Blog Entry

Dear Gary (on my six favorites to win the title)

Posted on: February 19, 2009 3:34 pm

Here's Thursday's Dear Gary ...

Dear Gary: Where's the promised list of teams from which you believe the national champion will come?

-- Jacob

As I wrote yesterday , my pick is North Carolina.

You know that already.

After that, I like Connecticut because I am a firm believer that the teams with the most talent tend to be in play for national titles, and UConn's talent is undeniable. So let's make UConn No. 2. And after the Huskies, what I'm going to do is simply try to identify teams with at least three future NBA players, because what I told you back in the preseason is that 39 of the past 40 national champions have had at least three players on their roster who have either A) gone on to be selected in the first two rounds of the NBA Draft or B) played in the NBA at some point even though they might've been drafted outside of the first two rounds or actually gone undrafted.

That's a remarkable statistic.

So I ask: Which teams have three future NBA players?

Wake Forest is one.

The Demon Deacons have Jeff Teague, Al-Farouq Aminu and James Johnson.

I'll take them.

Louisville, I think, is another.

The Cards have Terrence Williams, Earl Clark and Samardo Samuels.

I'll take them.

So that gives me four schools -- two each from the ACC and Big East.

Of the remaining schools, how many really have three future NBA players?

Perhaps Gonzaga, but I can't bring myself to count on a team I just watched get run off the court by Memphis.

Ohio State?


There are a bunch of schools that have at least two, but I'm not sure there are any more that definitely have three. So after North Carolina, Connecticut, Wake Forest and Louisville, I'll just round out my list of six with Pittsburgh and Oklahoma because I really like the toughness and swagger of the Panthers, and I think Blake Griffin might be dominant enough to pull a Carmelo Anthony.

So here's my list (not necessarily in order):

  • North Carolina
  • Connecticut
  • Wake Forest
  • Louisville
  • Pittsburgh
  • Oklahoma

And if you want a wildcard (i.e., somebody ranked outside the Top 20) I'll go with Syracuse.


Category: NCAAB

Since: Dec 20, 2008
Posted on: March 23, 2009 12:46 am

Dear Gary (on my six favorites to win the title)


 Surprised you rule out Duke, Kansas, and Memphis based on your criteria...I have all 3 teams going to the final four, with UNC (ugh) the only #1 seed to make it.

Since: Dec 1, 2008
Posted on: March 3, 2009 10:28 am

Dear Gary (on my six favorites to win the title)


   I just noticed your comment on this topic.  You say a major weekness for Cuse is the lack of a shot blocker.  As I watched the last nationally televised has come to my attention that Ongeanat (spelling??) is a very astute defensive player, and is the best pure blocker on the team.  I think the addition of him off the bench recently has been a major boost for this team...and he is getting more comfortable with his role.  They could make a deep run...we'll see

Since: Oct 4, 2008
Posted on: February 21, 2009 7:51 pm

Dear Gary (on my six favorites to win the title)

I'm not sure why you don't have Memphis on your list of teams who can win it all.  They play great defense, have at least Two NBA prospects (Tyreke Evans could be a lottery pick right now, and Dozier is a freakishly athletic big who plays hard).  Shawn Taggart could get taken in the 2010 draft if he satys in school and develops.  And, in contrast to last year, they are tolerable free throw shooters.

Since: Aug 19, 2007
Posted on: February 21, 2009 2:47 pm

Dear Gary (on my six favorites to win the title)

My god Gary, by my count, that's 17 one-sentence paragraphs. A streak of 13 at one point. Madness, I tell you!


Since: Jul 24, 2007
Posted on: February 21, 2009 1:29 pm

Dear Gary (on my six favorites to win the title)

Gary - Arizona has two lottery picks playing now, and probably at least 3 future NBA players on this team. I don't think they have the depth because of the transfers to go all the way, but if you're compiling a list of teams with 3 future players, how could you leave them off?  I'd like to see the Cats play any of these teams because that means they made the tourney for the 25th consecutive year. I think a Jordan Hill - Blake Griffin match up would be awesome. Let's hope that happens in the Elite 8.

Since: Mar 1, 2007
Posted on: February 20, 2009 2:35 pm

Dear Gary (on my six favorites to win the title)

Good point on bench depth. Cuse can go 8 deep but even the eighth guy (Joseph) is a bit beat up. Last year and this year has been an awful stream of injuries for SU. Last year it was Rautins and Devo, this year its Jardine, Mookie Jones, Devo a couple times, Rautins (lingering) and Onuaku (lingering). Thats a good point about the officiating in the tourney. Its exactly why teams like Pitt and Uconn have to be careful and teams with good ball movement like Gtown and SU can be dangerous. Wright is a heck of a PG. Sapp is a good 4th option as well and is agressive.

Nova really isn't big, but they are aggressive and sure can shoot the ball. They are definitely a threat to make some noise in the tourney

Memphis I don't find a darkhorse pick but thats my opinion only. Memphis is playing better than they were but they still have a glaring weakness at the point. Evans is an NBA player but he isn't the right guy to maintain ball handling duties against the many good PG's out there.

If you really want to look for a darkhorse I think its all about having a talented big guy in the post, a solid PG, and one more big time performer. SU and Gtown both have that. I think the Hoyas will make the tourney. Just need to start winning some more ball games. (5-8) with 5 to go makes 9-9 a realistic possilibity and with one of the top 5 SOS's in the country and wins over Memphis, SU and Uconn along with maybe another big win should be enough.

Since: Feb 8, 2009
Posted on: February 20, 2009 2:13 pm

Dear Gary (on my six favorites to win the title)



I agree with your comment on lack of physical play by Gtown. Physicality is less of an issue, in my experience, in the Tournament because the refs call the games a little tighter (depending on the teams involved - if UNC or Duke is playing, a physical team like Pitt is in for trouble because refs cut R Williams and Coach K too much slack with physical play). For that reason, I don't think Gtown's lack of physical play will be as much of an issue in the Tourney, assuming they make it, as it has in the B. East.


I also like the 'Cuse pick. My problem with both Cuse and Gtown (and any other talented "darkhorse") is that they lack depth on the bench. For cuse and Gtown, lack of bench depth (and injuries for 'Cuse) is a major reason they are "darkhorses" at this point (along with the problem the Big East's size has caused with respect to rankings (i.e., good teams like WVU, who are better than many ranked teams, being ranked too low)).


Some other, non-darkhorse teams that I think could win it all, but wouldn't put in the list of 6:






All of those teams have size and talent. All 3 are capable of making a serious run if they are playing "hot".

Since: Oct 24, 2008
Posted on: February 20, 2009 1:23 pm

Dear Gary (on my six favorites to win the title)

I think the case can be made for Memphis as well. Tyreke Evans is a lock for the NBA, whether you agree that he will go pro after one year or not is another ball game (even though the camp that believes he should stay dwindles after every Memphis game). Out of Antonio Anderson, Robert Dozier, Shawn Taggart, and Wesley Witherspoon (back from knee surgery), I strongly believe that at least two of these former top 50 recruits will play in the NBA (probably not significantly, but that's not your criteria). Here's why:

Antonio Anderson is one of if not the best on-ball defender in the nation. He has shut down nearly every NBA talented guard or wing player he has played against and usually plays 35-40 minutes/game. I find it hard to believe that at 6'6" he will not be able to find 5-10 minutes/game with his athleticism in the NBA.

Robert Dozier while only 6'9" has a 7'3" wingspan and is an extremely versatile player. He isn't the most gifted offensive player, but he has improved every year and is becoming more consistent with 15 to 21 ft. jumpers.

Wesley Witherspoon is probably the least known on this roster as freshman and he was out for about a month while undergoing minor knee surgery. But this kid is good. He will be really good if he sticks around through his Junior/Senior year. He reminds Memphis fans of CDR because of his ability to drive the ball and hit tough jumpers. He needs some bulk, but he is your prototypical "lets take a chance" on this guy NBA future first rounder based on being 6'8" and able to score from anywhere on the floor.

Last is Shawn Taggart. I'm not the biggest "Tag" fan out there but he does have the size to play in the NBA at 6'10" and 240 with a incredibly good 3 point stroke that the stats don't show. Because Memphis' offense requires the 5 to stay within a few feet of the paint during almost every offensive possesion he doesn't get many looks from long range and he can be streaky, but I've seen him hit 25-30 3 pointers during our Midnight Madness event. Beyond a long range stroke he has great fundamentals for a big man and this year has shown more of a defensive toughness that we haven't seen.

Since: Mar 1, 2007
Posted on: February 20, 2009 11:29 am

Dear Gary (on my six favorites to win the title)

Hi Blackadon, I would say I like you picked the Hoyas but there are some issues there. Most of their offense stems from Wright, Summers and Monroe. Monroe has been physically pushed around by the stronger centers in the league. In addition Summers still does not want any part of physical play. Too much finesse with this group IMO. I agree there is potential there but due to seeding issues and their struggles I don't think they have done enough to put them in a spot to be a sleeper.

Cuse meanwhile likely will fall into that 6 seed bucket unless they run the table the rest of the season and win one in the BE tourney. Then they could be looking at a 4 or 5 seed with being a darkhorse for a 3.

Since: Feb 8, 2009
Posted on: February 20, 2009 9:59 am

Dear Gary (on my six favorites to win the title)

I agree completely with the list of the Top 6 teams. 


My wildcard:

Georgetown (if they make the Tournament).  The team has the talent.  The only thing holding them back, in my opinion, is the coaching.  If Thompson figures it out, this team could be extremely dangerous.


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