Rather quiet week in college basketball land.. and in the sports world in general. We chug along with our Top 144 preview, as #92 Seton Hall went online today.
I can't divulge who our #1 team will ultimately be.. but if I gave you 3 or 4 choices, you'd almost certainly be able to pick the team. Its a standard pick, one of the frontrunners, Kansas, UNC, Memphis, UCLA, etc. CHN also projected Florida as last year's NCAA Tournament winners.. a lame, boring pick, but the correct one.
There are times to take chances on predictions, but usually the safe best is to go with the smart money. I bring this up in regards to perhaps the worst sports prediction/article I've ever read in my life. An article by Jason Sobel of ESPN.com ranking which players have the best chance to win the PGA Championship. Sobel, in his infinite wisdom, wrote that Stewart Cink had the best chance to win the PGA.. putting Tiger Woods second. Now, here's a rule of thumb for any self-respecting golf writer: Always say Tiger Woods has the best chance to win a tournament. It doesn't matter what tournament it is, whether there's 3 guys in the field or 300, whether he's playing left handed or whether he's only allowed to use a 4 iron, you simply write down (no matter how boring it may be) that Tiger Woods has the best chance to win.
What makes that prediction ever more mind-boggling, is that Jason Sobel is ESPN.com's Golf Editor. He runs the show. You could imagine a first-time writer was trying to get attention going with Cink, or you could imagine a drunk guy in Vegas making the same prediction as well. But the editor of the largest sports website on Earth? Seriously?
There's little doubt that when our Top 144 is complete, some diehard will write an email asking why we didn't put Marquette #1.. or Stanford, or any other team with a marginal chance. Sure, the teams in the 10 to 25 range have a chance of winning the Big Dance.. just as Stewart Cink has a chance of winning any given golf tournament. Except that Cink's chance is infinitesimally small.. something Sobel seemed to forget.
Changing gears, or at least reversing gears, and going back to #92 Seton Hall for a second. The Pirates only went 4-12 in the Big East and finished 153rd in the RPI last year, so their 92 ranking is a large set up. But its possible they surpass 92nd with ease if everything goes according to plan.
If coach Bobby Gonzalez can harness Eugene Harvey's supreme talent.. then the sophomore point guard could be on the verge of blowing up. More important is the play of Larry Davis and John Garcia. Like Harvey, Davis was a stud top 75-100 recruit who decided between the Hall, Indiana, and NC State. After some promising early-mid season games (27 against Penn, 17 vs Saint John's), Davis collapsed down the stretch. In their last 6 games (5 losses), Davis was a dismal 4 of 35 from the floor. That's a hard to fathom 11%. With Brian Laing and Jamar Nutter on board, they don't need Davis to light it up, but this team will be much more dangerous (and exciting) with Davis on the floor instead of Nutter.
The other key is the play of Garcia. Garcia was a promising top 150 recruit who struggled with injuries the last two years. On a team lacking inside presence, the strong 6-9 frame of Garcia is needed mightily. He averaged 10.5 boards a game in the last two games of the year, perhaps giving hope that a bad knee injury is behind him.