National Championship Game
#1 Duke- 51 #5 Butler- 59
The 2010 NCAA season finale was fitting for the way the that the year went. Neither team pulled a lead by more than eight the entire game, and in total there were 15 lead changes in the epic masterpiece of a game of basketball. The game was tight all throughout, just like the field of 65 this year.
It was as dramatic as a Shakespearian play. It was David vs. Goliath. Old school coach vs. fresh coach pheonom. History vs. a rising tradition. Duke vs. Butler
From the beginning, it was easily seen that the team that was going to shoot better, was going to win. And thats the way that it turned out. Duke shot 42% from the field and hitting 23 field goals. While Butler only shot 33% and had 20 field goals.
Duke, who averaged over 70 points in the regular season, was held to under 65 points for the first time in the tournament. This wasn’t much of a shocker since the Bulldog “D” let up an average of 56 points a game in the tournament, the most being 61 to Duke. Which is safe to label as insane since three teams Butler player, Syracuse, K-State and Duke, three of the most powerful offense’s in the nation.
In the end, Duke came out on top, but just barely. Much thanks goes to two close misses by Butler’s Gordon Hayward, one on the baseline over 7′ 2″ Brian Zoubek and one half court prayer at the buzzer that just barely rimmed out.
Duke, who finished 35-5, took their fourth Division I title in school history. Coach Mike Krzyzewski has now won a National Championship in three decades, being the first coach ever to do so.
Butler on other hand, gained major respect from basketball fans around the nation. Everywhere I went to talk about the game, all I heard was “I think Duke will win, but I want Butler to win.” Cinderella’s Bulldogs were on a 25 game winning streak before falling two points short to their first ever national title.
Butler ended up with their best finish in the school and Horizon League’s history, and in many people’s opinion were destined to win this year. They played in their hometown of Indianapolis and only six miles from campus. 10 of the 12 played attended class the day of the national title.
Coach Brad Stephen’s run in the tournament is just foreshadowing of what is to come in the future of Butler basketball. With star players like Gordon Hayward I think that Butler can make a run next year, and is for sure a force to be reckoned with in the future. Butler basketball has arrived to the NCAA as a prime time school, and is here to stay.
#1 Duke- 78 #2 West Virginia- 57
For the 11th time in the school history, Duke made the final four. For the ninth time, the have advanced to the final four, and looking for their fourth national title. John Scheyer scored 23 points and led the Devils to a convincing 21 point win over a very talented West Virginia team. The Devils can almost taste the championship, only having a five seed Butler in their way.
#5 Butler- 52 #5 Michigan State- 50
For the first time ever, the Bulldogs are in the final game. In the comfort of their own home, Butler will have a for sure home court advantage. Butler took down the Spartans by the slim margin of two. In exception of Gordon Hayward’s 19 points, Butler shot only 30% in the game, and can’t afford to shoot like that against Duke tonight.
#1 Duke- 86 #5 Butler- 80 OT
After five months of college basketball, the road all comes to an end this saturday. For the first time ever in the history of the NCAA tournament, two five seeds have made it to the final four, and for the third time, a five seed will be in the final game.
Game #1: Michigan State Spartans vs. Butler Bulldogs
Game #2: West Virginia Mountaineers vs Duke Blue Devils
Midwest winner:#5 Michigan State
The journey: Michigan St.- 70 # 12 New Mexico State- 67
Michigan St.- 85 # 4 Maryland- 83
Michigan St.- 59 # 9 UNI- 52
Michigan St- 70 # 6 Tennessee- 69
Why they will win it all: I’m not going to lie to you, I like this Michigan State team a lot.
They live and die by their motto. PP-TPW. Players Play-Tough Players Win.
This is exactly why I think the Spartans can do damage to Butler, and either West Virginia or Duke. They play tough. They are in your face all game. They rebound. They hustle. As a whole, they may not be better than the other three teams, but they can play like they are.
Why they will lose: Two words. Kalin Lucius. Ever since the beginning of the year, from when they were the pre-season number three team in America, to when they got a five seed in the dance, Lucius has been their man. When it gets close, they give the ball to him. When they need a bucket, they give the ball to him. The only problem is, Lucius is out. Thats kind of a problem. Not only that, but the highest seed they have played is a four seed. They haven’t proven to me they can beat a team like Butler.
West Winner: #5 Butler
The journey: Butler- 77 # 12 UTEP- 59
Butler- 54 # 13 Murray St- 54
Butler- 63 # 1 Syracuse- 59
Butler- 63 # 2 Kansas State- 56
Why they will win it all: Where is this final four? Indianapolis. Where is Butler University found? Indianapolis. You tell me who is going to have the home field advantage. When Butler had their shoot around on thursday, they received a huge applause from the crowd. And they were just shooting around. Not only are they in their own backyard, but they are on a 20+ game win streak. Good teams find a way to win, and I think the Bulldogs can ride their way into history with a win on their front porch.
Why they will lose: Pressure. Think about it. You can’t remember the last time you lost (which was in December) and all you can think about is winning. When teams get used to winning, sometimes they can be caught up in the moment and not play to their full potential, mostly because they think they can walk over any team. Though they have proven themselves in impressive wins against K-State and Syracuse, Michigan State’s up-tempo game could cause a problem with Butler’s set offense.
East Winner: #2 West Virginia
The journey: West Virginia- 77 #15 Morgan St- 50
West Virginia- 68 #10 Missouri- 59
West Virginia- 69 #11 Washington- 56
West Virginia- 73 #1 Kentucky- 66
Why they will win it all: This team is my favorite to win it all. I really don’t know if Duke or Butler and Michigan State can keep up scoring with this team. DeShawn Butler is just too much offense for any one man to handle. Heck, I’m sure if you put two people on him you wouldn’t be able to stop him. Example: Big East Tournament. They trounce every team and tossed them aside like they wanted better competition. I love this team’s swagger, and I love DeShawn Butler. It’s going to be tough to stop these Mountaineers.
Why they will lose: The only way I think that this team can lose is if their defense lets up. There is no point in scoring if you can’t keep the other team from scoring. The game is simple. Keep the other team from scoring while you score more than them. And I really don’t like the match-ups on defense for WVU against Duke. If they do fall, it’ll be on the D. The other reason, look at their road to the final four. They have played three teams with double digit seeds. They haven’t needed to prove themselves this tournament.
West Winner: #1 Duke
The journey: Duke- 73 #16 Ark. Pine Bluff- 44
Duke- 68 #8 California- 53
Duke- 70 #4 Purdue- 57
Duke- 78 #3 Baylor- 78
Why they will win it all: The Blue Devils have it all this season. Size. Shooters. Defense. Coaching. What else do you need? The balance on this team is incredible. If one man can’t score, the other can. If one man can’t rebound, another can. And any Coach K team has a chance to win it all in any given year. As the only number one seed this year in the final four, I think that Duke can play as a one seed and beat WVU if they can keep up their defense like it is right now.
Why they will lose: A surprising stat took me off guard when thinking about this team. Unlike other Duke teams in the past, no one on this team has ever made it past the Elite Eight. The stage of these games will be so big that I’m not sure they will know what hit them. I think it will take a while for them to get their groove, and I’m worried about how long that is going to take.
And then there were four. After three weeks of buzzer beaters, heartbreaks, upsets and blowouts, only four teams remain in this years NCAA tournament. Two five seeds, a two seed, and a lone one seed.
#5 Michigan State- 70 #6 Tennessee- 69
For the second year in a row, Michigan State is going to the Final Four. Thought this year was an easier road, they Spartans edged out the Vol’s in a thriller 70-69 thriller on saturday. Sophomore Korie Lucious has stepped up in the past two days, filling the spot of their leader Kalin Lucius who is out for the season. The Spartans shot 10 more free throws than Tennessee in the game, and made 7 more also. This turned out to be the main factor for MSU. Now Michigan State will face their next test. Butler. In their backyard. In the final four. This will be a great, tough, hard-fought game. Tennessee has no reason to be upset with this seasons turnout. They were the only team in the land to beat the #1 and #2 AP teams (Kansas and Kentucky) and at one point #3 Ohio State. All in the same season. Not only did they beat both of them, but they got to the Elite Eight for the first time ever in school history. The Vols ended up 28-8, the second best since coach Bruce Pearl took the job as head coach.
#5 Butler- 63 #2 Kansas State- 56
No matter what happened on saturday, Butler was going to go back home to Indianapolis, since that is where their campus is located. But I think that they are going to be a little happier with their outcome coming back home to play, and not to watch. For the first time in the school’s history, the Butler Bulldogs are headed to the Final Four. Not many people picked Butler to go far in the tournament this year, even though they had and still have the longest win streak in the nation. For example, I had them losing in the first round. Show’s how much I know. With no real stand-out players, Butler is the definition of a team. And doing what’s best for the team, and not just themselves. The home crowd will be aplenty considering the Lucius Oil Stadium in Indy only being 7 miles from the Butler Campus. You tell me who you think will win.The wild run for K-State came to a shuttering half on saturday. The Wildcats had their best season in the history of the school this year, finishing with an impressive record of 28-9. The Wildcats had an up and down season this year, losing twice at home, and three times to rival KU. None the less, K-State was a force to be reckoned with. They achieved their highest rank ever at #5 earlier this season, and made an appearance in the Big 12 Championship game. K-State fans have a lot to gloat about this off season, and will be a great team again next year. Watch out for Jacob Pullen for possible player of the year.
1 Kentucky- 66 #2 West Viriginia- 73
The John Wall train has come to a staggering halt. Thought to be invincible, the Kentucky Wildcats were knocked off on Saturday, and taking only their third loss of the season. Their third just happen to come off as their worst timed loss. Kentucky’s final record was 35-3, and will be the best record of the year by any team, no matter who wins it. Freshman sensations John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins are most likely one and done and of the the NBA, but their season has been full of highlights and plenty of winning. UK got their first great season in 5 years, and first year coach John Calipari looks to have a promising future at Kentucky. The Mountaineers of West Virginia keep on rolling. Now on a 10 game win streak after winning the Big East Tournament, and led by their Star DeShawn Butler, not a lot of things are going to throw this team off anytime soon. Against Kentucky, West Virginia shot 43% from behind the arch, which was 7% better than their field goal shooting. Sophomore Joe Mazzulla, who usually averages 2.5 points a game, put up 17 against the Cats, which went along nicely with Butler’s 18.
#3 Baylor- 71 #1 Duke- 78
Fan favorites of the Big 12 and all around the country, Baylor, fell 6 points short of their first Final Four in their schools history. Baylor finished their season 28-8 and was one of the most competitive teams in the Big 12 this year, finishing 2nd overall. Ever since switching to a 2-3 zone in the Big 12 Tournament last year, which they won, the Bears have only lost 9 games. Coach Scott Drew has made a 180 degree transformation with this Baylor program. LaceDarius Dunn, who in my opinion should be considered for the National Player of the Year, lead all scorers this year and had a nasty duo with fellow guard Tweety Carter. Look for Baylor to have a disgustingly good looking program as long as Dunn, and Drew are there. Duke did what they are best at. Being Duke. Coach K has his Blue Devils in tip-top shape and is rolling past each team by shooting the lights right out of the gym. In 40% of their games this year, two of the three big scorers, Nolan Smith, John Scheyer and Kyle Singler, have scored 20 or more points. In this one, Smith had a career high 29, and Scheyer had 20. Both played every single minute of the game. I like this West Virginia-Duke match-up this weekend. It should be a doozy
#1 Duke- 70 #4 Purdue- 57
The south region manages not to surprise anyone this year. Duke, now 32-5, rolls past fourth seeded Purdue with what seemed to be ease. Their fantastic three scorers, John Scheyer, Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith, all contributed to the Blue Devils sweet sixteen win combining for 57 of the 70 points. Those three alone, tied the Boilermaker effort in points. Purdue, who finishes the season at an impressive 29-6, finishes the season off an a respectable sweet sixteen run. In their Big 10 conference tournament, their star player Robbie Hummel tore his ACL, and is out for the season. No one thought Purdue would do half as well as they did, and most picked them to lose in the first round. Hats off the the Boilermakers.
#3 Baylor- 72 #10 St. Mary’s- 49
The Big 12 has a chance for two final four teams this year, and Baylor is one of them. The not so surprising three seed rolled past St. Mary’s in an impressive effort winning by a margin of 23 points. Led by their best players LaceDarious Dunn and Tweety Carter, who had 23 and 14 points, the Bears will take on Duke in the regional final, which will be a very high scoring affair.St. Mary’s, the Cinderella of the south, finished the season run with the record of 28-6, and had the best finish in school history. The hot shooting that could have been found earlier in the year and tournament just wasn’t present in this game, which turned out to be the flaw that shot the Gaels down.
#9 Northern Iowa- 52 #5 Michigan State- 59
The team that knocked off KU, has now been knocked off. Northern Iowa, who is known for their balanced scoring and tenacious defense, was held to just 23% shooting in the second half. No player scored more than 13 points in the game, and was flat out shut down in the final minuets. Michigan State, the team that was favored in this match-up, showed their teeth to the Panthers and didn’t stop the intimidation factor all game. The Spartans shot 54% in the second half, and impressive plays by Korie Lucious and Durrell Summers sparked the Spartans to victory.
#6 Tennessee- 76 #2 Ohio State- 73
This game was the only surprise on friday night, but it was a big one none the less. The Volvs from Tennessee, who beat both KU and Kentucky earlier this year, beat the #2 seeded Buckeyes in a close game. Lead by forward Wayne Chism, who had 22 points, Tennessee trounced the Buckeyes on the boards and hustle playes all night, which ended up earning them a spot in the Elite Eight.Evan Turner shined on friday night and had a respectable 31 points, but it just wasn’t enough of a team effort to get by Tennessee. All year I have been worried about OSU and their reliability on Turner for points, and It showed in this game that you can’t win a Championship with just one outstanding player.
#2 Kansas State- 101 #6 Xavier-96 2OT
In my opinion, this was the game of the tournament so far. The Wildcats, now 29-7 in their winningest season in history, had three players with over 20 points in their victory Xavier. Jacob Pullen racked in 28, Denis Clemente had 25 points along with 48 of the possible 50 minuets played, and Curtis Kelley had a solid 21 points. The Wildcats kept strong all throughout the game and didn’t let Xavier back in the game too much. Though they let them get back, they ended up on-top at the end, with Pullen making some big shots down the stretch. Xavier, who finished the 2010 season with the record of 26-9, hit monstrous shots, most by their star Jordan Crawford and Terrell Holloway. Crawford ended up with 32 points, and sunk three of his last four three pointers, and Holloway had 26 points, and was four for six of the game from three point range. The double overtime game was an epic for both teams, but I would give a little credit to the Kansas Jayhawks if I were the Wildcats, since KU helped K-State become strong minded down the stretch in close games.
#1 Syracuse- 59 #5 Butler- 63
The second number one seed has gone down. Butler, the five seed in the west, knocked off the number one seeded Syracuse Orange, diminishing their hopes for a final four or national championship season. The Orange was very shaky throughout the game, and had 18 turnovers, and didn’t look like a number one seed.Butler, now on an impressive 20 game win streak, beat the Orange in every aspect of the game. They out hustled, out rebounded and flat out out played Syracuse. Butler will take on KSU in the regional final, but I think that is as far as they will get.
#1 Kentucky- 62 #12 Cornell-45
No surprise here. The number one seed Kentucky showed up to play against Cornell. They were clearly prepared for the hot handed Cornell Big Red. The Wildcats stars played their style of game by rebounding the ball and pushing the tempo every chance they got. Freshman John Wall was held to only 8 points, but had 8 assists to compliment it. The other Freshman phenom, DeMarcus Cousins, was the leading scorer for the Wildcats with 16 points. Cornell, who went 29-5 had their best season ever for the school, and also achieved the most wins for an Ivy League school ever. Senior Louis Dale ended his Big Red career with a solid 17 points, but it wasn’t enough to pull of the upset over top rated Kentucky. Sophomore stud Jeff Foot, who is on the verge of the NBA, put in 8 points, but was held to just a sub-par game. The Big Red fans should not hang their heads after this season. Sometimes, the glass slipper just falls off too soon.
#11 Washington- 56 #2 West Virginia- 69
The other East region Cinderella fell 13 points short of an upset. West Virginia, though sloppy, played well in the last 10 minuets of the second half to pull away from the dangerous Huskies of Washington. The Mountaineers achieved their 30th win of the season, and reached the Elite Eight for the first time since 2000. Led by their star DeShawn Butler, who had 14 points in the game, the Mountaineers will play the one seed in their region Kentucky. The Huskies surprised everyone this year. In a struggling Pac-10 Conference, the Washington represented their school and conference well, and was a force to be reckoned with all year and tournament. They finished their season at 26-10, their best season of the 2000 decade.
A look at the Sweet Sixteen
Both one seed Kentucky and twelve Cornell in the East region have beaten their opponents by 13 or more points and will both play their first true test in the first game in the east. I’m not sure how Kentucky’s freshman phenom DeMarcus Cousins will be able to handle Cornell’s 7 foot center Jeff Foot. I can see Cousins having trouble with him, but Kentucky is the better coached team with John Calipari and will move on. The suprise of the tournament, eleven seed Washington from the Pac-10 Conference, will take on West Virginia, who barely squeaked by ten seed Missouri. I think that DeShawn Butler from West Virginia will be too much for Washington to handle, since Washington hasn’t played anyone this year that has the talent and versatility that Butler has, playing the a struggling Pac-10.
It’s official. For the 10th year in a row, I have started my morning after selection sunday with scissors, and cutting out the new bracket in the mornings paper. All the regions are set. All of the teams know where they are going and who they will be playing. Now its time for you to decide how far they will go. But, before you fill in your bracket, here are some pointers and suggestions that can make your bracket not get embarrassed.
Kansas gets the number one overall seed, their 9th all time one seed, and according to theory, should have the easiest way to the final four. False. Not this year. It looks like KU will have the toughest road considering both teams the Jayhawks lost to in the regular season, are in their region. The seven seed Oklahoma State, and six seed Tennessee.
UNLV and Northern Iowa looks like a good eight vs. nine matchup but I don’t see UNI pulling of an upset there. Michigan State, who was ranked third in the nation at one point, gets the five seed and will take on New Mexico State. I don’t see anything too scary about this matchup for the Spartans, but if they want to make a run in this years dance, they better start playing the way they did back in December.
The four seed in the region is Maryland, a very strong and underrated team with leadership from their starting point guard Grievus Vasquez. Look for them to beat Houstan, and maybe meet KU in an epic sweet sixteen game.
For this region, I have the Volunteers of Tennessee on upset alert. In the first round, the Volunteers will be hosting San Diego State, a team with the same record as Tennessee (25-8) and from the Mountain West Conference has a tenacious defense that I think could disrupt Tennessee’s high scoring offense.
The other Big XII team in the region, Oklahoma State is a very dangerous seven seed and look for them to maybe pull an upset on Ohio State, the two seed, in the second round. The Big XII player of the year for the Cowboys, James Anderson, and the Big 10 player of the year for Ohio State, Evan Turner, looks like the match-up of the year, so hopefully we’ll see that in the second round.
Of this region I really don’t see too many upsets brewing. Expect the 1, 2, 3 and 4 seeds for advance for the sweet sixteen, and with Sherron Collins and Cole Aldrich leading the way, the Jayhawks will win the region and go to the final four.
Over much controversy, the Syracuse Orange get the four overall one seed for the tournament, and are in the west region. No one really knows why they are in the west, since the school is located in the east, but none the less they will be heading west for the tourney. Again nothing scary for the Orange in their first or second round and it looks like they won’t have much trouble making it to Indianapolis with a moderately weak region.
The match-up that catches my eye is thirteen seed Murray State and four seed Vanderbilt. Murray St. Is a very underrated team winning 11 of their last 12 games, and having the best record in their school’s history at 30-4. This game looks to be a tough one for Vandy, since they have been struggling recently, and not making it to the SEC conference championship game like many thought they would.
On upset alert I have twelve seed UTEP over five seed Butler. Butler is a scrappy team that likes to shoot the 3-ball, but I think that after the loss in the finals of the C-USA tournament, that UTEP will be out for revenge and wanting to upset anyone in their path.
For hometown fans, you’re in luck. With their highest seed in school history, a two seed, K-State Wildcats look to have an easy road to the sweet sixteen as their first and second round match-ups with North Texas and potentially BYU, don’t seem to be scary for the Wildcats at all.
In the sweet sixteen, again, look for a possible 1, 2, 3 and for seed tournament and look for Syracuse to cruise into the Final Four for the first time since winning it all in 2003.
With their size, youth and talent, Kentucky takes the number two overall one seed, and looks to power threw their region. But just like Kansas, they get stuck with a region that is better than most will expect. John Wall and fellow freshman DeMarcus Cousins will most likely go to the NBA draft next year, so look for the Wildcats to go nuts on every play and storm Indy as cocky as they are right now.
A road bump for UK could be a potential second round match-up with the Longhorns from Texas. Texas was ranked number one in the nation earlier this season, but then dropped 4 out of 5 games and fell out of the standings. Even though they lost their point guard Dogus Balbay, don’t take Texas lightly, as they could trip John Wall and his Wildcats in their path.
The most interesting game is the most anticipated matchup I think for the entire tournament, and thats the five seed Temple and the twelve seed Cornell. Cornell (27-4) winners of the Ivy League, was ranked in the 20’s all throughout the year and had a respectable loss and testing KU at home, only falling 5 points short. Their big man, Jeff Foot, who is arguably the best big man in the NCAA, will look to dominate the paint and own the region. Temple (29-5) who lost in the A-10 championship, has no real stars or standouts, yet is a team that is to be reckoned with, beating two seed Villinova by 10 points. I see Cornell winning this game though, and making it to the sweet sixteen, or maybe even Elite Eight.
I see Kentucky making it to the Final Four in this region, but if they do, not by much. I see a Kentucky and two seed West Virginia matchup in the elite eight that could be the game of the tournament. West Virginia, who won the Big East Conference tournament, had a strong case for a one seed but was put as a two seed. I can see West Virginia winning this game, so this game is a push. In other-words, it’s too close to call.
The number one seed for the South is the Duke Blue Devils, their 11th overall one seed selection. With their triple scoring action with Kyle Singler, John Scheyer and Nolan Smith, who all average over 15 points per game, will be a tough group to stop. I don’t see many problems with their region for them to make it to Indianapolis but the Devils have not made the Elite Eight in six years. So it’s up to them to control their destiny.
I think that this region is stacked with sleeper teams. Richmond and St. Mary’s, both teams that I think can explode and have a run in this tournament, face off in the first round and that is my game to watch for this region. Other sleeper teams include the three seed Baylor, who I think has a very good chance of making it to the Elite Eight, and possibly, if Tweety Carter and LaceDarius Dunn hit shots in the clutch.
The high seed I think that can shake things up a bit is Siena. As a 13 seed last year they upset Vandy in the first round. Look for them to do the same to Purdue, who is a struggling team losing their best player, Robbie Hummel, for the season. I think that the potential Notre Dame and Baylor match-up in the second round could be something to watch, but in the end I think that it will be Duke and Villinova squaring off for the last spot in the Final Four, and I’m giving it to Duke.
I have four brackets. One of Yahoo!, two on ESPN, and one on CBS. In all of my brackets I see the Final Four consisting of KU from the midwest, Syracuse from the west, either Kentucky or West Virginia in the east and either ‘Nova or Duke from the south. I think that the KU will have a hard time against Syracuse against Syracuse’s rough and tough zone but I think that the experience of the Jayhawks and the coaching style of Bill Self will overcome that and they will advance to the National Title game for the second time in three years.
For the other side of the bracket, I think that if West Virginia beats Kentucky, they can beat Duke and ‘Nova. It will all just depend of if West Virginia will rely too much on guard DeShawn Butler like they did in the Big East Tournament when he hit two game winners. I think if Kentucky can get past West Virginia, they can stomp ‘Nova, but will have a rough time with Duke. I think that Kentucky will have a tough time stopping all three scorer’s that Duke has.
In one bracket I have a KU vs. Kentucky match-up that will be a phenomenal game and a game that will be tough for both teams to win. In another I have KU vs. West Virginia, which I think would be to the favor of KU, since West Virginia doesn’t have much depth, and Kansas does. No matter what the final game will be, I think that Kansas will come out on-top no matter what happens. I feel like they are the best team in the nation and if they play to their pull potential, they can beat anyone.