Tag Archives: William Buford

Final Four Predictions

Photo courtesy of zimbio.com. Louisville has one edge on Kentucky heading into Saturday's showdown. That would be at the point guard position where Peyton Siva (pictured above) has played great as of late. Siva's heroics will not be enough for Louisville this time though.

By Josh Kramer

I have avoided it for the past few weeks.  I know it is a bad idea.  And when my bracket completely unraveled on the first Friday of the tournament by around 11PM, my desire to provide round by round predictions faded (thanks to Norfolk State and Lehigh largely).  But this the Final Four.  There is no bigger story in sports.  Plus, this year lacks a Cinderella and features two rematches of powerhouse programs.  Here are my predictions as the attention of an entire nation heads to Nawlins (New Orleans).

Matchup #1

Louisville vs Kentucky

The Skinny:  Round two in 2012 of one of College Basketball’s best rivalries.  There has probably never been a bigger sporting spectacle in the illustrious history of the Bluegrass State.  Come 9PM on Saturday, let’s hope that all cities in the state of Kentucky are still standing.  This is the 3rd straight year that the Big East Champion has made it to the Final Four.  Coincidentally, Calipari’s past two Kentucky teams have both seen the same fate in March: losses to the Big East Tournament Champion in the NCAA Tournament (West Virginia 2010, Connecticut 2011).  The third time will be the charm for the Wildcats though.  In my lifetime, I do not think there has ever been more of a heavy favorite heading into the Final Four.  This includes the 1991 UNLV Runnin’ Rebels (who oddly enough lost) and the 2007 Florida Gators.  Kentucky is the best team College Basketball has seen in the past 15 years.  They have no noticeable weaknesses and are currently playing their best basketball.

Interesting Stats:  Calipari is 8 and 8 career versus John Calipari (11 and 11 if you include NBA days)  Though it should be noted that Calipari is a career 0 and 4 versus Pitino in postseason matchups.  Lastly, Calipari and Pitino are the only college basketball coaches ever to take three different programs to the Final Four.

Prediction:  Kentucky 80 Louisville 67 Continue reading

Throwback Saturday Part V

Photo courtesy of zimbio.com. I proclaimed Jon Diebler (pictured above) as the Buckeye "X" factor last year. Ohio State truly misses the Big Ten's all-time leader in 3-point field goals made.

By Josh Kramer

Welcome to the fifth edition of “Throwback Saturdays.”  Though this campaign was originally intended to just last a month, I couldn’t resist.  It is always fun to look at the past when analyzing the present and the future for that matter.  What was going on in sports on February 18, 2011?  What was transpiring on February 18, 2010?  Let’s find out.

One year ago..

Buckeye X Factor

Here is a snippet..

As I have mentioned many times on this blog, dating back to well over a year ago, Ohio State will go to the Final Four this year.  In my opinion, they are the nation’s best team.  I do feel that Duke would have been the favorite had Kyrie Irving not have gone down.  But injuries happen.

I have talked about what makes Ohio State so good.  They have the perfect mix of talent, experience, and chemistry.  When rumors of an outstanding incoming freshman class started transpiring well over a year ago, many considered Ohio State to be a team that would be in contention.  But when Evan Turner left for the draft, people already wrote them off.  They decided that Ohio State would be solid, but probably a top 20 team that was not quite as good as the Big Ten’s elite teams, Purdue and Michigan State.  I stuck by the Buckeyes and will continue to.  And here is why.

Freshman talent is a great thing.  Just ask University of Kentucky Coach John Calipari.  These one and done phenoms can make your team an instant contender.  But sadly, they are not enough generally to bring home the crown.  UK last year had arguably the two best players in the country, in John Wall and Demarcus Cousins.  They had 5 guys get selected in the first round.  Yet they did not even make the Final Four..

Experience still matters even in the one and done age people.  Though I will state that Kentucky will put this theory to the test next year when they bring in 4 of the top 5 rated players in America.  Experience is something that this Ohio State team possesses though.  They returned 4 starters from last year’s very talented squad.  3 of these gentlemen are seniors while the other is a junior.  Then they brought in this phenomenal freshman class.  And little did most people outside of Buckeye Nation know, but 4 of these diaper dandies came from the same AAU team.  An AAU team that dominated the summer circuit more than any team has in recent memory.  This team brought home 3 consecutive National Titles and really just laid a smack down on any and all teams nation wide.  These 4 kids are good friends.  And they all decided to take the next step together.  Thad Matta hit the jackpot when he visited the All Ohio Red Basketball program.  Or maybe he hit the jackpot in that JJ Sullinger (Jared’s older brother), played for him at Ohio State.  Either way, Matta reeled in the perfect class that had a great winning demeanor and was ready to work from Day 1 (To finish reading this post, click this link). Continue reading

College Basketball Preview

Photo courtesy of koonskollegebball.wordpress.com. North Carolina is my pick to cut down the nets this year. In order to do that, expect Harrison Barnes (pictured above) to lead the way.

By Josh Kramer

The most recent edition of March Madness was one for the ages.  It was a tournament that kept fans on the edge of their seats from Day 1 all the way to the National Championship Game.  And as is typically the case regarding college hoops, the season has started without a bang.

How many of you are aware that real regular season college hoops has been played?  Unless your respective team has opened up the season, I am guessing that this is news to you.  Why does college basketball always start at such a weird time, amid such a lack of publicity?  Nobody knows, but things will heat up.  That is a promise.

With all of the insanity going on in sports at the moment, college hoops may be a good release.  Either way, as is always the case, come mid-January, college basketball will be at the center of the sporting stratosphere.

Here is my top five: Continue reading

“Looking Ahead to 2011 Ohio State Basketball: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly”

 

According to our OSU expert, Grant Freking, Ohio State is in for another strong season next year. Deshaun Thomas (pictured above) should be a mainstay in the starting lineup.

Grant Freking is a Lantern (OSU Newspaper) sports writer. Ology magazine managing editor. OSU football featured columnist for Bleacher Report. High school football reporter for Newark Advocate.  You can follow him on Twitter @GrantFreking.

The Good: Jared Sullinger is coming back. The Big Ten Freshman of the Year wants another crack at a national title, in addition becoming more familiar with the four or power forward spot, the position he will play in the NBA. It’s a bit of a risk for Sullinger to stay; he’s a sure-fire lottery pick and is giving up millions of dollars to spend another year in Columbus. Continue reading

“Buckeye X Factor”

Ohio State Senior sharpshooter Jon Diebler (pictured above) is the Buckeye X Factor in my opinion. Watch him set the Big Ten all time mark for 3 pointers made on Sunday against Purdue.

As I have mentioned many times on this blog, dating back to well over a year ago, Ohio State will go to the Final Four this year.  In my opinion, they are the nation’s best team.  I do feel that Duke would have been the favorite had Kyrie Irving not have gone down.  But injuries happen. Continue reading

“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