Tag Archives: Tom Izzo

NCAA Tournament Bracket

By Josh Kramer

Take a look at the official March Madness selections from TheSportsKraze…

2012 NCAA Tournament Bracket

Elite Eight:

Kentucky over Duke

-The Laettner shot of 20 years ago is still fresh in the minds of Big Blue Nation.  Too much Kentucky talent and too much Anthony Davis for the Blue Devils this time around though.

Michigan State over Marquette

-Marquette’s dynamic senior duo of Darius Johnson-Odom and Jae Crowder have been impressive  all year.  But Tom Izzo’s smarts and Draymond Green’s unwavering work ethic will prove too much in this one as the Spartans make their 7th Final Four appearance in 14 years.

Florida State over Syracuse

-The Big East regular season champs would have proven to be far too deep for a Florida State team that vastly exceeded expectations this year had Fab Melo been on the floor.  No “Melo,” means no Final Four for a very good Syracuse team.

North Carolina over Kansas

Tyler Zeller and Thomas Robinson battling it out in the paint?  It doesn’t get much better.  North Carolina not only has the size to match up with Kansas, but they also have the depth.  There will be no Rock Chalk Jayhawk on this day as Roy Williams breathes a sigh of relief.

Final Four:

Kentucky over Michigan State

-This has been the best coaching job of Tom Izzo’s career.  Finally, the lack of talent in Spartyville will be put on full blast against the nation’s most talented group out of Lexington.  The Spartans will have no answer for Anthony Davis, much like the rest of the nation.

North Carolina over Florida State

-So much for the ACC being down this year.  Beating a team two times in the same year is one of the most difficult things to do in college basketball.  Defeating a team three times is almost unheard of.  Just ask a Kentucky team that was clearly better than SEC-foe Vanderbilt.  UNC is the better all-around team.  And it will show on this day as they avoid a clean sweep from Florida State.

National Championship:

North Carolina over Kentucky (73 to 72)

-As we learned in the BCS Championship Game this year, beating a great team two times in the same year can be very difficult. Not only did UK defeat the Tar Heels back on December 3rd, but they also beat North Carolina in last year’s Elite Eight. Young Kentucky learns the hard way on April 2nd against a surging Tar Heels team that can match their depth and athleticism.  Let the Calipari questioning begin.

Good luck with your picks and enjoy the best three weeks we have in sports.

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.

Weekly Nickel 2-27-2012

Photo courtesy of zimbio.com. Tennis season is getting ready to heat up. Is it time for Andy Murray (pictured above) to break through?

By Josh Kramer

So the dunk contest was a joke.  Ryan Braun somehow defeated the system.  RGIII once again proved that he is fast.  And College Hoops did not disappoint (I mean when does it at this time of year).  Last week was jam-packed.  But the week ahead should be pretty good in its own right.

5. One of the best tournaments in tennis (outside of the 4 Grand Slams) is just one week away.  I am of course referring to the BNP Paribas Open at lovely Indian Wells.  But before the tour makes the anxiously awaited stop in California, the players have to take advantage of the two tune-ups provided this week. Djokovic, Federer, and Murray will all showcase their abilities at the ATP Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship, while the ATP Abierto Mexicano Telcel will also be taking place in Acapulco, Mexico.  Though most will not hold their breath in regards to these two tournaments this week,  they should.  Just like in any sport, the hottest players are the ones that take home the big-time tournaments.  Winning a tune-up typically signifies a “Hot-Streak.”  Who will get hot this week? Continue reading

Weekly Nickel 2-6-2012

Photo courtesy of zimbio.com. Kentucky super freshman Anthony Davis (pictured above) has quickly become the frontrunner for the Naismith National Player of the Year Award.

By Josh Kramer

For the first time since the beginning of September, there will be no organized football games to speak of.  America’s favorite sport will now go into hibernation until training camp and spring ball begins.  After last night’s “Super” spectacle in which Eli Manning outdid Tom Brady, watching the pigskin get tossed around every Saturday and Sunday will be sorely missed.  But on to the next one.  Here are the events to keep an eye on.

5.  Despite much indecision and turmoil in the form of a 130 day lockout leading up to the 92nd NFL season, the 2011/2012 NFL season did not disappoint by any means.  If anything, the sport grew in popularity.  ESPN proclaimed this the “Year of the Quarterback.”  I think without question, next year should be the “Year of the Tight End.” Continue reading

“College Basketball Preview”

Super frosh, Kyrie Irving (pictured above on the right) has a lot to live up to at Duke. Could he be the next Jay Williams (pictured above on the left) and lead this team back to the Final Four?

College Basketball is back and better than ever folks..or is it?

Many of you probably do not even realize that regular season games have already been played.  I am not sure what the deal is with the lack of publicity thus far, but you better believe that come mid January (when College Football is done), College Basketball will be the center of attention again.  For many, it will become the prime event within the next week in that their College Football team is down and out.

In my opinion, NCAA Basketball has the best and most exciting tournament of them all.  March Madness may be the most consistently well done event that we have in American sports today. It never dissapoints. And yes, I realize that they expanded the tournament field, but you better believe the excitement will still be there come mid March.  Now a few years down the road when they hit their eventual goal of 96 teams, some of the luster may be faded.  But at this point, it will still be a top notch thrilling event.

A long while back, on July 13th to be exact, I gave my “Early Preseason Top 5.”  It read as follows:

1.  Duke

2.  Ohio State

3.  Michigan State

4.  Purdue

5. Butler

And my sleeper picks to make a run at the Final Four were UK, Syracuse, WVU, and Kansas State.

Not much has changed in my eyes from my super early preseason top 5.  There are a couple of minor changes though. 

Here is my real “Preseason Top Five.”

1.  Duke-The defending National Champs return the majority of last year’s squad.  Look for Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler to play at an All American level all year.  Expect the Plumlee brothers to emerge into a formidable post combo.  And do not forget about the arrival of super frosh point guard, Kyrie Irving.  This kid can flat out play with the top guards in the country already.  Plus a little Curry (Stephon Curry’s little brother) will be mixing in with the backcourt.  Coach K has much to like with this very deep and talented squad.

2.  Ohio State-I have said it numerous times, and I will say it again.  It is Final Four or bust this year for Ohio State.  With 4 returning starters, and arguably the best and most college ready Freshman Class in the country, this team will have the talent and the experience to ride all the way to the National Championship.  Thad Matta should be smiling all day and every day with this group.  The freshman class includes the likes of arguably the best big man in the entire country, Jared Sullinger,  a small forward in Deshaun Thomas that can get up and down the floor with the best in the country, a lock down defender in Aaron Craft, and the very smooth all around talent that is shooting guard Jordan Sibert.  Not to mention the Buckeyes feature a junior, that could take home Big Ten Player of the Year in William Buford, plus returning starters, Diebler, Lauderdale, and Lighty.  This team could definitely go the distance.

3.  Michigan State-Tom Izzo has been to 6 Final Fours in the last 12 years for a reason.  The only difference this year is Tom Izzo actually has a team with Final Four talent.  I can only imagine how good this team could be.  Kalin Lucas will be running the point and poised to show why he was Big Ten Player of the year 2 seasons ago.  Durrell Summers, Delvin Roe, Draymond Green, and Korie Lucious are full of experience and ability.  Plus Izzo brought in arguably the best Freshman Power Forward/Center in the country, in the very long and versatile Adreian Payne.  This team could be flat out scary.  I cannot wait to see them match up with Duke on December 1st and Ohio State on February 15th.

4.  Pittsburgh-This Pitt team appears to be the cream of the crop in the Big East.  Though they struggled against a tough Rhode Island team the other night, that is how Jamie Dixon likes it.  His Pitt squads over the years have typified the term, “Winning Ugly.”  This team brings back some very talented mainstays off of last year’s 25 win team such as Ashton Gibbs, Brad Wanamaker, and Gilbert Brown.  I will state that this team does not wow on paper as some of these other top teams I am discussing do.  But Pittsburgh always seems to find a way to win 25 plus games in the rugged Big East and I expect no different this year.  Look for Gibbs and Wanamaker to really lead this team to the top of the Big East.

5. Kansas State-Frank Martin’s Elite 8 team of a year ago looks poised to make another deep run this year.  And we all know if they don’t, they will have to deal with the wrath that is their Coach, Frank Martin.  This team is relatively young and will deeply miss guard Denis Clemente, but they will be led by two very talented seniors in Jacob Pullen and Curtis Kelly.  These two will provide one of the more formidable high low combos in the entire country.  Look for this team to be similar to Pittsburgh.  Very tough and hard working.  A team that beats you with defense and exceptional effort, especially on the boards.  Would you expect anything else from a Frank Martin coached team?

My sleepers to make a Final Four run are UK (depending on Kantor’s elgibility), North Carolina, Illinois, and Butler.

Key Items to Note

Number 1: Purdue will be Hummel-less this year.  Due to this fact, Purdue will no longer be a top 5 or even top 10 team.  They will be solid and make the tournament, but they are no longer a real “contender” in my eyes.  My condolences go out to Hummel, his family, and all of Boilermaker Nation.

Number 2: The Big Ten looks to be the cream of the crop without a doubt.  Basketball has been dominated by the Big East for the past 4 or 5 years, but the torch appears to have been passed to the old school Big Ten.  ESPN and many of the experts jumped the gun last year saying that the Big Ten was the elite conference.  Well now they are.  Ohio State, Michigan State, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Purdue all look to be sure fire tourney squads.  And without Hummel going down, I would have said that Ohio State, Michigan State, and Purdue were all National Championship contenders.  Also do not sleep on a very experienced Illinois team and a very solid Bo Ryan led Wisconsin Badger team.  All of these squads are dangerous.

Third: Can Coach K bring home his 5th National Title?   You better believe that he can.  But will he?  There is a lot of basketball to be played, but on paper, Duke is definitely the team to beat.  Keep an eye on Super Frosh, Kyrie Irving.  He will provide fireworks for the Cameron Crazies.

Fourth: Can Brad Stevens lead Butler to another magical tournament run? The talent is there once again.  Shelvin Mack, Ronald Nored, and Matt Howard all return from last year’s National Runner Up.  Will the run continue?  Will Stevens stay through his entire 12 year contract?  We will find out soon.

So there you have it.  It is the Big Ten’s year to shine.  What a season we have in store.  The unpredictably of March Madness is always one of the most fascinating things that happens in sports.

In the words of Dickie V, “Its totally awesome baby!”

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