I feel it's my duty to educate the reader in all facets of the upcoming NCAA Tournament. We'll do our own bracketology shortly, but until then, it's time to identify the teams who could bust your bracket and why they should be on your radar. These are the schools that Millie in accounting who doesn't know Duke from her dog named Duke, use to move on because her cousin's sister knows someone who went there. We must take back the office pool from the secretary's of the world. Otherwise, what's the use in watching all of these games. Without further ado, your true bracket busters...
Belmont (16-3, 8-0 in) the Atlantic Sun -- The Bruins ironically have played Tennessee twice this season losing both games by less then double digits. In their December battle, they fell 66-65 in Knoxville. Belmont's other loss came in Vanderbilt where they once again fell 85-76. A lot of teams have come into those buildings and gotten their doors blown off. The rest of the schedule is littered with wins over patsies and scrubs. Belmont has three players capable of scoring and are led by Ian Clark who averages 12.1 points per game and shoots nearly 50% from the field. This team may be capable of scaring someone for one round.
Coastal Carolina (16-2, 7-0 in the Big South) -- The Chanticleers probably deserve to be here based on nickname alone. It rolls off the tongue and inspires fear in their opponents when uttered. They've tested themselves in the out of conference portion of their schedule winning at LSU while defeating Charlotte and East Carolina. Coastal's two losses came against Charleston and Georgetown way back in November. Desmond Holloway leads CCU with 18.8 points per game shooting 52% from the field. This team is probably a one and done, but keep them on the radar.
Long Beach State (11-8, 6-0 in the Big West) -- The 49ers have really tested themselves especially during a seven game road trip where they took on Boise State, Utah State, North Carolina, St. Mary's and Arizona State. Granted, they've lost most of their early tests, but they do own a win over Iowa. This team is no stranger to playing big conference teams also taking on Washington, Clemson and San Diego State. They've righted the ship winning six straight conference games. Once they get Larry Anderson back, they will be real deadly with five players averaging double digits in points. Casper Ware (14.8 ppg) and T.J. Robinson (14 ppg) are very good players. This team has tournament experience and the athletes to give the wrong team real fits.
Harvard (12-3, 1-0 in the Ivy League) -- In order to raise the IQ of those post, we must include a member of the Ivy League. It's no longer Cornell's playhouse as the Crimson are showing that it's time for new blood in the conference. The Crimson's three losses are at George Mason, Michigan and UConn. They do own wins over Colorado, Boston College and George Washington. They are also led by Tommy Amaker who is helping this team try to make it's first ever NCAA Tournament. These guys can score and have the weapons on offense to do so. Keith Wright (14.5 ppg) and Christian Webster (13.7 ppg) form a nice inside-out duo with Laurent Rivard (12.5 ppg) providing some scoring off the bench. This team has sweet 16 potential in the right pod.
Oakland (12-8, 7-0 in the Summit Conference) -- You know the recent additions of Brian Fuentes and Hideki Matsui make this team....err...no it's the Oakland Grizzlies. They, much like the other teams on this list, have been tested by the big conference schools. Oakland has wins over Ohio and Tennessee. This team has lost by three to Wright State, 11 at Illinois, one at Michigan State and one vs. Valpo. Keith Benson is one of the best players in the country that no one has ever heard of. Benson averages 16.6 points per game and 10.2 rebounds. He shoots almost 52% from the field and blocks almost four per contest. The Golden Grizzlies won't be afraid of anyone and could be the type of 14 or 15 that could produce a rare upset.
Bucknell (12-7, 3-0 in the Patriot League) -- The Bison are one of those quirky teams that will give certain teams and styles fit. They own victories over La Salle and Richmond from the A-10 with a close loss at Boston College as well. Bucknell played at Villanova and Marquette giving them experience in taking on Big East teams. This team has won 10 of their last 11 and has hit a groove offensively scoring at least 70 in eight of their last nine games. They are led by Mike Muscala who averages almost 16 points per game. They get contributions from Bryson Johnson (10.5 ppg) and G.W. Boon (9.8 ppg). Quirky teams who play good defense has always given larger schools issues in the tournament.
We'll keep you posted on more teams who hit the radar. Now it's time for the picks, which went 2-0 yesterday with Idaho winning outright.
Georgia -3.5 -- The Bulldogs host Tennessee on Tuesday evening. Georgia has been one of the great stories this season whereas the Volunteers have been one of the weirdest. The Vols started out 7-0 before losing three straight including two at home to Oakland and USC. They then barely beat Belmont and Tennessee-Martin before losing at home to College of Charleston. Tennessee is now sitting at 11-6 after a nice comeback win at home against Vanderbilt. The team's defense has abandoned them allowing almost 70 points per game. They have three double digit scorers in Scotty Hopson (16.5 ppg), Tobias Harris (15.6 ppg) and Cameron Tatum (10.5 ppg). The Bulldogs are 13-3 and 2-1 in the SEC. They also have a few weapons in Trey Thompkins (17.9 ppg), Travis Leslie (14.6 ppg) and Gerald Robinson (13.9 ppg). The key will be how they handle the Volunteer pressure. UGA has only turned the ball over 11.3 times in conference play. Georgia is 8-0 at home winning by an average of 13 points per contest. They knocked off Kentucky there on January 8th winning 77-70. Georgia has covered in five of their nine games against teams with winning record.
BYU/TCU Over 152 -- Jimmer Fredette has been adding to his candidacy for player of the year with each passing game. He scored 47 points against Utah on January 11th raising his scoring average to 26.1 points per game at the time. Now BYU hosts TCU in a game where he can showcase his talents once again. The Cougars are scoring just under 85 points per game and have not scored under 70 all season long. Their lowest point total was 72 against Weber State on December 21st. They have gone over the total in nine of their 13 lined games this season. Fredette isn't the only weapon that the Cougars have. Jackson Emery (12.6 ppg) and Brandon Davies (11.2 ppg) along with Noah Hartsock (9.9 ppg) also provide some punch for this BYU team. They play mediocre defense allowing 66.6 points per game. They'll face a Horned Frogs team that scores 71.5 points per game while allowing 69.4. Ronnie Moss (15.3 ppg) and Garlon Green (11.8 ppg) pace the TCU offense with two others averaging over nine points per game. In their last two road games, the Horned Frogs allowed 83 to UNLV and 79 to Colorado State. This team is also capable of scoring going over 80 points six times this season. This series has produced some high scoring affairs. BYU has put up 95, 107, 76, 79 and 73 in their last five games against TCU. Nine of the last 12 games have gone over the total. We think this one will too.