Tag Archives: College Basketball

“Weekly Nickel”

I got the 22-year-old scoring machine Kevin Durant (pictured above) bringing home the All Star Game MVP on Sunday.

It is yet another Monday in the sporting world.  And things are as good as ever. Basketball is at full blow in both the Collegiate and the Professional ranks.  The hockey ice is beginning to heat up.  And Spring Training is upon us!

Lets take a look at this week’s top 5. Continue reading

“The SEC Basketball Preview”

Kentucky Head Coach John Calipari (pictured above), took the SEC by storm in his first year in the conference. Will he have a repeat performance in year two?

Today we are in for a special treat.  We have our debut post from our SEC expert out of Lexington, Mr. Matt Murray.

Matt is the Editor in Chief for the University of Kentucky’s student run newspaper, the Kentucky Kernel.  You can follow him on twitter @MurrNation

Six weeks into the college basketball season, teams are gearing up for conference play, and their non-conference schedule has helped provide a litmus test for just how good they are, while other teams still haven’t quite figured it out. While the SEC hasn’t been the best league from top to bottom the decade or so, it has produced the second most Final Four teams over the last five years, and ties the ACC for the most national championships over the last five years.

The SEC has surprised many critics in the early stages of this season, but it’s the lopsidedness of the conference that is glaring. The East appears to have 6 teams that could rightfully make their way into the NCAA tournament, while you’d be hard-pressed to find a single team from the west that could legitimately find themselves in the field in March.

 

SEC WEST
1. Mississippi- Ranking the teams in the SEC West is like playing pin the tail on the donkey. You are just as likely to nail it as you are to accidentally stick the pin in your great aunt Edna’s ass. The Rebels are 7-2, but they have yet to play a ranked opponent. However, the Rebels have an experienced squad and are able to put up points. Senior guard Chris Warren averages more than 19 points a game and shoots nearly 92% from the free throw line. The Rebels average almost 80 points per game, but that offense is yet to be tested by a worthy opponent. The Rebels first real test comes in their SEC opener at #19 Florida. This team will have a better feel of how good they are after they see how they play on the road in Gainesville.

2. Arkansas Razorbacks– Arkansas is currently 7-2, and each of their two losses has come in overtime. However, head coach John Pelphrey has much to prove. He has only won 14 games in each of his first two seasons at Arkansas. Arkansas’ rich basketball history will have Pelphrey on the hot seat if he can’t push his team above a .500 record this season, and there’s reason to believe he finally has the pieces to do so. Sharp-shooter Rotnei Clark has another year of experience under his belt and is currently the Razorback’s leading scorer. The good (and bad) news for the Razorbacks is that they have no real star. Clark is the leading scorer with a mere 13.8 a game, while their second leading scorer is senior Delvon Johnson with 11.1 per game. The Razorbacks have an even scoring distribution and get decent production out of their bench. The problem is that unlike many of the marquee teams in the SEC, they lack playmakers that can get them out of a bind, but if their squad continues to gain experience and play smart, they can become one of the deeper teams in the division.

3. Mississippi State- Sitting at 7-3 after finishing last season with an eye-opening deep run in the SEC tourny taking a stellar Kentucky team into overtime in the SEC Championship game last season, the Bulldogs are working on rebuilding, particularly after losing swat machine Jarvis Varnado. However, like most of their SEC West counterparts, this team has yet to face a ranked opponent, and thus has no real way of knowing exactly what they are capable of.  In fact, all they know as of now is that they’ve lost to a 4-5 East Tennessee State and ACC bottom-feeder Virginia Tech. Fortunately for the Bulldogs, they kick off SEC play against three straight SEC West opponents, which might give them a chance to get their feet under them before facing a surprising Georgia team in Athens, kicking off a stretch against three straight tough SEC East opponents. However, if senior guard Ravern Johnson continues his outstanding play, which has him averaging 22 points per game, this team has reason to believe they can rise to the top of the SEC West.

4. LSU Tigers- Unlike the others in their division, the Tigers have faced a top 25 team, and held their own, losing to #19 Memphis by nine. The problem is that the 7-4 Tigers have posted three additional losses to teams that won’t be dancing in March and that they have the daunting task of playing their games against SEC East leaders Kentucky and Tennessee on their home floors. This LSU team will most likely stumble their way through SEC play, and would be lucky to finish out their season at .500.

5. Alabama Crimson Tide- The Tide has a faced a host of respectable opponents. The problem is that they are 5-6 as a result. The Tide puts up a measly 64 points a game, and has no real leadership. The young squad is led in scoring by a sophomore and junior, and find two freshman in their starting lineup. In a conference full of teams boasting rosters that are either full of experience or freshman that are far more talented than those on Alabama, the Tide are going to find themselves outmatched in the majority of their SEC match-ups this season.

6. Auburn Tigers- The Tigers are bad. In fact, they’ve been bad for quite some time, and there’s no reason to expect any change this season. They rank in the 200s in almost every major statistic and already find themselves in a 4-7 hole, despite having yet to play a ranked opponent. They barely average 60 points a game, and their latest recruiting class was lackluster at best.  The Tigers would be lucky to post 14 wins this season.

SEC EAST
1. Kentucky Wildcats- The fight for the top of the SEC East should be a slugfest. Tennessee and Florida find themselves at the bottom of the division with three losses a piece, while every other team has only two losses to their name. So far, the East has collectively knocked off opponents like Pitt, Notre Dame, Villanova, Washington and  Kansas State. The Wildcats sitting at 9 and 2, are responsible for two of those wins, and their only two losses have come to ranked opponents away from Rupp Arena. Kentucky is young, and there is no doubt this class lacks the talent of last year’s highlight reel squad. But what the Cats do have is an intelligent team that has come off as very coachable so far this season, as well as one of the top NBA prospects in freshman forward Terrance Jones. Jones is averaging a double double this season, with 19.8 points and 10 rebounds a game as a freshman. Additionally, Calipari has reloaded yet again in the point guard position, as Brandon Knight has replaced John Wall, who replaced Tyreke Evans, who replaced Derrick Rose. Knight averages 17.2 points per game, but the problem is that he only averages about four assists per game. Unlike Wall, Knight isn’t a true point guard, but also unlike wall, Knight is a much better shooter. In fact, this Kentucky team is in many ways the polar opposite of last year’s team, which was the tallest team in the NCAA. With Cousins, Patterson and Orton, the Cats could push the ball and earn points in the paint. This year’s team lacks a big man, as Josh Harrellson is its starting center. However, now the Cats are a real threat from behind the arc. The Cats are likely to finish about 12-4 in the SEC, which would likely put Calipari in position to post yet another 30-win season. Lucky for the Cats, no team in the SEC has a dominant big man, which is the only real kryptonite for this team and Calipari has the Cats playing the kind of defense he is known for, and their length has proven to be a big challenge for opponents.

2. Tennessee Volunteers- Of those marquee wins listed for the SEC, the Volunteers are responsible for some of the biggest as Tennessee has already knocked off Big East powerhouses Pitt and Nova. Had I written this preview 10 days ago, Tennessee would’ve been my hands-down favorite to finish at the top of the SEC East. However, after starting 7-0 and knocking off two top 10 teams, the Volunteers have dropped two straight to non-BCS conference teams Oakland and Charlotte, and a third straight to USC. Two-faced Tennessee is capable of beating any team in the NCAA by double digits, but they’re just as capable of losing to anyone. More than likely, these early loses will bring the naysayers back out of the woodwork, but there’s no reason to expect this Tennessee team won’t get back on track and make a serious run for the top of the conference and an equally deep run into the NCAA tournament. Their match-ups against Kentucky and Florida could likely determine who comes out on top of the conference, but then again, every SEC East matchup could be that pivotal this season.  What will be interesting to see is whether or not Bruce Pearl’s eight-game SEC suspension will really affect his team. During that stretch, Tennessee will have to face Florida and Vanderbilt, outcomes which could very well effect the SEC East standings for the season.

3. Florida Gators- Florida may be just as two-faced as Tennessee, posting wins against top 10 Kansas State, and turning around to lose to the Jacksonville Dolphins that very same week. At 8-3 Florida has no reason to panic, especially as one of their losses came from a very realistic title contender in Ohio State in the early stages of the season. Donovan has yet to recapture the talent he had in his back-to-to back title teams 3 years ago, but the addition of Kenny Boynton last year was a good first step. The sophomore averages 12.4 points per game, and in tandem with Erving Walker, Florida is finally building a team that could be a real threat in the NCAA tournament. The Gators have built up a great deal of depth, which will make them tough to beat due to their ability to give guys ample rest. The Gators should win the rest of their non-conference schedule and enter SEC play at 12-3, and pick up an SEC-opening win against Mississippi before having to travel to Knoxville to face Tennessee in one of the first big SEC clashes of the season.

4. Vanderbilt Commodores- The Commodores have found a way to put themselves in the mix for the past four years, and head coach Kevin Stallings has been the primary reason. He finds ways to put his team in position to win games, and while the ‘Dores have never been outstanding, no one plays them expecting an easy win. Playing in Nashville is always a nightmare and the team plays equally well on the road. However, there’s reason to believe that the strength of the SEC East this season could see the Commodores having a less-than-stellar season.  Fortunately for Vanderbilt, they face rival Tennessee during Pearl’s suspension, and any help is welcome. If Stallings can keep his team on their current pace of scoring, which has them at 24th in the country with 80.1 points per game, he can likely get his team into the NCAA tournament, but the graduation of center A.J. Ogilvy is going to be his biggest road block. However, like Kentucky, Vanderbilt too can benefit from existing in a league that lacks a dominant big man.

5. Georgia Bulldogs- Georgia is on the upswing. Junior Trey Thompkins stormed onto the scene last season with a posterizing dunk on Kentucky’s Demarcus Cousins and he’s never slowed down since. He averages 16.2 points per game, and fellow junior, guard Travis Leslie, adds 14 a game. The duo has led the Bulldogs to a 8-2 start, their best start since 2006, and their only losses have been at the hand of now-ranked opponents. There’s no reason to believe this Georgia team won’t enter SEC play at 11-2, and contend for a spot at the top of the conference. The only thing working against them is the strength of the other teams in the East, but if they can win the games they’re supposed to win, and stack that with some surprises, this team could find itself back in the NCAA tournament for the first time since their surprise SEC tournament-winning run in 2008.

6. South Carolina Gamecocks- The loss of Devon Downey is the primary reason for the Gamecocks likely slide to the bottom of the east this season. Yet, somehow South Carolina has earned a 7-2 start, losing only to top 10 teams. This is the biggest question mark in the SEC East, as this team has no reason to finish better than 8-8 in the SEC, but their play against teams like Michigan State has shown the talent and ability that could be extracted from this team if head coach Darren Horn can pull it out of them. Despite any true big man presence, South Carolina is 9th in the NCAA in rebounding, and in a league with no truly talented big man, the Gamecocks’ ability to crash the board could earn them invaluable second chance opportunities if they can stay on that pace. Their biggest problem will be finding offensive production in a league full of a tenacious defense. If the Gamecocks play to their potential, they could get to 10 wins in the SEC, but there are only so many wins to be divided among the conference, and its more than likely a host of talented SEC East teams will be taking a fair share of them from South Carolina.

Only time will tell whether or not this fast start for the SEC East is the real deal, but so far their games against big-time opponents seem to show there’s reason to believe it could be. College basketball as a whole is down this season, and so far, the SEC seems to be capitalizing on this fact.

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.

-TheSportsKraze

“Weekly Nickel”

One of the NBA's All Time Greatest Coaches, Jerry Sloan (pictured above), has the Jazz at the top of the West. Are the Jazz a real deal contender?

The College Football regular season is all but finished.  People got their dream BCS National Championship which will pit Auburn versus Oregon.  Also, people got to see the Steelers go to work last evening and they once again showed America that all they do is “Win, Win, Win, Win.”  So I will admit, this week will be a little weird without a full slate of College Football games.  It is the first time since early September actually.

But here is a look into the excitement in store for this upcoming week.

5.  In the NHL, the season is slightly past the quarter marker, and the League’s two best players seem to be leading their teams to an epic Eastern Conference Finals Showdown.  Tune in this week and watch Pittsburgh and Washington continue to ride their stars toward deep playoff runs.

4.  Jayson Werth has signed with the Nationals.  Lance Berkman will return to the NL Central, but this time as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals. The Captain will remain in the Pinstripes for at least 3 more years.  And the Red Sox are on the cusp of a major deal.  Could Adrian Gonzalez land in Boston?  This will be a huge pickup for the Bo Sox and really aid in picking up their offensive production.  The million dollar question still remains though.  Where is Cliff Lee, Mr. October himself, going to end up?  Also there is a guy named Carl Crawford that can run a little bit who is available out of Tampa.

3.  College Basketball is starting to heat up as teams continue to prep for big time conference play.  There are a good few major non conference matchups.  Here is a closer look.

Tuesday:

Memphis at Kansas:  This duel between top 20 foes should be very exciting.  In this rematch of the National Title Game of a few years ago, each squad looks to make a major statement and pick up a big time non conference win.  It is a shame that Kansas Freshman phenom Josh Selby will not be eligible for this one.

Michigan State at Syracuse:  A matchup between two of College Basketball perennial forces.  Two programs that have really been at the forefront of the game for the past decade.  Also, these are two programs led by two of the best coaches in America.  Which squad will come out victorious as each not only fights for a big non conference win and to maintain their top ten ranking, but each are looking to make a statement about their conference.  This game should help in the debate about which conference is the best in America, the Big Ten, or the Big East.

Wednesday:

Notre Dame vs Kentucky:  What a game this should be.  Notre Dame has been a pleasant surprise so far and looks to maintain their undefeated record vs their first ranked opponent of the season.  Sadly for the Fighting Irish, they get to take on a Kentucky team that is coming off a heartbreaking loss at the hands of the Tar Heels.  This should be a very high scoring affair between two teams that can really put the ball in the basket.

Thursday:

Butler at Xavier:  A matchup between the two top “Mid Major” programs in America.  So what if both teams are off to a slower start out of the gates than most expected.  Both teams always find a way to sneak into March, and I expect nothing different this year.  Also last year, Butler beat the Musketeers on one of the most controversial calls I have ever witnessed in my life.  Will the Muskies have lady luck on their side this time and pick up a much-needed non conference victory over a solid opponent?  The home court advantage could really help XU in this one.

Saturday:

Tennessee at Pittsburgh:  A game that pits two top 20, undefeated squads.  The Vols have looked awesome thus far and already have knocked off a top 10 Big East foe this year.  Freshman, Tobias Harris, and seasoned vet Scotty Hopson have been simply awesome in the early going.  Can Pittsburgh continue to ride their very experienced group and amazing rebounding ability to another big time non conference victory?  This game should be close from start to finish.

2.  The NBA Bus rolls on.  The Knicks are over 500 and have won 4 straight games.  Plus the team that was “too old,” San Antonio, sports the League’s best record.  It is the NBA and you got to love it.

Some of the marquee matchups for the week.

Monday:

Oklahoma City at Chicago:  Two of the League’s best teams go to war in the Windy City.  Who is a better young point guard, Russell Westbrook or Derrick Rose?  Take your pick because both guys are capable of taking over a ball game at any time.

Wednesday:

Miami at Utah:  The South Beach Show travels to Utah to take on a surprise Utah team that is really showing the power of team basketball.  Jerry Sloan is one of the League’s all time great coaches, and this year, he is putting on one of his best performances. 

Thursday:

Orlando at Portland:  Yes, I realize that Portland is under 500, but they are always dangerous.  The year is still young, and Portland could really gain some confidence in knocking off the team sporting the 2nd best record in the Eastern Conference.

Friday:

Los Angeles Lakers at Chicago:  It is always fun to watch two first place teams get together.  Neither of these teams are off to as stellar of a start as expected, but both are definite contenders in their respective conferences.  Look for Kobe to provide some fireworks in this one.

Atlanta at San Antonio:  Can the talented boys out of ATL show the “old men” of San Antonio a lesson?  San Antonio has been outstanding all season and are really a remarkable story.

Orlando at Utah:  Two of the League’s best go to battle in Salt Lake City.  This is a definite game that I would love to tune in and watch.  Could this be a possible preview of the Finals?

Saturday:

Utah at Dallas:  Both of these mainstays in the West continue to win each and every  year.  It never gets old watching two of the best and most consistent franchises in basketball go head to head.

1.  We enter Week 14 of the NFL Season.  Real football weather is here.  And all teams are getting ready for the stretch run.  Next week’s lineup features two great matchups. 

New England at Chicago:  Two of the best teams meet at Soldier Field.  I will tell you that I would much rather watch this one from the couch.  It will be bitterly cold.

Kansas City at San Diego:  The amazing AFC West race continues.  Can the Chargers rebound and pick up a must win vs KC?

So there you have events to look for regarding the sporting stratosphere for this week.  Make sure to take it all in.

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.

-TheSportsKraze

“Food for Thought on 12-1-10”

Here are a few of my top thoughts on this Wednesday morning:

Would Jon Gruden (pictured above on the far right) really leave the booth to get back into coaching at the U?

Will Derek Jeter wake up and return to the Yankees?

I honestly believe that Derek Jeter and his agent will come to their senses.  The 3 year, 45 million dollar offer is a more than fair deal for the Yankee Captain.  I know it is hard for anyone to take a pay cut, but in the MLB, players age.  Derek is aging, which was demonstrated threw his .270 batting average this past season (34 points below his career average) and his career lows in On Base Percentage and Slugging Percentage.  But the Yankee shortstop does not feel that he is done yet.  Besides, he will still be the highest paid shortstop in all of baseball (Hanley Ramirez next highest paid shortstop at 11 million).  Also, do you really think another team will offer him more than 15 million dollars a year?

So I do think Derek Jeter will be wearing the Pinstripes come next April..

Will James Harrison need to alter the way he plays?

Coach Tomlin has mentioned that Harrison may need to alter some elements of his style of play.  But lets be entirely honest.  James Harrison is going to be James Harrison.  He has made a living off of his aggressive play.  Do you really think a guy like Harrison is going to bow down to the man?

Coach Tomlin was quoted as saying, “Man life isn’t fair.  I’m not concerned about fairness. I’m really not. I’m concerned about preparing for the Baltimore Ravens.” 

Harrison is also concerned about preparing for Baltimore.  But you better believe his style will not be altered when two of the League’s most physical teams go head to head for AFC North supremacy.  Football can be a brutal game.

Can the Lakers return to dominance even in the midst of a tough 3 game slide?

So the Lakers have dropped 3 games in a row.  Do you really think Kobe, Phil, and the LakeShow are panicking?  Give me a break.  Even with the recent skid, they still sit atop the Pacific Division by 4.5 games.  This team has won the Western Conference 3 consecutive years and is looking for a 3rd straight NBA Championship.  Great teams know when they have to get it together.

Also realize that the Lakers now go on a 4 game stretch where they play the Rockets, the Kings, the Wizards, and the Clippers.  Realize that none of these teams have won more than 5 games thus far.  The 4 bottom feeders have a total of 17 wins between them on the season.

 Look for the Lakers to reel off 4 straight wins and hush the critics.

You better believe that this Laker team is still the best team in the League.

Is the Big Ten now the supreme conference in College Basketball?

After being dominated by the ACC for over a decade, the Big Ten finally won the annual Big Ten/ACC Challenge last season.  They are currently ahead 4 to 2 this year, and look to be bringing home the hardware again.  Currently, the mighty Big Ten has 5 teams ranked in the top 25.  Two of these squads are in the top 10.

The perennial top basketball conference, the Big East, has 6 teams in the AP top 25.  With 3 in the top 10.  I will admit that preseason I had the Big Ten as the top conference and the Big East as a very close number 2.  I still stand by this pick even with the Big East currently sporting 1 more top 25 team.

The difference is at the top.  I do not think the Big East’s top teams are as strong as the Big Ten’s top squads.  Do you really think that Pittsburgh, Nova, or UConn for that matter are better than Ohio State or Michigan State?  It is still early though.

A lot of this depends on what you define as the criteria for the best conference though.  Most Final Four Contenders?  Most overall tournament teams?  Most overall depth?  The best teams at the top?

But please note that the Big Ten has only 11 teams, while the Big East has 16.  I give the nod to the Big Ten at this time, but barely.

Will Lebron survive his visit to Cleveland on Thursday?

The NBA has provided heightened security for the Miami Heat wherever they have traveled all season.  They better up the ante in Cleveland big time though.  People in Northern Ohio are still extremely bitter towards their former “King.”  They will do all in the power to make sure that LBJ has a horrible stay in his former home state.

I do not see anything tragic happening.  But do expect this game to sport a playoff atmosphere.  The Cleveland team will play inspired basketball and do all in their power to please the crowd in probably the biggest game of the season for this Cavs team.  Miami on the other hand will also come out and play with a tenacity that we have not seen yet.  Lebron wants this game.  He left Cleveland to win titles.  You better believe that he will be highly disappointed if he gets beaten by his former squad.

Is Jon Gruden actually considering going to Coach at the U?

Gruden claims he loves his job as a Monday Night Football Analyst.  And can you really blame the guy?  He has every man’s dream job.  Sure the Head Coaching job at the University of Miami is one of the most sought after positions in College Football.  Yet they have not made a BCS Bowl Game since 2004. And, over the years, high-profile coaches moving from the NFL to College and vice versa has not been the most successful business venture.

I do admit that I think Gruden has a hint of interest.  But at this time, I do not see him leaving. 

So there is my food for thought on the days hottest topics in sports.  Let me hear your thoughts.

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.

-TheSportsKraze

“My Early College Basketball Top 5”

Kyrie Irving gives Coach K a preview of his amazing pentrating ability while starring for Team USA. This kid will be a diaper dandy according to Dickie V.

With all the commotion today regarding the new 68 team format, I started thinking about who will be the team’s playing in Houston come next April.  Now I will admit that at this point, I am not gung-ho about the 68 team format, but it is better than what could have been (96).  Though I do think we will hit 96 teams within the next 5 years.  This was a ploy by the NCAA to ween people onto the idea of more teams into the tourney.  But that is a story for another day.

So my early top 5:

1.  Duke:

This was a no brainer pretty much.  The Dukies are the defending National Champions.  They have arguably the best coach in the country.  Not to mention they are the only 4 year program left in America.  With stars Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith returning, and the addition of super point guard Kyrie Irving (you will hear more about this kid in the very near future), this team will once again boast the toughest trio in the country.  Duke looks to be a definite team that will be playing at Reliant Stadium come next April.

2.  Ohio State

Now many of you are sitting there like, this team just lost their superstar Evan Turner.  How are they even being considered a top 10 team?  I will tell you why, All Ohio Red.  This is the top AAU team in the country and Ohio State has 3 blue chip recruits coming from this team, plus a couple of other studs.  Jared Sullinger will be an instant impact player and I fully expect him to be in the running for Big Ten player of the year.  I have talked about this in past blogs.  This team has a great chemistry with their incoming recruits.  The kids have played together for years and won together.  Not to mention Ohio State has 3 returning senior starters, plus an emerging star in William Buford (who will be junior).  This team is forreal.  And they have that rare mix of great experience, and phenomenal talent.  Thad Matta should have a lot of fun with this squad.  In today’s college game, it is very rare to have a great mix of talented seniors and freshman.

3.  Michigan State

You better believe that this team is hungry and excited to have their fearless leader, Tom Izzo back.  Izzo always seems to find a way to take his team deep into March whether he has the talent or not.  This year though, he has the talent.  With Kalin Lucas (hopefully healthy), Durrell Summers, Draymond Green, and the extremely talented Delvin Roe, this team has a fantastic core.  Plus the addition of super center, Adreian Payne, from that amazing All Ohio Red team. These guys will beat you up inside.  This is a typical Tom Izzo team, but with more talent than he has had the past few years.  These guys are very dangerous and hungry to return back to the Final Four for a 3rd consecutive year.

4.  Purdue

The Boilermakers are the real deal.  And not the real deal like Gene Keady’s hair.  This team will miss their rock Chris Kramer, but their talent and experience should make up for the loss of Kramer’s intensity level.  Kramer was the only senior on the squad who saw significant time.  They return a team that spent most of the year ranked in the top 5.  A team that everyone thought had a legitimate chance to be playing in Indy before Robby Hummel went down.  If Hummel comes back at full strength, I feel like the three-headed monster of Hummel, Moore, and Johnson will be near unstoppable.  These three seniors are hungry to finally live up to the billing.  And this should be the year.

5.  Butler

This team was no Cinderella last year regardless if that is how America labeled them.  They were top 10 in the preseason for a reason and I am giving them the love again this year.  Though the loss of Gordon Hayward will hurt, they return Shelvin Mack, Matt Howard, and Ronald Nored.  Not to mention they have a very intriguing prospect coming by the name of Khyle Marshall.  Marshall is not extremely highly touted, but has a similar style to a Gordon Hayward.  Lastly, Brad Stevens is a fantastic coach.  This man, though he had a talented team, outcoached coaching legends like Jim Boeheim and Tom Izzo.  So do not be surprised if this team goes deep into the tournament again.

Sleepers:  Kentucky, Syracuse, West Virginia, and Kansas State (all teams that I could see sneaking into the Final Four)

So there you have my top 5.  One thing of note.  The Big Ten will be the top conference this year.  I know many ESPN guys said that they would be the top conference last year.  I feel like they jumped the gun and were a year early.  They had a lot of solid teams last year, but this year, they have great teams at the top, and some depth.  With the loss of only one player (Evan Turner), these teams will be deep, talented, and experienced.

In the words of Dickie V, “It’s totally awesome baby with a capital A!”

You got to love College Basketball.

Stay tuned for the next edition of Sportskraze.

-Kraze