Congratulations to UConn beating Louisville last night, could they be the team that doesn't get beat the week they become number 1 in the nation? They play dying bubble team Michigan on Saturday. Michigan has lost five of six and those wins in November against Duke and UCLA seem to be as long ago as the fab five. Something tells me Michigan's Zach Novak and Manny Harris would be wise not to throw bows against UConn's Hasheem Thabeet (7-3, 263) and Jeff Adrien (6-7, 243). Anyway UConn should win this one on Saturday, then again Wake should have thrashed Georgia Tech after beating Duke. I honestly thought Louisville was going to beat UConn, but when Earl Clark goes 2-16, that's 12.5% for you math wizards out there, how much of a chance do they really have. I still feel Louisville is as talented as any of the nation's top teams despite the loss yesterday.
That leads me to my next point. Once again this year, the tournament will be wide open with no clear cut favorite as of yet. Remember when UNC was being compared to the 1976 Indiana team or the great UNLV teams in 1990 and 1991. All the top dogs have a chance, but they all have a weakness. As we saw yesterday, Louisville has no true PG and relies too much on Clark and Terrence Williams. UConn still has little depth and weak wings. Despite how good Willie Warren is playing, and my god did you see that dunk on Saturday, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BOnRyIsHmbY&NR=1, Oklahoma will only go as far as Blake Griffin will take them. The same can be said for Duke and Kyle Singler. Wake and Pittsburgh have all the talent but lack depth and seem to play down to the talent level against some teams. This leaves UNC which has the least amount of holes but by far the most expectations. They have the talent, but they have had the talent for the past two years too and have not won the title. So there is clearly glaring weaknesses to every top tier team. I'm not quite sold on Xavier, Marquette, Clemson, and Butler. They are good and could make a run to the Final Four but I don't see them winning a National Title.
This is all why I have 5 teams to look out for in next month and into March, these are teams that can make a lot of noise now and come March no one wants to see them in their bracket:
1) Memphis- Oh how soon we forget, this is still the team that went to the National Title last year. They have balance down low, and on the wings. But the key has been John Calipari putting Freshman phenom Tyreke Evans at the point. The big 6-6 PG Evans has been good so far and has started to remind me and Memphis fans of another big PG they once had. No not Derrick Rose of last year, another guy who played there in the early 90s by the name of Penny Hardaway. Oh how soon we forget.
2) Gonzaga- They have balance, depth, coaching, a good big man in Josh Heytvelt, and good guard play. All of the ingredients for a dangerous team come tourney time. If talanted F Austin Daye can come even close to living up to the Kevin Durant/Rudy Gay comparisons they can be even more dangerous.
3) Villanova- While they may lack a lot in the frontcourt, Dante Cunningham is still a stud big man in the Big East. They also have proven they can compete with anyone, one-point loss to Louisville, and a six point loss at current #1 UConn. Plus they have 5 guards capable of starting and all can defend, score, and pass. It's not quite the guard combination they had in 2007 but it's still a good team.
4) Davidson- Stephen Curry need I say anymore. Actually I need to because they are more than just Curry. Andrew Lovedale is a good compliment to Curry and is a warrior down low. Despite the weak conference this team is battle tested in non-conference play. Plus this is the same team that went to the Elite Eight last year. Oh yeah did I mention they had that Curry guy on their team.
5) Tennessee- I know they have seven losses. I know Jodie Meeks treated them like Kobe treated the Knicks last night. But they have played a tough schedule and have the #20 RPI. If you don't think they're tough, then just ask Florida who they beat by 16 on Saturday night. If you still don't believe them, then just ask Marquette and Georgetown who they also beat. If frontcourt studs Tyler Smith and Wayne Chism are on their game along with the plethora of young guards they have, then Bruce Pearl's team is capable of beating anybody.