Tag:Michigan State
Posted on: November 29, 2011 2:25 pm

2011-12 College Hoops Top 32

Everyone throws out their preseason prognostications, albeit in very different ways. We have Top 16s, Top 20s, Top 25s and, thanks to CBS’s Gary Parrish, a Top 26. This preview will take it a step further, stretching it the 32 teams in the best position to make the NCAA Tournament’s 3<sup>rd</sup> round.

Without doing much research or watching many games, you will probably hear the following: UNC is loaded, returning its top eight scorers from last season’s Elite Eight team. Kentucky has another crop of fearless freshmen. Ohio State returns a slimmer-downed version of Jared Sullinger, a potential National Player of the Year. UConn, while losing some starts, is reloading for a run at back-to-back championships.

Those teams, it seems, are a projected Final Foursome of many. Too chalky, I say.

If the past decade is any indication, freshmen are almost as important as upperclassmen. Carmelo Anthony carried the ’03 Orange to the championship. Derrick Rose, had his Memphis Tigers not been Mario’d with a last-second 3 to send the game into overtime, would have won the ’08 title.

Moreover, a quick look at Big Blue Nation the past two years tells you all you need to know about the youth movement: 2009 Kentucky goes 32-2 in the regular season, earns a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament (second overall seed) before losing in the Elite Eight. The 2010 Wildcats rollercoastered to a 25-8 regular season finish but still earned a #4 seed in the NCAA tournament. The youthful ‘Cats prevailed against the more experienced Ohio State Buckeyes in the Sweet 16 and the upstart North Carolina Tar Heels in the Elite Eight to reach the school’s first Final Four since 1998.

The growth of college basketball’s rookies will dictate the 2011-12 season as well as the NCAA Tournament. My “Top 32” rankings project which teams will make it past the first, err.. second round in the NCAA Tournament. Obviously, the Top 16 are all my “Sweet Sixteen,” the Top 8 are my “Elite Eight,” and so on.

When the dust – and all the Mardi Gras beads – settle in New Orleans, Ohio State will have avenged last season’s heartbreaking loss to Kentucky by winning the school’s first national championship since 1960.

1. Ohio State – The Buckeyes lose a lot of talent, but the trio of Sullinger, Buford and Craft and some freshmen studs will give Thad Matta his first NCAA Title. Ohio State is one of those teams that gets better as the season rolls on and this year will be no different. With the big-bodies Sully down low and Craft continuing to cement his reputation as one of the country’s best on-ball defenders, Ohio State has all the pieces to play at any place against any opponent.

2. Kentucky – It’s another baby step in Lexington. Elite Eight, Final Four and now NCAA Runner-up. Maybe 2012-13 will be Jon Calipari’s year, but it won’t make this year any less exciting. The world should expect big things from point guard Marquis Teague.

3. North Carolina – The Tar Heels return pretty much every important piece from last year’s team. What people forget is that those Tar Heels caught fire late in the year to become a “title contender” only to reach the Elite Eight (an expected result with a No. 2 seed). Apparently, that translates into a title this year in most people’s minds. Count me as a skeptic to think this team has all the ingredients to win its final game. Trusting Kendall Marshall for an entire season – he’s a feast-or-fammon type of point guard – is tough for me to do.

4. Xavier – Here’s the sleeper. The fact is, with Butler’s back-to-back national runner-up finishes, who questions a talented mid-major team crashing the Final Four? I’m seeing Tu Holloway pulling a Jameer Nelson (Saint Joes, circa 2004) and leading Xavier to a 30-win regular season, A-10 championship and a spot in New Orleans.

5. Florida – Few backcourts will match the athleticism as Florida’s. That, plus Patric Young’s emergence makes Florida one of those teams, like another listed below, that might actually be better with the loss of some big names.

6. Arizona – The Wildcats in the Elite 8 again? Yes, this is the stretch but hear me out. Derrick Williams was an absolute monster last year, but sometimes teams actually get better losing a star. Coach Sean Miller is a great coach who is recruiting like Roy Williams these days. Arizona might start out a little sluggish, but this could be a Final Four sleeper come February and March.

7. Baylor – Chalk this up to a fairly-easy nonconference schedule and a down Big 12. Baylor should rack up the wins and get a nice seed in March. That, coupled with a tough style to match, will have Baylor knocking on New Orleans’ door.

8. Gonzaga – This is the biggest dart of all. Entering the season without point guard Demetri Goodson, who left to pursue a football career, gives the Zags a major hole at the PG spot. With a slew of potential bodies to fill the void and a forest in the front court, this might be one of those “Here come the Zags” years.

9. Duke – With Coach K at the helm, Duke will always reload. That said, there are some major question marks here that could keep Duke from the Final Four or the Elite Eight. That isn’t to say Duke won’t win 30 games again and likely be a No. 1 or No. 2 seed in the Big Dance. It’s just to say that, outside of the 2010 season, Duke hasn’t gotten better as the season has progressed. I see a late-season swoon rolling into a surprising Sweet 16 exit in March.

10. Louisville – The Cardinals will go as far as their defensive prowess takes them. This isn’t a great offensive team. It is, however, a great team running off turnovers and deflections. Louisville will be the Big East’s best team this season, but it’ll fall short of the Elite Eight like all its brethren.

11. Kansas – The Jayhawks are another team that keeps reloading. This prediction might be a little high but Bill Self gets the most out of his players – at least during the regular season. Expecting anything less than 30 wins would be stupid. Putting everything together in the Big Dance, with a team missing all but 2 big contributors last season is too risky a wager.

12. Syracuse – I can’t quite fathom all the love for the Orange this season. Jim Boeheim’s team is always hit or miss and defense is what made this team go last year. I worry that Rick Jackson leaves a huge void in the middle of that zone. The guard play and 3-point shooting will be key to a memorable season.

13. Belmont – It’s very likely this team will win 30 games again this season. Returning pretty much the entire team from last year, Belmont will play the role of Davidson in making a deep run into the tournament.

14. Michigan State – Addition by subtraction will be the motto in East Lansing this season. Coach Tom Izzo said the chemistry on this team might be the best in all his years of coaching. With enough pieces back from glory teams in 2009 and 2010, look for the Spartans to reach the second weekend again.

15. Michigan – If you look at all of John Beilein’s “great” teams, they really weren’t that good. In the tournament, it was all about matchups and getting hot with the 3-ball. I think Michigan will get a nice seed based on a solid regular season and, thanks to solid 3-point shooting and a different style, reach the Sweet 16.

16. Detroit – Taking the place of the Horizon League’s Butler Bulldogs in this year’s dance will be the Titans. Loaded with talent on both sides of the ball, watch for Detroit to bust a few brackets and make it to the second weekend.

17. Pittsburgh – For those thinking this is the year the Panthers break through to the Final Four, I caution you to really look at this team. Losing 50 percent of the offense is a big blow. The key pieces returning are seniors Ashton Gibbs, one of the nation’s best 3-point shooters and point guard Tray Woodall. I suppose you could throw Nasir Robinson into that mix, but a 6-foot-5 bruiser in the post won’t scare the great teams.

18. Connecticut – Apparently winning the national championship on a magical Cinderella run makes you a Final Four team the following year as well. The Huskies lost a lot. And while I really like Jeremy Lamb and Shabazz Napier, I don’t think the backcourt will be able to hide the flaws in the front court.

19. Vanderbilt – Returning players are usually a good indicator of a deep tournament run when coupled with tournament success. Count me as one guy who isn’t ready to concede a Sweet 16 spot, let alone a Final Four spot, to a team that continuously chokes in big games. I like Vanderbilt. I just see a 4, 5, or 6-seed that can’t beat a great team when it counts.

20. Memphis – I’ve been waiting for Memphis’ top-tier recruiting to translate into a great team. It hasn’t happened yet and until I see any signs that it’s coming, I’m a seller, not a buyer. This is a team that needed to win the C-USA Tournament last year just to make the NCAA Tournament. Show me something before I pencil the Tigers into 3<sup>rd</sup> round.

21. Georgetown – Call this a hunch, as Georgetown won’t sniff the Top 25 this season. This is a young team that struggles to make 3s. With three departing seniors and a few transfers, it’ll be up to the young guns to step in. I think, in a “down” Big East, Georgetown’s youth can build enough confidence to win a few games in the tournament.

22. Alabama – This is all about defense. After Kentucky and Florida in the SEC, there are a slew of teams that could be No. 3. Why not Alabama?

23. Temple – You could very well flip-flop Temple and Xavier in these projections. Both teams will not beat themselves and will be the class of the A-10. Don’t be shocked if Temple joins Xavier deep in the tournament.

24. Washington – Maybe this is a hope that Abdul Gaddy can lead this team how he hoped to lead the team last year. If the Huskies can find some magic on the road, I think this could be a dangerous team – one that could even win the Pac-12.

25. Wisconsin – There’s a rule in Big Ten country: Don’t count the Badgers out. Typically predicted to finish 4<sup>th</sup>, 5<sup>th</sup> or 6<sup>th</sup> in the conference, Wisconsin continues to finish in the top trio and continually racks up a fat win count. Do-it-all point guard Jordan Taylor is a monster, but in Wisconsin’s losses last year he tried to do too much. With the spotlight shining brightly on him this season, I expect him to try and carry too much of the burden in March.

26. Purdue – Robbie Hummel is the type of player who makes his teammates better. Despite losing E’Twan Moore and JaJuan Johnson, Hummel will carry the Boilers this season.

27. Marquette – All Buzz Williams does is defy the odds. With another Golden Eagles team planning to win with defense, I like Marquette to be a borderline surprise Sweet 16 team.

28. New Mexico – I’m thinking Steve Alford gets the Logos another tournament win.

29. Drexel – If the Dragons can hit some 3-point shots this season (Drexel shot 28 percent in 2010-11), this might be the CAA’s best team.

30. Florida State – Defense wins championships? Well, Florida State is a staple atop Ken Pomeroy’s defensive rankings but it hasn’t led to much. Maybe a tournament victory will keep the hounds away from Leonard Hamilton for at least another year.

31. BYU – Moving to the WCC shouldn’t affect BYU much. A pair of games against Gonzaga and St. Mary’s will only make the Cougars more battle tested.

32. California – Look for the Golden Bears to contend for the Pac-12 title and be a difficult out in March.


SLEEPER TEAMS THAT WILL MAKE THE NCAA TOURNAMENT AND COULD WIN A GAME: Indiana, Oregon, North Carolina State, Georgia Tech, Long Beach State.
Posted on: November 6, 2011 12:07 pm

R-E-M-A-T-C-H? Another team deserves a shot

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- I suppose if we’re throwing around words loosely, we can dub last night’s LSU-Alabama game a “classic.” It was a very good game – not great – but very good. (I think at least one touchdown needs to be scored for it to be a great game, no?)


The nation saw two of the best teams in the country last night, with LSU outkicking Alabama, 9-6, in overtime. I’m all about defensive struggles because that makes each play that much more intense. Take a 1-0 pithers duel in baseball for instance. Every pitch is critical; every baserunner is crucial; every hit is... you get the idea. I love hard-nosed, smash-mouth football. The game had both of those on the defensive front, but the by giving both Alabama and LSU's defense so much credit we're ignoring the obvious: Neither team has a national championshp offense. Or, at the very least, neither team showed the possibility of having a No.1-team-in-the-land offense in a game watched by millions.


Put it this way: If last night’s game was (and this is hypothetical) No. 1 Nebraska at No. 2 Michigan State and it ended 9-6 in overtime, the Big Ten’s heavyweights would be dubbed frauds and people not only wouldn’t be clamoring for a rematch, but people would be arguing that the winner wouldn’t be deserving of a spot in the BCS Title Game.


By all accounts, LSU has proven to be the best team – as of November 5<sup>th</sup> – in all of college football. The neutral-site game against Oregon looks bigger and bigger each week; playing at West Virginia doesn’t look as tough as it once did, but it’s still an SEC heavyweight playing a preseason Big East favorite in a hostile road environment. And, last night, LSU silenced a crowd of 100,000 fans who were so boisterous before the game many in attendance said it was the loudest college football crowd they had ever experienced.


Despite Alabama's greatness, there is no proof the Crimson Tide are the country’s No. 2 team. Heck, Oregon put up 27 points on that LSU defense. Alabama might very well finish the season 11-1, which will secure it a spot in some BCS bowl. But at this point, anyone singing R-E-M-A-T-C-H needs to calm down and look at reality here. There are still four undefeated teams who all have a better argument for playing in the title game. Obviously, LSU is the leader in the clubhouse. Oklahoma State, despite not having a defense, is electric offensively, has quality wins and is steamrolling through the Big 12. Stanford hasn’t played a rough schedule but has proven it will dominate whatever team stands on the opposite side of the field. Last but not least is Boise State. While past performance is meaningless, no one can argue that Boise State doesn’t deserve a title shot if it is one of the only two undefeated teams in the country. The Broncos have begged for games against great teams. The only teams who’ve agreed in recent years are Virginia Tech and Georgia. Boise State has won all of those games. Boise State tried to schedule a game or series with Michigan. Big Blue turned it down. There are dozens of other “big time” programs who have said the same thing. (I’m willing to bet, despite its reputation for taking on all comers, that LSU is one of those programs). So Boise State does what it always does: Beat the teams on its schedule handedly and hope the computers and voters sort things out correctly.


Flash back to 2006 when No. 1 Ohio State hosted No. 2 Michigan. Both teams were 11-0 and, in the regular season finale, the winner was guaranteed a spot in the BCS Title Game. The Buckeyes won, 42-39, in another “Game of the Century.” Immediately, people, especially those in Big Ten country, picketed for a title game rematch. Florida, who at the time had 1 loss and had the SEC Title Game to play, begged the voters to give another team a shot. The Gators won the SEC, got a shot, and obliterated the Buckeyes, 41-14.


Funny how, five years later, the same SEC fans that begged for another team (Florida) to get a shot is trying to get behind a rematch. But that’s the SEC mentality: We have the country’s best 12 teams; just deal with it.  


The last handful of weeks are bound to make the BCS race much more chaotic, but one thing is certain: Another team deserves a shot; just deal with it.



Posted on: September 8, 2010 12:59 pm

2010-11 NCAA Football Preview

Without further ado, here is my NCAA Football Preview for the 2010-11 season. While most other experts jump on the Alabama bandwagon predicting a repeat, I'll go a different route and look to a team that, like it or not, continuously gets batter and better and should run the table -- the Ohio State Buckeyes.

I see just two teams running the table this year and those teams will square off for the championship on January 10 (Yeah, for whatever reason, we should expect to see the title game played after the Super Bowl in a few years at this rate of pushing the game further and further back!!!).

Anyway, here is my Top 25 (how I see the regular season ending) as well as my BCS Bowl Predictions. Enjoy!

2010-11 College Football Preview

1. Ohio State

2. Boise State

3. Nebraska

4. Alabama

5. Oregon

6. Wisconsin

7. Virginia Tech

8. Georgia

9. Texas

10. Oklahoma

11. TCU

12. Miami (Fla.)

13. Pittsburgh

14. Florida

15. Notre Dame

16. Iowa

17. Florida State

18. Utah

19. Arizona

20. USC

21. North Carolina

22. LSU

23. Oregon State

24. Penn State

25. Michigan State



BCS Title Game: Ohio State vs. Boise State

Rose Bowl: Wisconsin vs. Oregon

Sugar Bowl: Alabama vs. Pittsburgh

Fiesta Bowl: Nebraska vs. Georgia

Orange Bowl: Virginia Tech vs. Texas



Posted on: April 11, 2010 10:26 pm

Very Early 2010-11 College Hoops Top 25

Yes, we're in early April and there are still declarations to be made, coaches to be hired and player committments to be had. However, we can still take a look at what the 2010-11 NCAA hoops season will bring, can't we?

Here is my early Top 25 for next season with occassional comments to follow:

1. Michigan State -- Raymar Morgan is the lone Spartan to graduate and next year's team will be better than the previous two Final Four teams. Add in a stacked recruiting class and Tom Izzo will get his coveted second title.

2. Georgetown -- If Greg Monroe returns, the entire unit is back.

3. Memphis -- The Tigers were solid this season. Think Kentucky-style recruits for Memphis next season.

4. Pittsburgh -- Love how Coach Dixon does more with less.

5. Duke -- Loss of Zoubek and Scheyer can't be understated. Still love Duke's defensive prowess.

6. Illinois -- The big sleeper of 2011 returns its entire starting 5 with one of most underrated PGs in game (McCamey).

7. Purdue -- Loss of defensive stopper Kramer will be a big blow, but Hummel's return and senior-laden team will be dangerous once again.

8. Villanova -- Sometimes losing your best player can be a good thing (see MSU's 2010 tourney run). I think 'Cats will be better without Reynolds.

9. Butler -- A little luck played a role in Butler's near title. This is still a great team, but it's closer to a Sweet 16 team than a Final Four team.

10. Kansas State -- Pullen's return will help offset the loss of Clemente. Another year of Frank Martin running the show will only be good for these Wildcats.

11. North Carolina -- I don't imagine the Tar Heels being down for long. Expect Ol' Roy to have UNC in the ACC title hunt again.

12. Florida -- Entire starting 5 returns as well as potent offense.

13. Xavier -- Chris Mack will once again have a tough squad.

14. Kansas -- Forget the losses, Kansas will contend for the Big XII title again. 

15. Washington -- The class of the Pac-10.

16. Kentucky -- We don't know all Coach Cal's recruits just yet but I can promise you they'll make a big splash.

17. Ohio State -- I've seen the Buckeyes as high as No. 2 in early rankings. It's one thing to lose a star player and another to lose your Player-of-the-Year PG. The Buckeyes will survive without Evan Turner, but they'll be a good team next year, not great.

18. Gonzaga -- Who knows what Gonzaga team we'll get. Either way, Mark Few will have the Zags in the Top 25.

19. BYU -- Jimmer Fredette returns to the MWC's best team.

20. New Mexico -- If Darington Hobson leaves, UNM drops out but he's a poor man's Evan Turner. UNM will battle BYU for Mountain West supremacy again in 2011.

21. UCLA -- I think Ben Howland has had enough of sub-.500 seasons in Westwood. The Bruins will still be young but good in the rough Pac-10.

22. Wisconsin -- Don't ever count out the Badgers, who will reload and be dangerous for another year.

23. Mississippi -- I love Andy Kennedy's gritty club. The Rebels have to break through one of these years, right?

24. Texas -- Rick Barnes loses a lot of individual talent but that might actually help him develop a team in Austin.

25. Saint Louis -- This was a real surprising club in 2010. Look for bigger things in 2011.

Others to keep an eye on (alphabetical order): Baylor, Cincinnati, Indiana, Missouri, Notre Dame, Old Dominion, Syracuse, Temple, Vanderbilt, West Virginia.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com