Thursday, March 11, 2010

All-Americans Drive The Bandwagon

Quick thanks to Jimmy Traina at Sports Illustrated’s Hot Clicks for linking to the Part I & Part II of the top 25 breakdown the past couple days. The traffic is appreciated. For those of you new to the site, thanks for stopping by, and join as a follower through the site or on facebook through the links on the right panel.

Selection Sunday is only 4 days away, and we are keeping our focus on the tournament. As you know, I leave the whole bubble thing to guys who have much better access to a research department, and young data monkeys to pull it for them.

What does it take to win the tournament? There are a ton of theories on qualities a team should have including strong guard play (I’ve mentioned the Fat Point Guard Theory too many times already), an inside presence, tough defense and a good coach. Well, that’s all true, but pretty obvious. If a team has all of that, they would be expected to win. Another aspect is the presence of a star player with the ability to carry a team. There are plenty of examples of it, and in the past 10 years, 8 of the champions have had at least one player on the first or second team consensus All-American team. The only exceptions were in 2008 with Kansas and 2006 with Florida. Kansas had Brandon Rush make the third team from the NABC, and Mario Chalmers was AP honorable mention, while Florida had Joakim Noah who was AP honorable mention in 2006. (You can check out all the historical consensus All-Americans here)

Where does that lead us when we look at this year’s field? We only have the early picks for All-American teams from the Sporting News and Yahoo! Sports as our reference points, but since that’s what we have, that’s what we’ll work with. Using that small sample, the consensus first team guys are John Wall (Kentucky), Evan Turner (Ohio State), James Anderson (Oklahoma St) and Scottie Reynolds (Villanova). Greivis Vasquez (Maryland), DeMarcus Cousins (Kentucky), Sherron Collins (Kansas) and Wesley Johnson (Syracuse) are also on either the first or second team for both sources.

That leaves us with the teams we’d expect to have the best chances of winning it all, Kentucky, Kansas, Syracuse, Ohio State and Villanova. James Anderson is in a role similar to former Kansas State All-American Michael Beasley, or Arizona State’s James Harden – a guy who can light up the scoreboard, but doesn’t have enough help around him to advance deep in the tournament. Vasquez is hoping to match former Maryland All-American Juan Dixon in leading the Terps to a title, but he is more like former Texas A&M All-American Acie Law who couldn’t get past the sweet 16.

More interesting is to look at who among the top seeds this eliminates from title contention. Duke, Purdue, West Virginia and Kansas State are in contention for #1 or #2 seeds and do not have the All-Americans to drive them to the title. Potential #3-#5 seeds who are eliminated include New Mexico, Michigan State, Pittsburgh, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Wisconsin and Baylor. Again, it’s not a hard and fast rule, but the odds are definitely against one of these teams cutting down the nets at the end of the tournament.

And since many of you probably found the site through Hot Clicks and came back looking for more pictures of talent, I’ll just randomly throw up a picture of an a girl who wouldn’t make any consensus All-American teams, but she still manages to carry a show (Big Bang Theory) that otherwise is relying on the guy who played Russ in Christmas Vacation. Enjoy Kaley Cuoco.

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