This entire season, I have believed that college basketball, as a whole, was down. I feel there are only but a few great players and no really great teams. A case could be made for Ohio State if they would have won the championship, but that ship sunk when they were dealt a loss by the Wildcats of Kentucky. However, I think with no great teams really available, that makes a great tournament, and clearly I was right. We’ve witnessed one of the more memorable NCAA tourneys that I can remember. Some players and teams have stood out, and some have disappeared. So, here is my list of Tournament Studs and Duds.

Studs:

Will Rodriguez and his Rams emerge as NCAA champions?

  • Joey Rodriguez: A case could be made for the entire roster of the Virginia Commonwealth Rams, but Rodriguez has had one of the most memorable tournament performances in quite some time. He has been the main catalyst of a very dynamic Ram offense, and has run the point guard position the way it is supposed to be played. While he had great games against USC, Georgetown and Florida State, his best game of the tournament was against Purdue, a known great defensive team. His stats weren’t the greatest (12 points and 11 assists) but he had no turnovers, and that is tough to do against Purdue.
  • Butler University: The Butler did it again. Nobody gave this team a chance to return to the Final Four after their main star Gordon Heyward left for the NBA. This team was supposed to win maybe one game in the tourney. Clearly Butler didn’t get the message. Butler has pulled off very impressive wins against Old Dominoin, Pittsburgh, Wisconsin and Florida. Senior Matt Howard and Junior Shelvin Mack have played excellent basketball and Butler will play the winner of Kansas and VCU. I have learned to never pick against the Bulldogs until the Final Four again.
  • Kemba Walker: This guy is amazing. After he pulled off, perhaps the best Big East tournament performances of all time, he decided to make the NCAA Tournament his playground and led his UConn Huskies to the Final Four. In games against Bucknell, Cincinnati, San Diego State and Arizona Walker has a combined 107 points, 27 assists and 21 rebounds. After the Big East Tournament, I became a Kemba believer and picked the Huskies to go to the Final Four. I think UConn will beat the winner of Kentucky vs. North Carolina and will be the NCAA champions.
  • Atlantic Coast Conference: This conference has been disrespected the entire season, and that showed with only four teams getting invites to the big dance. However, the ACC led all conferences with three teams in the Sweet 16 (Duke, North Carolina and Florida State.) Duke and Florida State both lost in the Sweet 16, but the fact remains that as a conference, their record is an impressive 8-3, with the possibility of North Carolina winning even more games.

Duds:

  • University of Louisville: This team was THE disappointment of the tournament. After a great showing in the Big East Tournament , where they lost in the championship to UConn, many people believed the Cardinals had a Final Four run in them. Thankfully I wasn’t one of them, but that is neither here nor there. The Cardinals came out flat against a disrespected in-state rival Morehead State team, in which the Eagles were playing like it was their national championship game. With playes like Peyton Siva and Preston Knowles, the Cardinals underachieved and head coach Rick Pitino decided to do in-studio analysis after his team lost.
  • E’Twaun Moore: The Purdue senior didn’t show up this tournament. He did have 19 points against a terrible St. Peter’s team, but only had 10 points against VCU. During the VCU game, he looked uninterested and lost at times. That is not what you want out of a senior leader on your team. Moore had a great college career, but he probably wants to forget this tournament.
  • University of Notre Dame: What a disappointment the Irish experienced this tourney. They were a 2 seed and many thought they were deserving of a 1 seed. Akron kept the game close, only losing by 13, and then Florida State completely dominated the Irish. Notre Dame had established that they were an outside shooting team with players like Ben Hansbrough and Tim Abromaitis draining threes all season. However, this  proved to be their downfall. If their shots are not hitting, they are a very vulnerable team and Florida State exposed that.
  • Big Ten Conference: A case could definitely be made that the Big East had a worse tournament than the Big Ten, but I feel I made my point with having Louisville and Notre Dame listed as duds. The Big Ten looked to be in a very good position to be big things this tournament, but that wasn’t the case at all. The conference only had two teams in the Sweet 16 and they have no teams in the Elite 8. Their combined record is 7-7. The Big Ten was supposed to be the premier conference of the season, but that is definitely not the case. There was no Michigan State magic. Purdue underachieved like usual. Penn State showed why they were on the bubble. The only team to really say they had a good tournament is Michigan. They beat Tennessee by 30, and gave Duke a hell of a game.
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