Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Daily Onions Final Four Projection

Back on December 21st, Daily Onions announced our first 2011 Final Four team, which was THE Ohio State University. The prediction was made after ten games, and is still looking pretty strong. Now, almost two months later, we are already to project our next team for H-town (Houston, where the Final Four is this year).

After 25 games, Daily Onions is projecting the Duke Blue Devils to be in the Final Four. Now, without the injury to Kyrie Irving, we probably would have projected this about 3 months ago. But Irving was arguably their best player, so we needed more time to see who Duke was without him. Here's why we believe in the Blue Devils:

Daily Onions thinks Smith and Co. will cut down nets and return to the Final 4.
-Mr Smith: As in Nolan Smith. The senior guard has nudged his way into the National Player of the Year conversation, along with Jimmer (Jimmer Mania....ahhhhhhhh) and Jared Sullinger. Not only is Smith leading the team in scoring and assists, but he's been the emotional leader on the court as well. He was the reason the Blue Devils were even in the game against UNC last week, and then willed his team (with some help from Seth Curry) to a comeback win over the Tar Heels. It's great that Nolan is doing this in the regular season, but he showed he can do it when it counts too. During last year's run to the National Championship, Smith was the South Region's Most Outstanding Player, and was also named to the All-Final Four team. Kid's got it.

-Depth and Experience: Nolan Smith is a senior, Kyle Singler (preseason All-American) is a senior, and the Plumlee brothers both have two solid years of experience in the post. Throw in a couple of guys that come off the bench (all of which saw significant minutes last year) and you have a nice looking rotation. Duke legitimately plays 8 guys, 7 of which average more than 17 minutes a game. In the rotation you have a pure sharp shooter in Curry, a big man in Ryan Kelly that poses and inside/outside threat, a dependable back-up point guard in Andre Dawkins, and a couple of energy guys in Thornton and Hairston.

-National, World Championship Coach: We've mentioned this before, but we'll say it again. One of Coach K's greatest accomplishments has to be what he has done to turn around USA Basketball. Getting that many egos to play hard, to play together, to win a gold, and then following that up with a World Championship with what some called "The B Team" this past summer, was truly amazing. Oh yeah, 4 National Championships at Duke isn't too shabby either.

-Turn It On: I'm starting to believe that Duke has the capability to "flip the switch" and turn things on when needed, similar to how the Lakers and Celtics have been able to in previous NBA seasons. I think how they responded to the embarrassing loss at St. John's was pretty impressive (winning at Maryland, then two games later coming from behind to knock off UNC). Between Coach K, and the leadership of Singler and Smith, I just think they have the potential to put together 4 straight wins when its needed, to get to Houston.

Two teams selected as Daily Onions Locks for the Final Four. THE Ohio State University and Duke. Not sure we'll be able to select any more prior to the bracket being announced, but these two we are sure of, regardless of who stands in their path.

1 comment:

  1. The namesake of this blog would select all four before the brackets are announced. Grow some Onions, pick 4!