Sunday, October 21, 2007

2008 NCAA field of 65, teams 31-40

31. Florida (SEC)

What to like: Two-time NCAA champions managed to pull Billy Donovan back from the clutches of the NBA, and still put together one the nation's best recruiting classes.
Weaknesses: Obviously, we're not talking about the same teams as last season. Walter Hodge and Marreese Speights should start, but Hodge will probably do better as an off-guard.
Who to watch: Three freshman should probably start, and it'll be some combo of 6-6 Nick Calathes, 6-8 Alex Tyus, 6-8 Chandler Parsons, and 5-11 Jai Lucas. If Lucas can start, that'll probably help Hodge's offense, which will take pressure of the freshmen to execute. Adam Allen is the overlooked freshman who will contribute off the bench, but you can put money on Speights being the star.

32. Wisconsin (Big Ten)

What to like: Bo Ryan is one of the best coaches in basketball, and he has most of last year's top-ten team to mold into another competitor. Brian Butch has to have a big year.
Weaknesses: Replacing Big Ten POY Alando Tucker will be really difficult, as he manufactured shots out of nowhere. The offensive rebounding wasn't great, and they didn't hit their free-throws last season.
Who to watch: Marcus Landry might see his numbers rise significantly, but Michael Flowers should be the motor that this team runs on. If Butch can't use his height, Greg Stiemsma will probably get the call inside. Redshirt 6-11 JP Gavinski may seem to come "out of nowhere" to surprise the talking heads, but I think the key to the Badgers' season will rest on the shooting of wings Joe Krabbenhoft and Jason Bohannon.

33. Virginia (ACC)

What to like: The Cavaliers had the second-best conference record in the ACC, and Sean Singletary's return should drive an experienced team back to the Field of 65.
Weaknesses: The Cavs had the easiest schedule, and were not as good as their record. Without scorer JR Reynolds, Virginia's going to have a harder time getting good shots, which was already a big problem last season.
Who to watch: Big things are expected of frosh wing 6-4 Jeff Jones, but fellow freshmen Mustapha Farrakhan and Sam Zeglinski are no slouches either. 6-9 reserves Jamil Tucker and Ryan Pettinella have a chance at replacing Jason Cain in the middle, and one of them develops a low-post game, that could help the offense a lot. Turnovers were a problem last season, and maybe a year of experience will help the whole squad cut down on those.

34. Northern Iowa (Missouri Valley)

What to like: The Panthers were a decent team last season, and seem like they should be poised to nudge out Creighton and Missouri State for an at-large bid to the NCAA's.
Weaknesses: Grant Stout was a great defensive presence in the paint. Replacing that will be tough, but the offense needs to be tightened up. They can survive without being great on the boards, but not without better shooting.
Who to watch: Eric Coleman will be the motor of the offense, but NIU needs a playmaker to replace Brooks McKowen. There's good shooters returning (with the exception of Travis Brown- not sure why he's a starter), but Iowa transfer Carlton Reed might be the answer once he bounces back from a broken foot. In the meantime, watch reserve Kwadzo Ahelegbe's ability to run an offense. 7-1 Jordan Egsleder is poised for a breakout year, too.

35. Kansas State (Big XII)

What to like: A revitalized KSU went deep into the postseason NIT, and then added the McDonald's All-American game MVP Michael Beasley. If not now, when do the Wildcats make the Big Dance?
Weaknesses: The interior defense was not great, and the Wildcats' shooting was terrible. Coach Frank Martin has to be hoping the Beasley can change both of these for the better.
Who to watch: Bill Walker. A blue-chip recruit that was supposed to be eligibile this season, Walker graduated high school a semester early, but only played 7 games before getting hurt. A healthy Walker combined with Beasley and touted recruit 6-4 Dominique Sutton ought to make up for the loss of three starters. If Blake Young can step up to start alongside Clent Stewart and star David Hoskins, the perimeter attack would be steady again.

36. Providence (Big East)

What to like:A solid Friars squad should have enough to get to the NCAA tourney even with the loss of star center Herbert Hill. Of the second tier of Big East teams, I'm betting on Providence to be the most consistent.
Weaknesses: The three-point shooting has to improve, and even with Hill, Providence had terrible interior defense last season, and the FG% defense and defensive rebounding has to get better.
Who to watch: Weyinmi Efejuku is poised to make the Sportscenter highlights, but how transfer Jeff Xavier blends with point guards Sharraud Curry and Dwain Williams bears watching. Jonathan Kale will probably take Hill's starting spot, but if 6-11 Ray Hall could make a Hibbert-like improvement and contribute in the middle, Providence would a dangerous NCAA tournament team.

37. North Carolina State (ACC)

What to like: The Wolfpack was perhaps the surprise team of the ACC last season, and should be able to build on that success. Brandon Costner & Ben McCauley were a vicious 1-2 post presence.
Weaknesses: With the loss Engin Atsur, a steady hand to run the offense is badly needed. Efficiency was a problem (and that's a BIG red flag), as turnovers and a lack of rebounding at either end shackled this team.
Who to watch: Gavin Grant should now have the immigration problems behind him and should the go-to guy of the offense. With Blue-Chipper JJ Hickson giving depth to the frontcourt, skinny 6-9 shooter Dennis Horner ought be able to see more minutes on the wind. But the single position to watch is the point guard spot. Frosh 6-0 Javi Gonzalez, should see minutes, but I think transfer 6-3 Farnold Degand may be the starter.

38. Oregon (Pacific 10)

What to like: An elite-eight squad returns almost everyone and looks to gun their way to another succesful season. Malik Hairston has his last chance to convince NBA scouts he's worthy of a draft pick.
Weaknesses: This wasn't a particularly fast team, and Aaron Brooks was the go-to man in the clutch, and finding someone to fill that role is the top priority for coach Ernie Kent. The defense needs to tighten a little, too.
Who to watch: Both freshmen 6-7 Drew Viney and 6-2 Kamyron Brown will have chances to contribute from the start. Hairston and mighty mite 5-6 Tajuan Porter will be the top scorers, but wing Bryce Taylor should be watched as well. Marty Leunen should finally get some help inside as 6-6 Joevan Catron appears to be ready to step into the starting line-up.

39. Georgia (SEC)

What to like: Most everyone returns from a team that was on the edge of qualifying for an at-large NCAA bid, and they add a solid recruiting class. The Big Dance seems a certainty.
Weaknesses: The weaknesses on this team were very specific. They didn't defend the three very well, and they weren't good at shooting free-throws. Hopefully, the coaching staff can address these deficiencies.
Who to watch: Well, just about everyone go suspended to start the season. If they respond well to the challenge, this could be a really tough team. Or they could tank. Takias Brown is the star inside, and recruits Jeremy Price, Chris Barnes, and Jeremy Jacob should shore up the inside depth. Keep an eye on 7-footer Rashad Singleton's progress, but 6-6 wing Terrance Woodbury is the one who should get more minutes.

40. Notre Dame (Big East)

What to like: A good nucleus highlighted by three double-digit scorers return from one of the Big East's best teams last season. Having Kyle McAlarney for the fullseason ought to be a boost as well.
Weaknesses: This team did lose its top two scorers. Also, the defense wasn't great and for all the beef inside, ND was one of the worst rebounding teams in the Big East.
Who to watch: The wings. McAlarney can take one spot, but reserve Ryan Ayers or raw frosh Ty Proffit might be pressed into action before they're ready. The post will be the focal point of the offense, with Luke Harangody needing to step up to stardom. Forward Rob Kurz gets overlooked, but the man puts up points both inside and behind the arc.


Post a Comment

<< Home