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SportsPower Picks

Posted by Trish18 Mar 3, 2009

March Madness is just around the corner. Follow along with us as we track the teams and reveal who will make the field of 65 in Men’s Div. I hoops on the March Madness predictor. Here’s how our favorite bloggers see things shaping up as we head into the NCAA tournament: on why Duke Could Win the National Championship:'s Gary Parrish continues to rank Duke as a Top 10 team. Gary's readers continue to send him hate mail for not hating on the Blue Devils.


Who is right? Parrish, without a doubt. Not only are the Blue Devils one of the nation's best clubs, but Duke also deserves significantly more national championship consideration than the Blue Devils have received to date.


Gary is right to praise Duke's body of work. The Blue Devils are 12-5 against the RPI Top 75 and haven't lost to a team outside the RPI Top 50. More importantly, the Blue Devils are also the only team in the country that ranks in the Top 12 in both offensive and defensive efficiency. Duke is the country's sixth most prolific team on offense, averaging 1.17 points per possession, and seventh most stingy team on defense, allowing opponents only 0.88 points per possession.


Who besides Duke may cut down the nets in April? Connecticut, North Carolina, Missouri, Kansas, and BYU. (Ok, maybe not BYU). All five clubs (the Cougars included) are among America's 20 most efficient clubs on both offense and defense. with a look into the ACC:


The ACC has had a ton of upsets this year and there are two schools of thought about the strength of the ACC this year. Either you think this conference is so good that anyone can win on any given day or it is a conference that is overrated and not nearly as strong as the rankings.


North Carolina has been the favorite in all future books to win it all since the end of last season. If its possible for a team to be a little disappointing with only 3 losses this would be the case. Only one of there losses is to another top ranked team. Consistent defensive lock down play has been the problem in all of there losses this year. Definite #1 seed and will get to play pretty close to home first four games. Don't think they have enough depth in the back court to win 6 in a row. Final four for this team but no further.


Duke has had a very nice year and even though they still lack the inside presence they only have 5 losses and if they win out would split the conference title with UNC. Coach K has this team trying to avenge early losses the last two years in the NCAA tournament. This team looks like a #3 seed for this year’s big dance. Another 2nd round loss is a high probability. 2nd round games verse a #6 seed from a power conference like the Big East Syracuse or Pac 10 team like Stanford would give this team fits. No sweet 16 for Duke for third year in a row.


Wake Forest has been a welcome surprise for the ACC this year. Teague has been unbelievable and will be up for conference player of the year. This team is extremely hard to play against with there length and athleticism at all positions. This team is going to finish strong and end up with #2 seed come March Madness time. Love there chances to win it all will need Teague to keep up his scoring and play making. Definitely think they could beat any team out there and will be a force to at least the Final Four.


Boston College has beat both Duke and UNC this year but have also lost to Harvard. Very inconsistent team that can struggle to score when PG Rice is not hot from the field. Will get in due to there huge wins against the top two teams in the league but not a fan of a team that plays in spurts. Most likely will be a #9 seed that gets pounded first game.


Six ACC teams are for sure in for Craig but have three teams on the bubble with a chance to earn there berth: Virginia Tech, Maryland, and Miami Fl.


YahooSports blog, The Dagger, on Georgetown’s chances this year:


This year, way, way before any basketball was played, we anointed the Big East the Best Conference Ever™. That included Georgetown and Notre Dame, two teams that were supposed to be as good as any in their conference. They were supposed to challenge for the Big East, to push the conference over the top, to help get some insane number of bids so we all could say, yep, look at that Big East. Best Conference Ever™. After the bad loss to Louisville at home, it's official now: Georgetown is not that team. The Big East is not that conference.


Georgetown isn't improving. They're not regressing, either. They're just playing ... OK. And even if the Big East isn't as good as we said, even if our expectations for the now top-heavy conference were way too high, even if the only people who still think that way are named "Bob Huggins" -- OK basketball doesn't cut it in that conference. You have to be good. The Hoyas, conclusively, are not.


Andy Katz on why Oklahoma could be considered the best team in the country:


1. The Sooners have the best overall player and inside player in Blake Griffin;

2. Opposing defenses have trouble deciding who to lock down on the perimeter with the capability of three 20-plus point scorers in Willie Warren, Tony Crocker and Austin Johnson;

3. The Sooners added a sixth starter-quality player in Juan Pattillo in midseason, a wing who can defend multiple positions and can be a double-digit scorer off the bench.


The Final Word with an inside look into what the March Madness selection is all about:


The selection exercise was the most eye-opening, incredible experiences I've had in my relatively short career as a member of the sportserati. It was a glance into the overwhelming responsibility that these 10 people have every March, with millions of dollars and the interest of an entire nation on the line. But be sure of this: there was very little basketball in that room, and even less poetry. For a game that features the pure simplicity of propelled ball up into a raised goal, followed by the placid swish, that's plenty ironic.

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There are few states that can match passion for a sport like Indiana has for basketball. ESPN is currently hosting a debate regarding which state is the best basketball state—they are down to the final four and Indiana is still in the running. Growing up in the Midwest, Indiana is the first state that comes to my mind when I think of passionate basketball fans and players. 


Our friends over at took some time out from delivering quality high school basketball coverage on their site to answer a few questions for us about basketball in their state and what being a Hoosier is all about.  


1. Which of these players do you think will be the 2009 Indiana Mr. Basketball and why? Patrick Bade - Franklin Central, DJ Byrd - North Montgomery, Derek Elston – Tipton, Jordan Hulls - Bloomington South, Colt Ryan – Batesville, Stephan Van Treese - Lawrence North, Scott Wood – Marion


We would love to see each of these guys get Mr. Basketball, although we both know that isn't realistic. They all have worked their tails off these last four years, and we would hate to single any one kid out.


Some of our favorites, respectively, include Jordan Hulls from Bloomington High School South, Colt Ryan from Batesville High School and Stephan Van Treese from Lawrence North High School in Indianapolis, Indiana.


Hulls is the best player on his team on arguable the best team in the state, which is now ranked 4th nationally according to USA Today. He is headed to IU next year and can shoot the rock- something like 50% from deep.


Colt Ryan is a true leader and knows how to carry his team, if you haven't been keeping up with his season this year. Colt is headed to Evansville University next year and I can only imagine him fitting seamlessly into their program.


Stephan Van Treese, the kid has been under the radar since we can remember. He played varsity with teammates Greg Oden and Mike Conley.


There are numerous other D1 players on his Lawrence North team, so you can imagine why his numbers are blowing anyone out of the water. This kid is the real deal—both Louisville fans and Rick Patino realize it.


2. If you had to pick one Indiana high school basketball team that impresses you the most—which would you choose and why?


Bloomington South, hands down. We have been following them for the last few years pretty hard. Their atmosphere is true Indiana High School Basketball hysteria, their student section is prime and did I mention they are ranked 4th in the country? Hulls, Davis, Fromm and new comer Spencer Turner have been a blast to watch, this year especially. These guys are lethal. Let's see if they can manage to grab the title this year.


3. What piece of advice would you give athletes who are going through the recruiting process?


Don't let it get to you, no matter how many letters are in the mailbox. Keep a level head and go out and do your thing everyday. Work hard to play hard. Your hard work will pay off, believe! Parent's, don't push your kids too hard. Now-a-days a lot of kids are getting burnt out so early because of year around practice and crazy parents. Push them, encouragingly, reward for the good things they do and make it fun for them.


I once knew a kid who would shoot free throws outside right after school, in the dead of winter, as a fifth grader, until he would make 50 in a row. Then he'd come inside and log his hours on a calendar then head to Greene County, Indiana to watch players like A.J. Graves and Brody Boyd.


He still logs his hours to this day, even as he practices at Butler University, where he plays now. Yea, all Pistol Pete style...but if basketball is truly in your heart, I'm sure you understand exactly what we're saying.


4. A member of our community points out that implementing class basketball might be responsible for detracting from “Hoosier Hysteria”. As someone who shares a passion for Indiana high school basketball and is immersed in the scene, I’d love to get your thoughts on the matter. He says:


For about 30 years, starting out as child, I had the privilege of attending the HS boys basketball Final Four. 15,000 at Hinkle, 17,000 at Market Square and even 30,000 at the dome. That was before "class basketball." This year, I attended the class finals at the downtown field house. There were no more 6,000 fans there for any one of the four games. Has class basketball damaged the passion of Indiana high school basketball?


Well, I'm not sure you really need to have 15K screaming fans to make Indiana High School Basketball have that Indiana HS Basketball feel, know what we're saying? We've been in gyms that only hold 2K people and are packed, standing room only, dripping in sweat, cheering, and it's been a BLAST!


We will have to admit though, that because of class basketball, conference championships, respectively, seem meaningless. It seems, since single class basketball was before my time, that for smaller schools, the state championships were the sectional championships, and if you were lucky enough to win those- good for you!


Bobby Plump (the man who hit the most famous shot in the history of Hoosier Hysteria. It was the shot that gave little Milan High its miracle state title in 1954 over powerhouse Muncie Central and spawned a Cinderella story told a million times over, most notably in the movie "Hoosiers.") said, "Since they went to class basketball, Milan has been to the semi-state twice, and nobody knows it," Plump said. "That gives you the idea that people don't care. The sectional winners in the old days will be remembered a long time after the four state champions are remembered…When you can play, you want to play against the big boys. You might get your brains beat out, but it won't be the last time that happens in life."


5. On a related note, I was following ESPN Rise’s Great State Debate on which state has the most passionate basketball fans. They nominated New York, Illinois and several other states as belonging in the bracket that fans would ultimately vote on. But they selected Indiana as on the bubble for even being included in this discussion and made the fans vote it in over a couple other bubble states. I couldn’t believe Indiana didn’t make the initial cut. The fan support from the Hoosier state ended up being overwhelming and Indiana made it in the group of states to be considered as the best. Could you talk a little bit about what it’s like coaching basketball in one of the most passionate, storied states in the country and what it means to you?


High school basketball is something that will always be instilled in Indiana culture; it's a way of life here. If anyone has, or maybe even hasn't, traveled up to New Castle, Indiana and seen the Indiana High School Basketball Hall of Fame, I'm sure you are familiar with they saying, ""In 49 states, it's just basketball … This is Indiana."


The movie, "Hoosiers," seems to really hold true as to how basketball is here. It still seems kind of funny when I'm out in Florida or somewhere and see the movie on the Blockbuster shelf. Yes, it still brings a big goofy, involuntary, smile to my face...I mean, how could it not.


6. has Bloomington South ranked the best in the state. Do you think they have what it takes to continue the momentum through the post-season and win a state title?


Bloomington South seems SOLID. After their win against Detroit Country Day, it's hard telling what all the Panthers are capable of. We would love to see them finally grab a title, but you can never be too sure. If everyone stays health, keeps on the same track they are on now...they should have little trouble.


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