March Madness Preview
SLAMonline’s college basketball experts weigh in on upcoming the NCAA Tournament.
Who are the best Tournament coaches?
CB: You have to look toward the guys who have won titles as those that are legitimately great Tournament coaches. Jim Calhoun, Tom Izzo, Roy Williams, Bill Self and Billy Donovan have all proven it, so naturally I would lean toward these guys. Year in and year out, though, Izzo seems to get the most out of guys this time of the year. PICK MICHGIAN STATE IN YOUR BRACKET!
DC: There are dozens of great coaches in this year’s field, but if I have to win one game, I’m going with either Mike Krzyzewski, Tom Izzo or Roy Williams.
JJ: It’s hard to argue with Tom Izzo’s success in March. Since Izzo became the head coach at Michigan State, the Spartans have never missed a Final Four as a 1-seed. Missouri is standing in its way, but Michigan State has one of the best on the sidelines.
Who’s a player we don’t know now, but that we will in a few weeks?
CB: Like I mentioned before, I believe it will be Mike Moser from UNLV. Yes, the team is not a complete mystery to the national college audience, but I am not sure people realize how good this kid can be. Also, if you don’t know about Iowa State’s Royce White (my favorite college player), Creighton’s Doug McDermott or Murray State’s Isaiah Canaan, you will be impressed with their individual games. They also all play on teams that might surprise, as well.
DC: This Tournament should finally be the time the country learns about Vanderbilt’s John Jenkins. Averaging just under 20 ppg, Jenkins is one of the best pure scorers in this year’s field. The defenses that Jenkins will face early (Harvard and possibly Wisconsin) lack a defender who will be able to keep him in check.
JJ: Casper Ware on Long Beach State. He’s the most explosive senior on a senior-laden team in SoCal. Ware torched UCSB for 8 threes in the Big West title game Saturday night. He is capable of carrying the Beach on a deep run.
If you can pick any player in the Tournament to take the last shot of a game, who are you choosing? Why?
CB: The one player who I would take in a last-second situation is between MSU’s Draymond Green, Mizzou’s Marcus Denmon and Creighton’s Doug McDermott. I am going to go with the first choice, as Green has proven worthy of the rock in crunch-time during his entire career in East Lansing. In addition, Day Day’s demeanor in life off the court and between the lines on the court is perfectly suited for the high-pressure stakes of taking that last shot.
DC: Conventional wisdom is to pick a guard in questions like these, but I’m throwing the ball down low to Jared Sullinger. I have complete faith that the Ohio State big man will either knock it down or get fouled. He came back for another shot at a title, and I think we’ll see his best basketball now.
JJ: There’s no Kemba Walker in this Tournament field, but there are still plenty of dynamic point guards who will be taking your classic last-second shots. I’ll go with Louisville’s Peyton Siva; he seems to have a knack for finishing tough buckets with contact in the lane and the Cardinals will probably be in some close contests.
Which teams got into the Tournament that shouldn’t have, and which teams got snubbed?
CB: In my estimation, South Florida did not deserve to make the field. Aside from a win at Louisville, their resume does not impress. They had a super favorable Big East schedule and their pre-conference slate wasn’t much to get excited about. Personally, their style of play is not so enjoyable to watch, so from that point-of-view, the Tournament would have been better off without them. Another team that should be in the NIT is BYU. Few if any quality wins on their resume and no “Jimmer-cache” to at least sweeten the pot.
While I think the committee did a pretty good job selecting the field of 68, one team that should have a beef is Washington. Yes, the Pac-12 was WAY down and the Huskies had some bad losses, but they were still regular-season champs and played a ton of solid competition.
DC: As egregious as it was to put Iona in the field, rewarding BYU with a bid might be worse. The Cougars finished third in the WCC, beat one Tournament team (Gonzaga) and lost by double digits in five of their other six games against teams that made the field.
As for snubs, there are a lot of places I can go, but the worst snub was Washington. It’s just baffling that the committee could reward a team like Iona for winning its league but not Washington, who won a better league. The Huskies could have done damage in March, and it’ a shame we won’t have a chance to see them play.
JJ: I’ve heard a lot about Drexel deserving a bid over Iona, but I think the committee did an excellent job. No glaring omissions.