Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Is it March Yet?

I'm ready, don't know about you. It's been a fast winter b-ball season, in my opinion. Seems like only yesterday I was watching Boise State taking care of business in the Fiesta Bowl against Okla-homa. How 'bout those Broncos?

And finally, March is just about here (in roughly three more hours west-coast style). Let the madness begin. Actually, if you follow or play in the BIG -12 you can say let the madness continue. Wow, did anybody else see that Longhorn / Aggie game tonight? One of if not the best game played in CBB this year by far. Acie Law IV and Kevin Durant are leaders amongst throngs of followers. I wish my Illini had someone like that to take care of business on the court. Both are tremendous players. And for such young guys, both seem to capture the essence of their coaches as leaders on the floor. That's pretty special stuff when you consider Durant is just a freshmen.

OK, so as we head into March, here are a few thoughts and observations I've been carrying around with me deep inside:
  • What a crazy year in CBB this year. I dont' see a clear #1 overall seed just yet. Maybe UCLA or maybe Ohio State. Sure, there are a few other squads to consider like Florida, Carolina, and Kansas. But all of these schools have proved one thing to me this year; they can each lose over and over again. There is no single dominant team in the nation right now.
  • Which conference is the strongest in the land this year, top to bottom? My first instinct is to go with the usual suspect in the ACC. I mean, even with both Carolina and Duke being down this year a little (mostly Duke), we still see a lot of great ball from Maryland, BC, NC STATE, VA TECH, VIRGINIA, and FLORIDA STATE. Only Miami and Wake have been on the outside looking in most of the season.
  • But, lately - I've been giving the BIG-10 and the BIG-12 a lot more thought and love. Let's start with the BIG-10: Ohio State and Wisconsin are no-brainers. Both would be great choices as #1 seeds in the tourney. Indiana has fallen off a little bit down the stretch, but has had a great year nonetheless under Sampson. And how about SPARTY, Illinios, Purdue, and Michigan of late? I think Penn State, Northwestern, and Iowa are the only teams that really don't have much of a case for the big dance. The BIG-10 may deserve 7 invites, but will likely only get 6 at most.
  • And how about the BIG-12? Is there a deeper conference in the land top to bottom? I'm not sure. We know about Kansas, A&M, and Texas. But what about Texas Tech, Kansas State, Missouri, and Oklahoma State? Sure, each of these teams has disappointing losses. But, they also have some impressive victories. Again, the level of competition here is what I'm talking about. It may not get much better than the BIG-12.
  • So, who are my #1 SEEDS right now? Stress the right now (2/28). I gotta say that Florida has been disappointing of late. You gotta finish strong down the stretch in February to earn a great seed in March. I know the conference tourneys are next week and that lots can happen between now and selection sunday. That being said, here are my 4 #1's in priority order: UCLA, Ohio State, A&M, and Carolina. Of course this could change. Florida has a great chance to creep up. Same for Kansas and Wisconsin. But other than these top schools, I don't seen anyone else sneaking into the debate.
  • And what happens in the tourney this year? Is it finally the year a 16 seed downs a #1? Or, should we just be happy with a #15 beating a #2? Perhaps it's the year we get all #1's to the Final Four. Or, is it the year of a mid-major to breakthrough on the national scene by going all the way to Atlanta and cutting down the nets?

It's March - and the madness is here (or at least alive and well in my head). Good luck with your brackets this year. It's that most wonderful time of the year. Should be interesting.

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