A list of things I'll be watching during the tournament.
1. Dejuan Blair. When Blair is on the court it’s like seeing a bear playing with a bunch of people. He is so overpowering and dominating, it’s just fun to watch. When he Bruce Lee flipped Hasheem Thabeet he won me over for life. This is a guy who will send a message and do it without drawing a flagrant or tech, the anti-David West I suppose. If there is a God, Blair will meet Blake Griffin in the Final Four and they will put on a show. After that the Milwaukee Bucks will pass on both of them to take a foreign player who doesn’t want to be here. Oh, that’s right Larry Harris is gone, scratch that then.
2. John Calipari. He is a truth spitter. I can’t wait for the Tigers to get to the final four, just so I can hear Cap let everyone know how no one believed in them again. Rallying the troops has never been a problem for Calipari. He may be paying his guys, he may hire their fathers and friends as assistants, and he may even just be a douche bag, but if there is one thing John Calipari can do it’s coach college basketball. (Notice I say college, ask the New Jersey Nets about that.)
3. The Semi-Annual Bill Self Implosion. Used to the the annual, but it was averted last year. Kansas may have won the title last year, but make no mistake, Bill Self is not a good coach. He’s a terrific recruiter and a helluva salesman, but time and time again his teams fail to perform come March. As a bonus this year they are playing against one of my favorite sleepers in North Dakota State. The Bisons have plenty of veterans that have actually won meaningful games before. They boast victories over Wisconsin, Marquette and UWM in the past few years with this crew. The ghosts of Bucknell could be revisited. Shout out to my friend Chris for his perpetuating the Bill Self sucks idea.
4. No More Texas. Hopefully Texas will bow out in round one, because I just can’t take watching them on television any more. Is there some sort of national agreement that we must put Texas on ESPN once a week throughout college basketball season? What an awful team to watch. I realize that A.J. Abrams can shoot, but that’s all they have. Maybe Damian James and Earl Clark got together before the year and made a bet about who could hurt their draft stock more by having a worse year. I usually don’t like to see Big 10 teams winning games, but I’m all for Minnesota putting us out of our misery in the opening round.
5. Mike Anderson’s Missouri Tigers. I’ll be completely honest about this...I’ve watched about 10 minutes of Missouri basketball this year, but I’m convinced they will make the Elite 8. I was sure of that long before the brackets even came out. Not only can Missouri run and press and that good stuff, but I watched them blow apart a Baylor zone the other day with quick decisive passes. Beautiful basketball.
6. Tyrese Rice and Willie Warren. Possibly my two favorite guards in college basketball. Neither of them have any regard for situations or who is on the court or what else is going on when they have the ball. Their only objective is to find a way to put the ball through the hoop by any means necessary. Does that always lead to smart productive basketball? No. But it does lead to 34 points in a half.
7. Arizona One and Done. For all the reasons Arizona should have qualified for the NCAA tournament I have one reason they shouldn’t have. And it is a pretty significant example of a terrible teamWatch the first 15 seconds and then watch at the 3:45 mark. If that happens once, I may blame the players. But when something like that happens twice, it falls squarely on the coach. That was so ridiculous that it should have disqualified them right then and there. I was watching that game with my friends and did the run around the room screaming are you serious routine afterward.
8. Gonzaga. No one ever sees Gonzaga play since they are on the coast, but we all assume their probably good because we know who they are. From what I have seen I’m really feeling the Zags this year. If Jeremy Pargo has half the stones his brother showed when he tried to take over in the final game against the Spurs for the Hornets last year then the Zags are in good hands in crunch time. Everyone on Gonzaga can shoot it and they have Acid Trip Heytvelt holding it down underneath. Combine that with the potential that Austin Daye will remember he was talked about as a lottery pick before the year and I am excited to see them play some important basketball.
9. Chris Wright. His name rhymes with flight, which is appropriate. Youtube again does an admirable job of showing just why I’m excited to see this guy around again. I long for the days of James White when I see this young man. If only I lived in a city that had the D-League. As long as I’m mentioning Wright I would be remiss to leave out Stanley Robinson, Paul Harris, Wayne Chism and Al-Farouq Aminu.
10. Speaking of Chism...Tennessee Basketball. I just love to watch Tennessee. Run and gun basketball at it’s almost finest. If you’re a fan of jump passes and three point shots make sure you tune in to every one of their games because they are not shy about either. No matter what they will be in a fun game to watch though, and that is all you can really ask for.
11. Jarvis Varnardo. A shout out to those who block shots because it’s what keeps them on the floor. If Thabeet were had the pure shot blocking ability of Varnardo no one would even be able to get a shot to the rim against Uconn. Thabeet is pretty good though, I’m not trying to hate, just trying to get the point across that Varnardo is SERIOUS about blocking shots.
12. Greivis. His last name is Vasquez, but a friend of my always refers to him as just Greivis, like their old friends or something. I guess I’m starting to do it myself. Vasquez seems like he’s been around forever and no player in college basketball spills more of his emotion out on to the court, so maybe it’s appropriate that we refer to him like we would an old friend.
13. Purdue. They make white people happy.
14. Commercials. One in particular I’m looking forward to seeing throughout the tournament. The other day when I was on Dimemag.com I four commercials where KG, Josh Smith, TMac and Dwight Howard all rocked college jerseys with teams they presumably would not have minded playing for. My favorite part was seeing Tracy McGrady look like Oprah Winfrey in his Louisville jersey. The thing was about to burst at the seems. At least walk on a treadmill or something dude.
15. My Final Four. Memphis, Loserville (Marquette fandom bleeding through), Pittsburgh, and the Sooners. Look for Pitt to take home the crown this year. I’m pretty good at predicting these types of things, I advanced to the finals of my pool four years ago only to lose to a girl who had never watched anyone other than Wisconsin...so yeah...you should probably be listening to me.