We are on the eve of the greatest 3 weeks in sports, the NCAA Tournament, which starts tomorrow evening with the first four in Dayton, OH. This tournament always supplies crazy finishes and amazing stories. This year shouldn't be any different. I just finished filling out my one and only bracket sheet and will go through each region giving my Power Conference Player to Watch, Mid Major Player to Watch, sleeper picks, potential upsets, and culminating with my Final Four picks and my national champion. So here we go...
Power Conference Player to Watch: Anthony Davis, Kentucky,
He changes things on both sides of the floor. The future #1 pick of the NBA draft has reach so long and can block almost any shot he seems like Plastic Man! He has dominated the paint offensively and defensively this season so much that their opponents fear taking anything down low. There are more than a few players with Spalding tattooed on their foreheads. If they make the run everyone expects then he should shatter the total blocks record for the tournament.
Mid Major Player to Watch: Mike Moser, UNLV
The man averages a double double and is a beast inside. He cleans up the middle so their guards can rain the threes. Can't express enough the importance of rebounding the basketball. Creates more possessions for your team and generates more points which Mike does very well.
Sleeper Pick: #6 UNLV
Potential Upset Special: #13 New Mexico State over #4 Indiana
Sweet Sixteen: #1 Kentucky v. #5 Wichita State, #6 UNLV v. #2 Duke
Elite Eight: #1 Kentucky v. #6 UNLV
Final Four: #1 Kentucky
Power Conference Player to Watch: Draymond Green, Michigan State
The most versatile player in the tournament. He is a poor man's Magic Johnson. He is as charismatic and driven player I have seen in a long time. His leadership is unquestioned. Has a will to win and is a coach on the floor. He has the capability to single handedly lead his team to a championship like Danny Manning and the Miracles in 1988.
Mid Major Player to Watch: (tie) Casper Ware, Long Beach State, Isaiah Cannon, Murray State
First Casper is a friendly player but strikes ghostly fear in his opponents when he steps on the court. He is the two time player of the year in the Big West Conference and his range starts when he enters the gym. Watch for him to splash three after three after three.
Second and not in rank but only for purposes for my posting Isaiah is a fearless player. He is the spark that makes these Racers go. He has great feel for the game and pro potential. Look up on Youtube sometime his name and there are plenty of high lights including one where a poor soul falls on his backside after a killer stop and pop three. Classic!
Sleeper Pick: #12 Long Beach State
Potential Upset Special: #13 Davidson over #4 Louisville
Sweet Sixteen: #1 Michigan State v. #12 Long Beach State, #3 Marquette v. #2 Missouri
Elite Eight: #1 Michigan State v. #2 Missouri
Final Four: #1 Michigan State
Power Conference Player to Watch: Dion Waiters, Syracuse
This guy is not your average bench player. Yes he comes off the bench for #1 seed Syracuse but he plays starter minutes. It isn't who starts the game it is who finishes. If you have watched him play he has a killer instinct and wants the ball at crunch time. Should really have to step up now with the suspension of Fab Melo. I won't change my picks as I am sticking to it but will be tough going forward.
Mid Major Player to Watch: Andrew Nicholson, St. Bonaventure
This Canadian picked the right sport going with basketball. He is a solid 18 point and 8 rebound performer that puts up solid numbers night in and night out. A good touch around the tin and can defend his area with vigor.
Sleeper Pick: #13 Montana
Potential Upset Special: #13 Montana over #4 Wisconsin
Sweet Sixteen: #1 Syracuse v. #13 Montana, #3 Florida State v. #2 Ohio State
Elite Eight: #1 Syracuse v. #2 Ohio State
Final Four: #1 Syracuse
Power Conference Player to Watch: Thomas Robinson, Kansas
T-Rob is a wonderful story both on the court and off. He is a dominating post presence with his deft offensive skills and take no prisoner ability to rebound the basketball. He demands double teams and still is able to score with ease. He averages close to 18 points and 12 rebounds for a very talented #2 seed. He will be a high pick in the NBA draft right behind another big man who was mentioned earlier. It says something about a player when your coach is quoted as saying he hopes T-Rob doesn't return to school because he is NBA ready and his family is in need of his help. Touching story and it is hard not to root for players like this as basketball is really secondary to real life issues.
Mid Major Player to Watch: (tie) Doug McDermott, Creighton, Ray McCallum, Detroit
Who out there has every played for their Dad and lived to tell the tale. It can be difficult as you are held to a higher standard than the rest of the team members. Doug has taken his to an even higher level. This former Ames, IA standout and former teammate of UNC's Harrison Barnes is showing that maybe UNC grabbed the wrong guy. He has skill set for a man his size that is hard to find. He has a beautiful touch and range from outside and the moves down low that allows him to capitalize on slower bigs. Can flat out SCORE!
Wait there is another great player who is playing for his Dad and this time snubbed all the bigger schools in the process to play in Detroit? Yes, that man is Ray McCallum Jr. The McDonald's All-American is young but extremely long on talent. He is explosive to the rack and fast up the court. He has great moves with the ball and can get his own shot. He distributes the ball effectively well and finds his teammates for easy buckets. Should be fun to watch him and his teammates play KU.
Sleeper Pick: #6 San Diego State
Potential Upset Special: #14 Belmont over #3 Georgetown
Sweet Sixteen: #1 North Carolina v. #4 Michigan, #6 San Diego State v. #2 Kansas
Elite Eight: #1 North Carolina v. #2 Kansas
Final Four: #2 Kansas
Final Four - New Orleans
#1 Kentucky v. #1 Michigan State
#1 Syracuse v. #2 Kansas
National Championship Game: #1 Michigan State 71 v. #1 Syracuse 69
National Champion: #1 Michigan State.
Most Outstanding Player: Draymond Green.
Like I said earlier he is a special player that wills his team to win. I wouldn't be surprised if he puts up triple double numbers on Championship Monday.
Can't wait to find out! The music has started and it is time to dance!