2010 NCAA Tournament Picks: East


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2010 NCAA Tournament: East Bracket Teams

  1. Kentucky (32-2)

    WHY TO LOVE: Freshman point guards don’t win the NCAA Tournament – unless they happen to be once-in-a-decade prospects. John Wall qualifies. Wall (16.8 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 6.2 apg) is one of the top players in the country and will be the No. 1 pick in the 2010 NBA Mock Draft.

    Wall is joined by three other great players. They include 6-11 freshman DeMarcus Cousins (15.6 ppg, 10.1 rpg), 6-9 junior forward Patrick Patterson (14.9 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 41.5 3PT) and freshman guard Eric Bledsoe (10.4 ppg, 35.5 3PT).

    Four Kentucky players hit better than 35 percent of their three-pointers: Patterson, Bledsoe, Darnell Dodson (37.2) and Darius Miller (37.5).

    For such a young team, a 7-2 road record is impressive. The Wildcats’ big victories outside of Lexington were at Florida, Mississippi State and Vanderbilt.

    WHY TO HATE: Inexperience is the only issue here. If Kentucky’s top players were upperclassmen, they’d be the clear favorite to win the whole thing.

    Doesn’t fulfill all five requisites in the Portrait of a Champion (returning head coach, scored 76 ppg, 10+ margin of victory, in the tournament last year, seeded 1-4).

    THE VERDICT: The Wildcats will probably be in the Final Four, and despite their youth, they’ll be in the mix to win it all. I like Kansas and Ohio State more than Kentucky, but Wall, Cousins, Patterson and Bledsoe are so good that they could easily come out on top.

  2. West Virginia (27-6)

    WHY TO LOVE: West Virginia is a hot team. They marched through the Big East Tournament, knocking off Notre Dame and Georgetown. They also won at Villanova earlier this month.

    Da’Sean Butler is a great player who has proved repeatedly that he can hit big shots in the clutch. Butler is a 6-7 senior forward who averaged 17.4 ppg, 6.3 rpg and 3.3 apg.

    Two other double-digit scorers: sophomore forwards Kevin Jones (13.5 ppg, 7.1 rpg) and Devin Ebanks (11.8 ppg, 8.2 rpg).

    WHY TO HATE: Five things – the most important being Bob Huggins’ dubious NCAA Tournament track record. Since 1997, here’s what happened whenever Huggins took a 25-plus win team into the NCAA Tournament: 2nd Round, 2nd Round, 2nd Round, 2nd Round, Sweet 16, 2nd Round, 2nd Round, 2nd Round, Sweet 16. Huggins’ NCAA Tournament record since 1997 is a mediocre 11-11. Thus, West Virginia violates Rule No. 3 of my NCAA Tournament Credo.

    Inexperience: Three of the Mountaineers’ top four scorers, including the point guard, are sophomores.

    West Virginia isn’t a deep team. Foul trouble could kill them.

    The Mountaineers don’t shoot particularly well; they hit 43.4 percent from the field and 33.6 percent from long distance.

    Doesn’t fulfill all five requisites in the Portrait of a Champion (returning head coach, scored 76 ppg, 10+ margin of victory, in the tournament last year, seeded 1-4).

    THE VERDICT: There will be tons of people picking West Virginia to advance to the Elite Eight or even the Final Four. Don’t fall into that trap. Don’t trust Bob Huggins. I won’t have his team making it past the Sweet 16.

  3. New Mexico (29-4)

    WHY TO LOVE: New Mexico has four double-digit scorers: junior guards Darington Hobson (16.2 ppg, 9.3 rpg, 4.5 apg) and Dairese Gary (12.6 ppg, 4.0 apg), senior forward Roman Martinez (13.9 ppg, 6.2 rpg) and sophomore guard Phillip McDonald (10.8 ppg, 3.2 rpg).

    The Lobos shoot tons of threes, but for good reason – as a team, they hit 37.6 percent of them. Hobson (37.8%), Martinez (42.1) and McDonald (39.8) are all lethal from beyond.

    New Mexico rebounds well and takes care of the ball; they’re very efficient.

    This team is 10-2 on the road, with great wins at UNLV and BYU.

    WHY TO HATE: New Mexico has no tournament experience. They haven’t been to the Big Dance since 2005, and they haven’t won an NCAA Tournament game since 1999.

    The Mountain West usually produces losers, which means New Mexico violates Rule No. 8 of the NCAA Tournament Credo.

    Doesn’t fulfill all five requisites in the Portrait of a Champion (returning head coach, scored 76 ppg, 10+ margin of victory, in the tournament last year, seeded 1-4).

    THE VERDICT: This is a solid team capable of making an Elite Eight run depending on the matchup. However, their inexperience could hurt if they are matched up against some of the better No. 1/2/4/5 seeds. They could easily be knocked out in Round 2.



  4. Wisconsin (23-8)

    WHY TO LOVE: Bo Ryan is one of the top coaches in the nation. His record in the NCAA Tournament is 11-8, and he has lost in the first round only once. It should be no surprise that Wisconsin allows only 56.1 points per game and turns the ball over only nine times per contest.

    Ryan’s 2010 club includes four double-digit scorers: senior guard Trevon Hughes (15.4 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 2.7 apg), junior forward Jon Leuer (14.9 ppg, 5.7 rpg), senior guard Jason Bohannon (12.0 ppg) and sophomore guard Jordan Taylor (10.2 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 3.6 apg).

    Hughes (39.6%) and Bohannon (41.1) are two excellent three-point shooters.

    WHY TO HATE: The Badgers were 5-5 on the road, but those five victories came against Penn State, Northwestern, Michigan, Indiana and Illinois. This means that they violate Rule No. 4 of my NCAA Tournament Credo.

    Wisconsin also violates Rule No. 5; the team averaged just 67.9 points per game. Their offensive struggles will be their undoing in the NCAA Tournament.

    Doesn’t fulfill all five requisites in the Portrait of a Champion (returning head coach, scored 76 ppg, 10+ margin of victory, in the tournament last year, seeded 1-4).

    THE VERDICT: Wisconsin never profiles well as an NCAA Tournament team, and the numbers always say they should lose in the first round. But that’s not going to happen because Ryan is such a great coach. However, the Badgers’ offensive struggles will prevent them from advancing past the Sweet 16 – if they even make it there.

  5. Temple (29-5)

    WHY TO LOVE: Temple has very good guard play with Ryan Brooks (14.5 ppg, 4.5 rpg) and Juan Fernandez (12.2 ppg, 3.5 apg, 44.7 3PT). Big man Lavoy Allen (11.7 ppg, 10.8 rpg) complements them well.

    The Owls take very good care of the basketball; they turn it over only 10.7 times per contest.

    Temple has a suffocating defense that yields only 56.8 points per game. Their three-point defense is spectacular.

    WHY TO HATE: Temple doesn’t shoot the ball well. The team as a whole hits just 43.3 percent of its field goals. And aside from Fernandez, no regular drills better than 32.6 percent from long distance.

    In addition to shooting poorly, the Owls have a sluggish offense in general, as they score just 65.4 points per contest. This means that they violate Rule No. 5 of my NCAA Tournament Credo.

    THE VERDICT: Poor-shooting, sloppy offensive teams generally don’t fare well in the NCAA Tournament. Temple could win a game, but the team probably won’t make it to the second weekend.

  6. Marquette (22-11)

    WHY TO LOVE: Marquette can beat anyone. They’re so dangerous from long distance; in fact, as a team, the Golden Eagles hit 40 percent of their threes. They are paced by Darius Johnson-Odom (47.5%), Maurice Acker (46.7) and David Cubillan (37.3).

    Of Marquette’s top six scorers, three are seniors. This includes forward Lazar Hayward (18.0 ppg, 7.8 rpg) and 5-8 point guard Maurice Acker (8.4 ppg, 3.7 apg).

    The Golden Eagles are hot. Entering the Big East Tournament, they were 9-2 since the end of January.

    WHY TO HATE: While Marquette can beat anyone, they can also lose to anyone. They rely on the long jumper, so if they go cold, they can get knocked out of the first round.

    The Golden Eagles are 5-5 on the road. However, none of their away victories came against a team in the NCAA Tournament.

    THE VERDICT: If Marquette hits its threes, it could be playing well into the second weekend. If Marquette is cold from outside, it could lose in the first round. I would not bet on a Sweet 16 appearance.

  7. Clemson (21-10)

    WHY TO LOVE: Senior forward Trevor Booker is a very good player (15.3 ppg, 8.3 rpg). He’s joined by junior guard Demontez Stitt (11.2 ppg, 3.3 apg, 36.4 3PT).

    The Tigers as a whole don’t shoot well from three-point range (33.5%), but they have three very solid shooters: Stitt (36.4), Andre Young (37.2) and David Potter (39.2).

    Clemson surrenders just 64 points per game.

    WHY TO HATE: Though they won at Florida State on Feb. 28, the Tigers aren’t impressive on the road. Their record is 5-6, and the other away victories were against N.C. State, UNC-Greensboro, Liberty and East Carolina. In other words, they violate Rule No. 4 of my NCAA Tournament Credo.

    The Tigers play sloppy basketball, as they turn it over 14.8 times per contest.

    Head coach Oliver Purnell has never won an NCAA Tournament game in his seven years at Clemson. He had 24-10 and 23-9 teams that lost in the first round. This is a violation of Rule No. 3 of my NCAA Tournament Credo.

    THE VERDICT: I don’t think the Tigers win a game, and it’ll be a miracle if they make it out of the first weekend.



  8. Texas (24-9)

    WHY TO LOVE: Senior swingman Damion James (17.7 ppg, 10.2 rpg) is one of the top players in the country. James is one of four Longhorns who average double digits.

    Along with James (39.5%), Avery Bradley (39.3) and Jordan Hamilton (36.7) are lethal from deep.

    The Longhorns rebound really well, thanks to James and Dexter Pittman (10.3 ppg, 5.8 rpg).

    WHY TO HATE: Texas started hot, but faded down the stretch. Starting on Jan. 23, the Longhorns went 6-8 to close out the regular season. Part of the reason was the loss of point guard Dogus Balbay. With Balbay out, Texas doesn’t have a true point guard.

    The Longhorns violate Rule No. 4 of my NCAA Tournament Credo. They were just 5-6 on the road. Their only impressive away victory is at Oklahoma State.

    Free-throw shooting is a problem. The Longhorns are 63.3 percent from the charity stripe.

    Three of Texas’ top five scorers are freshmen.

    It seems like Texas underachieves in the NCAA Tournament every year. I’m aware they’ve been to the Elite Eight and Final Four under Rick Barnes, but they continuously disappoint in March.

    THE VERDICT: The Longhorns are a freshman-laden team with no point guard that can’t beat good teams on the road. They’ll be lucky to make it out of the first round.

  9. Wake Forest (19-10)

    WHY TO LOVE: Three double-digit scorers here: sophomore forward Al-Farouq Aminu (15.7 ppg, 10.7 rpg), senior point guard Ishmael Smith (13.3 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 6.0 apg) and freshman guard C.J. Harris (10.0 ppg).

    Wake Forest is great on the glass; they’re one of the top rebounding teams in the country.

    WHY TO HATE: Wake Forest is ice-cold entering the NCAA Tournament; the Deacons have lost five of their previous six games.

    This team plays poor defense, allowing 68.4 ppg.

    The Demon Deacons don’t shoot the ball particularly well; they’re 43.8 percent from the field and 31.3 percent from three-point range. Only one regular, Ari Stewart, shoots better than 35 percent from downtown (37.5).

    Wake Forest violates Rule No. 4 of my NCAA Tournament Credo. They were just 5-7 on the road, though they did manage to win at Gonzaga (early in the year).

    THE VERDICT: I don’t think this team belongs in the NCAA Tournament. Barring a first-round matchup against a very flawed team, I’ll have Wake Forest losing its opening game.

  10. Missouri (22-10)

    WHY TO LOVE: No one wants to play Missouri. They press for 40 minutes and force tons of turnovers against teams with weaker point guards.

    The Tigers as a team shoot 37.2 percent from three-point range. Kim English (37.2%) and Marcus Denmon (42.7%) are lethal from deep.

    WHY TO HATE: The Tigers’ game plan abuses weaker point guards, but teams with a very good floor-general won’t succumb to all the pressure.

    Offensively, Missouri relies on the three-pointer too much. If the Tigers go cold with their long jumpers, they’ll struggle to score.

    All three of Missouri’s top scorers are sophomores. Inexperience will hurt.

    The Tigers violate Rule No. 4 of my NCAA Tournament Credo. They were just 4-6 on the road. Those four wins were against non-NCAA Tournament teams.

    THE VERDICT: How far Missouri goes really depends on which teams they play. If they battle weak point guards, they’ll win games. If they take on a strong point guard and a team ready to handle their press, the Tigers won’t have much of a chance.

  11. Washington (24-9)

    WHY TO LOVE: Washington is led by two outstanding scorers: senior forward Quincy Pondexter (19.8 ppg, 7.6 rpg) and sophomore guard Isaiah Thomas (17.1 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 2.9 apg, zero crappy trades).

    The Huskies are a great offensive team (79.8 ppg), and they rebound the ball very well.

    As a whole, Washington doesn’t shoot threes well (32.0%), but the team has three solid outside snipers: Pondexter (36.7), Elston Turner (35.4) and Scott Suggs (36.5).

    Lorenzo Romar is a solid NCAA Tournament coach. In his past three appearances, Washington has gone to the second round and Sweet 16 twice. Romar’s record in the NCAA Tournament is 5-4.

    WHY TO HATE: The Huskies violate Rule No. 4 of my NCAA Tournament Credo; they were just 4-6 on the road, beating only Stanford, Washington State, Oregon and Oregon State outside of Seattle.

    Washington’s defense is miserable; the team allows 69.8 ppg.

    THE VERDICT: Washington won’t make a deep run or anything, but the team is definitely capable of pulling an upset.



  12. Cornell (27-4)

    WHY TO LOVE: Cornell is led by three outstanding seniors, all of whom average double digits: forward Ryan Wittman (17.5 ppg, 4.0 rpg), center Jeff Foote (12.3 ppg, 8.2 rpg) and guard Louis Dale (11.9 ppg, 4.8 apg).

    The Big Red shoot terrifically from beyond the arc, nailing an amazing 43.4 percent of their threes. Five players make the long ball frequently: Wittman (42.0%), Dale (39.4), Chris Wroblewski (45.5), Jon Jaques (48.8) and Geoff Reeves (45.9).

    WHY TO HATE: Cornell has only four losses on the year. They played three top-level teams – Syracuse, Seton Hall and Kansas – and they lost all three games by 15, 10 and 5, respectively.

    The Big Red don’t rebound the ball very well.

    No Ivy League team has won an NCAA Tournament game since 1998, which means Cornell violates Rule No. 8 of my NCAA Tournament Credo.

    THE VERDICT: People love to pick Ivy League teams to pull an upset or two, but it never happens. This Cornell team is solid, but my bracket will have them losing in the first round.

  13. Wofford (26-8)

    WHY TO LOVE: Wofford, making its first ever trip into the NCAA Tournament, is a really hot team. They’re on a 13-game winning streak and haven’t lost since Jan. 22.

    Junior 6-6 forward Noah Dahlman is a very good player; he averaged 16.8 ppg and 6.3 rpg this season. He also shot 58 percent from the field.

    The Terriers play very good defense, limiting opponents to 61.2 ppg.

    Wofford has three solid three-point shooters: junior 6-2 forward Jamar Diggs (9.4 ppg, 37.3 3PT), senior guard Junior Salters (7.7 ppg, 36.5 3PT) and junior guard Cameron Rundles (6.6 ppg, 38.9 3PT).

    WHY TO HATE: I listed the points-per-game averages of Diggs, Salters and Rundles because they are the second-, third- and fourth-leading scorers on Wofford. This team has only one consistent scoring option, meaning they violate Rule No. 6 of the NCAA Tournament Credo.

    The Terriers are undersized and consequently have trouble on the glass.

    THE VERDICT: Wofford has a better chance of pulling off an upset next year when all of their top guys will be seniors. For now, a probable first-round exit.

  14. Montana (22-9)

    WHY TO LOVE: Senior guard Anthony Johnson had one of the most dominant performances I’ve ever seen in the Big Sky Championship. Despite whatever Weber State tried, Johnson found a way to score, bringing Montana back from a huge deficit. Johnson finished with a whopping 42 points, most of which came in the second half. As Al Davis would say, “Anthony Johnson… is a… great player…”

    Montana shoots the three ball very well. The team as a whole shoots 40.4 percent from long range. Johnson (46.4%) and Ryan Staudacher (46.3) are two of the best long-range shooters in the country.

    The Grizz were 7-7 on the road this year, but knocked off Oregon and nearly defeated Washington.

    WHY TO HATE: Like most mid-majors, Montana has a few flaws. There are two glaring ones:

    First, the Grizz don’t rebound well. More importantly, they violate Rule No. 6 of my NCAA Tournament Credo; they’re a one-man show. Aside from Johnson, no one averages double figures.

    THE VERDICT: Johnson is awesome, and Montana’s three-point shooting is deadly. They’re more than capable of knocking off a first-round favorite. But a one-man army can only take a team so far in the Big Dance. A Sweet 16 appearance is unlikely.

  15. Morgan State (27-9)

    WHY TO LOVE: Morgan State has one of the top scorers in the nation. Senior guard Reggie Holmes averages 21.9 ppg and 4.3 rpg. He also shoots 36.2 percent from long distance.

    Complementing Holmes are two double-digit scorers: sophomore forward Kevin Thompson (12.7 ppg, 12.0 rpg) and freshman forward Dewayne Jackson (10.1 ppg, 4.3 rpg). Jackson is the team’s top three-point shooter, hitting 43.2 percent of his long-range jumpers.

    Morgan State’s coach looks like an older version of Carlton from the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

    WHY TO HATE: With Holmes and Jackson shooting threes so well, it might be surprising that Morgan State collectively hits 33.4 percent from beyond the arc. That’s because so many other players shoot threes inaccurately. No other regular nails better than 26 percent of his threes.

    The Bears are 0-4 against NCAA Tournament teams this year; they’ve lost to Louisville by 9, Minnesota by 30, Baylor by 16 and Murray State by 9.

    No MEAC team has an NCAA Tournament win since 2001.

    THE VERDICT: Morgan State could give a No. 2 seed some trouble early in the game, but I’ll be really surprised if the Bears pull an upset (unless they’re matched up against West Virginia and the choking Bob Huggins).

  16. East Tennessee State (20-14)

    WHY TO LOVE: Three solid players: junior 6-4 forward Tommy Hubbard (14.1 ppg, 8.3 rpg), and junior guards Micah Williams (12.5 ppg) and Justin Tubbs (12.0 ppg).

    WHY TO HATE: This team is just not that good. They turn the ball over a lot (14.9 per game). They don’t rebound well. They’re undersized. They don’t shoot well from the field (43.5%) or from three-point range (31.0).

    THE VERDICT: East Tennessee State doesn’t have the three-point shooting to knock off a No. 1 or 2 seed.



2010 NCAA Tournament: East Bracket Picks


2010 NCAA Tournament: East Bracket First Round


#1 Kentucky over #16 East Tennessee State
Somewhere out there, some ignorant person is looking at this bracket and thinking, “I didn’t know East Tennessee is a state!”

#9 Wake Forest over #8 Texas
Texas is 2-9 against the spread in their previous 11 games. Ever since they lost their point guard to injury, they’ve been terrible. Everyone on ESPN was saying how Texas could give Kentucky a tough time. I don’t think the Longhorns make it past Wake Forest.

#5 Temple over #12 Cornell
Epic fail on Jay Bilas’ part for saying that Cornell should have been a No. 5 seed. No Ivy League team has won an NCAA Tournament game since 1998.

#4 Wisconsin over #13 Wofford
Bo Ryan is an awesome coach. I’ll be shocked if the Badgers lose to Wofford.

#6 Marquette over #11 Washington
Washington can’t hit threes or win on the road. Teams that can’t win away from home are usually bounced early. I also like Marquette’s experience.

#3 New Mexico over #14 Montana
Montana guard Anthony Johnson had a great performance in the Big Sky Championship, literally scoring at will in a great comeback win. But New Mexico is not Weber State.

#10 Missouri over #7 Clemson
Simple logic: Missouri leads the country in forced turnovers. Clemson turns the ball over a lot.

#2 West Virginia over #15 Morgan State
Somewhere out there, some ignorant person is looking at this bracket and thinking, “I didn’t know Morgan is a state!” Oh wait, I used that joke already. Damn it.



2010 NCAA Tournament: East Bracket Second Round


#1 Kentucky over #9 Wake Forest
Wake Forest has talent, so Kentucky better take them seriously. The Wildcats win a game that might be close.

#4 Wisconsin over #5 Temple
These teams pretty much mirror each other; they’re both defensive clubs that have very good guard play. I give the edge to Wisconsin because of Bo Ryan, but either team could easily win this game.

#6 Marquette over #3 New Mexico
I’m not going to pick a top-level Mountain West team over a top-level Big East squad. The Mountain West has a dubious track record in the NCAA Tournament. I don’t trust any of their four representatives.

#2 West Virginia over #10 Missouri
Missouri can beat any sloppy team that gives the ball up too much. Unfortunately, West Virginia doesn’t turn the ball over often. The Tigers also struggled on the road this year, which doesn’t bode well for their chances.



2010 NCAA Tournament: East Bracket Sweet 16


#1 Kentucky over #4 Wisconsin
Wisconsin is a very solid, well-coached basketball team, but the Wildcats just have too much talent and athleticism.

#6 Marquette over #2 West Virginia
I like Marquette, but this is more of a play against Bob Huggins. Since 1997, here’s what happened whenever Huggins took a 25-plus-win team into the NCAA Tournament: 2nd Round, 2nd Round, 2nd Round, 2nd Round, Sweet 16, 2nd Round, 2nd Round, 2nd Round, Sweet 16. Notice a trend?



2010 NCAA Tournament: East Bracket Elite Eight


#1 Kentucky over #6 Marquette
To put it simply, Kentucky is not losing until they get to Indianapolis. They’re just way too good.



2011 NCAA Tournament Picks:
Sweet 16 Redo | East | West | Southwest | Southeast | Final Four | Winning Tips | 2011 NCAA Tournament Home
2011 NCAA Tournament Bracket Breakdowns:
West | East | Southwest | Southeast | Final Four | Schedule
2011 NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 Breakdowns:
West | Southeast |
2011 NCAA Tournament Preview:
ACC | Atlantic 10 | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Mid-Majors | Mountain West | Pac 10 | SEC



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