Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Wednesday Preview

Prediction Record: 53-24

Duke at Indiana- Prediction: Duke by 5

North Carolina State at Iowa- Prediction: Iowa by 3

Minnesota at Maryland- Prediction: Maryland by 11

Oregon at Vanderbilt- Prediction: Vanderbilt by 6

Manhattan at Syracuse- Prediction: Syracuse by 13

UNLV at Oklahoma State- Prediction: Oklahoma State by 4

Marquette at Nebraska- Prediction: Marquette by 2

Davidson at Charlotte- Prediction: Charlotte by 5

Utah State at Utah- Prediction: Utah State by 3

Creighton at DePaul- Prediction: Creighton by 7

Cal-State Fullerton at Kansas State- Prediction: Cal State Fullerton by 6

Georgia Tech at Michigan State- Prediction: Michigan State by 16

Murray State at Tennessee- Prediction: Tennessee by 2

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Tuesday Predictions

Prediction Record: 48-19

Drexel at St. Joseph's- Prediction: St. Joseph's by 5

Wisconsin at Wake Forest- Prediction: Wisconsin by 3

Houston at LSU- Prediction: LSU by 12

Northern Iowa at Iowa State- Prediction: Northern Iowa by 6

Colorado at Pennsylvania- Prediction: Colorado by 3

Illinois at North Carolina- Prediction: Illinois by 4

Miami (Fl.) at Michigan- Prediction: Michigan by 9

Western Kentucky at UAB- Prediction: UAB by 9

Louisiana Tech at Alabama- Prediction: Alabama by 13

Dayton at Cincinnati- Prediction: Cincinnati by 7

Monday, November 28, 2005

Week in Review

At The Top:
Duke struggled in both of their games in the Preseason NIT at Madison Square Garden. However, they won both, beating Drexel by 10, and defeating Memphis by 3 in a great game. They were not overly impressive, however. Connecticut looks like the best team in the country after winning the stacked Maui Invitational. They defeated Arkansas, Arizona, and Gonzaga en route to a title. The Huskies don't look like they are as good as they can be, though. That's scary. Texas escaped against West Virginia, and then came back against Iowa to win the Guardians Classic. They did not look like one of the top 3 teams in the country most of the time. Daniel Gibson turned it over too much, and the frontcourt players were somewhat inconsistent.

Rest of the Best:
Gonzaga looks like the best outside of the Big Three, and possibly even better than Texas. Adam Morrison could be the best offensive player in the country, while JP Batista and Derek Raivio are impressive. They beat Maryland and Michigan State in a game for the ages before falling to UConn in the Maui final. Boston College escaped against Drake and Oklahoma State, and Craig Smith is not playing like the dominant player he can be. Tyrese Rice is providing scoring punch from the perimeter. Michigan State showed they are a top team, after nearly beating Gonzaga and defeating Arizona. There is something that seems to be missing, though. Memphis has been extremely impressive in the Preseason NIT. They dominated every team they played, up until falling to Duke in a great game. The Tigers are athletic and can take most teams in a one-on-one type game. Shawne Williams and Rodney Carney are possibly the best forward combo in the nation. Iowa looked good against Kentucky, and nearly knocked off Texas. Adam Haluska and Greg Brunner are a good inside-outside duo. Villanova and Oklahoma have not really played anyone yet, but are looking solid. They play each other Saturday in what should be a classic game. Kentucky has not had consistent play from their wing players. Rajon Rondo is showing that he is one of the best players in the country, while Rekalin Sims is solid down low. They lost a tight game to Iowa, but won handily over West Virginia. West Virginia had a very tough week, going 0-3 against quality opponents. They fell to Texas by one, then got beaten by Kentucky in the Guardians Classic. On Saturday, the Mountaineers lost to LSU by 3 in overtime. Arizona showed that they were not ready for their lofty preseason expectations, after struggling with Kansas, and then losing to UConn and Michigan State. They are, however, going to be a very good team by the end of the season.

Teams on the Rise:
Washington might be the best team in the Pac-10. Jon Brockman, Bobby Jones, and Jamaal Williams are developing into the best frontcourt in the conference, while Brandon Roy is one of the best all-around guards in the country. Nevada and George Washington are quietly winning games against lower-tier teams, and are padding their records. LSU got a huge win on the road against West Virginia Saturday night. Darrell Mitchell and Glen Davis are one of the best inside-outside combos in the country, while the slew of freshmen frontcourt players are producing very well. Tasmin Mitchell and Tyrus Thomas are impressive. Wisconsin is quietly making moves in the Big Ten. Alando Tucker is one of the best players in the country, while Kammron Taylor has demonstrated his ability to be a scoring point guard. Indiana is averaging over 100 points per game, and are looking to pull off the upset over Duke this upcoming week.

Not-So-Impressive Teams:
UCLA looked vulnerable in games against Delaware State and Drexel, and nearly lost to the Dragons. They also nearly got blown out of the gym by Memphis in the Preseason NIT. Wake Forest still really has not figured out their point guard situation. Justin Gray moved to the two-guard this week, leaving freshman Harvey Hale at the point. That won't work in the ACC. Syracuse got upset by Bucknell, and has not looked consistent this season. Bucknell, on the other hand, will make some serious noise this season. Iowa State got blown out by Iona in the Cyclone Challenge. Curtis Stinson and Will Blalock are doing all they can, but the Cyclones are getting absolutely no inside production. Illinois needed a last second shot from Warren Carter, as well as a called-off half-court shot from Wichita State, to beat the Shockers. Miami needs point guard Anthony Harris back. They got destroyed by Temple without him. Charlotte is still on the decline. They got blown out by Mississippi State on their homecourt, and only scored NINE points in the first half.

Marquette won the Great Alaska Shootout, with a win over South Carolina. The Golden Eagles had excellent games from Steve Novak, who hit six threes, and Ryan Amaroso, who dominated the interior. Dominic James has been one of the best freshman in the country at the point. On the other hand, the Gamecocks showed their athleticism and their ability to get second-chance points. Temple had a big win over Miami on Sunday. Mardy Collins and co. could be a sleeper NCAA team later in the season. Northwestern State had a big win at Mississippi State on Saturday. They could be a sleeper Cinderella squad. Old Dominion is one of the best candidates to make a run in the NCAA Tournament from a mid-major conference. They are quietly beating good teams, and nearly pulled off the upset at Wisconsin.

Monday Preview

Prediction Record: 45-19

Virginia Tech at Ohio State- Prediction: Ohio State by 5

Gardner-Webb at Minnesota- Prediction: Minnesota by 9

Auburn at Colorado State- Prediction: Colorado State by 6

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Sunday Preview

Prediction Record: 42-19

Miami (Fl.) at Temple- Prediction: Temple by 2

Virginia at Arizona- Prediction: Arizona by 14

South Carolina State at UAB- Prediction: UAB by 12

Saturday Preview

Prediction Record: 37-13

LSU at West Virginia- This should be a decent barometer for both teams, although more so for LSU. It will be their first test of the season, and it is going to be interesting to see how the freshmen respond. West Virginia is experienced and their almost Princeton-like offense gives defenses fits. In addition, their perimeter shooting mixed with the lack of experience of the LSU team gives the Mountaineers an advantage. LSU has a huge size edge in the frontcourt with Glen Davis and Tasmin Mitchell, but Texas had one too and nearly lost. The Mountaineers will run their offense to perfection, leading to open three-pointers the entire game. Mike Gansey will have another big night in a WVU win. Prediction: West Virginia by 6

Vanderbilt at Georgetown- Prediction: Georgetown by 5

North Carolina State at Notre Dame- Prediction: North Carolina State by 2

St. Joseph's at Davidson- Prediction: Davidson by 3

UT-Chattanooga at Minnesota- Prediction: Minnesota by 7

Xavier at Purdue- Prediction: Xavier by 4

George Mason at Manhattan- Prediction: Manhattan by 2

Georgia at Western Kentucky- Prediction: Western Kentucky by 5

Iona at Iowa State- Prediction: Iowa State by 9

Boston College at Oklahoma State- Prediction: Boston College by 8

South Carolina at Marquette- Prediction: South Carolina by 4

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Friday Preview

Prediction Record (so far this season): 34-9

Duke vs. Memphis- Final of the NIT Season Tip-Off. Memphis has demonstrated that they are one of the more talented and athletic teams in the country. However, one team that can match the talent level of Memphis is Duke. And they will demonstrate that in the Championship. JJ Redick is going to have a huge advantage over whoever Memphis decides to put at the two-guard across from him. However, If Rodney Carney defends Redick, he could have a tough time. I don't think that Carney will want to chase JJ around all game, though. Darius Washington may have an advantage at the point over Sean Dockery and Greg Paulus, but an even bigger edge will go to Duke in the low post. Shelden Williams should absolutely dominate the interior for the Blue Devils. Joey Dorsey and Kareem Cooper will try their best, but they just can't defend him. Shawne Williams against Josh McRoberts will be a very good freshman forward match-up. Duke is going to have a load of trouble defending the Tiger's forward combo of Carney and Williams, especially if DeMarcus Nelson sits out. They are just too quick and athletic for McRoberts and Melchionni. It should be a dandy of a game, with Memphis starting out the season with an NIT Championship. Prediction: Memphis by 2

UCLA vs. Drexel- Prediction: UCLA by 8

Florida State at Florida- Prediction: Florida by 12

Eastern Kentucky at Tennessee- Prediction: Eastern Kentucky by 6

Holy Cross at Cincinnati- Prediction: Cincinnati by 9

Gardner-Webb at Auburn- Prediction: Gardner-Webb by 4

Marquette at Oral Roberts- Prediction: Oral Roberts by 10

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Wednesday Preview

Maryland vs. Arkansas- Prediction: Maryland by 6

Michigan State vs. Arizona- Prediction: Michigan State by 3

Connecticut vs. Gonzaga- Prediction: Connecticut by 3

Duke vs. Drexel- Prediction: Duke by 18

Memphis vs. UCLA- Prediction: Memphis by 8

South Carolina State at Clemson- Prediction: Clemson by 11

Mississippi State at Charlotte- Prediction: Charlotte by 9

USC at Oral Roberts- Prediction: Oral Roberts by 7

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Tuesday Preview

Michigan State vs. Gonzaga- Prediction: Gonzaga by 3

Connecticut vs. Arizona- Prediction: Connecticut by 6

Kansas vs. Arkansas- Prediction: Arkansas by 3

Kentucky vs. West Virginia- Prediction: West Virginia by 2

Texas vs. Iowa- Prediction: Texas by 3

Creighton at George Mason- Prediction: George Mason by 2

Michigan at Boston University- Prediction: Michigan by 5

Bucknell at Syracuse- Prediction: Syracuse by 7

Hofstra at Notre Dame- Prediction: Notre Dame by 4

Monday, November 21, 2005

Monday Preview

Gonzaga vs. Maryland- Best first-round game of the Maui Invitational. Gonzaga did not look impressive in their win over Idaho, but are still one of the best teams in the country. Adam Morrison is a super scorer, while JP Batista is a tough player to stop inside. Derek Raivio is an excellent point guard who does not get nearly enough credit nationally. Maryland is deep and talented. Nik Caner-Medley is an inside-outside threat, while Chris McCray is a good shooter and defender. James Gist and Mike Jones are athletic scorers that could be difference-makers. DJ Strawberry is not a true point guard, but he is playing there for the Terps. Morrison against Caner-Medley is going to be an excellent match-up, both big-time scorers. It's going to be a very high-scoring game, and the Zags have more options up and down the roster than do the Terps. Prediction: Gonzaga by 2

Arizona vs. Kansas- Two annual powers face off in a good Maui Invitational game. Arizona has a slew of perimeter players that can play many positions. Hassan Adams can be one of the best players in the country by the end of the season if he takes over leadership of the team. Chris Rodgers is a good all-around guard, while JP Prince is a big point guard. Ivan Radenovic is an underrated forward. Kansas is starting over, although they have a lot of talent that could be tough to deal with come February. Mario Chalmers is a good point guard, while Julian Wright and Brandon Rush are excellent freshman on the wings. CJ Giles and Sasha Kaun are solid down low. Arizona has more experience, and a better team as of now. Kansas does not have an answer for Adams, and Radenovic is going to be a match-up problem. Prediction: Arizona by 5

Connecticut vs. Arkansas- Another first-round Maui Invitational game. UConn is led by Josh Boone, who looked like one of the best big men in the country against Pepperdine. Rudy Gay looked for his shot more, but was not very efficient. Gay, Boone, and Hilton Armstrong are the best shot-blocking trio in the country. Craig Austrie is serviceable point guard. Arkansas has the best player in the SEC in Ronnie Brewer. He is a versatile athlete. Eric Ferguson is eligible for today's game at the point after serving a one-game suspension. Charles Thomas and Darian Townes are solid frontcourt players. Gay against Brewer might be one of the best match-ups you will see all season. The Razorbacks will keep it close by forcing Austrie into turnovers with pressure. The difference will be the inside game of the Huskies. Prediction: Connecticut by 8

Texas vs. West Virginia- Semi-finals of the Guardians Classic. Texas may be the most talented team in the country. Daniel Gibson is a Top 2 point guard, while PJ Tucker is one of the toughest match-ups at forward in the nation. Brad Buckman is a top-notch power forward, and Lamarcus Aldridge has the potential to be an excellent center. He is averaging a double-double. West Virginia has a gang of shooters, both inside and outside. Kevin Pittsnogle is an inside-outside threat, while Mike Gansey is going to have a breakout season on the perimeter. Patrick Beilein and Joe Herber are two more perimeter-oriented players, while JD Collins is a decent point guard. The size and talent advantage that the Longhorns have over the Moutaineers will be the difference. Pittsnogle is not a good defender, and 6-5 power forward Frank Young is too small for Buckman and Aldridge. In addition, Tucker is much too strong for Herber. This could be a blowout if the Longhorns play to their potential. Prediction: Texas by 9

Kentucky vs. Iowa- The other semi-final game in the Guardians Classic. This should be the better game of the two. Kentucky is a very deep team that has many lineup options, both up front and on the perimeter. Rajon Rondo is developing into one of the best players in the country. He is the best defender in the nation, and is starting to use his athleticism and strength to become a scoring threat. The wing quartet of Ravi Moss, Patrick Sparks, Joe Crawford, and Ramel Bradley all average around 20 minutes per game and can all score. Down low, Rekalin Sims is a decent rebounder and scorer, while Sheray Thomas does a lot of the dirty work. Bobby Perry and Shagari Alleyne provide depth. Iowa has one of the best trios in the country in guards Jeff Horner and Adam Haluska and forward Greg Brunner. Horner is an underrated point guard, Haluska is an excellent scorer, and Brunner is a very good low-post option. Mike Henderson and Erek Hansen are decent players in the starting lineup. Doug Thomas is an outstanding rebounder off the bench. I think Iowa has the advantage in this game. Kentucky plays excellent defense, but their offense is lacking thus far. They do not have a definitive second or third option, which makes them easier to defend. Behind the Big 3, the Hawkeyes will get the win, and let the nation know that the are a team to be reckoned with in the process. Prediction: Iowa by 3

Old Dominion at Wisconsin- Both teams had wins over the weekend that most expected them to win by more. Wisconsin escaped in 2 OTs against Eastern Kentucky, while ODU had a surprisingly tough run with Fordham. Alando Tucker showed he is one of the best players in the country after scoring 38 points and grabbing 10 boards. Brian Butch has shown potential inside, while Marcus Landry is a scorer at forward. Kammron Taylor is a quick point guard that can score. ODU counters with Alex Loughton on the inside, who is averaging a double-double. Drew Williamson and Isaiah Hunter form a good backcourt, while Valdas Vasylius is a good scoring forward. This is my upset pick of the day. If ODU can shut down everyone other than Tucker, like EKU did, they can pull off the win. Loughton is going to have a big game inside. Prediction: Old Dominion by 2

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Week in Review

The first full week of the season and the short week of games before that brought several surprises, and many observations about a variety of teams. Starting at the top, Duke looked somewhat lackadaisical in their opener against Boston University, but then showed why they were the #1 team in the country in blowout victories over Seton Hall and Davidson. Connecticut had a sloppy performance against Pepperdine, and did not pull away until the very end of the game. Josh Boone showed that he could be one of the best big men in the country, although the Huskies demonstrated that they need Marcus Williams in order to make a run in March. Michigan State got blown out at Hawaii. Nearly every one of their main players were taken out of the game due to cramps, and the Spartans looked awful. Besides Drew Neitzel, Shannon Brown, Maurice Ager, and Paul Davis, the rest of the team had a combined 17 points from 8 players. The supporting cast needs to step up. Hawaii, on the other hand, showed that they will be a tough team to beat in the WAC. Julian Sensley played to his potential, and a trio of perimeter players provided balance. If they can win on the road, look out. Another Top 15 team that was upset by an inferior opponent was Stanford. Although they were playing without star post player Matt Haryasz, the Cardinal allowed UC-Irvine to come into Maples Pavillion and pull off the upset by 16 points. Perimeter stars Chris Hernandez and Dan Grunfeld combined for 42 points, while Fred Washington pitched in 9 points. The rest of the team had 12 points. That won’t get it done. One of the Atlantic-10 favorites, Charlotte, lost two games in the opening week. Northwestern and Wyoming both beat them, and pretty handily in doing so. Other than Curtis Withers and De’Angelo Alexander, no one else was really coming through. In the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic, Florida surprised many by winning the whole event, beating Wake Forest and Syracuse. Taurean Green looked excellent at the point, and Corey Brewer was developing into a star. Syracuse looked poor in their opening round games, but looked like the old Syracuse at Madison Square Garden. They played excellent defense against Texas Tech. Terrence Roberts was a solid player inside, while the wings provided decent production, in addition to the play of Gerry McNamara. Texas Tech showed that they have one of the best backcourts in the country in Jarrius Jackson and Martin Zeno. However, there was not much balance being provided on the inside, and the lack of a third option was obvious. Wake Forest looked very overrated, even though they beat Texas Tech. Justin Gray did not seem comfortable at the point, and showed he is more of a scorer, which mostly everyone knew. When Florida pressed the Deacons, Gray struggled. Trent Strickland and Kyle Visser both tallied 16 points and 16 rebounds against Tech, and Strickland is averaging a double-double. Eric Williams played well inside. Over in the preseason NIT, Memphis looked extremely impressive. They dismantled UW-Milwaukee, and then defeated ranked Alabama pretty easily. Darius Washington is looked like one of the best point guards in the country, while Shawne Williams and Rodney Carney are going to be a match-up nightmare for opponents at the forward spots due to their athleticism and versatility. Alabama, as expected, got excellent production from their frontcourt in Chuck Davis and Jermareo Davidson, while Richard Hendrix preformed very well. Ronald Steele was somewhat disappointing at the point, and Justin Jonus showed he could be the answer on the wing. UCLA did not look overly impressive in their win over Temple nor their victory later in the week over Delaware State. Jordan Farmar suffered an injury and did not play against Del. St. Aaron Afflalo showed the ability to be a super scorer, while Cedric Bozeman demonstrated his versatility. UNC-Wilmington looked like a candidate to be a season-long Cinderella sleeper, with wins over Butler and Northwestern, although they got beaten badly at Colorado later in the week. All three games were on the road. Two teams expected to make the jump from the NIT to the NCAA in the ACC were also upset. Miami, playing without Anthony Harris, lost to Air Force, while Virginia Tech had one of the worst losses of the weeks, getting beaten by Bowling Green at home. Possibly the worst team to beat a BCS club was Sam Houston State, who beat Missouri in the Preseason NIT. Quin Snyder’s days are numbered. Wisconsin, who lost four starters from a season ago, nearly lost at home to Eastern Kentucky, but prevailed in 2 OTs. Alando Tucker had 38 points, and showed he is going to be one of the best all-around players in the country. Another Ohio Valley favorite that took an NCAA contender to OT was Murray State, who narrowly lost to Cincinnati. Both teams have a chance to be sleepers should they make the NCAA Tournament, while the Badgers and the Bearcats could be slightly overrated. The defending champions, North Carolina, escaped at home by 3 against Gardner-Webb on a last-second trifecta by David Noel. Tyler Hansbrough demonstrated that he is going to be one of the best freshman in the counry, and another freshman, Danny Green, also impressed. Veteran forwards David Noel and Reyshawn Terry produced very well. Point guards Bobby Frasor and Quentin Thomas combined for 2 points, 11 assists, and 8 turnovers. Oregon State, who need to win on the road to make the NIT-to-NCAA jump, lost by 28 at Tennessee Tech, an expected OVC also-ran. Another Pac-10 team expected to push for an NCAA bid, California, lost by two to Eastern Michigan. Yes, it was without Leon Powe, but Eastern Michigan? San Diego State, the favorite for the Mountain West conference, lost to Illinois-Chicago. Finally, two expected mid-major powers, Winthrop and Old Dominion had impressive wins over BCS clubs. Winthrop beat Marquette, while ODU defeated Georgia.

Maui Invitational Predictions

First Round

Michigan State over Chaminade
Gonzaga over Maryland
Arizona over Kansas
Connecticut over Arkansas

Winners Bracket

Gonzaga over Michigan State
Connecticut over Arizona

Connecticut over Gonzaga (Championship)
Michigan State over Arizona (Third Place)

Losers Bracket

Maryland over Chaminade
Arkansas over Kansas

Maryland over Arkansas (Fifth Place)
Kansas over Chaminade (Seventh Place)

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Saturday Preview

Davidson at Duke- Duke looked exceptional in their 53-point win over Seton Hall. They have the goods to be the best team in the country. Greg Paulus and Sean Dockery are playing well at the point; JJ Redick is, well, JJ Redick; DeMarcus Nelson is performing up to par on the wing; and the interior duo of Josh McRoberts and Shelden Williams is dominant. Davidson is led by Brendan Winters, who is one of the best mid-major players in the country. Kenny Grant is a good point guard, while Matt McKillop and Jason Morton are scorers on the wing. Ian Johnson shoulders the load down low. Duke is just too good for Davidson. It will be interesting to see what kind of game Winters has against the Blue Devils. Prediction: Duke by 16

Michigan State at Hawaii- A warmup for the Maui Invitatioal for the Spartans, although a trip to Hawaii is never a warmup. The wing duo of Maurice Ager and Shannon Brown is one of the best in the country, and Paul Davis is an excellent low-post option. Drew Neitzel is a solid point guard. Hawaii has a good inside-outside combo in Matt Gibson and Julian Sensley. Sensley has the potential to be one of the best players in the WAC. Michigan State has too many options for the Hawaii to handle. Prediction: Michigan State by 9

Murray State at Cincinnati- The Bearcats' first game without Bob Huggins, while Murray State is one of the favorites for the Ohio Valley Conference title. Cincy is led by double-double post man Eric Hicks, and the wing duo of James White and Armein Kirkland. The Racers have a very good all-around guard in Trey Pearson as well as Keith Jenifer and Darnell Hopkins in the backcourt. Shawn Witherspoon is solid down low. Hicks might be too much for anyone on Murray State to handle, while White should be able to slow down Pearson somewhat. Prediction: Cincinnati by 7

Gardner-Webb at North Carolina- This could be the upset of the day. Gardner-Webb returns all five starters from a conference title-winning team. Tim Jennings, Simon Conn, and Brian Bender form a very formidable trio. UNC is starting over, essentially. David Noel and Rayshawn Terry will have to lead the way in the first game for most of the Tar Heels. Tyler Hansbrough opens his career. He will need to step up inside. Gardner-Webb will keep it close, but the game is at UNC, and the Tar Heels will pull it out in the end. I just can't see Roy Williams losing to Gardner-Webb at home. Prediction: North Carolina by 5

Utah State at Oral Roberts- Two of the best non-BCS conference teams. Utah State has a very good inside-outside combo in Jaycee Carroll and Nate Harris. David Pak is also a solid point guard. Oral Roberts counters with one of the best perimeter-post duos in the country in Ken Tutt and Caleb Green. Green is one of the best big men in the nation. Jonathan Bluitt is a very good distributor at the point, while Larry Owens is a good forward. Oral Roberts has the better of the two inside-outside duos, and they also have more options than Utah State. Prediction: Oral Roberts by 3

Eastern Kentucky at Wisconsin- First game for the Badgers without the four starters that they lost from a year ago. However, they do return one of the best players in the country in forward Alando Tucker. He could be an All-American this season. Kammron Taylor is a quick point guard, while Brian Butch could be solid down low. Eastern Kentucky is one of the favorites for the Ohio Valley Conference title. Matt Witt is a very good all-around point guard that could end up being one of the best in the mid-major world. Jason McLeish and Zach Ingles are solid wings, while Alonzo Hird is a tough post option. Wisconsin is tough to beat at home, and EKU is not going to do it. However, this game is going to be closer than most think. Witt and Hird are going to give the Badgers problem, but Tucker can't be stopped by EKU. Prediction: Wisconsin by 6

Winthrop at Marquette- The upset pick of the day, if you can even consider it an upset. Winthrop returns nearly their entire team a year ago. Torrell Martin and James Shuler are big guards that are going to cause problems, and Chris Gaynor is a solid point guard. Marquette is led by Steve Novak, an excellent-shooting forward. Steve Chapman and Dan Fitzgerald are two more perimeter options. Dominic James opens his career as Travis Diener's heir apparent at the point. Winthrop is experienced and talented. They also play excellent defense, which could create difficulties for James in his first game. Going on the road, the Eagles get the win. Prediction: Winthrop by 4

Friday, November 18, 2005

Friday Night Preview

Syracuse vs. Florida- The championship of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic. Both teams looked very impressive in the semi-finals, with Syracuse beating Texas Tech by 35, and Florida defeating Wake Forest in a sloppily played close game. Gerry McNamara broke out of his slump last night, and the Orange looked much more crisp and far better than they had in the two prevous games. Terrence Roberts is playing very well on the inside, averaging nearly a double-double. Demetris Nichols, Louie McCroskey, and Josh Wright are giving solid production on the wings, while freshman Eric Devendorf might be the key to this team. On the other hand, Florida looked very sloppy last night in a win. Corey Brewer is an emerging star, while Taurean Green is going to be a very good point guard. Lee Humphrey is an excellent shooter, while Joakim Noah, Al Horford, and Chris Richard are a very productive post trio. If Florida presses McNamara like they did Wake's Justin Gray, and force turnovers, they could keep it close. However, the defense of the Orange will be too much for the young Gators to handle. Prediction: Syracuse by 4

Wake Forest vs. Texas Tech- The consolation game of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic. Both teams looked very unimpressive last night. Texas Tech had a lot of trouble scoring last night against the Syracuse zone, as they lack three-point shooters. Jarrius Jackson and Martin Zeno are an excellent backcourt, with Jackson one of the best guards in the conference, and Zeno an emerging star. Outside of those two, no one is a consistent scorer. Wake Forest turned the ball over way too much against Florida, as a result of scorer Justin Gray not being a natural point guard. However, Gray is a very good scorer, while Eric Williams can be one of the best post players in the country. Wing Trent Strickland is averaging a double-double. Post player Chris Ellis a solid option on offense. No one on Texas Tech can stop Williams on the inside, although Zeno could have a big day for them. The difference will be the interior play of the Demon Deacons. Prediction: Wake Forest by 7

Georgia at Old Dominion- Not as hyped as the aforementioned games, this match-up will pit a high-major team at the bottom of their conference against one of the best mid-major teams in the country. Georgia has an excellent backcourt in Levi Stukes and freshman Mike Mercer, as well as Sundiata Gaines and Channing Toney on the perimeter. Old Dominion counters with Alex Loughton, one of the best low post players in the nation. Isaiah Hunter and Drew Williamson are a solid backcourt, while Arnaud Dahi is a versatile forward. The Bulldogs are loaded on the perimeter, while the Monarchs have the distinct advantage down low. ODU has the better balance, and gets their first of what should be many victories this season. Prediction: Old Dominion by 8

UNC-Wilmington at Colorado- This is a game between two teams that could surprise nationally this season. UNC-Wilmington has already shocked some people, by defeating Wyoming and Northwestern. They are a deep team led by guard John Goldsberry, an excellent all-around point guard that is a very good passer. The forward combo of Todd Hendley and Beckham Wyrick are solid frontcourt contributors. Colorado has one of the best unknown players in the country in Richard Roby. Chris Copeland is solid up front, while Marcus Hall is a productive guard. The Buffaloes are deep and experienced. UNC-Wilmington has looked impressive so far this season, but I see Roby having a big game for Colorado, and leading them to victory. This could definitely be another upset victory for UNC-Wilmington, though. Prediction: Colorado by 3

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Thursday Night Preview

Wake Forest vs. Florida- Two teams that are at opposite ends of the spectrum heading into the season. Wake is being talked about as one of the more overrated teams in the country, while Florida is flying under the radar and not being discussed as much of an SEC contender. The Demon Deacons are led by one of the best inside-outside duos in the country in guard Justin Gray and post player Eric Williams. Gray is an excellent scorer but he is playing the point this season and has struggled. He had 10 turnovers in an overtime win over George Mason. Wing Trent Strickland has averaged a double double in his first two games. Florida is a young team. Forward Corey Brewer is looking like a star, while point guard Taurean Green is developing into a very solid player. The Gators inside quartet of Al Horford, Joakim Noah, Chris Richard, and Adrian Moss has been very productive. If Florida pressures Gray into plenty of turnovers and keep Williams in check inside, they can pull off the upset. However, I don't see anyone for Florida being able to get buckets down the stretch against Wake, and I see Gray stepping up in the second half leading the Deacons to victory. Prediction: Wake Forest by 6

Syracuse vs. Texas Tech- Similar to the previous game, Syracuse is being discussed as the most undeserving Top 25 in the nation, and Texas Tech has been mentioned as a Big 12 sleeper. The Orange have a new version of the Gerry McNamara-Hakim Warrick duo from a season ago in McNamara and Terrence Roberts. Roberts is averaging a double-double, while McNamara has struggled mightily with his jump shot without a Josh Pace-type player on the wing. Demetris Nichols and Josh Wright are playing well in the backcourt, but freshman Eric Devendorf may be the key to this team. When he plays well, it makes the Orange much better. Texas Tech is led by one of the best backcourts in the country in Martin Zeno and Jarrius Jackson. Zeno is developing into a star, while Jackson is not disappointing those who chose him as a Wooden Award candidate. Wing Terry Martin is also scoring. Darryl Dora and Jonathan Plefka are solid down low. If McNamara gets his shot back, the Orange should win as Roberts is tough to stop down low and the perimeter gang for Syracuse is deep and versatile. Jackson and Zeno will be a good test for them, though. Prediction: Syracuse by 5

Memphis at Alabama- The best game of the young season, by far. Both teams are somewhat unknown going into the season, as the Tigers were an NIT team last year and are now being picked to go to the Sweet 16, while the Tide are starting essentially four forwards. However, both are definitely Top 15-20 teams. Memphis has an excellent duo in Darius Washington and Rodney Carney, who came off the bench last game and will do this game as well. Freshman forward Shawne Williams has looked like a potential star thus far. Post player Kareem Cooper has played very well inside, and will need to against 'Bama. Ronald Steele is a very good point guard, and Chuck Davis is one of the best post players in the country. He went for 19 and 9 last game. Wings Justin Jonus, Alonzo Gee, and Jean Felix are all playing solid. Washington-Steele will be an outstanding sophomore point guard match-up, while Williams will be forced to show if he is for real against Davis. However, 'Bama has no one to guard Carney, and that will be the difference. Prediction: Memphis by 7

Temple at UCLA- Two potential NCAA teams face off in the quarterfinals of the NIT. UCLA has been led by an extremely potent perimeter trio. Aaron Afflalo has played outstanding, going for 23 points and 6 boards last game. Jordan Farmar is one of the best point guards in the nation, and Cedric Bozeman is a very versatile wing. Michael Fey and Ryan Hollins need to provide more than the 15 and 8 they gave against New Mexico State. Temple is led by one of the best all-around players in the country in Mardy Collins. Dustin Salisbery and Mark Tyndale are good scorers on the wings, while they, like UCLA, are not getting much production from inside. This game will be decided on the perimeter, and Collins-Farmar is going to be an unbelievable point guard match-up. UCLA has the better perimeter, with Afflalo looking excellent and Bozeman looking very solid. If either team gets consistent points and rebounds from the interior, they will likely win the game. Prediction: UCLA by 9

Monday, November 14, 2005

NIT Season Tip-Off Preview

The most well-known preseason tournament, the Preseason NIT will now be known by a different name. As a result of the its acquisition by the NCAA, it is now called the NIT Season Tip-Off. However, as usual, the tournament has some of the top teams in the country and will still have the semi-finals and the championship game in New York City at Madison Square Garden.

This season's bracket is unbalanced. At the top of the bracket, preseason #1 Duke has absolutely no competition to get to the finals, while the bottom half has Top 25 teams Alabama, Memphis, and UCLA, in addition to Temple. The potential second-round game of Missouri vs. Princeton is not very appealing, and I am not sure why the chairperson would have these two teams next to each other in the bracket. However, a game like Memphis-Alabama makes for some very interesting quarterfinal match-ups.

Duke draws Boston University in the first round. BU lost a lot from last season, and Duke is, well, Duke. They will move on to the second round. Manhattan or Seton Hall will get to play the Blue Devils in the second round. C.J. Anderson is one of the most underrated fowards in the country, and the Jaspers have several other options on offense. Seton Hall has Kelly Whitney down low, but no one to match-up with Anderson. Manhattan gets the win. Sam Houston State is led by guard Chris Jordan, but Missouri is in the Big 12 and just has better overall talent. The Tigers will get the victory. Mizzou gets the winner of Drexel-Princeton. Both teams lost a lot from last season. Drexel has a nice inside-outside combo in Bashir Mason and Chaz Crawford, while Princeton counters with Luke Owings and a host of solid role players. Princeton has a few more options and are a better defensive team than the Dragons.

On the lower half of the bracket, SEC contender Alabama faces Miami (Ohio). This is the country's first chance to see how the Tide's four forward lineup works out. They will have plenty of chances to work out the kinks in an easy win. Memphis plays host to last year's Cinderella team, UW-Milwaukee. The Tigers are one of this year's trendy picks to make the jump from NIT to Sweet 16. Darius Washington and Rodney Carney are an excellent duo. The Panthers lose Ed McCants, but have a very tough forward in Joah Tucker. Carney and Shawne Williams will shut down Tucker, and Memphis will get the W. Temple may have the easiest first round game, against Army. Mardy Collins starts his All-American campaign in a blowout victory. UCLA draws New Mexico State at the bottom of the bracket. They have excellent perimeter talent, led by Jordan Farmar. The Bruins won't have much trouble dispatching the transfer-infused Aggies.

The quarterfinals in the upper half of the bracket are going to be an extension of the first round--blowouts for the main teams. Duke will likely get Manhattan, and will have another easy win. DeMarcus Nelson have to slow down CJ Anderson for the Blue Devils. Missouri will face Princeton. The versatility of Missouri and the overall perimeter talent will be too much for Princeton. Down at the bottom, Memphis-Alabama may be the best game of the entire tournament. Ronald Steele will battle Darius Washington in an excellent sophomore point guard match-up. Super freshman Shawne Williams will have to defend Chuck Davis in what should be an advantage for the Tide. Rodney Carney on the wing will be key for Memphis. 'Bama might not have anyone to defend him. He will lead the Tigers to a victory. UCLA will get a tough test from Temple. Mardy Collins against Jordan Farmar will be an unbelievable point guard match-up. The difference will be the supporting cast--UCLA has a much better one.

Once in New York City, Duke will have another easy game against Missouri. I'm guessing the NIT committee wanted the whole mentor vs. protege thing with Mike Krzyzewski and Quin Snyder. They can hype that all they want, but the fact is that the game is going to be a blowout. In the other semi-final game, Memphis takes on UCLA. Darius Washington against Jordan Farmar will be a battle of sophomore point guards. Aaron Afflalo is tough on the wing for the Bruins, and Cedric Bozeman is very versatile. Memphis has Rodney Carney on the wing, with Shawne Williams at the other forward. Bozeman will have to lock down Carney, although UCLA has no one that can match-up with Williams. That could be the difference in what is going to be a tight game. Memphis has a lot of talent that few teams can match.

One team that can match the talent level of Memphis is Duke. And they will demonstrate that in the Championship. JJ Redick is going to have a huge advantage over whoever Memphis decides to put at the two-guard across from him. However, If Rodney Carney defends Redick, he could have a tough time. I don't think that Carney will want to chase JJ around all game, though. Darius Washington may have an advantage at the point over Sean Dockery and Greg Paulus, but an even bigger edge will go to Duke in the low post. Shelden Williams should absolutely dominate the interior for the Blue Devils. Joey Dorsey will try his best, but he just can't defend him. Shawne Williams against Josh McRoberts will be a very good freshman forward match-up. Redick on the outside and Williams on the inside will be too much. Duke will start the season with an NIT Championship.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Final Four/National Champion Predictions


National Champion: Connecticut

Final Four: Connecticut, Duke, Texas, Villanova

Preseason Top 25


1. Duke
2. Texas
3. Connecticut
4. Gonzaga
5. Michigan State
6. Villanova
7. Oklahoma
8. Boston College
9. Stanford
10. Memphis
11. Arizona
12. Louisville
13. Iowa
14. Kentucky
15. Alabama
16. George Washington
17. UCLA
18. West Virginia
19. Washington
20. Maryland
21. Illinois
22. Wake Forest
23. Syracuse
24. Charlotte
25. Northern Iowa

Bracket Breakdown

No matter how many previews and predictions, everyone's focus is still on two things: March and the NCAA Tournament. With that in mind, March Madness All Season has attempted to project the 65 teams that will make the NCAA Tournament in five months.

1 Duke
16 South Carolina State/Alabama A&M

8 Syracuse
9 California

5 George Washington
12 Michigan

4 Alabama
13 Winthrop

6 Illinois
11 Ohio

3 Stanford
14 Iona

7 Northern Iowa
10 Cincinnati

2 Boston College
15 Eastern Kentucky

1 Connecticut
16 Montana State

8 Texas Tech
9 Arkansas

5 Wake Forest
12 San Diego State

4 Iowa
13 Oral Roberts

6 West Virginia
11 Virginia Tech

3 Arizona
14 Western Kentucky

7 Charlotte
10 Ohio State

2 Oklahoma
15 Penn

1 Texas
16 Northwestern State

8 North Carolina State
9 Wisconsin

5 Washington
12 Old Dominion

4 Kentucky
13 Wisconsin-Milwaukee

6 Indiana
11 Vanderbilt

3 Memphis
14 Cal State-Fullerton

7 Iowa State
10 Creighton

2 Villanova
15 Gardner-Webb

1 Gonzaga
16 Fairleigh Dickinson

8 Georgetown
9 Kansas

5 Maryland
12 Minnesota

13 Bucknell

11 Xavier

3 Lousville
14 Davidson

7 Nevada
10 Miami (Fl.)

2 Michigan State
15 Albany

All-Americans and Awards


Player of the Year: J.J. Redick, Duke

Freshman of the Year: Tasmin Mitchell, LSU

All-American Team:
G- Dee Brown, Illinois
G- JJ Redick, Duke
F- Adam Morrison, Gonzaga
F- Craig Smith, Boston College
C- Shelden Williams, Duke

Second Team:
G- Daniel Gibson, Texas
G- Curtis Stinson, Iowa State
G- Marcus Williams, Connecticut
F- Eric Williams, Wake Forest
F- Taj Gray, Oklahoma

Third Team:
G- Chris Hernandez, Stanford
F- Alando Tucker, Wisconsin
F- Rudy Gay, Connecticut
F- Hassan Adams, Arizona
F- Nick Fazekas, Nevada

Fourth Team:
G- Mardy Collins, Temple
G- Ronnie Brewer, Arkansas
F- Jared Dudley, Boston College
F- Leon Powe, California
C- Josh Boone, Connecticut

Fifth Team:
G- Darius Washington, Memphis
G- Justin Gray, Wake Forest
G- Allan Ray, Villanova
F- Curtis Withers, Charlotte
C- Paul Davis, Michigan State

Monday, November 7, 2005

Big East Conference Preview


Player of the Year: Rudy Gay, SF, Connecticut

Newcomers of the Year: David Padgett, F, Louisville; Eric Devendorf, G, Syracuse

All-Conference Team:
G- Marcus Williams, Connecticut
G- Taquan Dean, Louisville
F- Rudy Gay, Connecticut
F- Curtis Sumpter, Villanova
C- Josh Boone, Connecticut

Second Team:
G- Gerry McNamara, Syracuse
G- Allan Ray, Villanova
G- Darryl Hill, St. John's
F- Jeff Green, Georgetown
F- Eric Hicks, Cincinnati

Third Team:
G- Carl Krauser, Pittsburgh
G- Randy Foye, Villanova
G- Mike Gansey, West Virginia
F- Juan Palacios, Louisville
F- Brandon Bowman, Georgetown

1. Connecticut- Connecticut has the most championship-ready team in the Big East, and possibly the nation. The only thing keeping this team from the preseason #1 slot is their off-court problems. Potential All-American point guard Marcus Williams is out until December and can't play until January after he was caught stealing laptops. AJ Price was suspended the entire year for the same offense. Williams is the best passer and playmaker in the country and could be the best overall point guard. He is a very good defender and rebounder, and improved his shot and scoring ability as the season wore on. Rashad Anderson is an excellent, albeit streaky, shooter that can shoot the Huskies in or out of games. Denham Brown split time with Anderson last season, and will likely do it again. It is a possibility that both will start on the wing next to each other. Both averaged over ten points per game. Until Williams becomes eligbile, Craig Austrie and Robert Garrison will handle the point guard duties. Neither were highly regarded recruits, but Austrie has shown that he can run the team well in practice. The frontcourt of the Huskies is the best in the country. Rudy Gay may be the best player in the country, and is the consensus #1 pick whenever he decides to enter the NBA Draft. However, he needs to become assertive and utilize his talent advantage more. Josh Boone is another All-American candidate. He is a great rebounder and one of the best shot-blockers in the nation. He, like Gay, needs to become more aggressive offensively. Hilton Armstrong will step into Charlie Villanueva's vacated power forward position. He is a good shot blocker and has shown flashes on offense. Ed Nelson played well in the NCAA Tournament and will get extensive minutes this season. Jeff Adrien and Marcus Johnson are talented freshmen that could have important roles. Once Williams becomes eligible and the chemistry builds, the Huskies will have the best team in the country. Aside from potential intangible problems, I cannot see why the Connecticut Huskies won't win the 2006 National Championship. Prediction: NCAA

2. Villanova- Villanova finally lived up to their potential last season, and made a run to the Sweet 16 before losing to UNC by 1 after a questionable traveling call cost them a chance to tie the game down the stretch. They should be even better this year. They have the best backcourt in the country and could remind some of Illinois' group from last season. Allan Ray performed very well on the U-21 team during the summer, and could develop into one of the better scorers in the Big East. He is an excellent shooter and can also take his defender off the dribble. Foye is a threat to use his strength to drive to the lane or shoot the three. He is very underrated and is often overshadowed by his teammates. Mike Nardi is a smart point guard that doesn't make many bad decisions. He can shoot the ball well, and has a smoothness to his game. Kyle Lowry saw his minutes rise late in the season due to Nardi's injury and his own play. He averaged almost 14 points and 6 rebounds in the NCAA Tournament. He was likely to come off the bench again this season until All-Big East performer Curtis Sumpter tore his ACL in October. Jay Wright now says that the Wildcats will start four guards, including Lowry. The loss of Sumpter kills 'Nova up front. He was a versatile inside-outside player and one of the best combo forwards in the country. There is a chance he will come back in February, but he also might redshirt. With him out, Will Sheridan and Jason Fraser will get most of the interior responsibilities. Fraser has had a career filled with promise, but more often, injuries. When healthy, he is one of the best post players in the Big East. That hasn't happened that frequently, however. Will Sheridan has filled in admirably in the past when either Sumpter or Fraser went down, and will have to do so again this season. With Sumpter out, returnees Chris Charles and Marcus Austin will have to step up, while freshmen Dante Cunnigham and Shane Clark will also see extended minutes. Villanova, even without Sumpter, has he talent to make a run to the Final Four. If they get him back, it would be an added bonus. With the backcourt that they have, and some semblance of interior scoring, the Wildcats should be in Indianapolis in April. Prediction: NCAA

3. Louisville- Louisville is in the best shape of any of the newcomers to the Big East, after going to the Final Four a season ago. However, they lose three seniors, as well as first-round pick Francisco Garcia. They still have more than enough talent, though, to make some noise in the Big East. Taquan Dean leads the way. He is arguably the best shooter in the country, shooting 45 percent from long-range. He is going to have to become more of a go-to-guy this season with the loss of all the personnel. He is a good defender and passer and won't have to play the point this season. The reason for that change is the arrival of freshman Andre McGee. He is extremely quick and is a good scorer. He can get into the lane and distribute the ball via penetration. Also on the perimeter will be returnee Brandon Jenkins. He is an excellent athlete that can shoot the three with efficiency. There is a chance that he will start on the wing this season, or even at point guard should McGee falter at that position. Wing Terrence Williams and Bryan Harvey are also expected to make impacts as freshmen for the Cardinals. Williams is a potential star that is an outstanding athlete and is excellent running the floor, while Harvey is a great shooter. Up front, Louisville could have one of the better baselines in America--when they are all healthy. Juan Palacios was underrated last season, as a result of playing forward opposite Garcia. He is athletic and can play any position on the floor, and should be all-conference as a sophomore. He needs to work on his hands, though. David Padgett could have a huge impact on the Big East--when he returns from a foot injury that will sideline him for up to 3 weeks. The transfer from Kansas can shoot the ball from the perimeter as well as score inside. BrianJohnson returns from an injury that forced him to sit out a season ago. He is a good scorer inside. The Cardinals have talent both inside and out, although it is not proven talent, other than Dean and Palacios. If Padgett makes the expected impact, and the newcomers play well, Louisville will contend for a league title. Prediction: NCAA

4. West Virginia- West Virginia was the surprise team of last season and the major-conference Cinderella of the NCAA Tournament. They upset Wake Forest in the second round and made a run to the Elite Eight, where they blew a 20-point lead to Louisville. They return the majority of that team. Leading the way is the deep and talented perimeter group. Mike Gansey scored in double figures in his last nine games, and is their go-to-guy on the perimeter. Patrick Beilein, the coach's son, is a good three point shooter but doesn't do much besides that. Joe Herber isn't a big-time scorer, but he shoots the three well and can do a little bit of everything. J.D. Collins doesn't turn the ball over that much, and is a solid point guard that doesn't score very much. Darris Nichols adds depth in the backcourt. That group is what keeps the Mountaineers in most games. They are going to have to carry the team this season, because the frontcourt is lacking personnel. Kevin Pittsnogle is the only key player that returns up front. He is a good place to start, though. The darling of the NCAA Tournament is a very good three-point shooter that isn't much of an inside scorer or defender. The starting position next to him is up for grabs. Frank Young is a bit undersized at 6-5, but is athletic and can hit the outside shot. 7-0 Penn State transfer Rob Summers will play inside when the Mountaineers go big. West Virginia returns plenty from last year's Elite Eight squad, but the element of surprise is gone. The perimeter is very solid, and Pittsnogle is a good big man. If someone produces at the power forward spot and gives the Mountaineers a legit low-post option, West Virginia could make a run at the Sweet 16. Prediction: NCAA

5. Syracuse- Syracuse was a trendy sleeper pick to make a run to the Final Four last season, but that all was halted when the Orange were upset by #13-seed Vermont in the first round. Since then, Hakim Warrick, Josh Pace, and Craig Forth have used up their eligibility, leaving Syracuse starting over in the starting lineup. The only definite is guard Gerry McNamara, known as one of the best three-point shooters in the country. However, he is very inconsistent and forces a lot of shots. And now, without Warrick down low, he is going to have been the main cog in the offense, and might have to play the point, not his natural position. Also on the perimeter are juniors Louie McCroskey and Demetric Nichols, and freshman Eric Devendorf. McCroskey is not much of a shooter but can score going to the basket, and is a good athlete. Nichols has the ability to have a breakout season for the Orange. He has been inconsistent throughout his career, but he can do a little of everything on the wing. Devendorf is a leading candidate for Big East Freshman of the Year. He could start at the point sooner rather than later if McNamara can't handle that role. Josh Wright will also see time in the backcourt. Up front, Terrence Roberts could have a huge season inside for Syracuse. He demonstrated his potential down the stretch last season, and could become a go-to-guy and one of the best big men in the conference. Center Darryl Watkins is a good athlete that needs to improve his numbers with increased minutes this season. Providing depth up front will be forwards Dayshawn Wright and Matt Gorman. If the junior class of McCroskey, Nichols, Roberts, and Watkins finally plays to the level they should, the Orange should not fall too far even without the departing seniors. Expect an NCAA berth out of Syracuse this season. Prediction: NCAA

6. Georgetown- Georgetown surprised some last season with a very successful season that should have resulted in an NCAA Tournament berth. However, they faltered down the stretch of the season, and ended up in the NIT. They should definitely make the Field of 65 this season. The Hoyas have one of the more underrated frontcourts in the nation. Brandon Bowman thought about entering the NBA Draft, but pulled his name out. He is very athletic and can do a variety of things on the basketball court. Jeff Green was the co-Big East Rookie of the Year (with Rudy Gay), and is versatile. He can score in the post, but can also step out and shoot the three (40 percent from beyond the arc). Bowman and Green form one of the best forward combos in the country. Roy Hibbert is a 7-2 shot blocker that needs to improve his offensive game. His role will expand this season. Newcomer Marc Egerson will provide the depth up front. On the perimeter, a trio of solid backcourt players that will get the majority of the minutes. Ashanti Cook is a good distributor and shooter that can score well. However, he needs to become more focused on finding the open man as the point guard. Wing Darrel Owens is a very good shooter who gives the Hoyas good size in the backcourt. Jonathan Wallace could also start at the point, as he did last season. He isn't a bad long-range shooter, but turns the ball over more than he should. Georgetown has the talent to make a run in the Big East and get an NCAA Tournament bid. If the backcourt provides solid balance and takes the pressure off of Bowman and Green, the Hoyas will be in the Field of 65. Prediction: NCAA

7. Cincinnati- Cincinnati has always been one of the main teams in their conference. This year, however, they will be one of the teams trying to get into the first division. And they will have to do it without legendary coach Bob Huggins. New coach Andy Kennedy inherits a decent team capable of making the NCAA Tournament, though. It starts up front with potential all-conference big man Eric Hicks. He could average a double-double this year and will be the go-to-guy down low for the Bearcats. He is also an excellent shot blocker. Joining him down low will be a newcomer, likely either JC transfer Cedric McGowan or NAIA transfer Ronald Allen. McGowan is a very good inside-outside scorer who has the typical intensity necessary to play inside in the Big East and for Cincinnati. Allen played at Xavier (La.) last season, but Hurricane Katrina destroyed his school and potentially their basketball season. Freshman Abdul Herrera will also see time down low. On the wing, two seniors will start. 6-8 Armein Kirkland has a lot of potential, but hasn't reached that yet. He is very good in the open court, and is a good scorer. 6-7 James White is one of the most versatile players in the conference. He played the point at times last season, although he is better on the wing. White is an excellent defender and a good shooter who can do nearly everything on the court. Both Kirkland and White were double-figure scorers. At the point, returnee Jihad Muhammed is back. He was a double-figure scorer that often played out of control and not within the system. He is an inconsistent shooter and turned the ball over too much. However, he is quick and is a decent point guard. Freshmen Devan Downey and Domonick Tilford will also see time. Downey might start at the point. He is very quick and finds ways to make plays. Tilford is a good passer and scorer. The Bearcats had a tumultuous offseason, but the expected outcome that they would have had with Huggins is no different than it will be with Kennedy. They will be in the NCAA Tournament again. Prediction: NCAA

8. Notre Dame- Notre Dame was headed for the NCAA Tournament last season, until they collapsed down the stretch and headed to the NIT, where they lost in the first round. They lose four-year starter Chris Thomas at the point, but return enough talent to compete for an NCAA berth. Chris Quinn is vastly underrated within the conference. He can play either backcourt spot, and is an excellent passer who does not turn the ball over. Quinn also shoots 46 percent from three-point range. Another good shooter returns on the wing in Colin Falls. He is a good clutch scorer who shot 41 percent last season from behind the arc. The other perimeter spot is wide-open. Freshman point guard Kyle McAlarney is an excellent scorer and is very quick. If he starts, Quinn will be able to play off the ball, where he is more comfortable. Russell Carter is very athletic but has never really stuck to the offensive system when he is in the game. Forward Omari Israel is athletic and is very comfortable on the perimeter at 6-9. Up front, Torin Francis will have one last chance to live up to his potential. He can be one of the best big men in the Big East, if not the country. Francis is a very good rebounder and has solid low-post moves. Next to him will likely be freshman Luke Zeller. He is versatile and can hit the three, as well as play inside. He is a very good passer. Senior Rick Cornett has seen solid minutes throughout his career, and has used them to show that he is a solid rebounder and defender. He will provide depth and could start until Zeller gets acclimated. The Fighting Irish have enough to make the NCAA Tournament. However, they have had enough the past couple of years, and never did make it to the Big Dance. If the two freshmen can step into the lineup and make enough of an impact, ND will make it to the field. Prediction: NIT

9. Pittsburgh- Pittsburgh underachieved last season, and were bounced from the NCAA Tournament by Pacific in the first round. They just did not have the same type of chemistry and flow that they had the previous season, when they were one of the better teams in the country. Senior point guard Carl Krauser will try to get the Panthers back to the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament, or at the very least, the NCAA Tournament. He is one of the best point guards in the country, but needs to get his teammates better involved on offense. He is good shooter and is very tough to stop off the dribble. He is also a good defender and rebounder but needs to take better care of the ball. Also on the perimeter will be Ronald Ramon and returning starter Antonio Graves. Ramon came off the bench last season, but will start this year. He is a good defender and shooter. Graves is an excellent long-range shooter, hitting threes at a 46 percent clip. Keith Benjamin is athletic and will see minutes off the bench, along with freshman Levance Fields. Up front, Levon Kendall, who scored 41 points against the USA at the World Championships, will start. He is a decent scorer and defender who is fairly versatile. Aaron Gray, who played better than first-round pick Chris Taft at times last season, will move into the starting lineup. He is a good shot blocker and rebounder who could become a solid big man. Freshman Sam Young is expected to have an immediate impact for the Panthers in the frontcourt. He is athletic and will see playing time at forward. Pitt has several experienced players in the lineup, although no one other than Krauser has had a go-to-role at any point in their career. If Ramon becomes a big-time scorer and one of the frontcourt players develops into a capable option down low, the Panthers will make a run at the NCAA Tournament. However, Pitt is going to have to settle for an NIT bid this year. Prediction: NIT

10. St. John's- St. John's won 9 games a season ago--and that was considered a success. They should improve that by at least 5 victories this season, which would put them on the lower end of the bubble, heading into the Big East Tournament. Upset a few teams here and there and the Johnnies are on the brink of an NCAA Tournament berth. Why would anyone expect that out of St. John's this season, though? Start with Darryl Hill. The Big East's best scorer, he can carry the Red Storm to a couple of wins this season. He needs to cut down on his turnovers, however. Lamont Hamilton is a very good low post presence. He and Hill are an excellent inside-outside duo. Also inside, JC transfer Aaron Spears will give them another option. Freshmen Anthony Mason, Jr. and Ricky Torres will see lots of playing time on the wings, as both are good shooters. Jermaine Maybank sat out last season with an injury; he might be the most athletic player on the roster. Oh, there's also three more returning starters from last season: guards Eugene Lawrence and Cedric Jackson, and forward Dexter Gray. Throw in explosive Ryan Williams, and you have a ridiculously deep and taltened team that could string together a couple of quality wins somewhere along the line. It may sound far-fetched, but don't be surprised when you see St. John's winning games in the Big East. Prediction: NIT

11. Marquette- Marquette loses Travis Diener, their all-conference, all-American guard of the past few seasons. He was one of the most important players to his team in the country. Without him and two other starters, the Golden Eagles will look to sweet-shooting 6-10 forward Steve Novak for scoring. He shoots 46 percent from behind the arc and will be the team's best point producer. However, he needs to improve his rebounding and his all-around game. He was a preseason Wooden Award candidate, although I am not sure what he did to merit that honor. Also on the perimeter will be guard Steve Chapman and 6-9 Dan Fitzgerald. Chapman is a good scorer, although he is also a very tough defender and a solid rebounder. Fitzgerald is versatile, and could see time at all the perimeter positions this season (yes, including point guard). The leading candidate for the point guard spot is freshman Dominic James. He is going to have one of the biggest impacts of any freshman in the country if he can capably fill Diener's shoes. Up front, Ryan Amaroso will be the main man. He is a good scorer from both the paint and the low block. He can have a big year down low for the Golden Eagles. Ousmane Barro will start next to him or will see extensive minutes backing him up. The athletic sophomore is a solid rebounder and defender. Marquette will miss Diener too much to reach the NCAA Tournament, although the NIT is a possibility if James makes the anticipated impact. Prediction: NIT

12. Providence- Yes, they lost All-American Ryan Gomes. Yes, they won 4 Big East games last season--with Gomes. However, Providence has a chance to make some noise in the newly-designed Big East. Donnie McGrath and Dwight Brewington are a very good backcourt. McGrath is an excellent shooter, and Brewington has an opportunity to become one of the top scorers in the conference. DeSean White is very athletic and versatile and will be the first to step into Gomes' shoes. Herbert Hill and Randall Hanke are good shot blockers down low, and Hanke could develop into one of the better low post players in the Big East. If they learn how to play better defense, and win close games (8 Big East losses by 5 points or less), the Friars could have a decent season. Prediction: NIT

13. DePaul- DePaul was one of the last teams out of the NCAA Tournament last season, and losing to UAB in the Conference-USA Tournament probably solidified that. They won't come close to the bubble in their first year in their new conference. Returning wing Sammy Mejia leads the way. He is a solid all-around player that can score well as well as distribute the ball. Mejia is very good at driving to the basket, but needs to work on his shot. Also on the perimeter will be point guard Cliff Clinkscales. He is a very good passer that does not turn the ball over much. On the wing opposite Mejia will likely be Miami transfer Karron Clarke. He is very athletic and is expected to have an immediate impact for the Blue Demons. Also on the wing is freshman Rashad Woods, more of a forward that a perimeter-type wing. Draelon Burns saw time last season on the perimeter, and will get minutes again. Up front, a trio of wide-body big men will own the paint. Marlon Brumfeld is a good rebounder and will be a go-to-guy down low. Lorenzo Thompson is an efficient scorer once he gets the ball. Wesley Green, the biggest of the three at 6-9, 280, and is also the best passer of the group. DePaul lost a lost from last year's bubble team, but they should be somewhat competitive in the conference. Mejia could become an all-conference player. If the role players step up, the Blue Demons could fight for an NIT bid. They will fall just short, though. Prediction: No postseason

14. Rutgers- Rutgers had some good moments last season, but overall it was a lost season. The Scarlet Knights finished last in the conference and went 10-19 overall. This season, the young players from last season could develop into solid performers, but it could be another long season in New Brunswick. Guard Quincy Douby leads the way. After an excellent performance in the NIT a couple of seasons back, people thought Douby was going to develop into a star. That hasn't happened yet. He is still more of a scorer than anything else, and he is not a very accurate shooter, as a result of the fact that he forces a lot of shots. However, he is the go-to-guy for Rutgers and is a decent passer and rebounder. Marquis Webb will start beside him. He is not a natural point guard, and is better suited on the wing. He is an excellent defender who can also get some buckets on the offensive end. The point guard duties could go to newcomer Anthony Farmer. His main job will be to find the scorers on the wings. Up front, there are several quality players who will see extensive minutes. Ollie Bailey was stuck underneath the basket last season, and performed well. He will likely move away from the paint this season and could more on the wing instead of down low. Adrian Hill is a hard worker that will get rebounds and buckets inside. Byron Joynes returns as a starter on the interior. He is a good rebounder but might lose his starting job to Hill this season. Jimmie Inglis and Dan Waterstradt also return in the post. The Scarlet Knights have some talented players that are solid Big East players. However, they don't have nearly enough talent to compete with the upper-echelon of the conference. If the inside players hold their own and Douby develops into a star, the Scarlet Knights could fight for an NIT bid. I don't see that happening. Prediction: No postseason

15. Seton Hall- Seton Hall returns three starters from a team that had loads of potential and preseason expectations that they came nowhere near living up to. A 12-16 record also did nothing to quench the rumors about coach Louis Orr being fired. With the team he has, it is probably postseason or bust for Orr and the Pirates. Kelly Whitney and Grant Billmeier return on the interior. Whitney is a very consistent post player that always puts up his 12 and 6 every night. He is their go-to-player inside. Billmeier is a hard worker and a good rebounder. Cincinnati transfer Mike Pilgrim is a very good athlete who will make an impact after he becomes eligible after the first semester. In the backcourt, Donald Copeland returns at the point. He is not a very good shooter or scorer but is a decent distributor and does not turn the ball over that often. Wing Jamar Nutter has the potential to be a good scorer and shooter, but hasn't shown that thus far. The Pirates don't have that much talent, and they don't have a whole lot coming in the near future, either. Orr's days are numbered and Seton Hall will fall short of the postseason. Prediction: No postseason

16. South Florida- South Florida loses three starters from a team that struggled in the much-weaker Conference USA last season. They will have loads of trouble in the Big East. The leading returnees are Marius Prekevicius, who is a very good shooter; Collin Dennis, a good defender and scorer; and James Holmes, a pretty solid scorer. All three are wings that are too small to compete in the frontcourt and are not pure point guards. The candidates at the point guard spot are freshman Chris Howard, a solid point guard, and David Sills, a JC transfer that is a balanced scorer. In the frontcourt, the Bulls return center Solomon Jones. He had a good season a year ago and could have a big year down low in the Big East. Purdue transfer Melvin Buckley is expected to start immediately at forward. He is a versatile scorer that can shoot the ball as well as drive to the basket. The optimism is pretty low in Tampa lately. South Florida simply does not have enough to contend in the Big East. In a few years, USF could see the postseason, but not this year. Prediction: No postseason