This Year’s Final Four Will Be…

It’s always difficult to predict the four teams out of 68 capable of making it deep in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament we refer to as March Madness. There’s always a bracket busting team that takes out a top competitor or even a Cinderella story making it to the Sweet 16 or even further. However, this year may be a little different and actually attending the games might just provide serious excitement for any fan. Here’s how this non-expert believes it could play out.

Small Schools Getting In

Akron and Bucknell are the most dangerous smaller schools with the ability to make it into the tournament. The reason these two top the list is due to the size advantage they bring to the game. Akron features Zeke Marshall at seven feet tall and Bucknell brings Mike Muscala standing 6’11” tall. This will help even the playing field with any of the larger schools bringing a significant size advantage.

Other small schools with a great chance of making into the tournament include Middle Tennessee State, Belmont, Boise State, Davidson, Valparaiso, Weber State and Louisiana Tech. Although it is unlikely that all these schools will make the dance you always have to be aware of the ones that do sneak into the dance. A small school with momentum would be like the Kia Sorento winning the car March Madness Contest, unlikely but you never know! Make sure you pay attention to all the little guys before filling out your bracket.

Top Teams Most Likely for an Early Departure

1. Kansas

The Jayhawks might take a top seed in the tournament, but they’re not as good as their record shows. They lost to a team with an RPI of 229 and nearly lost to another team they should’ve beaten easily. If they draw a team they don’t match up well against, Kansas could make an early exit.

2. Ohio State

Not considered a top five team, but in the top 20, the Buckeyes struggled in February. If this was any indication about how good they really are, this is another team potentially leaving the tournament early.

3. Florida

Showing their struggles on the road makes it hard to believe the Gators can go anywhere in the tournament. They’re tough to beat at home, but they won’t get a single game on their home court during the tournament. Look for Florida to fall victim to an upset early.

Final Four Predicted

Looking at all the top teams, potential Cinderella stories and those middle seeds with the ability to go deep, picking the Final Four is still difficult. However, an easy pick for one of the final four spots is the Indiana Hoosiers. This team is tough and has been ranked at the top most of the year. Another pick for the Final Four is Michigan. They’re ready to make a run and it seems they’ve already cleared their system of some of the losses.

The other two spots in the Final Four are a bit more difficult to predict. There will certainly be a middle seed, maybe a #5 or #6 involved. The team basketball of Notre Dame could support a deep tournament run, but they won’t be there in the Final Four. However, another Big East team will be out of a two or three seed in Georgetown. That only leaves one spot left and it goes to Saint Louis University.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

Can John Calipari finally win it?

University of Kentucky head coach John Calipari reacts to his team’s play against St. John’s University during the second half of play in their NCAA basketball game at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky, December 1, 2011. REUTERS/John Sommers II (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

I didn’t fill out a bracket this year. I haven’t done so in years. While the NCAA tournament is still fun to watch, it’s hard to keep up on college basketball with the yearly turnover on the best teams, so each year I’m learning about the teams as the tournament progresses.

Many experts seem to think Kentucky has a great shot, again, so we’ll see if John Calipari can finally get it done.

It’s your Dance, John Calipari.

This is your NCAA tournament. All you have to do is win it – nothing more, and especially nothing less.

It’s not necessarily now or never. But it’s absolutely now. In 20 years as a college head coach, you’ve never had a better chance to win a national title.

Wednesday, you named off the great teams you’ve coached – Massachusetts 1996, Memphis 2008, Kentucky 2010 and ’11. All came close to winning it all. None finished the deal. None had the advantages this one enjoys.

You have the best team, which is the most important thing of all.

Your seven-man rotation is nothing but NBA prospects, one through seven, including a couple of top-five picks. Don’t bother with the “young team” line because every coach in America would love to be burdened with the youth of Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.

Calipari is a loudmouth, so I’ll be rooting for an epic fail.

My Buckeyes got a break when Syracuse lost their best player, so maybe this makes up for the monster bracket they had to endure last year when they were a #1 seed and got bounced by Kentucky. I like their chances of getting to the Final Four, IF they can shoot well. This team is hot and cold, and getting hot now is critical for them and every other team. Also, I love Thad Matta as a coach. He’s an incredible recruiter. But I hate how he sticks to a tight rotation, and I haven’t seen him outcoach his counterparts in the big games. Hopefully this is his year.

Experiencing Saturday at the 2011 Final Four

Jamey Codding of Bullz-Eye.com got the opportunity to attend the Final Four thanks to Infiniti! Read about his experience below.

When complete strangers start chucking mini foam basketballs at you on your way down an airport escalator, you know Final Four fever has settled in. Houston was buzzing already, and we were still more than 24 hours away from the tipoff of the Butler/VCU game. Fans were moving through the George Bush Intercontinental Airport with their team affiliations proudly displayed on jerseys, t-shirts, hats, luggage and, of course, directly on their bodies with temporary tattoos and skin paint. Houston was ready to party. And so were we.

After getting settled at the Magnolia Hotel in downtown Houston, we met with our trusty Infiniti rep for the weekend, Ray Daniels, and headed to Cabo for a quick bite to eat and a couple of cervezas. Great way to start a great weekend. A few hours later, we found ourselves at the Sambuca Jazz Cafe for some dinner — the lobster enchiladas come very highly recommended — and stuck around after the meal for a few more drinks and some great live music. If you ever are in Houston looking for a place to spend an evening out, Sambuca should be on your short list.

Of course, Saturday was game day, and after grabbing a quick burger, we hopped onto the shuttle bus and headed over to Reliant Stadium (home of the NFL’s Houston Texans) to check out Infiniti’s Tip-Off Tailgate event, with all sorts of games, activities and, of course, food and drinks. We milled around the tailgate section for an hour or so, our celebrity radar already on high alert since we could safely assume that some big names would be in attendance to take in college basketball’s biggest weekend. Sure enough, just before we made our way to the gate, we saw former NFL defensive lineman Warren Sapp hanging with a group of people in a tucked away corner of the event, but we wisely resisted the temptation to snap a quick picture. We’ve made a point of not irritating 300-pound former NFL players, and it’s worked well for us so far so why deviate now?

Read the full article.

Poll Results: Why do you hate Duke?

Over the past week, we’ve conducted a poll that asks our readers why they hate the Duke Blue Devils. Here are the results (250 respondents):

The results are interesting. While 37% of respondents freely admit that they don’t hate Duke, that means that 63% do, for one reason or another. The top reasons were “they get all the calls” with 20%, “private school, elitist student body” with 14%, and “Christian Laettner, J.J. Redick, etc.” with 8%. Surprisingly, “Coach K” (3%) and “they win too much” (4%) were not popular responses.

Will Brad Stevens stay put?

ESPN rumors reports on the possibility of Brad Stevens taking a job elsewhere.

Given that the school can’t afford to pay Stevens a top salary, it probably can’t make his buyout price high enough to faze a BCS-level school either.

One thing that’s working in the school’s favor is time. The run to the championship game means many schools that had Stevens in mind have already filled their positions. With Oliver Purnell going to DePaul and BC looking ready to hire Cornell’s Steve Donahue, Oregon and now Clemson are the only schools that can offer a world-beating financial package.

The Register-Guard reports that Oregon AD Pat Kilkenny was in Indianapolis this weekend and reportedly has his eye on Stevens:

Read the rest of this entry »

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