Jared Launius>Sophomore>Missouri University
With less than a week left before offices and classrooms nationwide are swept with bracket fever, College magazine has what you need to know for March Madness. Here is our projected Final Four, and who we think will ultimately cut the nets down in 2010.
Our Final Four (in no particular order):
There’s a good chance the Jayhawks will enter the tournament as the No. 1 overall seed, and the prohibitive favorite to win it all. And why not? KU only lost two games all year as they steamrolled through Big XII play en route to winning their fifth-straight regular season conference title.
Their offense, lead by senior point guard Sherron Collins, ranks fourth in the nation in scoring, eighth in field-goal percentage. Defensively, center Cole Aldridge anchors a squad that’s ranked ninth in blocks and ninth in defensive rebounding.
In a season stricken with parity, it’s not hard to envision one great player taking over and leading his team deep into the tournament, a la Stephen Curry in 2007 or Carmelo Anthony in 2003.
This year, it could be Ohio State’s Evan Turner. No one in the nation does more than the 6-foot-7-inch swingman: he initiates OSU’s offense (six assists a game), is a very efficient scorer (nearly 20 points a contest with a sparkling 54 percent field-goal percentage), and rebounds (nine a game) with the best of them.
Speaking of dynamic players, Kentucky’s John Wall fits the billing as well. Wall has a little bit more help than Turner, though, in the form of fellow freshmen DeMarcus Cousins and Eric Bledsoe.
Those three talented freshman help anchor the SEC regular season champion Wildcats, maybe the most athletic team in the nation. One of three two-loss teams this year, it’ll be tough to keep UK out of Indianapolis.
If you had told us on November 4 last year, after the Orange had just lost to Division II school Le Moyne, that they’d enter the NCAA tournament a No. 1 seed, we would’ve asked you what kind of drugs you were smoking up in New York.
Somehow, though, Syracuse was able to lose Johnny Flynn and Eric Devendorf to the NBA in 2009 and become a better team (and a likely one seed) in 2010. They lead the nation in offensive field goal percentage, and Jim Boeheim’s 2-3 zone defense is better than ever.
We hate to go chalk, but Kansas is head, shoulders, waist and crotch better than the rest of the field. Offensively, they have no weakness. Aldrich and Marcus Morris make up a dynamic frontcourt, Collins and Tyshawn Taylor can penetrate the lane, and Xavier Henry, Tyrel Reed and Brady Morningstar are snipers from behind the arc.
Defensively, they control the paint and bother you with length and quickness on the perimeter.
There’s a good chance they cut down the nets on those rims that they work so hard to protect.
photo from http://www.guardian.co.uk