East Regional Bracket Breakdown

By: David K.

Overview: What stands out most about this regional, is the massive home-court advantage for (2) Duke and (3) Villanova.  You pretty much write in each team into the Sweet 16 since the Dukies play in North Carolina and Nova is in their home city of Philadelphia.  With Pittsburgh being the one seed, this is a fairly top heavy bracket.

Elite Eight Prediction: (1) Pitt beats (3) Villanova

Yes, my second all Big East Elite 8 match-up.  I have Pitt winning the entire tournament and have been on that bandwagon for the past few weeks.  The only thing that will stop them is if DeJuan Blair gets into foul trouble.  Pitt is 0-4 when Blair fouls out of a game.  Fortunately for them, there really aren’t a lot of big guys who will get in his way in this bracket.  Villanova has the best guard play in the country with Scottie Reynolds and the Corey’s (Fisher and Stokes.)  They go eight deep and their Sweet 16 match-up with Duke should be an absolute shoot-out.

Sleeper: (9) Tennessee

I like this Tennessee team, and not just because of Wayne Chism’s headband.  When their offense is clicking, they can put up points with any team in the country.  They tend to play out of control too often, but have the athletes and quickness to possibly upset Pitt in the second round.

Early Exit: (6) UCLA

The Bruins run of three straight trips to the Final Four will come to an end this year.  UCLA has a tough first round match-up against VCU who has experience in knocking off a major program two years when they upset Duke in the first round.  VCU’s point guard is Eric Maynor who will be a mid-first round pick and led VCU in that upset of Duke.  Even if UCLA escapes out of the first round, they get Villanova in their home city.  I am guessing there will not be a lot of Bruin backers making the long trip from Cali to Philly.

Most Intriguing First Round Match-Up: (7) Texas vs. (10) Minnesota

The Longhorns were a team I was very high on early in the season.  But A.J. Abrams has not been able to find his shooting touch and it has really hurt the Horns.  Minnesota surprised a lot of teams when they started the season 16-1.  But the Gophs finished the year 6-9 and were lucky to land a spot in the Big Dance.  Minnesota is at their best when their defense is suffocating and they are very deliberate on the offensive end (aka typical boring Big Ten ball.)  I think Texas wins if Abrams is able to find his stroke early

The Stock Report

By David K.

A weekly update of whose NBA Draft stock is rising and falling.

BUY:

Gerald Henderson, SG, Duke, Jr, 6-4

Henderson arrived at Duke with fairly high expectations coming out of high school. In his first two years with the Blue Devils, Henderson never fully lived up to his potential and was known more as the guy who bloodied Tyler Hansborough than an NBA prospect. Finally, over the past few weeks we have seen Henderson show us why he has lottery potential. He is averaging 21 points over his last five games while shooting 67% from the field, 77% from downtown. I still don’t think he will declare after this season, unless of course Duke wins a national title, but if he did, Henderson would be a mid-first round pick.

Footlocker.com

Craig Brackins, PF, Iowa State, So, 6-10

I am guessing that 95% of you have never heard of this guy. Well, listen up. Brackins blew up against Kansas going for 42 points and 14 rebounds. He already has games of 32/16, 28/17, and 38/14 this season. Brackins is second in the Big 12 in points behind some guy named Blake Griffin, is athletic for his size, and has decent range on his shot. Because he plays for a crappy team like the Cyclones, he could be tempted to turn pro after this season and would likely be a mid-first round talent.

Jodie Meeks, SG, Kentucky, Jr, 6-4

When you score 54 points in a single game, people are going to take notice. Meeks has come out of nowhere this season and turned into one of the elite scorers in the nation, averaging almost 26 ppg. He’s shooting 45% from three, 91% from the charity stripe. In an offensive-minded league like the NBA, there is always the need for a pure scorer who can create his own shot, which is exactly what Meeks does. He is probably a borderline first round pick if he declares though, and would be better suited heading back to UK.

SELL:

Ty Lawson, PG, North Carolina, Jr, 5-11

Lawson is still having a very nice season for the Heels. However, he was absolutely exposed by Jeff Teague in their loss to Wake Forest. The taller Teague went off for 34 points as Lawson had no answer to stop him. Lawson is still a first round pick, but is quickly falling down the point guard heavy rankings behind the likes of Teague, Stephen Curry, Brandon Jennings, Patrick Mills, Darren Collison, and possibly Eric Maynor and Johnny Flynn. That’s not counting Ricky Rubio if he decides to come to the “association.” (Totally ripped that off from Jim Rome) Lawson may actually be better off staying at UNC for his senior season so he could be eligible for the 2010 Draft which looks to be lacking in point guard prospects.

A.J. Abrams, G, Texas, Sr, 5-11

Abrams has had a real tough go of it lately- being held below double digits in five of his last nine games. He is in a major shooting slump partially because defenses are keying in on him and making it nearly impossible for him to get a good look at the basket. That does not bold well for a 5-11 (more like 5-9) two-guard in the NBA. Abrams will eventually snap out of his shooting funk and still could be a second round pick. He has to prove he can play the point though if he wants to catch on in the pros.

Footlocker.com

Ronald Steele, PG, Alabama, Sr, 6-1

Early in his collegiate career, Steele was considered a first round prospect, but injuries have de-railed his once promising career. Nagging knee problems forced Steele to sit out last season, then last week Steele announced he would leave the ‘Bama program because of plantar fascitis. Other reports say that Steele left the Crimson Tide because he no longer wanted to play for head coach Mark Gottfried, who was pretty much forced out of his job on Monday. Whatever the situation really is, any chance Steele had of playing in the NBA appears to be no more.