Who’s Hot, Who’s Not: NCAA Hoops

As we approach March Madness, we’ll start to give you updates on teams which are playing their best ball and the teams which are either fading or over-hyped.

Teams You Don’t Want To See In Your Bracket


Arizona- The Pac 10 is in the midst of another down year.  This has allowed Arizona to fly a little bit under the radar, even though they keep piling up wins.  Critics will correctly point out that, outside of Washington, they haven’t beaten anybody of significance.  While this is correct, Arizona has arguably the most talented player in the NCAA, Derrick Williams.  Williams alone will be a matchup nightmare and enough reason you don’t want to see the Wildcats in your bracket.

Syracuse- After a hot start, it’s been inconsistency for Syracuse during the Big East season.  Still, despite this inconsistency, they’ve had some solid wins.  The talent is there.  And Boeheim’s zone is never something you want to see come March.

Kansas State- A couple weeks ago, it looked like K-State was dead in the water.  They seemed to be the victim of their preseason hype.  Jacob Pullen was having a down year and Frank Martin’s psychotic bench behavior left his team in turmoil.  But then, they beat Kansas.  Since then, they’ve managed to get themselves back on the right side of the bubble.  Right now it looks like they’ll land in the 8-9 seed range.  Not a team the number one seeds want to see in their second game.

George Mason- I hate to put them in here because of the annoying nature of their bandwagon fan students, but I have to give credit when credit is due.  Larranaga always seems to get his teams to play great team defense.  The team has the longest current win streak in division I and no team wants to play a team that is going to pester them defensively for forty minutes.

TEAMS YOU WANT TO SEE IN YOUR BRACKET

North Carolina-Before any criticism, I would say that it has been a very good rebound year for the Heels after last years disaster.  The development of Harrison Barnes and Kendall Marshall is something that should bring optimism towards Carolina’s future tourney prospects.  They’ve beaten almost all the teams they should have in ACC play.  However, the ACC is so weak this year, that it’s hard to really gauge how good they are.  Their stellar ACC record and reputation will likely have them a little over-seeded come March.  While I don’t think they’re an easy out, I don’t think they are a 4-5 seed level team right now.

Utah State-I will be pulling for them in the tourney this year because of how awesome their fans are.  Still, outside of a win last weekend against a mediocre St. Mary’s squad, this team has played NO ONE.  Most teams they play are teams not even in the RPI 100.  Will they be able to handle a top 25 level team come March?  Don’t bet on it.

Cincinnati-Looking at the departure of their two best players from last year and combine that with the difficulty of this year’s Big East, I thought it would have been a long year for the Bearcats.  Despite what “some Cincy fans may think,” Mick Cronin has had his team overachieving all year long.  Somehow they’ve managed to hold their own against teams with far more talent.  I just don’t see this team continuing this trend.

Kentucky-There is loads of talent on this team.  However, make no mistake, this year’s freshman class bought by Coach Cal is nowhere near on the same level as the John Wall led class.  Expect this crew to look like Freshman in the big dance.  And then immediately depart for greener pastures.

DEPENDS ON WHICH DAY YOU GET THEM

These are teams in which you could put in either category depending on which day you play them.

St Johns-I’m actually real high on Steve Lavin’s squad right now.  They’ve put up as many quality wins as any team in the nation.  Their play inside Madison Square Garden has revived some of their old New York fanbase.  Yet, I still can’t get those inexplicable losses to Fordham and St. Bonaventure out of my head.  Maybe the ultimate Jekyll and Hyde team in this years tourney.  As good as they’ve been in the Garden, who knows how they’ll play in the confines of a neutral site.

Brigham Young-The hands down most exciting player to watch in College Basketball is Jimmer Fredette.  If you are not yet on the bandwagon of the probable Player of the Year, I suggest you jump on.  He can carry a team.  And when he’s on, watch out.  There have been times, however, where the rest of his team has completely disappeared on him.  When this happens, not even Jimmer’s heroics can save them.  On the other hand, Jackson Emery and Brandon Davies have shown they can be viable options.  If either of them gives Jimmer support, then this team will put up points on you in a hurry.

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