Tag Archives: Syracuse Orange

College basketball stock report for week 16

After five consecutive weeks of teams moving up to the No. 1 spot one week and then back down the next as if there was a revolving door for the top spot, Indiana has held on to the No. 1 rank for the past three weeks. Miami (FL) has continued its ascent up in the polls from No. 25, No. 14, No. 8, and No. 3 to No. 2 and 23 first place votes behind the Hoosiers.

The Big East leads all conferences with six ranked teams, followed by the Big Ten with five and Big 12 with three.

With three weeks left of regular season conference play, here is my college basketball stock report:

BUY

Michigan State Spartans-(22-4, 11-2)-Ever since losing by five on the road to No. 7 Indiana, the Spartans have rattled off five wins in a row, including a 23-point drubbing of No. 4 Michigan. Michigan State is tied for first in the Big Ten with the opportunity to have sole possession of first place with a game against No. 1 Indiana tonight in East Lansing, Mich.

Adreian Payne and Michigan State are heating up as March approaches. The Spartans are tied with No. 1 Indiana for first place in the Big Ten entering their game on Tuesday.(Image courtesy of buckey extra.dispatch.com)
Adreian Payne and Michigan State are heating up as March approaches. The Spartans are tied with No. 1 Indiana for first place in the Big Ten entering their game on Tuesday.
(Image courtesy of buckey extra.dispatch.com)

Georgetown Hoyas-(19-4, 9-3)-The Hoyas have taken advantage of Syracuse’s three losses in the Orange’s last six games; Georgetown has won seven straight games, including three against ranked Big East opponents, and is in a three-way tie for first place.

Gonzaga Bulldogs-(25-2, 12-0)-Gonzaga has won 16 of its last 17 games and the Bulldogs’ only loss in the new year was a one-point defeat at the hands of Roosevelt Jones and the Butler Bulldogs on the road. Gonzaga played and defeated the four teams remaining on its schedule by an average of nearly 13 points this season. It would be no surprise if the Bulldogs do not lose until the NCAA Tournament.

SELL

Butler Bulldogs-(21-5, 8-3)-Butler has proven that its best is very good after the Bulldogs defeated No. 1 Indiana in December. However, Butler has lost three of its past eight games. Even though the Bulldogs play in an improved A-10, they have gradually fallen from their top 10 ranking.

Michigan Wolverines-(22-4, 9-4)-There is no doubt that the Wolverines have a roster that has the ability to play in Atlanta for the Final Four but Michigan has slipped up several times lately. The Wolverines lost three of their past five games. All four of Michigan’s losses this season have come on the road and the No. 7 team in the country will have to be able to play away from Ann Arbor, Mich. in order to go deep in the tournament.

Cincinnati Bearcats-(19-7, 7-6)-Cincinnati has been ranked for most of the season but fell out of the top 25 this week after losing three of their past four games and four of seven. All of the Bearcats’ losses have been by ten points or fewer, with four of them being by less than five points, UC has struggled to emerge as one of the best teams in the Big East. Cincinnati is tied for ninth in the conference with games against Connecticut, Notre Dame and Louisville remaining on its schedule. The Bearcats were projected to be a No. 3 seed in ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi’s projected NCAA Tournament but they are falling quickly.

HOLD

Notre Dame Fighting Irish-(21-6, 9-5)-In the past two weeks, Notre Dame defeated No. 11 Louisville in five overtimes and No. 20 Pittsburgh on the road. However, the Fighting Irish also lost to No. 9 Syracuse by 16 and unranked Providence by 17. Notre Dame has a lot of potential but the team has been too inconsistent.

Marquette Golden Eagles-(18-6, 9-3)-With the exception of a loss at Green Bay in December, Marquette does not have any horrible losses this season. The Golden Eagles were routed by Florida and Louisville, two teams that have been at the top of the polls for most of the season, but they have faired well in their conference schedule. Marquette hasn’t proven that it’s a great team but has exceeded expectations in one of college basketball’s toughest conferences. With four road games and two matchups against ranked opponents remaining on their schedule, the Golden Eagles have a challenging home stretch before the Big East Tournament.

Week 15 NCAA men’s basketball power rankings

During Week 15 of last year’s college basketball season, it was evident that the Kentucky Wildcats were the premier team in college basketball and UK’s freshman center Anthony Davis was the best player in the country. The Wildcats had  a 25-1 record, with their only slip up being a 73-72 loss at Indiana early in December that will forever be remembered for the “Wat Shot.” Kentucky lost only one more game, the SEC Championship, the rest of the season and lived up to expectations by winning last year’s NCAA Tournament.

There is no Kentucky this year. In the past six weeks, the No. 1 team has changed five teams. No one has separated from the pack and any team that enters the top five seems to play hot potato with the No. 1 spot by losing. Last week, four of the top five teams–Indiana, Florida, Michigan and Kansas–in the Associated Press Top 25 Poll lost at least once. Kansas dropped consecutive games for the first time since November 21-22, 2005. Every team in the latest AP Poll has at least two losses, the average number of losses per top 25 team is slightly over four and No. 20 Wisconsin has seven.

So what does it all mean?

A) The NCAA Tournament Selection Committee are going to have a difficult time determining the field of the 68 teams that make it to the Big Dance.

and

B) Once the teams and seeds are finalized, the national championship is truly up for grabs.

Without further adieu, here are my NCAA men’s basketball power rankings for Week 15:

1. Miami Hurricanes (19-3, 10-0)-Miami is the only team in one of the power six conferences to have a perfect conference record. The Hurricanes’ 10-0 record in ACC play has given Miami a two-game cushion over Duke. The Hurricanes have proven that they can run traditional college basketball powerhouses out of the gym as seen by their 27-point win against Duke and 26-point victory over North Carolina.

The Miami Hurricanes are the only team in a power six conference that is undefeated in conference play. (Image courtesy of http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/11/29/3118194/win-signals-progress-for-miami.html)
The Miami Hurricanes are the only team in a power six conference that is undefeated in conference play. (Image courtesy of http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/11/29/3118194/win-signals-progress-for-miami.html)

2. Indiana Hoosiers (21-3, 9-2)-Indiana let an 11-point lead with seven minutes remaining against Illinois slip away, which could been a major concern for the Hoosiers if it wasn’t for IU’s bounce back win at No. 10 Ohio State. The 81-68 victory was Indiana’s first road win over a ranked opponent since 2002 and kept the Hoosiers atop the AP Poll.

3. Michigan Wolverines (21-3, 8-3)-If Ben Brust’s half-court prayer didn’t force overtime in Madison, Wisc. and eventually lead to a Badgers victory, Michigan would likely be No. 1 team in the country. The Big Ten’s abundance of tournament-bound teams has taken its toll on the Wolverines, who are tied for third in the conference with Wisconsin.

4. Duke Blue Devils (21-2, 8-2)-The Blue Devils have finally gotten their feet under them after losing senior forward Ryan Kelly to a foot injury. Duke lost two of its first three games without Kelly but have rattled off five straight wins as the team sits in second place in the ACC.

5. Michigan State (20-4, 9-2)-Don’t look now but the Spartans are tied for first in the Big Ten with Indiana. The Spartans still have to play Michigan twice as well as Indiana, Ohio State and Wisconsin a second time; if Sparty can survive the gauntlet, they have a shot at a No. 1 seed in March.

6. Florida Gators (19-3, 9-1)-The Gators should not be judged too harshly for their 80-69 loss to Arkansas. Every team has off nights and Florida showed that their lone conference loss was a fluke. They returned to their prior form by beating Mississippi State by 25 on Saturday.

7. Gonzaga Bulldogs (23-2, 10-0)-Barring a horrible loss or two, Gonzaga seems destined for a No. 2 seed with an outside chance to be a No. 1 if the teams in front of them don’t finish the regular season on high notes. The Bulldogs are a major question mark because of their weak conference schedule. They aren’t tested on a nightly basis the way that ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12 or Pac-12 teams are. Gonzaga played against three ranked opponents and lost two of those matchups, which could hint at an early exit in the tournament.

8. Syracuse Orange (20-3, 8-2)-If Syracuse can settle senior forward James Southerland’s eligibility issue, then the Orange may be the favorite to win the Big East and ‘Cuse could match last year’s Elite Eight appearance.

9. Kansas Jayhawks (20-4, 8-3)-Last week may have been the darkest period in the history of Kansas basketball with three losses. Texas Christian University’s first Big 12 win, an unexpected 62-55 upset of the Jayhawks, was sandwiched by Kansas losses to unranked Oklahoma State and Oklahoma. With four teams within one game of the conference lead, Kansas doesn’t have any more room for error in a wide open Big 12.

10. Arizona Wildcats (20-3, 8-3)-Arizona was one of the hottest teams in the country and arguably the best team out West early in the season with wins against No. 5 Florida, Miami (Fla.) and No. 17 San Diego State during its 14-0 start. However, the Wildcats have started to show their true colors and fade from the spotlight with losses to unranked Oregon, UCLA and California.

Making cases for Kansas, Michigan and Florida to be ranked No. 1

Last week was a bloodbath for the AP Top 25. No. 1 Duke lost at Miami (FL) by 27. Louisville lost three consecutive games in the Big East to No. 6 Syracuse, Villanova and Georgetown. Minnesota lost four straight games in the Big Ten. With all of the losses by ranked teams, the No. 1 position is up for grabs and three teams have cases to claim the top spot in this week’s updated polls.

Kansas’ case to be ranked No. 1

The Kansas Jayhawks have won 33 straight games at Allen Fieldhouse and are one of the hottest teams in college basketball. (Image courtesy of http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1501647-kansas-basketball-jayhawks-lack-of-offense-isnt-a-big-concern)
The Kansas Jayhawks have won 33 straight games at Allen Fieldhouse and are one of the hottest teams in college basketball. (Image courtesy of http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1501647-kansas-basketball-jayhawks-lack-of-offense-isnt-a-big-concern)

The Jayhawks are 18-1 and their only loss was by three points to then-No. 21 Michigan State in the second game of the season. Since its only blemish on its 18-1 record, Kansas beat No. 7 Ohio State in Columbus, Ohio and topped No. 11 Kansas State on the road. Bill Self’s squad is off to a 6-0 start in the Big 12 and the team has won 33 consecutive games at Allen Fieldhouse. Kansas is nearly unbeatable at home and its two victories against ranked opponents were on the road, which proves that the Jayhawks can win anywhere they play. They also beat Ohio State, who gave Michigan its only loss of the season, by eight points.

Michigan’s case to be ranked No. 1

Similarly to Kansas, Michigan only has one loss this season and it was also by three points when the Ohio State Buckeyes defeated the Wolverines on Jan. 13. Michigan has two wins against ranked opponents. The Wolverines defeated then-No. 18 North Carolina State at home and then-No. 9 Minnesota on the road. The co-leaders of the Big Ten are 19-1 (6-1) and have 15 double-digit wins this season. Michigan’s resume also includes wins over Pittsburgh, Kansas State and Illinois, who are all teams that have been ranked at some point during the season but weren’t when they lost to the Wolverines.

Florida’s case to be ranked No. 1

The Florida Gators are 16-2 (6-0) and tied with Ole Miss for the SEC lead. Their only two losses are a 65-64 loss at Arizona, a competitive game in which Wildcats guard Mark Lyons hit the game-winning jumper with seven seconds left, and a six-point loss to Kansas State. The Gators have rattled off eight straight wins and have dominated their SEC opponents in conference play. The most points that Florida has allowed in an SEC game is 52 and four of the Gators’ opponents have scored in the forties. Florida’s average margin of victory in conference play is over 26 points and earlier this month they defeated then-No. 17 Missouri 83-52. Granted, the SEC lacks proven teams and depth outside of Florida, Ole Miss and Missouri but the Gators are the team to beat down South.

Kansas has the strongest case because they beat the Ohio State Buckeyes, who later handed Michigan its only loss, on the road by eight. Of the three teams, Florida’s case is the weakest because the Gators have two losses and play in arguably the weakest of the power 6 conferences.

The Top 15 College Basketball Programs Based on Current NBA Players

A discussion with my friends Braxton and Max last night about which college basketball program has the best current professional players inspired me to go through the current players in the NBA and find the top fifteen programs. I ranked the teams based on the number of players currently in the league and their level of production over an extended period of time. Duke took the number one spot because there are 17 former Blue Devils in the NBA and many of them are major contributors on their teams (or at least they were when they were in their primes).

Duke has nearly twenty former players in the NBA and many of them put up big numbers at the highest level. (Image courtesy of http://www.forbes.com/pictures/emdm45efll/4-duke-blue-devils/)
Duke has nearly twenty former players in the NBA and many of them put up All-Star level numbers. (Image courtesy of http://www.forbes.com/pictures/emdm45efll/4-duke-blue-devils/)

1Duke University

Luol Deng-17.7 ppg 7.0 rpg 2.8 apg/43 career playoff appearances/1-time NBA All-Star

Carlos Boozer-14.4 ppg 9.8 rpg 2.0 apg/66 career playoff appearances/2-time NBA All-Star

Shane Battier-6.8 ppg 2.3 rpg 44.2 3P%/74 career playoff appearances/NBA Champion/All-Rookie First Team

J.J. Redick-14.2 ppg 2.3 rpg 4.9 apg/44 career playoff appearances

Kyrie Irving-23.6 ppg 3.7 rpg 5.5 apg/2012 NBA Rookie of the Year

Elton Brand-Career averages of 18.0 ppg 9.3 rpg 50 FG%/30 career playoff appearances

Kyle Singler

Austin Rivers

Dahntay Jones

Chris Duhon

Mike Dunleavy Jr.

Gerald Henderson

Corey Maggette

Josh McRoberts

Miles Plumlee

Nolan Smith

Lance Thomas

2. University of North Carolina

Vince Carter

Raymond Felton

Ty Lawson

Danny Green

Marvin Williams

Harrison Barnes

Ed Davis

Antawn Jamison

Rasheed Wallace

Jerry Stackhouse

Tyler Hansbrough

Wayne Ellington

Brendan Haywood

John Henson

Kendall Marshall

Tyler Zeller

Brandan Wright

3. University of Connecticut

Ray Allen

Kemba Walker

Rudy Gay

Ben Gordon

Caron Butler

Emeka Okafor

Andre Drummond

Hasheem Thabeet

Jeff Adrien

Richard Hamilton

Jeremy Lamb

A.J. Price

Charlie Villanueva

4. University of California at Los Angeles

Russell Westbrook

Kevin Love

Luc Richard Mbah a Moute

Arron Afflalo

Darren Collison

Matt Barnes

Trevor Ariza

Jrue Holiday

Ryan Hollins

Malcolm Lee

Earl Watson

5. University of Kentucky

Rajon Rondo

DeMarcus Cousins

Brandon Knight

Tayshaun Prince

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist

Eric Bledsoe

Jodie Meeks

Enes Kanter

Chuck Hayes

Keith Bogans

Darius Miller

Anthony Davis

Josh Harrellson

Terrence Jones

Doron Lamb

DeAndre Liggins

Nazr Mohammed

Daniel Orton

Patrick Patterson

John Wall

6. Wake Forest University

Tim Duncan

Chris Paul

Jeff Teague

Al-Farouq Aminu

James Johnson

Josh Howard

Ishmael Smith

7. University of Florida

Joakim Noah

David Lee

Al Horford

Corey Brewer

Udonis Haslem

Chandler Parsons

Bradley Beal

Marreese Speights

Mike Miller

Matt Bonner

8. University of Texas

Kevin Durant

LaMarcus Aldridge

Tristan Thompson

P.J. Tucker

Daniel Gibson

Jordan Hamilton

Royal Ivey

Corey Joseph

Dexter Pittman

9. Marquette University

Dwyane Wade

Wesley Matthews

Steve Novak

Jae Crowder

Jimmy Butler

Darius Johnson-Odom

10. Kansas University

Paul Pierce

Mario Chalmers

Kirk Hinrich

Nick Collison

Markieff Morris

Marcus Morris

Thomas Robinson

Cole Aldrich

Darrell Arthur

Drew Gooden

Xavier Henry

Brandon Rush

Josh Selby

Tyshawn Taylor

11. Syracuse University

Carmelo Anthony

Wesley Johnson

Kris Joseph

Dion Waiters

Hakim Warrick

12. University of Arizona

Andre Iguodala

Jason Terry

Jerryd Bayless

Chase Budinger

Jordan Hill

Richard Jefferson

Luke Walton

Derrick Williams

13. Georgia Institute of Technology

Chris Bosh

Thaddeus Young

Jarrett Jack

Will Bynum

Derrick Favors

Anthony Morrow

Iman Shumpert

14. University of Washington

Isaiah Thomas

Nate Robinson

Spencer Hawes

Quincy Pondexter

Terrence Ross

Will Conroy

Brandon Roy

Tony Wroten

15. Georgetown University

Greg Monroe

Roy Hibbert

Jeff Green

Tommy Tuberville Did What?

On December 6, University of Cincinnati head football coach Butch Jones rejected an offer from the University of Colorado and reportedly signed a five-year deal with the University of Tennessee that is worth roughly $13.5 million. It is a classic example of the coaching carousel that exists in college athletics. Coaches have success at smaller schools and as assistant coaches until they can work their way up to head coaching positions at bigger programs. Both Butch Jones and Brian Kelly, Jones’ predecessor who is now at Notre Dame, came to UC from Central Michigan University.

However, Cincinnati’s new coach, Tommy Tuberville, who previously coached for three seasons at Texas Tech University, downgraded to join the Bearcats. The Big East is a dying conference. Syracuse, Pittsburgh, and Louisville are on their way out of the conference to join the ACC. Rutgers is leaving for the Big Ten. Four of the top five teams in conference will be gone within the next few years.

Tommy Tuberville was in a good situation at Texas Tech and inexplicably left for the University of Cincinnati. (Image courtesy of http://blog.newsok.com/ou/2012/10/02/tommy-tuberville-and-his-players-preview-the-ou-tech-game/)
Tommy Tuberville was in a good situation at Texas Tech and inexplicably left for the University of Cincinnati. (Image courtesy of http://blog.newsok.com/ou/2012/10/02/tommy-tuberville-and-his-players-preview-the-ou-tech-game/)

 

Boise State, San Diego State, Central Florida, Memphis, Houston, SMU, and Navy are set to join the conference in the near future, which will turn the Big East into the second Conference USA. The conference is becoming a hodgepodge of teams that are unable to join the likes of the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, or SEC. The foundation of the Big East is becoming unstable as the pillars (Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Louisville, and West Virginia) are leaving or have already left. When the dust from conference realignment has settled, the Big East may no longer exist and it is not the conference of which the University of Cincinnati wants to be a member as it makes its plans for the future.

Tuberville’s decision to take over a 9-3 Cincinnati team does not make sense. Texas Tech is in a good position for the future. The Big 12 is thriving with talented and powerful athletic programs such as Kansas State, Oklahoma, Texas, and Baylor. Even though the Red Raiders finished seventh in the conference this season, they finished the regular season with a 7-5 record and will face Minnesota in the Meineke Car Care Bowl on December 28. Being mediocre in one of the best conferences carries much more weight than having eight, nine, and 10 win seasons when UC’s toughest competition in the conference will be Boise State and Navy. Plus, Tuberville is moving halfway across the country to a region with which he is not nearly as familiar. In his coaching career, Tommy Tuberville has always lived in the South. While at Arkansas State, Miami (FL), Texas A&M, Ole Miss, Auburn, and Texas Tech, his recruiting was focused in a completely different region of the country.

Tuberville brings a 130-77 record, 7-3 record in bowl games, an SEC Championship, and lots of questions to Cincinnati. Unless he knows something about the future of the Cincinnati Bearcats or the Big East that has not yet been announced, his choice to leave Lubbock, Tex. is highly questionable.

Ranking the 6 Power Conferences in College Basketball

The majority of the teams that make the NCAA Tournament every spring are from the Power 6 Conferences: the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Big East, Pac-12 and SEC. From year to year, the best college basketball conference varies. With three teams in the top five, the Big Ten takes the crown this year.

Big Ten

Ranked Teams

1. Indiana

4. Ohio State

5. Michigan

14. Michigan State

23. Wisconsin

All-Americans

Trey Burke-Guard-Michigan

DeShaun Thomas-Forward-Ohio State

Cody Zeller-Center-Indiana

The Hoosiers have taken control of the preseason #1 ranking thanks to Cody Zeller and depth unparalleled in the rest of college basketball. Courtesy of http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1319961-big-ten-basketball-predicting-the-2012-13-big-ten-stats-leaders

Big Ten basketball is back. The Indiana Hoosiers are the unanimous preseason number one team with the best player in the country. Ohio State returns junior DeShaun Thomas, who shot 52% from the field last season and doubled his scoring from his freshman year. The Buckeyes also have Aaron Craft, who is arguably the best defender in the country. Only Penn State and Nebraska, which are historically schools focused on their football programs, finished with a record below .500 last season. From top to bottom, the Big Ten has depth in teams and individual players. Minnesota, a middle-of-the-road Big Ten team, has a top prospect in power forward Trevor Mbakwe. Michigan sophomore guard Trey Burke is a preseason All-American in many sports outlets after averaging 14.8 points, 4.6 assists, and 3.5 rebounds as a freshman.

ACC

Ranked Teams

6. North Carolina State

8. Duke

11. North Carolina

25. Florida State

C.J. Leslie leads the Wolfpack to the top ten rankings and NC State is ready for a national championship run. Courtesy of http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/sports/college/mensbasketball/acc/story/2012-04-18/cj-leslie-nc-state/54385466/1.

North Carolina lost four starters and Duke lost two starters to the 2012 NBA Draft, which hurts the strength of the ACC this year. However, North Carolina State is taking over the reigns as a national championship contender because its top four players are returning from last season. C.J. Leslie, Lorenzo Brown, Scott Wood, and Richard Howell all averaged double-digits in scoring last year, when the Wolfpack made a Sweet Sixteen run. They also have the tenth best recruiting class, which is highlighted by shooting guard Rodney Purvis. The bottom of the ACC drops off quickly with teams like Boston College, Georgia Tech, and Wake Forest, which were significantly below last season.

Big East

Ranked Teams

2. Louisville

9. Syracuse

22. Notre Dame

24. Cincinnati

Peyton Siva is an electric guard and the motor behind the Louisville Cardinals. Courtesy of http://www.zimbio.com/pictures/9vA3Yb_luTk/East+Basketball+Tournament+Second+Round/k0L4kz6WMdR/Yancy+Gates.

Louisville was a surprise Final Four team in a region that featured Michigan State and Missouri as the top two teams. The Cardinals return a loaded roster with Russ Smith, Chane Behanan, Peyton Siva, and Gorgui Dieng, which is why they sit at the second spot in the preseason rankings. While Syracuse and Pittsburgh are set to join the ACC in July of 2012, the Big East will still benefit from the Orange’s top ten preseason rank. While ‘Cuse lost Dion Waiters, Kris Joseph, and Fab Melo to the NBA Draft, they bring back Brandon Triche, C.J. Fair, James Southerland, Rakeem Christmas. They also have the fifteenth ranked recruiting class for this year, with forward Jerami Grant, guard Trevor Cooney, and forward DaJuan Coleman. The Notre Dame Fighting Irish, who were ousted in the first round of the NCAA Tournament last season by the upset-minded Xavier Musketeers and Cincinnati Bearcats, led by their talented backcourt of Sean Kilpatrick and Cashmere Wright, are also ranked going into the season. Pittsburgh, Marquette, and Georgetown are all knocking on the door of the top 25.

SEC

Ranked Teams

3. Kentucky

10. Florida

15. Missouri

While the SEC is the perennial powerhouse in college football, it does not have much depth in college basketball. Outside of its top few teams, the conference is dismal. Kentucky is one of the best teams in country once again thanks to the best recruiting class in the nation with four ESPN 100 players. Nerlens Noel, Alex Poythress, Archie Goodwin, and Willie Cauley-Stein are the next class of potential one-and-dones who were recruited by John Calipari. Senior Kenny Boynton will have Florida in the spotlight this season. The newest school to the SEC, Missouri is ranked fifteenth in the preseason. Tennessee received some attention in the preseason rankings but is still far off from cracking the top 25.

Big 12

Ranked Teams

7. Kansas

19. Baylor

Kansas’ Jeff Withey is one of the best centers in college basketball and will be crucial to the Jayhawks’ success this season. Courtesy of http://www.zimbio.com/photos/Jeff+Withey/Ivo+Baltic/Las+Vegas+Invitational+Day+One/h5A83sDt-ft.

Overall, the Big 12 had a successful 2012 NCAA Tournament. Kansas made the National Championship game and Baylor made the Elite Eight. Three of its six teams lost to the eventual champion Kentucky. Former Jayhawks Tyshawn Taylor and Thomas Robinson are now in the NBA, which means that this year’s Kansas squad will rely on Elijah Johnson and Jeff Withey to take them back to the promised land. Baylor will be a prominent team on the national level. Texas, Oklahoma State, and Kansas State all received votes for the AP Top 25 but fell short of being ranked. Having Missouri leave for the SEC will hurt them.

Pac-12

Ranked Teams

12. Arizona

13. UCLA

Shabazz Muhammad is looking to bring back the glory days of UCLA basketball but that may be hard to do if he is only there one year. Courtesy of http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/ncaab-the-dagger/ucla-shabazz-muhammad-miss-2-4-weeks-due-005359555–ncaab.html.

Similarly to the SEC, the Pac-12’s top tier is elite and the rest of the conference struggles greatly. Arizona and UCLA are both bringing in top 25 recruiting classes and Xavier transfer Mark Lyons will certainly bolster the Wildcats’ lineup this season. The Pac-12 is looking to improve upon its overall performance last season, where only Colorado and California made the NCAA Tournament.

Sorting out the Top Undrafted Free Agents in the NBA of 2012

With only two rounds in the NBA Draft, a handful of talented graduated seniors and second round hopefuls are passed on and left to sign as undrafted free agents, play overseas, or start their post-basketball lives. Scouting reports of “He can’t create his own shot” or “undersized” or a recent injury scare teams off. Whatever the case may be, there was no shortage of undrafted talent this year.

Scott Machado-PG-Iona

Courtesy of http://www.draftexpress.com/profile/Scott-Machado-7024/

Machado lead the Iona Gaels to a 25-8 record and a berth in the NCAA Tournament as a 14 seed. He averaged 13.6 ppg, 5.0 rpg, and an NCAA-leading 9.9 apg. If his assist numbers aren’t enough for a point guard prospect, Scott Machado shot 49.5% from the field and 40% from behind the arc. According to the New York Post, Machado has heard from the Bobcats, Raptors, Cavaliers, Hawks and Rockets. The Atlanta Hawks are the best team on the Iona product’s radar, with a 40-26 record and a playoff berth last season. Between Joe Johnson, Josh Smith, Al Horford, and Jeff Teague, the Hawks have a number of offensive weapons for Machado to be successful in the NBA.

Kevin Jones-F-West Virginia

Courtesy of http://old.post-gazette.com/pg/10346/1109883-135.stm

Kevin Jones was the heart and soul of West Virginia’s men’s basketball team. As a senior, he averaged a double-double with twenty points and eleven rebounds per game. Jones was a major reason why the Mountaineers made appearances in the NCAA Tournament all four years that Jones was at West Virginia, including a Final Four run in 2010. Kevin Jones had interest from the Charlotte Bobcats as well as the Cleveland Cavaliers and signed with the Cavs yesterday to a three-year, partially guaranteed contract.

Tu Holloway-PG-Xavier

Courtesy of http://www.madduxsports.com/blog/xavier-vs-butler-former-conference-rivals-face-off-inside-hinkle-fieldhouse-20063/

Sadly, Tu Holloway will forever be remember for his role in the 2011 Crosstown Shootout brawl instead of his fantastic play as a Xavier Musketeer. Last season, Holloway lead the charge for the Muskies, who finished with a 23-13 record and made their third Sweet Sixteen appearance since Holloway’s freshman year. He averaged seventeen points, five assists, and four rebounds during his senior year. Holloway worked out for fourteen NBA teams before this year’s draft so it is likely that he will be invited to participate in the NBA’s summer league in Las Vegas in mid-July.

William Buford-SG-Ohio State

Courtesy of http://www.rankopedia.com/Best-Player-in-the-2011-NCAA-Men’s-Basketball-Tournament/Step1/23897/.htm

William Buford played significant minutes from his first year on campus at Ohio State. He averaged double-digits in points per game all four years as a Buckeye. His senior year averages were 14.7 ppg, 4.9 rpg, and 2.9 apg. His biggest contribution to Ohio State was his spot-up jump shooting and he can be a marginal player when outside of that role as a shooter. Buford was a member of the Buckeyes when they made it to two Sweet Sixteens. The Ohio State graduate has not had any offers from NBA teams but the international route is definitely available if he would like to continue his basketball career.

Henry Sims-C-Georgetown

Courtesy of http://themajors.net/detroit/?p=8473

Henry Sims took great strides in his off-seasons at Georgetown to progress from a player who averaged less than two points and two rebounds per game to a starter who averaged twelve points, six rebounds, and four assists per game his senior year. Watching Sims have the game of his life by putting up 22 and 15 against Yancy Gates and the Cincinnati Bearcats in the Big East Tournament showed me what kind of player he can be when at his best. Scouts questioned his passion for the game and why it took three seasons for him to put up the numbers that he did last year. The Washington Wizards worked out Henry Sims before the draft but with four players who can play center on their roster, it would be extremely difficult for Sims to make the team if they do invite him to join their summer league team.

Hollis Thompson-F-Georgetown

Courtesy of http://dc.sbnation.com/georgetown-hoyas/2011/4/22/2127300/hollis-thompson-georgetown-nba-draft-2011

After averaging thirteen points and six rebounds per game for Georgetown during his junior year, Hollis Thompson forgoed his senior year to enter the NBA Draft and must be regretting that decision after not hearing his name called for any of the sixty picks in the draft. Thompson is an excellent shooter, especially from the outside considering his size as a 6’8″ forward. He was a 44% three-point shooter during his three years as a Hoya and made an impressive 46% of his shots from behind the arc during his sophomore year. He worked out for the Washington Wizards and Indiana Pacers and will likely spark interest from an NBA team because of his combination of size and excellent shooting ability.

J’Covan Brown-G-Texas

Courtesy of http://news.cincinnati.com/article/20120312/SPT0101/303120160/Texas-doesn-t-lack-talent

It is hard to believe that a player who averaged twenty points per game in the Big 12 could go undrafted. Somehow, J’Covan Brown of Texas managed to do so. Similarly to Hollis Thompson, Brown left school after his junior year for the NBA Draft. Last season, he had four thirty-point games, including a thirty-four point performance, going 6-7 on three-pointers, against then #9 Missouri. While his rebound and assist numbers are low, J’Covan Brown is a proven scorer and those categories are not critical to a shooting guard’s success. The 2011-2012 Big 12 scoring leader will not be upset for long about being undrafted because he was picked up by the defending NBA Champions the Miami Heat as a free agent. The Heat could use some fresh legs and a good shooter like Brown to go along side of veterans Mike Miller, Shane Battier, and Ray Allen (if the NBA’s all-time leader in three-pointers made decides to sign there).

Casper Ware-G-Long Beach State

Courtesy of http://thefrontofficenews.com/2011/11/18/long-beach-states-casper-ware-is-primed-for-a-big-season/

Long Beach State had more last year than just a cool name, sweet jerseys, and an NCAA Tournament appearance. They also had senior shooting guard Casper Ware, who averaged 17.4 points per game. Ware was one of the leaders on the 49’ers and helped them to a 25-9 record last season. His best performances were his 28, 29, 30, 33, and 38-point games in the regular season, two of which were against Pittsburgh and North Carolina. Of Ware’s three offers, from the Brooklyn Nets, Houston Rockets, and Detroit Pistons, he chose to become a Piston as a member of their summer league team.

Jordan Taylor-G-Wisconsin

Courtesy of http://www.draftexpress.com/article/NBA-Draft-Prospect-of-the-Week-Jordan-Taylor-3633/

Jordan Taylor’s best season as a Wisconsin Badger was his junior year, in which he averaged eighteen points, five assists, and four rebounds per game. He shot 43% from the field and from behind the arc and had an 83% free throw percentage. While his senior year numbers weren’t quite as remarkable, he was still a very competitive player in the Big Ten and lead Wisconsin to the NCAA Tournament, where they lost by one point to the Syracuse Orange. Taylor drew interest from the Milwaukee Bucks and the Atlanta Hawks and settled on the Hawks because they start their summer league games earlier.

2007 NBA Draft Report Card

As much as it is to give draft grades the night of or the morning after, it is completely conjecture and virtually meaningless. The grader knows how players performed in college or overseas as well as how NBA teams fared in the previous season but it is unrealistic to predict how young players adjust to the new lifestyle in the NBA, whether it’s the hefty contracts, new friends, instant fame, new teammates, or a new coaching style. It is only fair to let some time pass for the players to pan out with their new teams. Five years seems like a good amount of time to make NBA Draft grades and this will hopefully be the first of many retrospective draft grades.

In 2007, it was Greg Oden who went number one overall and ended up only playing eighty-eight games in his NBA career. Kevin Durant was by far the best player taken in ’07 and Marc Gasol was the sleeper of the draft. 2007 may have been the year of the bust-there are only a few All-Star caliber players and an excess of draft picks who only lasted a few years in the NBA, if they even made it past the summer leagues.

Atlanta Hawks- B- –With two of the top eleven picks, Atlanta was in arguably the best position of any team in the league to improve its roster through the draft. Horford started seventy-seven games as a rookie and has averaged nearly fifteen points and ten rebounds per game since then. With the exception of the 2011-2012 season, in which he was limited to only eleven games due to an injury, he played an average of nearly seventy-seven regular season games per season. Horford has been a consistent role player who nearly puts up a double-double on a nightly basis. He panned out to be in the top three of the players classified as “forward/center” from the ’07 draft along with Florida teammate Joakim Noah and Marc Gasol. Acie Law IV on the other hand was a complete bust. Law only played two seasons for Atlanta, in which he averaged 4.2 and 2.9 ppg. He never played more than 56 games in a season and had career averages of 4.2 ppg, 1.2 rpg, and 1.6 apg. Law only scored twenty points or more once in his career, bounced around five different teams, and last played in the NBA in the 2010-2011 season for the Golden State Warriors.

  • Al Horford-3rd-F/C-Florida
  • Acie Law IV-11th (from Indiana Pacers)-G-Texas A&M

Boston Celtics- C- –Given that the Celtics’ two picks (one via a trade with Seattle) were both in the second round, Boston’s draft cannot be judged too harshly. They selected an average bench player in Glen Davis and Pruitt was only in the NBA for two seasons and averaged only two points per game in sixty-two games in that stretch. He played roughly seven minutes per game, which meant that he was on the court during garbage time. While Glen “Big Baby” Davis is the epitome of success in the NBA, he has managed to stay in the league and remain relatively productive. Davis lasted four seasons in Boston and was a member of their NBA Title-winning team in the 07′-08′ season. He has proven to be a 10 ppg and 5 rpg role player over the past two seasons but exceeded those marks with his 19 ppg and 9 rpg in last year’s NBA Playoffs.

  • Gabe Pruitt-32nd-G-Southern California
  • Glen Davis-35th (from Seattle Supersonics via trade)-F-Louisiana State

Brooklyn Nets (then the New Jersey Nets)- D –The Nets’ only draft pick in 2007, Sean Williams, turned out to be a bust. While he is still in the NBA, his number of games played has gone down each season from seventy-three his rookie year to eleven in 2011-2012. Williams was a member of the Nets for three seasons and scored his career high of 22 points in a game while in New Jersey. He was on the Boston Celtics’ roster for last year’s playoffs but played only six minutes in two games. His career averages are 4.2 points per game and 3.4 rebounds per game.

  • Sean Williams-17th-F/C-Boston College
Charlotte Bobcats- B- –Dudley is currently a starter for the Phoenix Suns and averages nine points and four rebounds per game. Davidson never made it beyond the NBA summer leagues.
  • Jared Dudley-22nd (form Toronto Raptors)-F-Boston College
  • Jermareo Davidson-36th (from Minnesota Timberwolves to Golden State Warriors to Charlotte Bobcats via trade)-F-Alabama

Chicago Bulls- A- –Given that two of Chicago’s three draft picks in ’07 were in the final twelve picks, their draft grade should only seriously consider the Bulls’ first pick at ninth overall. It is safe to say that without Joakim Noah’s presence on the Bulls, Chicago would not be one of the NBA’s top teams. He has grown into a forward/center who can average ten points and boards per game and do a little bit of everything. His passion and enthusiasm for the game certainly provide a spark for Chicago. The other center that the Bulls drafted in 2007, Aaron Gray, has not been nearly as productive as Noah in the NBA but he earned the starting position in the Toronto Raptors roster forty times last season. He played a very minor role for Chicago in his two full seasons as a Bull and averages four points and rebounds per game. Curry only played in one NBA game in his career and not only was it not for the Chicago Bulls but he did not accumulate any stats. He played preseason games for Chicago in the 2007-2008 season and one for the Brooklyn Nets last season.

  • Joakim Noah-9th (from New York Knicks)-F/C-Florida
  • Aaron Gray-49th (from Golden State Warriors)-C-Pittsburgh
  • JamesOn Curry-51st (from Denver Nuggets)-G-Oklahoma State

Cleveland Cavaliers- N/A –No draft picks

Dallas Mavericks- F –Even though Reyshawn Terry helped the North Carolina Tar Heels win the national title in 2005, he didn’t accomplish nearly as much at the next level. He played in the summer league after being drafted in 2007 but never made Dallas’ team and was playing in Europe by 2008. Similarly to Terry, Seibutis played on the Mavericks’ summer league team but was out of the NBA by 2008.

  • Reyshawn Terry-44th (from Orlando Magic via trade)-North Carolina
  • Renalidas Seibutis-50th (from Miami Heat)-G-Lithuania

Denver Nuggets- N/A –No draft picks

Detroit Pistons- A- –Detroit made the most of its two first round picks in 2007. With the exception of Sammy Mejia, who was waived from the NBA Development League by October 2007, Detroit’s picks turned out to be solid role players and starters in the NBA. Rodney Stuckey is still on the Pistons and averages fifteen points per game, four assists per game, and three rebounds per game while starting for Detroit. Arron Afflalo played only two seasons as a Piston but developed into a solid guard in Denver. In the past two seasons as a Nugget, Afflalo has averaged 14 ppg, 3 rpg, and 2 apt.

  • Rodney Stuckey-15th (from Orlando Magic)-G-Eastern Washington
  • Arron Afflalo-27th-G-UCLA
  • Sammy Mejia-57th-G-DePaul
Golden State Warriors- B –Wright currently plays for Dallas and averages six points and three rebounds per game. Belinelli is a member of the New Orleans Hornets and scores twelve points per game along with three rebounds per game. Lasme was only in the NBA for two seasons and averaged five points per game.
  • Brandan Wright-8th (from Charlotte Bobcats via trade)-F-North Carolina
  • Marco Belinelli-18th-G-Italy
  • Stephane Lasme-46th (from New Jersey Nets)-F-Massachusetts

Houston Rockets- B+ –Houston’s first two picks in the 2007 draft are now productive bench players in the NBA. Brooks played four seasons in Houston and at his peak in the ’09-’10 season he started all eighty-two regular season games, averaging 19.6 points per game and 5.3 assists per game. During the NBA lockout, Brooks went to China to guarantee that he could play last season. At his best, Carl Landry averaged eighteen points per game and seven rebounds per game for the Sacramento Kings. Landry has settled into his role as a 12 ppg and 5 rpg player. Newley played in the Rockets’ summer league and then went to Europe to work on his game, never actually making it to the NBA.

  • Aaron Brooks-26th-G-Oregon
  • Carl Landry-31st (from Memphis Grizzlies to Seattle Supersonics to Houston Rockets via trade)-F-Purdue
  • Brad Newley-54th (from Cleveland Cavaliers)-G-Australia

Indiana Pacers- F –The Pacers did not have any draft picks in ’07 but did trade for Stanko Barac, who never left Europe for the NBA.

  • Stanko Barac-39th (from Sacramento Kings to Miami Heat to Indiana Pacers via trade)-C-Bosnia

Los Angeles Clippers- C+ –Al Thornton played three seasons as a Clipper and averaged seventeen points per game and five rebounds per game in his second year in the league. He is now with the Golden State Warriors and has cooled off to average 12 ppg and 4 rpg over his career. Jordan has bounced around the NBA and in Europe but has only played in summer league and preseason games in the NBA.

  • Al Thornton-14th-F-Florida State
  • Jared Jordan-45th-G-Marist

Los Angeles Lakers- C –Crittenton played only one season with the Lakers and last played in the NBA in the 2010-2011 season. He averaged five points per game and two rebounds per game in his 113 games in the league. Yue only played one season in the NBA but did win a ring with the Lakers. He only played ten games for Los Angeles and scored only six points in that span. NBA teams always take a risk when taking international players but Marc Gasol may have been the steal of the draft as the 48th selection. He has spent his entire career with the Memphis Grizzlies, averaging 15 ppg, 7 rpg, and 3 apg, and he was named a Western Conference All-Star in 2012.

  • Javaris Crittenton-19th-G-Georgia Tech
  • Sun Yue-40th (from Charlotte Bobcats)-G-China
  • Marc Gasol-48th-C-Spain

Memphis Grizzlies- A –Conley averages twelve points and five assist per game in the NBA and is still the starting point guard for Memphis.

  • Mike Conley, Jr.-4th-G-Ohio State

Miami Heat- C- –The Heat had two draft picks in 2007 but traded both of their selections and acquired Daequan Cook out of Ohio State. He spent three seasons in Miami, averaging roughly seven points per game and two rebounds per game. Cook was on the 2012 Western Conference Champions, the Oklahoma City Thunder, and appeared in sixteen playoff games for OKC.

  • Daequan Cook-21st (from Denver Nuggets to Phildelphia 76’ers to Miami Heat via trade)-G-Ohio State

Milwaukee Bucks- C+ –The Bucks took a leap of faith with the sixth overall pick by taking Yi Jianlian from China. In his rookie and only season in Milwaukee, he averaged 9 ppg and 5 rpg. He is currently a member of the Dallas Mavericks and his minutes per game have decreased to only seven-a major drop from the 32 per game that he was playing as a member of the New Jersey Nets. Ramon Sessions played two seasons in Milwaukee and now plays for the L.A. Lakers as an upgrade from Derek Fisher. His career averages are 11 ppg, 5 apg, and 3 rpg.

  • Yi Jianlian-6th-F-China
  • Ramon Sessions-56th (from Houston Rockets)-G-Nevada

Minnesota Timberwolves- C- –Minnesota drafted a pair of Florida forwards in the 2007 NBA Draft. Brewer spent his first four seasons in Minnesota before going to play in Dallas, then Denver. He has averaged 9 ppg, 3 rpg, and 2 apg in the NBA. Chris Richard was a Timberwolve for two years before playing his final season in the NBA in 2009 as a Chicago Bull. He played in seventy games in his career, averaging two points and three rebounds per game.

  • Corey Brewer-7th-F-Florida
  • Chris Richard-41st (from Philadelphia 76’ers)-F-Florida

New Orleans Hornets- D –Julian Wright played for three seasons as a Hornet and one for the Toronto Raptors. He averaged four points and two rebounds per game and last played in the NBA during the ’10-’11 season. Haluska has only played in NBA preseason games for the Hornets and the Dallas Mavericks.

  • Julian Wright-13th-F-Kansas
  • Adam Haluska-43rd-G-Iowa

New York Knicks- C- –Chandler was a Knick for four seasons and now plays for the Denver Nuggets. His career averages are fourteen points, five rebounds, and two assists per game. Nichols bounced around a handful of teams in the NBA and played very limited minutes for the Chicago Bulls and New York Knicks.

  • Wilson Chandler-23rd (from Chicago Bulls)-F-DePaul
  • Demetris Nichols-53rd (from Chicago Bulls to Portland Trailblazers to New York Knicks via trade)-F-Syracuse

Oklahoma City Thunder (then the Seattle Supersonics)- A+ –Durant was far and away the best player in the 2007 NBA Draft. He won his third straight scoring title in the ’11-’12 season and lead the Thunder to the NBA Finals last year. He is a three-time All-Star, three-time NBA First Team member, and was the NBA Rookie of the Year in 2008. As if getting KD wasn’t enough, Seattle also drafted Jeff Green, who averaged 14 ppg and 6 rpg. He last played in the NBA in the ’10-’11 season for the Boston Celtics.

  • Kevin Durant-2nd-F-Texas
  • Jeff Green-5th (from Boston Celtics via trade)-F-Georgetown

Orlando Magic- F –Rakovic played in the NBA summer league but never made it to the NBA.

  • Milovan Rakovic-60th (from Dallas Mavericks via trade)-F-Serbia

Philadelphia 76’ers- B –Young has spent his entire career as a 76’er. He averages 13 ppg and 5 rpg and is a frequent starter for Philadelphia. Jason Smith played two seasons in Philly before going to New Orleans, where he started 29 times in the ’11-’12 season and he averaged nine points and five rebounds per game. Byars’ first regular season in the NBA was last year for the San Antonio Spurs. Hill played summer league games for the 76’ers but never made it in the NBA.

  • Thaddeus Young-12th-F-Georgia Tech
  • Jason Smith-20th (from Miami Heat via trade)-F/C-Colorado State
  • Derrick Byars-42nd (from Indiana Pacers to Portland Trail Blazers to Philadelphia 76’ers via trade)-G/F-Vanderbilt
  • Herbert Hill-55th (from Utah Jazz via trade)-F/C Providence

Phoenix Suns- D –Tucker was only in the NBA for three seasons and averaged only four points per game. He last played in the 2009-2010 season for Phoenix. Strawberry only played one season in the NBA, in which he averaged two points per game.

  • Alando Tucker-29th-F-Wisconsin
  • D.J. Strawberry-59th-G-Maryland

Portland Trail Blazers- C- –Greg Oden had just finished a fantastic freshman season at Ohio State and was the number one selection in the 2007 NBA Draft. However, injuries prevented him from having the NBA career that seemed so promising. In his two seasons in Portland, he averaged thirteen points and nine rebounds. Rudy Fernandez played three seasons as a Trail Blazer before becoming a member of the Denver Nuggets. Over the course of his career, he has averaged nine points, two rebounds, and two assists per game. Petteri Koponen never played in the NBA. Josh McRoberts is still in the NBA with the L.A. Lakers and has averaged five points and four boards per game. Lastly, Taurean Green only played seventeen games in the NBA, averaging two points per game.

  • Greg Oden-1st-C-Ohio State
  • Rudy Fernandez-24th (from Cleveland Cavaliers to Phoenix Suns to Portland Trail Blazers via trade)-G-Spain
  • Petteri Koponen-30th (from Dallas Mavericks to Philadelphia 76’ers to Portland Trail Blazers via trade)-G-Finland
  • Josh McRoberts-37th-F-Duke
  • Taurean Green-52nd (from Toronto Raptors)-G-Florida

Sacramento Kings- B- –Hawes played for Sacramento for three seasons and is now a member of the 76’ers. He has averaged nine points and six rebounds during his career.

  • Spencer Hawes-10th-C-Washington

San Antonio Spurs- C –Splitter has played the past two seasons in the NBA for the Spurs. He averages seven points and four rebounds per game. Williams was out of the NBA by 2009.

  • Tiago Splitter-28th-F-Brazil
  • Marcus Williams–33rd (from Milwaukee Bucks)-F-Arizona

Toronto Raptors- F –The Raptors did not have any draft picks in ’07 but acquired the rights to Printezis, who never played in the NBA.

  • Giorgos Printezis-58th (from San Antonio Spurs via trade)-F-Greece

Utah Jazz- D –Almond briefly appeared for the Jazz but spent most of his time in the NBA in the D-Leauge. Fesenko played 135 games in the NBA, averaging two points and two rebounds per game.

  • Morris Almond-25th-G-Rice
  • Kyrylo Fesenko-38th (from New York Knicks to Philadelphia 76’ers to Utah Jazz via trade)-C-Ukraine

Washington Wizards- B- –Young has spent most of his time in the NBA with the Wizards and has averaged 12 points per game in the league. Domonic McGuire plays for the Golden State Warriors after three seasons in Washington. He averages three points and four rebounds per game.

  • Nick Young-16th-G/F-USC
  • Domonic McGuire-47th-F-Fresno State

NBA Draft Instant Reactions

It was no surprise when former Kentucky forward-center Anthony Davis was taken by the New Orleans Hornets with the number one overall pick but the next fifty-nine picks remained mysteries until the official announcements from NBA commissioner David Stern. As expected, six Kentucky players were drafted along with a handful from UNC, Duke, UConn, Baylor, and Syracuse, and of course, this year’s draft had no shortage of European players that you have never heard of, with names that you wouldn’t dare to try to pronounce.

The Winners

  • Kentucky Wildcats-6 picks-Anthony Davis (1-NOH), Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (2-CHA), Terrence Jones (18-HOU), Marquis Teague (29-CHI), Doron Lamb (42-MIL), Darius Miller (46-NOH)
  • North Carolina Tar Heels-4 picks-Harrison Barnes (7-GSW), Kendall Marshall (13-PHX), John Henson (14-MIL), Tyler Zeller (17-DAL)
  • Syracuse Orange-3 picks-Dion Waiters (4-CLE), Fab Melo (22-BOS), Kris Joseph (51-BOS)
  • Baylor Bears-3 picks-Perry Jones III (28-OKC), Quincy Acy (37-TOR), Quincy Miller (38-DEN)
  • Boston Celtics-The Celts shocked the league by coming within one win from advancing to the NBA Finals after the Big Three were nearly broken up early in the season and despite Rajon Rondo trade rumors in the regular season. With the Big Three most likely losing a member, 37-year-old Ray Allen who became a free agent after the 2011-2012 season ended, Boston reloaded its roster with fresh legs and young talent, especially in its frontcourt. They added former Ohio State forward Jared Sullinger along with a pair of ex-Syracuse players-Fab Melo and Kris Joseph. With KG returning to the Garnett of his mid-twenties and Rajon Rondo playing in his prime, the Celtics could make another run at the Finals in the next few years in the post-Big Three Era.
  •  Houston Rockets-Houston seems to be stuck in a cycle of seasons around .500 and a roster with average players. However, the Rockets are looking to change that identity. They have made serious runs at acquiring Dwight Howard and made the most of their three picks in the top eighteen selections last night. With the twelfth pick, Houston drafted UConn shooting guard and NCAA national champion Jeremy Lamb. Four picks later they drafted Iowa State standout Royce White and completed their draft by selecting University of Kentucky forward Terrence Jones. If White can get over his fear of flying and Jones doesn’t butt heads with Houston’s coaching staff, then the trio of Rockets draft picks can change the culture in Houston as they mature over the next few years in the NBA.
  • Oklahoma City Thunder-OKC may have had the steal of the draft by picking up Perry Jones III, who slipped down to the 28th pick. Runners-up in last season’s NBA Finals, the Thunder made the most of their sole pick in the draft to improve their frontcourt and it gives them a player who could replace Serge Ibaka if they can’t sign him to a long-term contract down the road.
  • New Orleans Hornets-Drafting Anthony Davis with the first pick in the draft improved their future more than can be described in words but Austin Rivers and  Darius Miller take New Orleans’ draft to the next level. Along with shooting guard Eric Gordon, the Hornets could have a very formidable starting lineup in a few years.

What Were They Thinking?

  • Golden State Warriors-The Warriors certainly added some talented small forwards and centers by drafting Harrison Barnes, Draymond Green, Festus Ezeli, and Ognjen Kuzmic. And that is exactly why I am questioning their draft as a whole. Yes, Barnes was the best player available with the seventh overall pick and has great potential to develop into a very good player at the next level. Green is a fantastic leader and team player, someone who you would not question his passion for basketball. With Ezeli, it never hurts to add a seven-footer who can grab rebounds and contest shots. But did Golden State’s front office look at their roster closely enough before draft day? They only have three guards, their best being Stephen Curry, and none of them are players who can take over a game with their outside shooting or penetration in the lane. If they plan to deal Andris Biedrins or Andrew Bogut, who earn a combined $21 million per year, then I will feel much better about their draft because no team needs more centers than point guards and shooting guards combined.
  • Chicago Bulls-I have to wonder if Derrick Rose’s injury-prone 2011-2012 season that limited to only 39 regular season games and will likely have him missing much of next year caused the Bulls to start panicking. With the 29th pick, Chicago drafted Marquis Teague out of Kentucky, which means that the Bulls have three point guards in addition to their three shooting guards. Jae Crowder and Draymond Green were both available when Chicago was on the clock. As a Bulls fan, I would have been thrilled if either of those forwards were Chi-Town bound to learn from and play alongside Luol Deng, Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson, and Carlos Boozer. Instead, the Bulls got an insurance policy. Teague will get his share of playing time with D-Rose out but he will go to the bench as soon as the 2011 MVP returns to the court. Unless Teague changes positions as a Bull or Rose becomes an off-guard, the two point guards probably won’t be on the floor at the same time during most situations. As good as Teague may be in the future in the NBA and as much as the Bulls may need another ball-handler until Rose comes back, I would have preferred Crowder or Green.

The Most Anticipated Matchup

  • Boston Celtics vs. New Orleans Hornets-It will be a family rivalry that is unlike any other we’ve seen in professional sports. Coach Doc Rivers of the Celtics scheming defenses to stop his flashy shooting guard son Austin Rivers. You have to wonder if Doc Rivers will get a Father’s Day card in the mail after Kevin Garnett throws an elbow into the younger Rivers next season.

The Best European Names of the Draft

  • Kostas Papanikolaou-SF-48th pick-Greece-New York Knicks
  • Izzet Turkyilmaz-PF-50th pick-Turkey-Denver Nuggets
  • Tornike Shengelia-SF-54th pick-Georgia-Philadelphia 76’ers
  • Ognjen Kuzmic-C-52nd pick-Bosnia-Golden State Warriors

How Will Fab Melo’s Ineligibility Affect Syracuse?

It has been a season full of drama and scandal for the Syracuse Orange basketball team, from the child molestation accusations against assistant coach Bernie Fine to center Fab Melo’s three-game suspension for due to academic issues to making a run at an undefeated season. All things considered, it should have come as no surprise that the Orange made headlines during March Madness. Most fans would expect the national spotlight to be on ‘Cuse for making it to the Final Four or for some other basketball achievement in the tournament. Instead, on Tuesday, March 13th, two days before the start of the round of 64, the story broke that the number two overall seed would once again be without Fab Melo. However, this time around, the seven-footer would not be returning to the court anytime soon. Once again, due to his academic standing, Syracuse University ruled Melo ineligible for the NCAA Tournament.

Courtesy of http://espn.go.com/mens-college-basketball/tournament/2012/story/_/id/7681715/2012-ncaa-tournament-syracuse-orange-announce-fab-melo-ineligible-tourney

With a legitimate shot at making a National Championship run, the indefinite suspension was a major blow to Syracuse. The team made a statement the following day stating that their starting center did not let them down, but the Orange were only a two blown calls away from potentially being the first #1 seed to lose to a #16 seed in the first round in the history of the 64/68-team tournament. Facing UNC-Asheville on Thursday, the Orange found themselves down by five in the second half to the lower-seeded Bulldogs. Don’t tell me that his teammates and the Syracuse wouldn’t have been holding him partly responsible for that loss had the final few minutes turned out differently.

While Syracuse is very well-balanced on offense (seven players average between six and fourteen points per game), loaded with future NBA draft picks, and plays a stifling 2-3 defense, their opening game exposed a new team that could easily be on a plane home within the next week. Historically, 1 vs. 16 matchups tend to be blowouts by 20+ points. There are a few exceptions every few years where a 16 seed plays forty minutes of quality basketball and loses by a small margin, but typically these are the most lopsided games in the tournament. In a game that was supposed to be a cake walk, Syracuse suffered greatly from the abscense of its big man in the middle. UNC-Asheville’s forwards scored forty of the team’s sixty-five points and the Bulldogs were equally as successful on the boards by being only two rebounds shy of matching the Orange’s thirty-three rebounds. Syracuse is still a good team without Melo, but they lose the “intimidation” factor. Standing at 7’0″ and weighing 255 lbs., Fab Melo is monstrous and has a size advantage over almost every player that he is matched up against. The center averages eight points per game, but scoring isn’t necessarily his forté. He grabs an average of six rebounds per game to go along with three blocked shots each outing. While “shots altered” is not a statistical category for college basketball, if it was a recorded statistic, Melo would be somewhere at the top of the list. Even if he does not get the block or grab the rebound, each possession, opposing teams try to find ways to limit Melo because of his domination of the paint.

If Syracuse is going to make it out of the East region, it will need every player who gets significant minutes to step up his game to make up for Fab Melo being sidelined. With him, ‘Cuse was likely a shoe-in for the Elite Eight and even a candidate for National Champion, but without their big man, the Orange are much more vulnerable. The East is filled with forwards and centers who can take advantage of Syracuse without Melo. Jared Berggren of Wisconsin is 6’10” 235 lbs. (10 ppg, 5 rpg), Festus Ezeli of Vanderbilt is 6’11” 255 lbs. (10 ppg, 6 rpg), Xavier Gibson of Florida State is 6’11” 248 lbs. (7 ppg, 4 rpg), Yancy Gates of Cincinnati is 6’9″ 260 lbs. (12 ppg, 9 rpg), and Jared Sullinger of Ohio State is 6’9″ 265 lbs. (17 ppg, 9 rpg). These are a lot of numbers and may not tell us much about the matchups, but the point is that every team Syracuse could potentially face after the Sweet Sixteen has an extremely talented four or five man.

Syracuse’s tournament hopes are by no means squashed because Fab Melo is ineligible but they are severely limited. The Orange have enough talent on their roster between Kris Joseph, Dion Waiters, C.J. Fair, Brandon Triche, Scoop Jardine, Rakeem Christmas, and James Southerland to beat Kansas State in the round of 32 but they are in danger of getting bounced by Wisconsin or Vandy in the Sweet Sixteen. If the Orange have enough luck to squeak by to the Elite Eight, I think Syracuse comes up short of the Final Four.

It’s a shame to see a team with potential to win the tournament lose one of its key players but they are called “student-athletes” for a reason. No work, no play, and Fab Melo hurt his team greatly by failing to meet the academic standards required to be a college athlete.