Tag:Florida State
Posted on: May 24, 2011 11:59 am
Edited on: May 24, 2011 12:00 pm
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Conference Catch-ups: The ACC



Posted by Jeff Borzello

It may still feel like the Final Four just ended, but for most schools, the offseason is now more than two months old. With that in mind, all of us at the blog are going to take this week to give you what we’re calling “Conference Catch-Ups.” The motive is to recap the biggest storylines in college basketball’s offseason so far, plus keep your appetite whetted in what is the longest offseason in major American sports.

Previous Conference Catch-ups: Big East, Pac-12 

The Big Stories

New faces on the sidelines: The ACC took more turns in the coaching carousel than any major conference in the country. It started before the season ended, when Georgia Tech and Paul Hewitt parted ways after 11 seasons. Dayton’s Brian Gregory was hired to replace him. Frank Haith left Miami (Fl.) for the Missouri job, with the Hurricanes reaching into the CAA for George Mason’s Jim Larranaga. North Carolina State wasn’t lucky with their search, getting turned down by multiple coaches before going with former Alabama head man Mark Gottfried to replace Sidney Lowe. Obviously the most high-profile of the changes came at Maryland, where Gary Williams abruptly retired after 22 seasons in College Park. Mark Turgeon came over from Texas A&M to replace Williams. Overall, one-third of the programs in the conference will have a new face at the helm.

North Carolina is preseason No. 1: With Kentucky losing Brandon Knight and DeAndre Liggins to the NBA, the clear-cut favorite going into the preseason should be North Carolina. The Tar Heels return Harrison Barnes, who came on strong in the latter half of the season. John Henson and Tyler Zeller also come back in the frontcourt, while Kendall Marshall will get a chance to run the show for a full season. Five-star recruits James McAdoo and P.J. Hairston will get a chance to make an impact off the bench.

Duke loses top three players, needs to reload: When Kyrie Irving, Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith were healthy and hitting on all cylinders, Duke was the best team in the country. Now, all three are gone and Mike Krzyzewski is left with . . . well, a pretty good team. Coach K brings in a tremendous recruiting class, led by top-three prospect Austin Rivers, McDonald’s All-Americans Quinn Cook and Marshall Plumlee, as well as top-30 recruit Michael Gbinije. Seth Curry and Andre Dawkins will still snipe from 3-point range, while Ryan Kelly and Mason and Miles Plumlee return down low. Don’t cry for the Dukies.

Where did everyone go? Despite North Carolina’s frontcourt trio all returning, the ACC was hit hard by graduation and the NBA draft. All five players on the all-ACC first team will be gone, as well as two players on the second team and three players on the third team. Including the top five honorable mention vote-getters, only seven of the top 20 players in the conference are returning next season.

The Great Unknown

What does the future hold for Maryland? Under Gary Williams, the Terrapins were widely-regarded as one of the top programs in college basketball but never consistently made deep runs in the NCAA tournament. They had not reached the Sweet 16 since 2003 after winning a national championship in 2002. With Williams retiring and Mark Turgeon taking over, it will be interesting to see what happens in College Park. Maryland is considered one of the best jobs in the country due to its fertile recruiting base. Turgeon has already made a splash in that regard, hiring Kansas State assistant Dalonte Hill for Washington D.C. and keeping Bino Ransom for Baltimore. 

NBA Draft report

The ACC had its wins and losses when it came to early-entries and the NBA draft. It did take some serious hits, with Duke’s Kyrie Irving, Florida State’s Chris Singleton and Boston College’s Reggie Jackson all leaving early with near-guarantees that they will each be drafted in the first round. Moreover, Maryland’s Jordan Williams and Georgia Tech’s Iman Shumpert also made the leap to the NBA draft.

While the conference certainly had headline departures, plenty of talent also made the decision to return. As mentioned earlier, North Carolina’s frontcourt trio of Harrison Barnes, John Henson and Tyler Zeller are all coming back to college despite being projected as first-round picks. Reggie Johnson of Miami (Fl.) entered his name into the draft pool without an agent, but pulled out at the last minute to return to South Beach.

Transference

Coming

- Alex Johnson (from Cal State Bakersfield) to North Carolina State

Going

- Dallas Elmore (from Boston College)

- Ryan Harrow (from North Carolina State)

- Will Regan (from Virginia)

- Ari Stewart (from Wake Forest) to USC

- Manny Atkins (from Virginia Tech) to Georgia State

My commentary in 20 words or less

Boston College: Steve Donahue will have his hands full next season, as he brings back just 7.9 points and three returnees.

Clemson: Brad Brownell surprised many in his first season, but Milton Jennings and Devin Booker have to take a step forward.

Duke: The Blue Devils lose plenty, but freshman Austin Rivers will immediately be one of the top scorers in the country.

Florida State: When a team as bad offensively as FSU loses its top two scorers, returning to the Sweet 16 seems ambitious.

Georgia Tech: Brian Gregory could hit speed bumps in his first year; the Jackets are going to get dominated in the paint.

Maryland: The Terrapins will be fun to watch as a program in the next few years; next season’s a stepping stone.

Miami: The move by Jim Larranaga to Miami raised some eyebrows, but Durand Scott and Reggie Johnson are a formidable duo.

North Carolina: The preseason No. 1 team in the country, the Tar Heels will make headlines for the right reasons next season.

North Carolina State: Another program that will be fun to keep an eye on – Mark Gottfried is making his mark on Tobacco Road.

Virginia: Tony Bennett has this team on the precipice of a big year, but it’s still unclear when exactly that’s happening.

Virginia Tech: Next season, the Hokies won’t be good enough to be disappointed on Selection Sunday yet again.

Wake Forest: Coming off a one-win ACC season, there’s nowhere to go but up. We think.

Photos: US Presswire

Posted on: May 18, 2011 8:57 am
Edited on: May 18, 2011 9:06 am
 

FSU's Chris Singleton launches clothing line



Posted by Eric Angevine


Freed from the NCAA's restrictions on student-athlete earnings, former Florida State star Chris Singleton is ready to use his abilities to get paid. DraftExpress considers the 6-foot-8 ex-junior to be a low first-round NBA prospect based on his collegiate body of work, which includes a run to the Sweet 16 just two months ago.

Singleton, however, isn't putting all of his eggs in that one basket. Along with teammate AJ Yawn and a couple of other friends from FSU, Singleton is launching a new clothing line, called Doughpe Clothing.

Seminole-centric website PlanttheSpear.com posted an interview with Yawn on May 17th. The first thing they had to clear up was the pronunciation of the new brand name (Tampa-based comedian Mike Lortz thought it was "dog-pee" before Yawn clarified things):

[AJ Yawn]: The uniqueness of the company name, paired with the familiarity of the term as it relates to the common phrase ‘dope’ meaning cool, and socially acceptable in the hip-hop culture, will attract customers within the target demographics. Consumers in our target audience won’t have a problem accepting the name because the word “dope” is used in daily slang describing something that is fresh, new, or cool. Doughpe is a creative spin on this word and places the customers in a mindset that even before they see the product, they are assured that the clothing will be something they would like and desire to purchase.
Having a likely first-round NBA pick on your marketing team probably won't hurt, either.

According to Yawn, the new line is aimed at skater culture, and the first offerings on the Doughpe website bear the enigmatic phrase "Cool Story Bro" splashed across the front. While Singleton is off to play basketball, Yawn - Lieutenant Alexander Yawn, to be exact - is scheduled to start active duty in the Army soon, so most of the company's sales will be carried out online at Doughpeclothing.com.

Quite often, newly-minted NBA stars get involved in reckless business dealings after signing massive pro contracts. In this case, Singleton is working with a small group of people he knows, starting out slowly, and keeping his business based in Tallahassee for now. This comes off more as a well-planned foray into the commercial world by a couple of athletes who used their college time to develop brains, and meaningful friendships, as well as muscles.

Photo: US Presswire
Posted on: May 4, 2011 9:06 am
Edited on: May 4, 2011 9:08 am
 

Big-time schools seek help from Valpo transfer



Posted by Eric Angevine

We've talked recently about the practice of grabbing grad students as transfers for one-year tours of duty. North Carolina and Tennessee did it with, respectively, Justin Knox (formerly at Alabama) and John Fields (formerly at UNC-Wilmington). Both players had completed their degrees but retained a year of eligibility due to sitting out a season along the way. As prospective grad students, both players became free to pursue immediate playing time elsewhere, as long as they chose a course of study that was unavailable at the institution they had been attending.

Those two big men provided depth and little else, but that hasn't stopped programs in need from pursuing similar situations when they arise. I suggested last week that N.C. State might look at Ole Miss grad Trevor Gaskins as an experienced gap-filler this season. Another case has come up at Michigan State, where Tom Izzo is battling three other big-time programs for the future services of a Valparaiso graduate. The Detroit Free Press has the story:

Tom Izzo rounded out his coaching staff April 20 with 31-year-old Dane Fife, who left his head coaching job at Indiana-Purdue Ft. Wayne. Now Izzo might fill out his roster with Brandon Wood, a 6-foot-2 guard who led Valparaiso in scoring last season.

Because Wood will receive his degree in sports marketing May 15, he can transfer to another Division I school and play right away, so long as it offers a graduate program Valparaiso doesn't. He said he also has interest from Purdue, Connecticut and Florida State.

Prior to Monday's meeting, Wood had discussed the possibility of a transfer in phone conversations with Izzo, assistant coach Mike Garland and MSU senior forward Draymond Green.

Wood initiated the contact with MSU because he thinks he could benefit from a year at the highest level of college basketball.

Wood retains his year of eligibility because he started out at Southern Illinois and sat out a year before playing two for Homer Drew at Valpo. He stayed on track academically while also becoming the team's leading scoring option, which brings him to this point, where he is eligible to play for a third school, this time one in the sport's highest collegiate echelon.

Wood's approach actually seems very smart. He's built a reputation as a strong player and done well academically. He has put his name in the NBA draft pool, but has already announced that he plans to gather information and withdraw, presumably to attend one of the four schools listed by the Free Press. That's four NCAA tourney schools, including the national champs, by the way. In fact, Wood scored 20 on Purdue - one of his suitors - just last season.

Each of those programs could obviously use a dynamic and level-headed player like Wood, as well. Michigan State has suffered from a rash of injuries and defections over the past two years, and some very public personality conflicts have arisen between the head coach and some of his players. Wood won't be the antidote to that kind of thing, but he seems like a lock not to add stress to the mix of his own accord. Whether his presence will incite rebellion amongst players who want more PT or not... who knows?

Brandon Wood has nothing but good choices here. He is likely to succeed wherever he transfers, he has his degree and he can likely amp up expectations for any school he joins. 

Wood may not have had the smoothest ride thus far, but it's nice to see a true student-athlete with a bright future ahead of him, making sound decisions. We'll keep an eye on where this kid ends up.
Posted on: April 14, 2011 12:08 pm
Edited on: April 14, 2011 12:17 pm
 

Making the Leap: Williams, Singleton declare

Posted by Jeff Borzello

After a dominant NCAA tournament performance that vaulted him into the top five of the NBA draft, it came as no surprise that Arizona forward Derrick Williams declared for the draft on Wednesday.

Williams will sign with an agent, meaning he cannot return to the Wildcats for his junior season.

He averaged 19.5 points and 8.3 rebounds this past season, shooting nearly 60 percent from the floor.

With Williams, Arizona had a chance to be a top-10 team heading into next season. Even without him, though, the Wildcats will be a contender for the Pac-12 championship.

Jamelle Horne is the only other loss besides Williams, as four starters return. Momo Jones had strong showings in the NCAA tournament, while Kyle Fogg and Kevin Parrom were solid playmakers on the wings. Solomon Hill and Jesse Perry were also effective in the postseason, and Jordin Mayes was in the game during crunch-time situations.

What has everyone excited is the recruiting class Sean Miller is bringing in. Josiah Turner and Nick Johnson were teammates on the AAU circuit, and will make immediate impacts for the Wildcats. Turner can start at the point, while Johnson is an athletic scorer who is also a lockdown defender. Four-star recruits Angelo Chol and Sidiki Johnson will help replace Williams in the paint.

Williams would have made this team a Final Four contender, but there will still be plenty of wins in Tucson next season.

NBA Draft

Singleton’s loss will hurt Florida State

Florida State’s run to the Sweet 16 after a poor finish in the regular season demonstrated how important Chris Singleton was to the Seminoles this past campaign.

Unfortunately, Singleton announced on Wednesday that he was entering the NBA draft and signing with an agent.

Singleton missed six games due to an injury, but still managed to average 13.1 points and 6.8 rebounds, and cement himself as arguably the most versatile defensive player in the country.

The loss of Singleton means Leonard Hamilton will be without his two scorers from this past season, as Derwin Kitchen used up his eligibility. For a team that struggled immensely to score, that doesn’t bode well.

Next season, the Seminoles will need wings Michael Snaer and Deividas Dulkys to increase their scoring, and Ian Miller has to become more consistent at the point guard position. Bernard James was a defensive force in the NCAA tournament, and Okaro White showed flashes.

The incoming freshman class will help. Aaron Thomas was a late bloomer who brings plenty of offense and deep range on his jumper, while forward Antwan Space is a versatile rebounder who can hit face-up shots. Terry Whisnant is another gunner.

Singleton was one of the best two-way forwards in the country; an ineffective Florida State offense will struggle to replace him.

Photo: US Presswire

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: March 28, 2011 3:49 am
Edited on: March 28, 2011 8:49 am
 

Southwest wrap-up: VCU makes history

VCU celebrates a Final Four berth

Posted by Jeff Borzello

SAN ANTONIO – Well, where to start?

How about the most impressive Final Four run in NCAA tournament history?

VCU’s First Four to Final Four story is the first of its kind, and certainly won’t be repeated for a very long time, if not ever. Two weeks ago, the majority of people were saying the Rams didn’t belong in the NCAA tournament. Now, there’s very little room left on the bandwagon. The chances of VCU making the first Final Four in program history after finishing fourth in the CAA were next to nothing; this run is absolutely mind-boggling.

The emergence of Shaka Smart as the hottest name in the coaching world has been a story itself. The affable young coaching whiz has had a weirdly interesting relationship with the media throughout the entire regional. Media members love him, swoon over him, stop at nothing to praise him. At the same time, Smart has played the “nobody believes in us” card every game, using media clips to demonstrate the doubt.

A loose, easygoing group of disrespected kids led by a likeable young coach who feeds into that personality? It’s easy to fall in love with the Rams, and their play on the court has cemented that feeling. They pressure the ball defensively, knock down 3-pointers on the offensive end and get up and down the court in a hurry.

Write off VCU at your own peril. Your words are sure to be repeated over and over, and then rubbed in your face afterwards.

And you’ll still love this team and its leader.

Regional MVP: Jamie Skeen, VCU. Skeen’s performance against Kansas on Sunday was nothing short of extraordinary. Going up against three future first-round picks in the Morris twins and Thomas Robinson, one might think Skeen was at a disadvantage. All he did was go out and finish with 26 points and 10 rebounds, knocking down four 3-pointers in the process. He played 38 minutes and didn’t pick up a single foul.

All-regional team

  • Joey Rodriguez, VCU
  • Bradford Burgess, VCU
  • Jamie Skeen, VCU
  • Brandon Rozzell, VCU
  • Marcus Morris, Kansas

Game to remember: VCU 72, Florida State 71. The only overtime game in the regional, and a welcomed change after four third-round blowouts and a 20-point Kansas-Richmond margin. Florida State overcame a nine-point deficit in the final seven minutes to force overtime, and it looked like VCU’s run might be over. Not with Shaka Smart at the helm. With six seconds left, Smart designed a play that got Bradford Burgess a wide-open layup to give VCU the one-poiint win.

Game to forget: Florida State 71, Notre Dame 57. Blowouts are ugly. Florida State plays ugly. When the Seminoles are on the winning end of a blowout? Hideous. Second-seeded Notre Dame shot 32 percent from the field, and Florida State led by as many as 23 points in the second half. The Seminoles completely dominated the Fighting Irish with their physicality and athleticism.

Biggest disappointment: Everyone. With only three higher-seeded teams advancing out of the round of 64, this region had its share of disappointments. Purdue and Notre Dame were manhandled in the third round and Kansas also fell earlier than expected. When a No. 11 seed wins the region, it’s tough to single out just one disappointment.

Best individual performance in a losing effort: JaJuan Johnson, Purdue. It wasn’t Johnson’s fault that Purdue was blown out by VCU, 94-76. Johnson went for 25 points and 14 rebounds, blocking three shots and shooting 11-for-20 from the field.

Most memorable moments

Team to watch out for next year: Louisville. The Cardinals vastly outperformed expectations this season, despite not having much talent on the roster. Next season, that will change. Wayne Blackshear and Chane Behanan are McDonald’s All-Americans, and Rakeem Buckeles and Jared Swopshire should finally be healthy. Peyton Siva and Kyle Kuric are also primed for breakout seasons.

Photo: US Presswire

More NCAA tournament coverage
Posted on: March 26, 2011 12:50 am
Edited on: March 26, 2011 12:58 am
 

VCU can channel Mason Magic for one more win

Posted by Jeff Borzello

SAN ANTONIO -- Will the Mason Magic ever run out for VCU?

Despite winning its fourth game in the NCAA tournament, a 72-71 overtime victory over Florida State, VCU is still one step away from the Final Four.

Standing in the Rams’ way is top-seeded Kansas, the favorite to win the championship and the deepest and most talented team left in the field.

The scenario seems eerily similar to George Mason’s run to the national semifinals from 2006. From the same spot in the bracket – upper right-hand corner, No. 11 seed – going against the giant, the Goliath of the Elite Eight. Mason did it against Connecticut; can VCU do it against the Jayhawks?

Yes.

Sure, the Rams have far less talent and will be overmatched at nearly every position, but it’s impossible to write off Shaka Smart’s troops at this point.

Smart has proven himself as one of the brightest young coaching minds in college basketball, consistently designing effective game plans and then crafting effective plays out of timeouts. I’m sure he will have something up his sleeve against Kansas.

With the way VCU is shooting 3-pointers, it can hang with anyone in the country. The Rams weren’t supposed to have the size to compete with USC; they weren’t supposed to have the experience to beat Georgetown; they simply weren’t supposed to be good enough to beat Purdue.

Against Florida State, the Rams once again came in as the underdog. They were undersized and got absolutely destroyed on the glass, getting outrebounded 47-32 and allowing 21 offensive rebounds.

It didn’t matter.

VCU knocked down 12 3-pointers and forced 16 turnovers, getting great bench production and making shots when it mattered. After Bradford Burgess was blocked near the end of regulation, the Rams looked devastated. They lacked energy and had zero momentum in the overtime period.

Burgess then nailed a 3-pointer and Joey Rodriguez picked up a steal, getting VCU right back into the game.

After Chris Singleton’s layup with 29 seconds left, VCU called a timeout to design a play with eight seconds left. Most people thought the Rams would go drive-and-kick – Smart wanted no part of that. Burgess got free near the rim, Rodriguez found him and VCU was able to escape with a one-point win.

Nothing fazes this VCU team.

Kansas won’t faze them. The Jayhawks’ talent and depth won’t faze them.

It won’t be easy. VCU will need to what its city brethren couldn’t do – knock down 3-pointers. Richmond came into its game shooting 40 percent from deep, but went just 4-for-26 from behind the arc against the Jayhawks.

The fact that the Rams won’t be able to keep Kansas off the glass? The fact that VCU will have trouble taking care of the ball against Kansas’ ball pressure? Won’t be factors.

This VCU team is on a roll right now, proving it can beat any sort of team in the field.

Shaka Smart and company might not beat Kansas on Sunday, but no one thought George Mason could beat Connecticut in 2006 either.

The Mason Magic might have one more win left in its bag.

Photo: US Presswire

More NCAA tournament coverage
Posted on: March 22, 2011 11:05 pm
Edited on: March 22, 2011 11:18 pm
 

ACC teams win when it counts



Posted by Eric Angevine

We've read all about how the Big East flamed out in this year's tournament. 9 out of 11 teams out before the Sweet 16. This from a conference that supposedly had one of the best regular seasons in college hoops history.

The Atlantic Coast Conference, on the other hand, was supposedly in a down year. It's a defensible position. The fourth-best team in the conference was Clemson, a team that might not have made the dance last season when it was a 65-team affair. The bottom of the league was absolutely miserable, with former contenders like Miami, Wake Forest, Virginia, Georgia Tech and Maryland falling below .500 in league play.

No doubt, that's bad news. The ACC is a blast to watch when several teams are in contention throughout the season.  But can we call it a down year when the league's top three teams have been so good in the postseason? North Carolina, Duke and Florida State finished 1,2,3 in the ACC standings, and all three have made it to the Sweet 16. Each made it to this point by employing a different strategy.

North Carolina, typically known for running opponents out of the gym, has become more comfortable in the half-court set with Kendall Marshall dispatching pinpoint entry passes to Tyler Zeller and John Henson. When things get a little tight on the interior, Harrison Barnes can light it up from outside, and Leslie McDonald sees spot duty as a shooter as well. Dexter Strickland can score, but functions best as a defensive stopper.

Duke, on the other hand, is guard central. No other team in the nation can match the rotation of Nolan Smith, Seth Curry, Kyrie Irving and Andre Dawson. Kyle Singler is once again scoring, rebounding and passing at a high level. If the Blue Devils have a weakness, it's the minimal production down low. As we saw last season, a dominant big man is not necessary for Coach K to win the big one.

Florida State may be the most surprising team to appear in this position. Head coach Leonard Hamilton is hardly a household name, in spite of his 25-year career, which includes two Big East coach of the year citations from his time with Miami, and one from the ACC in 2009. This is his second Sweet 16 appearance. FSU has been largely underrated this season because it wins games with defense in spite of offensive lapses, and because star player Chris Singleton missed the final six games of the ACC season. With Singleton back, the Seminoles upset Texas A&M and absolutely drilled Notre Dame, winning 71-57. It was by far the biggest win put up by any of the league's three Sweet 16 participants.

Odds are, at least one of the three will make it to a regional final. It helps that no ACC teams had to play one another, but that'll happen when you get a measly four teams in. Then again, three out of four in the Sweet 16 makes quality over quantity sound like a pretty good deal.

Photo: US Presswire

More NCAA tournament coverage
Posted on: March 22, 2011 10:17 pm
Edited on: March 22, 2011 10:19 pm
 

16 stories to watch in the Sweet 16

Posted by Matt Jones

1. Ohio State’s quest for dominance
:  College basketball has been decidedly mediocre as a whole this season, with no real difference between most of the teams in the top 25. But all year, Ohio State has seemed to be on a different plane. Its two losses during the regular season were both on the road, against ranked teams in the Top 15. And now in the tournament, as Kansas, Duke, North Carolina, etc have struggled at times in their games, the Buckeyes have rolled and looked absolutely dominant. Now however they are rewarded only with the two winningest programs in college basketball history, Kentucky and North Carolina. Win those two in a convincing manner and they will be cutting the nets down in Houston.


2.  The era of Jorts in full effect:  The most improved player in college basketball is the lone senior on a program known for its freshman, who played 35 total minutes last season. Josh Harrellson is a fan favorite in Lexington, Kentucky, in part because of his Cinderella story and in part because of his unique personality. In addition to becoming a force on the glass down low, Harrellson has embraced the nickname “Jorts,” given to him because he famously wore jean shorts on his campus recruiting visit. The denim legend has a chance to enter UK lore if he can somehow slow down Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger and make Kentucky so filled with jean shorts, that it looks like Gainesville on a Saturday college football afternoon.


3.  Buzz Williams’s final audition:  Coach Buzz Williams is absolutely focused on taking Marquette to another Final Four, and to do so, he will have to beat two of the North Carolina, Ohio State, Kentucky trio. But Williams will also be a hot commodity when the season ends, as he is likely to be pursued by all of the job openings left in college basketball. Marquette is not the most attractive BCS-level job and Williams will have the opportunity to jump ship if he so chooses. Either way, a number of college Athletic Directors will be watching his Golden Eagles play, waiting for a loss and a chance to call his cell phone for a quick inquiry.


4.  Harrison Barnes lives up to the hype:  Thanks in large part to the success of freshman John Wall last season, many in the national media felt the need to crown North Carolina’s Harrison Barnes national preseason player of the year before he had even played a game in Chapel Hill. Early in the year, Barnes did not live up the hype, causing some painful growth and verbal reprimands to the press by coach Roy Williams. But as the year has gone on, Barnes has hit his stride and looks an awful lot like the number one player in America he was coming out of high school. A run to the Final Four and the Harrison Barnes redemption story will be told far and wide, likely followed up with a top 5 pick this spring in the NBA Draft.


5. Duke goes for the repeat:  Only two teams have gone back to back in the NCAA tournament in the last 35 years and both were considered some of the best in the history of college basketball. This year's Duke team has the chance to replicate the accomplishment, but do so in a different manner than the two prior winners. Both the 1992 Duke and 2007 Florida teams were dominant from start to finish, but this year's Duke team has been a notch below Ohio State and Kansas all season. They escaped against Michigan on Sunday and now are four games away from college basketball immortality...even if many of us aren't sure that they are all that good.

6. Arizona announces it is back:  It hasn't been that long since Arizona was the dominant college basketball power on the west coast. But then came the rise of UCLA, the decline of the Lute Olson era, Kevin O'Neill and all of a sudden, Arizona basketball became somewhat of an afterthought. Well regardless of what happens in the Sweet 16 versus Duke, the Wildcats' program under Sean Miller has proven that it is once again a power. Derrick Williams has made some of the most athletic plays of the tournament and Arizona has won two hard-fought battles over Memphis and Texas. With a strong recruiting class coming next season, Arizona basketball is back regardless of if they beat Duke. but if they sneak up and knock out the Blue Devils, well Arizona will announce that it is a top ten program once again, this time to stay.

7. Kemba Walker's time:  There isn't much left for Kemba Walker to accomplish at Connecticut. He has had an amazing season and his run in the Big East tournament ensures that he will be remembered forever around the Huskies' program. But he is two wins away from taking his UCONN team to a Final Four, completing a postseason that will have few equals in recent history. His ability to score and will wins at the end of games is unbelievable to watch and Walker now must do it as an underdog two more times to reach his ultimate goal. In a year where the stars have come out, Kemba still has the chance to be the biggest one yet, with two games in Anaheim to tell the tale.

8. Steve Fisher's redemption:  Everyone thinks Steve Fisher is a bad coach. Regardless of his amazing tournament run to the title in 1989 and his time spent overseeing the Fab Five, the reality is that media and most college basketball fans think Fisher is synonymous with "good recruiter/bad coach." But San Diego State has had a tremendous season in a tough conference and now has a chance to prove its mettle versus arguably one of the two best players in the game (Kemba Walker) and the defending national champions (Duke) over the next five days. Win both of those games and Fisher may not quiet the critics, but they will have much less ammunition than they would prefer.

9. Learn about the Morris twins:  Coming out of high school, most figured the Morris twins, Marcus and Markieff, to be super talented, but likely headed for a substantial amount of trouble during their time at Kansas. That opinion was bolstered by a stupid moment from Markieff, as he shot a BB gun out of a dorm window and ended up arrested on a battery charge. But since then, the Morris twins have gotten better on and off the basketball court and are the leaders of a Kansas team with a legitimate chance to win a title. Both players are forces on the glass and can score, making them not only a great brother tandem, but a matchup nightmare. In a relatively open bracket, it should be easy pickings for the brothers Morris.

10. Richmond tries to keep going:  Every year a team comes from out of the first weekend as a big underdog, heads into the second weekend with lots of press and excitement, only to fall in their Sweet 16 game to a stronger opponent. Last year that team was Cornell from the Ivy League and this year it is the familiar NCAA tournament success story, the Richmond Spiders. Unlike past heroes of the little guy, Richmond is from a near-major conference (Atlantic 10) and counts some good athletes and one great player, Kevin Anderson. Richmond plays great defense and has the ability to beat anyone in the tournament...except perhaps Kansas, who creates matchup nightmares for the Spiders. This is the spot where teams like Richmond exit stage left. We shall see if the Spiders will follow the script.

11. Could VCU be great?:  No team had a better first weekend than VCU. Who would have ever imagined that the Colonial team would put absolute smackdowns on USC, Georgetown and Purdue, all three in games that were never really all that close. VCU coach Shaka Smart has become the hottest name in the coaching community and our CBSSports.com writer Gregg Doyel suggested that they might be the most impressive team so far in the tournament. VCU plays a straightforward offensive style, in which every player can score and all on the court have a variety of skills. It makes them tough to prepare for in a given game and nearly impossible to defend when clicking. It is tough to see VCU coming out of this bracket and beating Kansas, but making the Elite Eight and giving the Jayhawks a good game? I would call it likely.

12. Florida State goes for respect:  Every year there is one team like Florida State that makes the Sweet 16. Usually they are from a power conference, were average all year, often underachieving, and then they get the perfect draw and make a run to the tournament's second weekend. The Seminoles were blessed by getting to play the decidedly unathletic and overseeded, Notre Dame Fighting Irish and are now onto play America's new fascination, VCU. When healthy, Chris Singleton is the type of player that can lead FSU over anyone and there will be no team they will see that they can't match up with athletically. But FSU has always been a team that skeptics dismiss and Leonard Hamilton is a coach that usually brings out the eye rolls from those in the college basketball community. This weekend could change that.

13. Brad Stevens tries to do it again:  Butler's move to the championship game last year was remarkable and a testament to the ability of Brad Stevens and a great group of Butler players, led by Gordon Hayward. But this Butler team's set of last-second wins last weekend may have even been more impressive. While Matt Howard and Shelvin Mack are both playing well, there was a time this year that Butler was completely in turmoil, losing to lower level Horizon League teams and looking like a fragment of the team that was a half court shot from cutting down the nets. But Stevens never gave up, the team got better and now two one point wins have put the Bulldogs two victories from the Final Four. The Southeast bracket is wide open and there is no reason that Stevens cannot make magic again.

14. Jordan Taylor will impress:  Jordan Taylor is a phenomenon to watch. While he plays on a painfully boring team that at times can suck the life out of any room it is in, he is an explosive scorer that also has the ability to get his teammates involved and control a game. Taylor will get overshadowed this weekend by Jimmer, Kemba and the rest, but he is as good a player as they are and at the top of his game, potentially a better NBA prospect. Wisconsin is prime to sneak in under the radar and make a trip to the Final Four, because they play great defense and are a style contrast for most teams. Bo Ryan can get it done with this group, but it will be Jordan Taylor who makes it happen.

15. Jimmer: He is the biggest star in college basketball and has become a sports figure so well known, that he can be called only by his first name. Jimmer Fredette draws the highest ratings of the NCAA tournament and is everyone's second favorite player in the nation. But what he doesn't have is a Final Four, an accomplishment that will make him an all-timer in the sport. Florida is a team that BYU beat last year and the Cougars might be favored against either Wisconsin or Butler. Jimmer can do it and if he does, he will become the Tim Tebow of college basketball.  All it takes is two more wins.

16. The under-appreciated Gators: Florida is playing its best basketball of the season and is one of only a few teams left in the tournament that has a scoring threat at every position. This Florida team has generally been overlooked all season and was thought by most to be way overseeded in the No. 2 spot in the Southeast region. But the Gators played two great games in Tampa and come to New Orleans with the most open bracket in the field and are the odds-on favorite to advance. Billy Donovan is extremely overlooked as a coach...three national title games in 11 years and a chance to go to a fourth Final Four this year. Get that done and he has to be considered one of the five best coaches in the game, a group he is rarely placed into.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com