Generally there are 3 or 4 teams in a given year that can win a national title. By the middle of February you should know who those teams are and what their strengths and weakness are this year however what is so great is that we have 10 teams, if not more, with a real chance to cut down the nets in Atlanta this year. We are in for a delightful year of everyone’s brackets being busted after the first 2 days. Let’s just run down a few outside shots at winning it all this year
[zilla_alert style=”red”] Disclaimer: This list is not a ranking, this list is not in any particular order and I am probably leaving at least 3 teams that should be included I am just to lazy to do that much research. [/zilla_alert]
I love KU. Ihave no qualms about it so if I am going to write anything about college basketball I will probably write something about my team. That being said, they are not that good this year and that is a problem. For them to go to the Final Four let alone win the championship they will need to bench Elijah Johnson and put Naadir Tharpe in as their starting point guard. Jeff Withee, the seven-foot fifth year senior, will need to stop being so complacent under the basket and start taking over down low which he has done in the past. Lastly and probably most importantly, Ben Mclemore will need to start having more games like he had against K State (30 pts 7 reb 3stl) and be willing to take more shots and score. Ben is the real game changer he is probably the most athletic people on the court no matter who they are playing. With that said they do have many positive things to build on; Their defense has been remarkably consistent this year (except against OK State). They have one of the best coaches in the NCAA in coach Self and they have shown that even without having a legitimate point guard ( I am sorry Elijah you are playing out of position. You are a shooting guard who doesn’t have the handles or the court vision to be playing point guard) they can still beat very good teams.
Patino is one of the best coaches in the game but his signature full court press defense this year has been inconsistent. I believe that in order for Patino and company to do any celebrating or raise any banners this year, they need to try to calm Russ Smith down.Russ Smith can be infuriating to watch. He takes way to many shots when he should pass it. His penetration is doing great things for the offense but when he takes the shot instead of passing it he is leaving Gorgui Dieng in a situation to have to take over on the offensive boards instead of passing it out to their best three-point shooter, Kevin Ware, or passing it to Dieng and giving him the opportunity to be aggressive with the ball in his hands as opposed to the ball coming off the rim. Russ is really the key to this team winning or losing and when his shooting is off (which it is more often than not) it leaves his team in a precarious position. Without Russ out on the court they have almost no chance of winning but with him, it’s hard to tell what he is thinking about. In the 5 overtime loss to Notre dame, he continually shot himself in the foot by not watching the clock and taking an ill-advised shot, dribbling off his foot and then taking an ill-advised shot or not even taking a shot because he didn’t look at the clock and lollygagged his way up the court and couldn’t get the shot off in time.
Nerlens Noel is out for the rest of the year with a torn ACL, that really shot down their slim chances of back to back championships. While they had gained some steam they were far from the powerhouse that they were last year. I don’t see any way that they can get out of the élite eight, they are just too young and inexperienced.
Last year, the college basketball world held its collective breath waiting to see if coach Calipari’s system of getting what seemed to be all the one and doners (Definition:term used to describe a player who stays in college for a single year before bolting for the NBA) winning the championship and then restocking the team for the next year to do it again. Well, his system worked and they did in fact win the tourney and then lose most of their team to the NBA. This year however, Calipair didn’t have the upperclassmen to show the young players how to fit into his system; he didn’t have the leadership in the team to make them effective on the court all year-long so the purists of the game all took a nice long sigh of relief. (I know I am supposed to be talking about the teams outside of the top few who could win it all this year but I have thought about this Kentucky team all year and I just needed to get that out of my system)
Arizona has to be happy being in the PAC 10 even with their three big men not playing to their potential. Arizona is tied for the lead in their conference. If Brandon Ashley, Kaleb Tarczewski, and Grant Jerrett could just take over down low, Arizona would be a force to be reckoned. With Nick Johnson at the point and Mark Lyons as the shooting guard they should have steamrolled that conference instead they have lost three games and the only one that is really defensible is UCLA. Arizona have all the pieces that they need all they need now. It is now up to Coach Sean Miller to pick his team up and get them to play to their potential. These past two games, they have played like crap and I believe that they will struggle with Colorado and then set things right with their team against Utah. They have the best chance of winning the championship by far but it is all up to the coaching.