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LBS Expert 2010 NCAA Tournament Picks

For the 2011 Tournament Picks, go Here

Yes, we obviously use the term “expert” quite lightly. The only thing we’re experts in knowing is that the tournament is unpredictable and that Cornell is not going to the Elite Eight. Anyway, you want expert March Madness picks for 2010? Here are the LBS 2010 NCAA Tournament Picks, broken down by bracket (you’ll have to click on each region two times to enlarge, once after you get to the next screen):

I have Kansas over Kentucky in the championship game. If you’re also wondering why I took chalk to the Final Four it’s because the Midwest Region got stacked with the toughest teams leaving the South and West void of difficult challengers to Duke and Syracuse. To me, it’s Kansas and Kentucky in a class by themselves with everyone else at least a step below. Even though I’ve been touting Kentucky the entire season, I feel that they have a few minor weaknesses whereas I can’t find any with Kansas. Kentucky’s weaknesses are limited to sometimes free throw shooting (see DeMarcus Cousins vs. Tennessee both games) and outside shooting (12-73 on threes during a four-game SEC stretch). I think Kentucky has the talent and weapons to overcome these deficiencies against anyone except Kansas. I’d also give the coaching nod to Bill Self over Calipari for in-game adjustments. I welcome all comments regarding the picks.

Mid-Major vs. Mid-Major Complaint Is B.S.

Ever since the NCAA tournament brackets for 2010 were released on Sunday, I kept reading a complaint that too many mid-majors were playing each other. The argument is that the beauty of the tourney is watching the little guys knock off the big guys, seeing David slay Goliath. Moreover, the feeling is that the tourney wants bigger-name schools to advance, presumably to draw better ratings. I think all you have to do is examine the tournament field and you can tell that this complaint is utter nonsense and nothing other than complaining for the sake of complaining, likely because you were going to complain about this “issue” regardless of what brackets the committee spit out.

Out of the field of 65, 33 teams are “mid-majors,” which I classify as non-BCS schools. Inevitably, these schools will have to face each other. Moreover, if you’re rewarding the smaller-schools for having good seasons, then you have to give them a high seed, and they will accordingly be matched up with another small school. That’s what happened with New Mexico, Temple, Butler, and Xavier. Drop those teams down in seeding and then you’re really being unfair, but at least you get a mid-major against a BCS school, right? Pointing out the few mid-major vs. mid-major matchups also ignores the several other cases where mid-majors play BCS schools in the first round. So Gonzaga playing Florida State, Xavier getting Minnesota, Notre Dame drawing Old Dominion, BYU getting Florida, Houston drawing Maryland, and San Diego State having a chance to upset Tennessee means nothing? There are several more cases where mid-majors have a chance to upset a BCS school than vice versa.

Out of the 32 first-round games, 22 are BCS vs. mid-majors, five BCS vs. BCS games, and five mids vs. mids. The only matchups I can really see a legit complaint for are the 7-10 game of Richmond/St. Mary’s and the 8-9 game of UNLV/Northern Iowa. I don’t see two games out of 32 being a trend, nor problem, nor something worthy of a complaint. If anything, I think it’s good to have a few mids-vs.-mids games to ensure at least one mid moves on. Moreover, I like seeing the 8-9, 7-10 BCS vs. BCS games because it allows us the chance to compare the strength of conferences. Who doesn’t look at Cal vs. Louisville as the Pac-10 against the Big East and the Oklahoma State against Georgia Tech as the Big 12 vs. the ACC? That’s part of the beauty of the tournament, too.

Sources:
Dear Non-BCS Schools: $!#@ You. Love, NCAA [Basketball Prospectus]

UCLA Snubbed by the N.I.T.

Quit your whining, UConn and Carolina fans, a UCLA fan wishes to opine. In what completes the most disappointing season for Bruin basketball in the Ben Howland era, UCLA stumbled out of the gate and bumbled to a 14-18 record. Forget making it to the Big Dance, the losing season left the Bruins far short of even qualifying for the N.I.T., where 32 teams battle for the right to be called the 66th best team in the country. Adding insult to injury is that our three top players are with other teams — Jrue Holiday is on the 76ers, Chace Stanback is starring for UNLV, and Drew Gordon is playing for team Mom.

Though I can hardly blame Howland for Holiday’s exile to the NBA — Darren Collison’s return for a senior season screwed up the point guard and scholarship situation — it’s difficult to fathom that the program sunk to these depths and that the season was only saved by an equally pathetic conference. Adding up the evidence however, can present a potentially ugly issue at hand. Is it any coincidence that Jordan Farmar and J’rue Holiday left early for the NBA and that Stanback and Gordon both transferred out of the program? I think it’s fair to say that both Farmar and Holiday could have built up their draft stocks by staying an extra year but they chose not to. Stanback could have been unhappy with playing time and Gordon could have been a “me first” jerk, but I think there is an underlying tie that might bind all four: UCLA is not a place where one can showcase his offensive talent.

Sure, UCLA has produced loads of talent for the NBA the past few years — Russell Westbrook, Kevin Love, and Darren Collison certainly fit that bill, not to mention Farmar and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, but the program seems to lack a true scorer. Tyler Honeycutt and Reeves Nelson appear to be the cornerstones of a tough frontcourt around whom the program can build the next three years. The question is if the Bruins need more guys like Mbah a Moute who took pride in defense and were willing to do the dirty work the way Nelson appears to be doing, or do the Bruins need to open up offensively to attract the elite scoring guards? I think the answer is a little of column A and a little of column B and it better happen fast. One year of this was unbearable. Two years is inexcusable. Three is fireable. Here’s to a turnaround in ’10-’11.

Crazy Jay Bilas Has Cornell in Elite Eight

I’ve seen a lot of nonsense before in my life but I haven’t seen as many ridiculous notions as the one Jay Bilas suggested on Selection Sunday. Analyzing the brackets for ESPN, Bilas revealed his pick of Cornell to reach the Elite Eight in the East Region. I know March Madness got its nickname because of the improbable upsets in the tourney and the insanity it causes for fans making picks, but nonetheless I think it’s nothing short of absurd to say Cornell will reach the Elite Eight.

Can they beat Temple in the first round? Possibly. Wisconsin in the second round? Unlikely — not the way the Badgers play defense. If they got some help from Wofford, yeah, Cornell could reach the Sweet Sixteen, but I doubt that would happen. Then, should Cornell reach said Sweet Sixteen, they would theoretically have to beat Kentucky to reach the Elite Eight. That would never happen in the college basketball universe as I know it.

I know March is about picking upsets and finding sleepers, but calling Cornell to the Elite Eight is something reserved for Ivan from Ithaca who calls my radio show, not supposed credible analysts like Jay Bilas. I know ESPN encourages their analysts to go out on a limb with predictions but it should never get to the point where it hurts one’s credibility as this likely will for Bilas. If Jay turns out to be correct, I’ll rename this site Jay Bilas Sports for a week and apologize to the man personally. If not, I reserve the right to question Bilas’ credibility moving forward. By the way, Jay, the reason why everyone’s picking chalk isn’t necessarily because they’re afraid of picking upsets; it’s because all the good teams got jammed in the Midwest for some inexcusable reason.

Maya Moore Rejects DeMarcus Cousins Despite His Crush on Her

The hottest story in women’s college hoops is UConn and their utter domination in the sport. The Huskies have now won 72 straight games — all by double digits — and one of their star players is Maya Moore. One of the hottest stories in men’s college hoops is Kentucky and their studly play the entire season. Their two star players are freshmen John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins. Wall and Moore collaborated for an interview with USA Weekend. Wall got a chance to interview Moore for a question and attempted to play matchmaker, as Diamond Leung pointed out:

John: You know anything about my teammate, DeMarcus Cousins?
Maya: Besides watching you guys play? No. Why?
John: I think he’s got a little crush on you.
Maya: Thanks! But I’m not looking.

That might be the first time DeMarcus was rejected the entire season. Poor guy. I’m guessing that this is more about Maya’s current love interest than DeMarcus, so Cousins shouldn’t take it personally. Should Maya change her mind, the two would undoubtedly overtake Shelden Williams and Candace Parker as the basketball supercouple. I am all in favor of that.

Sources:
One-on-one with March Madness’ top hoopsters [USA Weekend]
Wall playing matchmaker with Cousins? [College Basketball Nation Blog]

Kashif Watson Crushes Coach on Twitter, Pays the Price

With all the stories coming down about people getting into trouble for what they’re writing on Facebook and Twitter, we might have to come up with a word to describe the situation. For instance, two weeks ago Jamere Holland posted some idiotic, profane comments on his Facebook profile and that got him kicked off Oregon’s football team. Idaho guard Kashif Watson didn’t get officially kicked off his team for his comments but that’s only because there are just two games left. Check out what the frustrated Watson wrote on his twitter that got him in hot water via College Basketball Nation:

“Don’t gett how we pose to win wit this guy coachin us, just don’t want it that bad I guess.”

That is only part of the tweet because some profanity was removed. Watson finally wised up and protected his account from outsiders but that was until after his suspension. Watson made that comment following Idaho’s loss to Louisiana Tech but the coach wasn’t made aware of it until after their game on Thursday night. The result was Watson being suspended for Senior Night on Saturday against Hawaii. So what’s the lesson to be learned? Unless you’re a superstar in the NBA, calling out your coach is a one-way ticket out of the program if you’re in college. Good thing Watson is a senior.

Steve Alford Cusses at BYU’s Jonathan Tavernari After New Mexico’s Win

Last time we heard from BYU senior Jonathan Tavernari, he was in the middle of a Holy War skirmish between BYU and Utah. Not much has changed for the 6’6″ forward. Tavernari was guarding New Mexico star player Darington Hobson with 52 seconds left when the clock was stopped because of a timeout. Hobson was upset that Tavernari was playing him so closely and it appeared as if Hobson threw an elbow at Tavernari. The refs didn’t see anything wrong in the replay so the game played on. New Mexico won 83-81 but the hostility between the teams spilled over into the handshake lineup after the game. Check out this video of Steve Alford cussing at Jonathan Tavernari after the game via The Sporting Blog (warning: profanity):

While the video makes Alford out to be the bad guy, The Salt Lake Tribune reports that Tavernari went into New Mexico’s locker room after the game to apologize for his behavior. Moreover, “Alford told Tavernari that he initially was just trying to tell him that he had a heck of a career at BYU.” Sure sounds to me like Tavernari is the a-hole in this one, even if Alford is getting all the bad press. By the way, that’s a heck of a win for New Mexico. At 27-3, they’re likely headed for a three or four seed in the tourney and they’ve proven they can win anywhere.