By Josh Glick
With a question of this magnitude, my heart is telling me one word: Curry. No, not the Indian sauce that Frank seems to ruin every other day, but the guard phenomenon that plays for the Davidson Wildcats. Stephen Curry and the Davidson Wildcats are 22-5 and currently reside in first place in the Southern conference. More importantly, Curry is lighting it up more than James Franco in Pineapple Express, with 29 points a night. Senior forward Andrew Lovedale is also playing great and averaging almost a double-double every night. The Wildcats are basically a lock for the tourney, and will be healthy and ready to rock. With a player as good as Curry, the skies the limit for this team. Davidson is tournament-experienced, and the team will undoubtedly play the “no one is giving us a chance because we are in a league almost as bad as Colgate Division II intramurals” card. My almost always-wrong crystal ball sees the Wildcats going to at least the Elite Eight.
Wait. My mom always says, “Go big or go home.”
Hence, Davidson Wildcats…. 2009 NCAA Tournament Champions.
By Edan Lisovicz
If there is one team to look out for come March that is currently flying slightly below the radar, it’s the Louisville Cardinals. Reaching the Elite Eight last year and nearly knocking off North Carolina, look for them to advance to at least to the Final Four this season and potentially win the whole thing.
Because Big East heavyweights UConn and Pittsburgh stand in the way of the Cardinals capturing a conference title, barring any unforeseen circumstances, Rick Pitino’s bunch probably will not be one of the No. 1 seeds come tournament time. Yet if they are able to escape the preliminary rounds of the Big Dance and get themselves on a roll, they are certainly a team nobody wants to face. Fulfilling all the criteria necessary for a deep tournament run. They have defense, experience and good coaching. The Cardinals will be a force to be reckoned with. While they do not boast the deepest backcourt, their frontcourt more than makes up for it with potential NBA lottery pick Earl Clark, senior Terrence Williams and freshman Samardo Samuels. If the Cardinals come out hungry, and if Pitino proves to have a few tricks up his sleeves, Louisville may be hoisting the championship trophy this year in Detroit.
By Barry Rothbard
If a team does not have a guard that can protect the ball, smoothly run an offense and score the clutch basket when necessary, it will be gone before the first weekend of March Madness ends. Kentucky, led by guard Jodie Meeks, will find a way to make it to the Sweet 16 in March thanks to Meeks’s stellar shooting coupled with big man Patrick Patterson’s bruising body owning the boards. Meeks is more of a combo guard who dominates by shooting, rather than distributing the ball, as he averages 26 points and only 1.6 assists per game. However, the team’s offense clearly runs through the 6’4″ guard. There are few players in the nation that put a defense on their heels like Meeks has the capability of doing. Meeks is the best scorer/shooter in the nation not named Stephen Curry. His record-setting 54-point performance (10-15 from downtown, 14-14 from the line) along with eight boards and four dimes against Tennessee was one of the best offensive performances in recent college basketball history. His deadly combination of range and consistency makes Meeks (also coming off a 45-point performance against Arkansas on Saturday) one of the most feared players in the nation and makes Kentucky one of the teams no one wants to see in their bracket this March. Additionally, Meeks’ ability to hit free throws (at an 89 percent clip) will be huge in the tournament. Once Kentucky has a lead towards the end of the game, they can simply give the ball to Meeks and watch him seal the deal. As a whole, Kentucky shoots 79 percent from the charity stripe, which will be useful come March (see Memphis). Currently projected as a 10 seed and coming off a recent stretch where they lost three games in a row, Kentucky, thanks to their Batman and Robin (Meeks and Patterson), will open some eyes come March and advance to the Sweet 16 and perhaps beyond.
By Garrett Ley
Just because the media decides to neglect the Pac-10 doesn’t mean that its best team, Arizona State, can’t play. The eleventh ranked Sun Devils (20-5, 9-4 Pac-10) are winners of four straight and currently sit in second place. However, I believe that they are a much better team than first-place Washington(19-6, 10-3 Pac-10) at his point in the season.
In March, every team needs a star player and stalwart defense to survive past the second round, and Arizona State has both. Sophomore guard James Harden, projected to be a top-five draft pick in the 2009 NBA Draft, is a dominant threat on both ends of the court. He’s leads the Pac-10 in scoring (21.3 ppg), steals (1.7 spg) and is shooting over 52 percent from the floor from the shooting guard position. Defensively, the Sun Devils are one of the nation’s best, holding opponents to just 58.5 points per game.
While Arizona State’s football program is notorious for being ranked in the top 10 before spiraling downhill and finishing with a thud, the basketball program is another story. Look for Harden to end his brief collegiate career on a high note as he takes the Sun Devils to the Elite Eight.