

The annually exhilarating and confounding men’s college basketball tournament felt a little more special than past tournaments after the first day of games. Blowouts were rare, competition consistently fierce and the final possessions of nearly every game fraught with drama. The feeling has lasted far beyond the first day. Several college basketball writers have at different times volunteered that the 2014 tournament is one of the more exciting ones they have ever witnessed. What was largely a feeling has since acquired some empirical evidence. The Sweet 16 featured an average margin of victory of 6.5 points—the lowest margin of victory since the field expanded to 64 teams in 1985 according to Stats Inc. That margin of victory also includes the 17-point shellacking Wisconsin levied against Baylor. The first day of the tournament set a record with four overtime games in one day, and the grand total of seven overtime games has tied the tournament’s all-time record. It has not just felt like four competitive games were being played simultaneously across the networks—it has actually happened for the last couple weekends. [Read more…]

2014 NCAA Tournament Final Four Saturday Recap

By Aaron De La Torre
PSDC Writer

It was the night before the night before the final game of the college basketball season, and mixed in between performances by The Killers, four teams battled for a chance to play in Monday’s national championship game. Join us as we recap the slate of games from Saturday night.

UConn Chomps Top-Seeded Gators

Connecticut’s national championship run in 2011 is described by many as a one-man show put on by senior point guard Kemba Walker. Although Walker’s 23.5 points, 6.0 rebounds and 5.6 assists per game in the NCAA Tournament led the school to its third national championship, The Kemba Show was glued together by strong performances from Jeremy Lamb, Alex Oriakhi and then-freshman Shabazz Napier.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Fast forward three years and it is Napier, UConn’s senior point guard and unquestioned leader, who has captured March Madness magic of his own. Much like his predecessor, Napier has received consistent support from teammates DeAndre Daniels and Ryan Boatright. [Read more…]

SEC College Basketball Tournament Preview

By Quin Welch
PSDC Contributor

With the obvious exception of the top ranked Florida Gators, SEC Basketball was pretty terrible this year. I mean, there’s no need to hide it. Everyone knows it. Having said that, there are some interesting storylines heading into Atlanta.

A couple of things to keep an eye on in the SEC Tournament:

Bubble Teams: How will they perform?

Florida and Kentucky are both locks to get in the Big Dance, but a couple other schools are tournament hopefuls that could use a good run in the SEC Tournament. Missouri, a team that should be much better than they are, probably needs to make at least the championship game to have a shot. That doesn’t appear likely, considering the fact that if they beat Texas A&M, they would have to play Florida in the next game. The Tigers also just received a 72-45 beating against Tennessee, so it appears that Missouri is currently on the outside looking in. [Read more…]

A New Arizona and Weekly Impressions

By Nate Muzika
PSDC Writer

You might have noticed that we missed a week here at Weekly Impressions. On behalf of myself and Project Shanks, I apologize for the lost week. The real crime is that a full roster of my best Grammy jokes has gone out the window because that event is no longer topical and relevant. That leaves us with little to discuss from the realm of pop culture this week because I refuse to discuss the Biebs and I had to throw out all of my Philip Seymour Hoffman jokes because they made me seem like an even bigger jerk than I actually am.

We also missed a chance to discuss Arizona’s first loss in a timely fashion, but fear not loyal readers, the Wildcats are still involved in this week’s edition. Arizona won’t get sympathy from the rest of the nation. Look around and plenty of teams are banged up or missing key pieces, but the challenge is to see if Arizona can maintain without forward Brandon Ashley.

1. Biggest Takeaway: Bye Bye Brandon. As you all know, Arizona is without the services of Brandon Ashley for the rest of the year. Brandon is a 6’8 forward from Arizona who was averaging 11.5 points per game and 5.8 rebounds per game. He was also a vital cog in the Arizona offense and his length really made the Cats a supremely long, athletic and deep team as a whole. He is not to be confused with Ashley Brandon, who sounds like a really hot sorority girl or a new diva in the WWE.

Brandon-Ashley-Arizona-Wildcats-1

Anyway, Arizona lost to Cal and had to bounce back with a hard fought victory over Oregon on Thursday. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson filled in admirably with 14 points and 10 boards, but the Arizona offense was out of sorts all night and Arizona struggled to get a win. Aaron Gordon was 2-of-11 from the free throw line, Nick Johnson shot threes like he was aiming for the 25-point hoop in Rock-N-Jock basketball, and T.J. McConnell was just 2-of-9 from the field. With all of those issues, the Cats still found a way. [Read more…]

5 Teams Outside the AP Top 10 That Could Win the National Title

By Grant Milner
PSDC Contributor

While college basketball still has its set of elite programs that are consistently good every single season, the level of parity in the game has truly increased over the last five years. In 2008, all four No. 1 seeds made the Final Four for the first time in the illustrious history of the NCAA Tournament.

However, since then, only five No. 1 seeds total have made it to the final weekend of college basketball, including the 2011 Final Four that had zero No. 1 seeds for the first time since 2006.

In the last four years, there have been nine teams that were ranked outside of the top 10 in the final Associated Press poll to make the Final Four. Although only one of those teams went on to win the national championship (Connecticut 2011), two others at least played for the title game, proving that a favorable draw, as well as peaking at the right time is what matters most these days.

Sure, there have been years like the 2012 season where Kentucky and North Carolina were light-years ahead of any other team, but those kinds of scenarios are becoming less and less conceivable thanks to teams like Butler and VCU.

Even though it has been since the 2002-03 season since a team outside of the AP top 10 at this point in the season has won a national title (Syracuse), that doesn’t mean that the 10-year streak won’t come to an end in 2014.

So based on the current AP top 10, here are five teams outside of that mark that could still bring home the crystal ball in early April.

1. Kentucky (No. 14)

Despite opening the 2013-14 season atop both the AP and coaches poll, the Wildcats still only have one quality win by the middle of January. With losses to Michigan State, Baylor and North Carolina on their resume, some have begun to doubt whether or not Kentucky can win a second championship in the last three years.

Photo Credit: USA Today

Photo Credit: USA Today

This may be somewhat of a speculative pick, but John Calipari’s club has a potential ceiling that most teams don’t even dream of reaching. The Wildcats haven’t played championship caliber defense to this point, ranking 90th in the nation scoring defense. They are also 293rd in the country in three-point field goals made. [Read more…]

Fools Rush In – A Semi-Serious Assessment of Modern Day Court Rushing

By Tommy Guastaferro
PSDC Writer

A couple weeks ago I attended a UNC-Wake Forest game at the LJVM Coliseum in Winston-Salem, NC, home of the Wake Forest Demon Deacons. The Tar Heels were then-ranked 19th and had suffered losses to NCAA powerhouses, Belmont and UAB. Wake Forest came out victorious, which means that as with EVERY minor upset these days…the court was REQUIRED to be rushed. Sadly, the Wake student section who rushed the floor was not even able to cover up the Demon Deacon mascot that is painted on center court.

Photo Credit: USA Today

Photo Credit: USA Today

I went to college. I get it. You pregame hard before the game with all the Beast (I guess being Wake students, they probably pregamed with Stella Artois) you can afford, then sneak in a flask, and if you have any reason whatsoever…you rush the court. However, you damn well better make sure you have enough people to cover up the center mascot. [Read more…]

College Hoops: Welcome Back and Weekly Impressions

By Nate Muzika
PSDC Writer

This isn’t exactly breaking news, but college basketball has changed immensely since the advent of the one and done rule. There is no one way to build a basketball team. Duke has largely tried to field a team of veterans and upperclassmen with the obvious exceptions of building their teams around Jabari Parker this year and Kyrie Irving a few years ago. Kansas has had obvious success this year with a crop of youngsters led by Joel Embiid and Andrew Wiggins, and other teams like Connecticut have largely either stayed away from building teams around impact newcomers, or have been unable to land them.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Photo Credit: Getty Images

This has brought about a variety of outcomes in March. For instance, we’ve seen a talented group of Florida players return for their junior seasons to repeat. We’ve seen Butler make two title game appearances very ugly and uncomfortable. We’ve seen a veteran Kansas squad beat Derrick Rose, and we’ve seen stars like Michael Beasley, Kevin Durant, James Harden and Blake Griffin fail to lead their teams to anything of significance. We’ve also team a team of one and done guys get it done and win a national title under John Calipari with Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Throughout it all, many coaches, like Bill Self have self-evaluated their teams each offseason and decided the best route to go. Play it with veterans, rely on highly touted freshmen or hope for the perfect combination of both? John Calipari has completely bucked that trend and decided to turn Kentucky into a new team each season and rely on the young guys while turning over a large portion of the roster. Regardless of how you feel about Cal’s experiment (I love it, but understand the shouts from those that disagree with his approach) you have to at least admit that it is interesting to see how his program will evolve each season. [Read more…]