With UK’s post-season hopes disappearing faster than Jack Daniels from Eddie Sutton’s “to-go” cup, let’s take a look at some other teams destined to make a run at Indy.
UConn and Duke sit alone in the top tier. UConn has had a few close games, but only because they’re bored. Remember when they cut the nets down in ’04, the Huskies were a 2 seed, yet still the favorites to win. You can bet that once tourney time rolls around, they will be primed for a run. I don’t think Duke is the second most talented team. The Devils can be slain if Sheldon Williams gets Randolphed (foul trouble to the layman), and JJ Redick is only semi-on. They start a rookie at the point and lack significant depth–not exactly a national championship formula. However, Redick has now found a way to put up 30 even when he’s not on fire.
The third team I like to find their way to Indy, is Ohio St. The Buckeyes are 18-3, and carry quite the resume. Their three losses were in Bloomington by 2, at Michigan St. by 3, and at Iowa by 5. Their non-conference schedule is fairly soft, but does include a victory over LSU. If you haven’t yet seen them play, do yourself a favor a tune-in. They are chocked full of solid role players, a few of which are capable of taking a game over. They shoot the three better than any team I have seen all year, and are superbly coached by Thad Matta. If there was ever a coach to be considered as a possible successor to Tubby, I would go after Matta with every Benjamin I had in my arsenal. He’s bringing in what many laud as the #1 recruiting class next season, orchestrates a highly entertaining style of play, and it’s obvious in their effort that the kids both adore and respect him. Matta has accomplished all of this a season ahead of schedule, and has done so at a football driven school.
The SEC’s only threat to march deep in March, in my opinion, is LSU. The Tigers have a myriad of big-bodies, and enough athleticism in the back court to suffice. Their only bugaboo is what is going to keep them from advancing any further than the Elite Eight, and that’s their youth. John Brady’s recruiting creed is this: bring as many highly-touted prospects as you can, without regard for roster building. That’s why you see so many players leave the program, and also why they’ve been competitive the last few years. That leaves an uber-talented, but untested crew heading into March. Tennessee and Florida will likely have low seeds, but the jury is still out on whether they are merely regular season darlings, or indeed tournament ready.