Thursday, March 3, 2011

Winning, Duh

That is the answer. The question is not what is Charlie Sheen's favorite saying of the past few days, but instead, what is the most important thing college hoops teams should be doing at this time of year? Yesterday we chronicled a few teams that were slipping and today we'll look at a few teams that might just be peaking at the right time, ready to make a run in their conference tournaments and the Big Dance. As always, we start w/ the Big East.

-St. John's: Call me crazy, but shouldn't Steve Lavin be the unanimous pick for Big East Coach of the Year? Not all experts at ESPN agree, as Mike Brey, Jamie Dixon and Rick Pitino got votes in the websites mock awards selection yesterday. What do Brey, Dixon and Pitino all have in common? Their teams all made the tournament last year and they've been perennial contenders in the Big East. The Johnnies on the other hand haven't been relevant since Marcus Hatton (throw back to 2002 days!). Lavin comes in, takes players that Norm Roberts recruited, and has them ranked #15 in the country, 19-9 overall and in line for a double-bye in the Big East tournament. Give Lavin the trophy now, and we thank you for making college hoops important in NYC again.

Winning in March runs in the Hansbrough Family
-Notre Dame: As much as it pains me to say this, I feel like I might have the Irish making a little run in the tournament. I mean who really wants to root for Notre Dame?? Actually, this isn't football so it isn't THAT bad. Why do we like ND so much, two words: Senior Leadership. Top five scorers on the squad, all seniors. They play hard, they play together, they share the ball (13th in the country in assists) and they have at least two players that can knock down the big shot (Ben Hansbrough and Tim Abromitis). Oh, and they've also won 10 of their last 11 in the best conference in the country. Mike Brey's mock turtlenecks aside, how can you not like this team just a little bit?

-Purdue: Winners of their last seven games, the Boilermakers should end up as the #2 seed in the Big Ten Conference Tournament, behind THE Ohio State University, whom they beat just two weeks ago. If you don't enjoy watching JaJuan Johnson play, you should stop watching basketball. The kid is a freak. In their 20 point blow out win AT Michigan State on Sunday, Johnson went for 20 points, 17 rebounds and a cool 7 blocks. Throw in a little side of E'Twaun Moore, who had 38 of the team's 76 points in the W over OSU, and know what you have....winning!

-Kansas State: Daily Onions would like to officially welcome Frank Martin and the Wildcats back to this year's college basketball season. Since Valentine's Day, K-State has gone 5-0, including wins over #1 Kansas and at #8 Texas. Quite the turnaround for a team that started conference play at 2-5. Their inconsistency at the beginning of the year still scares us a bit, but you can't knock the hustle in the last few weeks.

-Butler: Look at that, it's all of Daily Onions beginning of the season favorites. Good to see you Coach Stevens, and the rest of the Bulldogs. Winners of their last seven games, last year's runner-up is putting themselves in position to make the tournament, which seemed unlikely in January. They still have some work to do, but if they can get to the finals of the Horizon League Tournament, win or lose they should get a bid to dance once again. Regardless of what type of season they've had, you never want to see Butler in your region come March.

In our next post, we'll take a look at the previous 24 hours at third-ranked BYU. First the loss of Brendan Davies due to violating the school's Honor Code, and then the blow out loss at home last night to New Mexico. Poor Jimmer.

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