I'm a day late, but here's my latest final four blog…
Last week I picked Florida/Louisville/North Carolina/Creighton to go the final four…of course, Louisville & Creighton lost during "Upset Saturday". And as we sit less than 2 weeks from Selection Sunday, I'll update my picks…again, I have the right to change until I turn in my bracket.
Florida – No reason to change this pick. #1 keeps on winning. 21 in a row as I type this with South Carolina this week…then they close with Kentucky!!!!
North Carolina – also keeps on winning. 12 in a row. I know they EEKED out a win over Notre Dame…and don't look now – Tobacco Road round Two is this Saturday night.
Virginia – Yep, I'm jumping on the UVA bandwagon…for now. NO ONE is talking about the Cavaliers but THEY (not duke or unc) won the regular season ACC title and with a win over Maryland, could finish 17-1 in the ACC. Their SMOTHERING defense & outside ability could push Tony Bennett's team to the F4.
Arizona – It's taken me a while to jump on the Wildcats bandwagon but this week, I'm in. Nick Johnson & Aaron Gordon are a lethal 1-2 punch. (Gordon should stay at AZ, btw). And did I mention the size of this team? They are HUGE at every position.
Sorry to Wichita State (I'm not a believer), Syracuse (something has changed lately) and Duke ( I just hate Duke)…
Until next week…ooooohhh baby – CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT WEEK!!
OK…Here we are just a few weeks out from the NCAA Tournament and the one thing I can tell you is this: I have no idea who’s going to make it to the Final Four. The field is so evenly matched this year that I can make an argument for about 12 teams. Each week I’ll give you my Final Four picks, but they will likely change often…
Creighton – one of the deadliest offenses I’ve ever seen. A hot shooting team like that can go deep especially with Craig McBuckets leading the way
Florida – Big. Physical. Can beat you inside AND out. So much talent on that team. How does Billy Donovan not get talked about in the “Mt. Rushmore” discussions?
Louisville – Maybe the best team CURRENTLY in college basketball. Just knocked off Cincinnati…oh, and they KNOW how to win- see: last year.
North Carolina – is anybody hotter than this team? 10 wins in a row & they’re the only team in the AP era to beat the top 4 preseason teams in the same year (Lou, KY, msu, Duke)
I could be 0-4 here…but who knows. What’s your Final Four as we sit 3 weeks from the Big Dance?
"After two Marquette games we've seen two different Marquette teams play. We saw Marquette struggle in the first game to put up points. They only made 13 baskets the entire game. And the second game was on the complete opposite side of the spectrum putting up 114 points. Although Grambling State hasn't won a game in over a year, 114 points is still pretty impressive seeing that was the first time they have done that since 2010 against Mississippi Valley State (102-77). So through the first two games this is what stood out to me the most:
Free Throws: The charity stripe hasn't been kind to MU over the first two games shooting below 65% in both. The first game they put up a remarkable 53 attempts, but only made 33. And in game number 2 they put up only 31, but managed to make only make 19. The combined percentage through two games is an abysmal 62%. If the poor shooting continues at the line, you will see games lost by this team because they didn't take advantage of the freebies. And with all the fouls being called because of the new rules, it is imperative they start converting on those free points.
Derrick Wilson has not shown he's the answer at point guard: I know it's only been two games, but what I've seen so far doesn't make me confident in his abilities to be the number 1 guy. In two games Derrick has taken two shots and scored one point. I know Derrick isn't an explosive offensive player, but he at least has to attempt to look like he can score. He has had open looks, but passes them up and I have yet to see him try to drive to the basket. I don't care if he misses, I would rather have him take shot to keep his defender honest. If he doesn't shoot, it then becomes 4 on 5 offensively and that will not work against a good team. His turnover to assist ratio isn't bad. He has 13 assists and only 3 turnovers, but a bulk of his assists (9) came in the second half against Grambling State. He needs to show me more from the beginning. John Dawson subbed in at point for Wilson, and honestly I felt he did a better job running the offense. The biggest thing was that Dawson was not afraid to put up a shot, and by driving hard to the basket he was able to create scoring opportunities for his teammates. Right now I feel more comfortable with freshman running the point than I do Derrick, and that worries me.
Deonte Burton is the best freshman so far: Burton's physicality has him the most ready for the physical beating that occurs in Big East play. His ability of getting to the basket and making some pretty tough shots has been really exciting to see. He is really good at creating his own shots, which is really important after the first game when only 3 guys really scored for Marquette. Burton put up 14 points and 6 rebounds against Grambling State. His instincts so far to find a way to the basket have really been impressive. Buzz even said he reminds him of Crowder in that Burton is able to create his shot when nothing is there. If Burton can continue to develop his game, he could earn some major minutes down the road.
The big test will come on Saturday against Ohio State, but through two games Marquette has shown us there's some talent here. The success will depend on how quickly they can put it together."
Our own Zach Klupchak will blog about the Marquette Golden Eagles all year! Here's his 1st installment:
Marquette opens the season tonight with one big question. Who’s going to replace 48% of their offense left from Junior, Vander, and Lockett? Stop me if you haven’t heard that before from a Marquette team. It seems every year Buzz Williams has to find a way to replace major holes left from players leaving, but with Blue’s abrupt departure this time seems different.
The good news is Buzz has his best recruiting class to date with Duane Wilson, Jajuan Johnson, and Deonte Burton, all top 100 recruits, who will look to make an impact quickly. Buzz will also return one of the best front courts in the country with Chris Otule and Davante Gardner and wings Jamil Wilson, Juan Anderson, Steve Taylor will look to improve on their success from last year.
The two guard positions will be were the most questions will come from. For the time being it looks like junior guard Derrick Wilson will run the point replacing Senior Junior Cadougan. Derrick has shown to be a great defender in his career so far, but his offense has been mostly non-existent. Buzz has already said he has begun to trust Derrick like he did Junior and with the injury to freshman Duane Wilson, Buzz will have to trust him even more.
The shooting guard position will be a battle between Jake Thomas and Todd Mayo to start out, but look for freshman Jajuan Johnson to push for minutes soon. Buzz has said Johnson has been the most impressive freshman so far. This team has the potential to be as deep as or deeper than last year. And last year’s team was able to play ten deep by the end of the season. The biggest challenge for Buzz to start off will be to find the right combination of players who fit well together and who will be able to put up the points left behind from Vander.
I honestly don’t see why this team can’t be as good as last years. They have returned everyone but three and have added a deep freshman class. As long as they can figure out the guard position and their front court stays healthy they have enough talent to make another late season run like in years past and with Buzz still the coach it will be tough to bet against that.
Rough week last week...went 1-5 (thank goodness for the Bears)
TIME TO BOUNCE BACK!
#19 Northwestern at Wisconsin -10.5
We'll learn a LOT about the Badgers this weekend. Can they stop the NW passing attack? Can NW slow down the UW running game? I think a win here would be HUGE for Wisconsin. It would show they can beat a good team, finally. They will, but it will be CLOSE and a shootout. UW 41 NW 38
#12 Okalahoma -13 vs Texas
Remember when the Red River Shootout was "can't miss" game? Not anymore. Thanks, Texas. BOOMER SOONER big 40-14
#2 Oregon -14 @ #16 Washington
Washington scored (albeit late) on the Stanford defense last week. Oregon will do their normal thing: score...can the Huskies keep up? I think so...another video game score: Ducks 41 dogs 38
Packers -3 @ Ravens
Not too many teams go INTO Baltimore as favorites. The Packers will...and they'll do it without Clay Matthews. Could mean Flacco throws all day with little pressure. SOMEBODY must step up and get to the QB...oh, and please keep Aaron Rodgers upright. Packers win by 1 27-26.
Jacksonville @ Denver -28
yes...it's a FOUR TOUCHDOWN SPREAD...The biggest in NFL history. Yikes. You can't hear that you'll lose by 28 all week and NOT come out fired up, right? I'll be the dummy that takes the jags +28. Broncos 48 Jags 21
Saints @ Patriots -2.5
Saints are rolling. The offense is great (as usual). But the difference just may be new defensive coordinator, Rob Ryan. New Englands offense may see Gronk back...this is a MONSTER GAME. NO 30 NE 27.
Last week: 3-2-1 (UGA/LSU was a push)
Season record: 11-12-1
OK...after a slow start, we've gaine a little ground...Here are my picks this week:
ohio state -8 @ Northwestern
The Badgers need an osu loss to get back in the race for the Leaders division (or is it the Legends?) Not a lot of loseable games on that osu schedule. Total heart pick. NW 31 suckeyes 30
Washington @ Stanford -7.5
I LOVE this Stanford team. They run. They throw. They play DEFENSE. And they'll beat Washington 30-20.
Arizona State -6 vs Notre Dame at JERRY WORLD
ASU got Lane Kiffin fired last week. They're CRAZY GOOD on offense. Hung 62 on USC. ND is 3-2. This AIN'T 2012. ASU BIG 31-13.
Lions at Packers -8
Keep Rodgers upright and Green Bay rolls. If not? The streak could end...it won't, but it won't be easy. LIGHT UP THE SCOREBOARD! Streak continues: 40-37
Saints -3.5 at Bears
Chicago has put out an alert for this Sunday. Expect a SEVERE case of Cutleritius. Symptoms include; pouting, turnovers, general douchbaggery and fighting with teammates. Oh, and Drew Brees is good at football. WHO DAT 36 chicago 24
Seahawks -4 at Colts
Last week i bet against the Seahawks on the road. Won't do it to many more times and not this week. This could be the best game of the weekend. Russell Wilson 26 Andrew Luck 21
Before you completely agree with me and blast me for not learning anything, hear me out.
When it comes to the Wisconsin Badgers football team, we've learned nothing. They're 3-2, with wins agains the worst team in the Big Ten and 2 W's vs a TERRIBLE fbs team & an FCS team. They lost on a fluke play at Arizona State and fell to the buckeyes in c-bus. To me that doesn't mean much. Does this mean they're TERRIBLE? No. Not by any shot. But to tell me that they're at the top of the Big Ten? Not yet. Wisconsin is GOOD. Not GREAT. Combine the 3 teams they've beaten? UMASS + TT + Purdue = 4-10 (3 for TT). The showing at osu was good. Hanging with th #4 team in the country? That's impressive. And I hear "A muffed punt and 1 hail mary and we win that game"!! ...sure, but you can't take that away. They happened. Great teams don't make those mistakes. Again, the Badgers aren't GREAT...they're good.
The running attack was taken away by ohio state, and QB Joel Stave responded with perhaps his best performance as the Wisconsin signal caller. The front 7 played well. The secondary? Well...And Kyle French? That missed fg changed a lot in that game.
Now they've got 2 weeks to get ready for Northwestern. At Camp Randall. On Homecoming. That's a darn good NW team. One that I've got ahead of Bucky right now. Maybe the Badgers will prove me wrong...but like you, I'm still trying to figure this team out...and I've learned nothing so far.
After a rough 1-5 week one, i bounced back to go 3-3 in week 2 and I'm looking for a good week 3!
Purdue @ Wisconsin -24
1 of 2 things can happen here: 1- Bucky can't shake the #SunDevilScrewJob from last week and lets Purdue hang around. 2- Gary Andersen gets this team to put ASU in the rear view mirror and focus on their Big Ten opener. I'll take the latter. Badgers roll 40-14
Michigan State @ Notre Dame -5 1/2
For some reason, the road team does really well in this series. So...i'll take Sparty 27-20.
Tennessee @ Florida -16
The Gators defense is GREAT. The offense? Not so much. The Vols were just embarrassed by Oregon. That should fuel them enough to stay close to the gators...right? Florida 27 Tenn 20
Packers -4 at Bengals
Two teams with deep postseason aspirations and lots of weapons...i'll take the guys with the better QB. Dalton & CO. can't keep up. Packers win 27-21.
Giants -3 @ Carolina
NY lost the 1st two games in 2007 but won the Super Bowl. They've dropped their 1st two in 2013. Carolina has lost their 1st 2 by a COMBINED 6 pts. Eli gives em a TD. I like the Panthers here 20-16.
Rams at Cowboys -1.5
St. Louis has plenty of weapons to ruin Jerry Jones' day. And they will. The Cowboys aren't great at home (18-14 at Jerry World). Rams pull the upset & we hear how bad Dallas is 30-14
Since i totally killed it last week (1-5) here's my 6 pack of picks for the weekend!!
#20 Wisconsin @ Arizona State -5
Badgers ground game keeps this close but the spread has cause UW problems AND Big Ten teams are 0-8 at Sun Devil Stadium. ASU 27 UW 24
#16 UCLA @ #23 Nebraska -4.5
UCLA rolled up over 650 yards on offense against Nebraska last year. The Blackshirts have shown NO signs of improvement (see: week 1 vs Wyoming) UCLA 36 Nebraska 30
#1 Alabama -8 @ #6 Texas A&M
I hate Nick Saban & Alabama...but I can't root for Johnny Football. The Crimson Tide are angry after losing to A&M last year. ROOOOOLLLLL TIDE 35 - 17 (side note- the hypocrisy of this game is insane. The ONLY reason Johnny Manziel is on this team still is because the NCAA wants TV ratings/$$$.)
Redskins @ Packers -7
Everyone thinks blowout...i think RG3 gain3d confid3nce in the gam3 vs the 3agl3s. Pack3rs win, but th3ir s3condary still has probl3ms. GB 26 Wash 21
Vikings @ Bears -6
Lose this one and the Vikings could be out of the NFC north race before October. Get ready for a heavy dose of AP, Chicago. Bears still too good to lose this at home. CHI 27 MIN 24
49ers @ Seahawks -3
GREAT way to end the weekend. Lots of hitting. Pain. PHYSICAL game. SF grinds out a win in a slugfest. Kaepernick over his video game buddy Russell Wilson 20-14