Indianapolis Colts 2011 NFL Draft Recap and Analysis

A day after the Indianapolis Colts’ 2010 season came to an end with a first-round playoff loss to the New York Jets at Lucas Oil Stadium, I said the one bright side would be that the team would have its highest first-round draft pick since 2002 when it took Dwight Freeney 12th overall.

Turns out that unusual draft position worked out in the Colts’ favor.

Selecting 22nd, Indianapolis made Boston College offensive tackle Anthony Castonzo its top selection in the 2011 NFL Draft last Thursday. Castonzo, who figures to step in right away at the left tackle position, was the ideal pick for the Colts in that he was the best player on the board when the team went on the clock — Bill and Chris Polian actually couldn’t envision a scenario before the draft in which Castonzo would fall — and also filled arguably Indy’s biggest need.

By Drew Allen

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Jay Wright, Corey Fisher Trying to Stop Villanova from Sinking

villanova

Is it time to question Jay Wright’s coaching abilities? Can you motivate his team to start defending better on the perimeter? In all of college basketball, Nova is a team that has seriously suffered a recent rough patch. Big East play has not been very kind to them.

After starting the year 16-1, they’ve gone 5-8, and now find themselves 21-9, 9-8 in the Big East. They’re right in the middle of the crowded pack of BE teams that should make the NCAA Tournament, but have still squandered their opportunity for a favorable seed.

In their utter destruction of Villanova, Notre Dame made a school-record 20 three-pointers (20-32). The previous high was 19 against South Dakota on Dec. 2, 2008. The 20 treys also matched a BIG EAST record. West Virginia made 20 against Marquette on Jan. 14, 2006. Notre Dame’s 11 made three-pointers in the first half tied the most-ever for an Irish team in one half of a BIG EAST game.

By Paul M. Banks

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Notre Dame Blows Out Villanova on Senior Night 93-72

#9 Notre Dame came out of the gates shooting red hot from behind the arc, and the initial surge set the evening’s tone. #14 Villanova was never able to catch their breath and catch up, as they spent pretty much the entire first twenty minutes with half as many points on the scoreboard as the Irish.

ND was especially fired up for their Senior night as they happen to start all seniors (Ben Hansbrough, Tim Abromaitis, Tyrone Nash, Carleton Scott, Scott Martin). Hansbrough got the biggest ovation of all, as the Purcell Pavilion crowd was extremely fired up all night. Interestingly, Scott, Martin and Abro all return a fifth and final year of eligibility next season.

And the Irish gave the Joyce Center crowd plenty of reason to ignite, as they hit their first five treys and shot 58% (11-19) from three in the first half. Nova, by contrast was just 2-10 from behind the arc, and therefore found themselves trailing 47-27 at halftime.

By Paul M. Banks

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College Hoops 101

By: David K.

Welcome to a weekly article at thesportsbank.net where I will give you the 101 on what has happened in the week of college basketball and what is to come in the days ahead.  One week remaining in the season… what am I going to do with myself after next Monday?

Rewind
-First and foremost, I owe TSB.net’s Peter Christian an apology.  In our staff picks at the beginning of the season, Peter picked Villanova to make it to the Elite Eight, and I called him crazy.  Not only did ‘Nova exceed Peter’s expectations, but his boy Scottie Reynolds hit the game-winning shot with a half-second left in what will certainly be a NCAA Tournament highlight that we will all see over and over for the next fifty years.

In all actuality, the Pitt/Nova game probably never should have come down to the Reynolds’ game-winner.  I am not sure if Jay Wright or the inbounder (Reggie Redding) is to blame, but what a terrible decision made late in the game.  Why the Wildcats went for the home run inbounds pass while leading by two with 10.3 seconds left is baffling.  Throw it to your guard, have him get fouled, and go to the free throw line.  Instead, the Hail Mary is picked off; Pitt gets fouled and ties the game at the charity stripe.  I really like Wright and the call was gutsy, but back-fired worse than Happy Gilmore’s puck trick with the golf chick.

-If you watched the Michigan State Sweet 16 game, you probably saw about 613 cutaway shots of Tom Izzo’s wife, Lupe.  While Peter claims she looks like she belongs on an episode of The Sopranos, I cannot help but wonder if she even understands the game of basketball.  At the end of the game when things were very exciting, she sat there with a stoic look on her face as if she did not know what was going on.  Or maybe she has been injected with so much botox that she was trying to smile but was just unable to do so.  Good thing we will get to see 483 more shots of her during the Final Four.

-Big ups to Marquette’s Jerel McNeal who was named a second team All-American.  A well-deserved honor for McNeal and not one that I would have imagined at the beginning of the season.

-Seth Curry, the younger brother of Davidson’s Stephen Curry and nation’s leading scorer among freshman, has decided to transfer from Liberty to pursue opportunities to play against tougher competition.  Curry will likely end up at an ACC school, possibly Virginia Tech where his father played, but I still am going to send him pamphlets about how Marquette is such a fantastic college institution.  (UPDATE: Seth Curry has committed to Duke and will be eligible for the 2010-11 season.  And I just threw up in my mouth.)

-Ohio State freshman center B.J. Mullens has decided to turn pro.  DUMB.  Mullens was the Buckeyes’ sixth man and while he showed steady improvement throughout the season, he is nowhere near ready to contribute in the association.  He still has plenty of potential and is an athletic seven-footer which should still make him a late-lottery/mid first round pick.  If Mullens would have stayed in school, The Ohio State likely would have been a top ten team next season.  The only plus to Mullens’ decision is that he won’t end up on my or Peter’s most hated players in college basketball list next season because he looks like a real doofus and has an Adam Morrison-like porn stache going on.

Fast Forward
NIT Championship, Thursday (6:00)
The NIT Final Four features Baylor vs. San Diego State and Penn State vs. Notre Dame.  I’ll take San Diego State vs. Notre Dame in the title game with the Aztecs taking down the Irish to claim the irrelevant championship.

North Carolina vs. Villanova, Saturday
UNC was my and pretty much everybody else’s pre-season pick to roll all the way to the National Championship, but people cooled off when they actually lost a couple games during conference play.  As much as I enjoy watching Nova and would love to see a Big East team in the Finals, I just don’t think they can knock off the Heels with how dominant Carolina was against Gonzaga and Oklahoma.  UNC is just too big and strong inside with running out different bodies down low.  Nova’s guards will need to play out of their mind for the Cats to pull off the upset.
Prediction: UNC 89, Villanova 76

UConn vs. Michigan State, Saturday
I am not going to lie, as much as I dislike Michigan State, they might be the perfect team to take down a UConn sqaud that has saved its best ball for the tourney.  Sparty has the depth and size inside to compete with Hasheem Thabeet and Jeff Adrien and the quickness in their guard play to hang with A.J. Price and Kemba Walker.  The x-factor (pardon the cliche) will be the match-up between the Huskies’ Stanley Robinson and State’s Raymar Morgan.  Then again, if Thabeet gets into early foul trouble, the Spartans could run UConn right out of the arena just like they did to Louisville.  Oh, and Sparty is playing in their backyard in Detroit.
Prediction: Michigan State 73, UConn 65

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The Drive to 225
My drive for watching 225 college basketball games this season has already been completed.  Like I predicted, the dream of reaching 300 was aiming a bit too high.  I’ll settle with around 275.

Games watched through 3/22: 270

Games watched this past week: 14
Davidson at St. Mary’s
Penn State at Florida
Kentucky at Notre Dame
UConn vs. Purdue
Memphis vs. Missouri
Pitt vs. Xavier
Villanova vs. Duke
Syracuse vs. Oklahoma
Louisville vs. Arizona
Kansas vs. Michigan State
UConn vs. Missouri
Villanova vs. Pitt
Louisville vs. Michigan State
North Carolina vs. Oklahoma

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

College Hoops 101

By David K.

Welcome to a weekly article at thesportsbank.net where I will give you the 101 on what has happened in the week of college basketball and what is to come in the days ahead.

Rewind

-I had a bad feeling heading into Marquette’s game at South Florida on Friday night and unfortunately, I was right. That’s what happens when you convert on just 10 of 23 free throws and Dominic James thinks he is actually a three-point shooter. Am I worried? No. One hiccup through ten Big East games is certainly better than anyone expected.

-Funks continue for a pair of expected Big East powers. Notre Dame lost at Cincy and then was demolished by UCLA. Suck it Harangody! That’s seven straight losses. Georgetown ended their five-game skid by beating Rutgers, but then lost at Cincinnati. Both teams are on the wrong side of the bubble right now.

-Also in a surprising rut is Texas. Losses to Mizzou and at Nebraska now has the Horns in a three-game funk. For a team that I picked to be in the Final Four, this is very surprising. But teams have been locking down on A.J. Abrams and the rest of Rick Barnes’ team has not been able to pick up the slack.

-It was a strange Wednesday of blow-outs. Clemson embarrasses Duke by 27 on the same day that Wake Forest is waxed by Miami (FL) by that exact same amount. Without Raymar Morgan, Michigan State stomps Minnesota by 29. No rhyme or reason whatsoever there.


My AP Top Ten (if I actually voted in the poll)

1. UConn (22-1)
2. Oklahoma (23-1)
3. North Carolina (21-2)
4. Pitt (21-2)
5. Duke (20-3)
6. Wake Forest (18-3)
7. Clemson (19-3)
8. Memphis (20-3)
9. Louisville (19-4)
10. Marquette (20-3)

Nipping on their heels:

UCLA (19-4)
Michigan St. (19-4)
Villanova (19-4)
Xavier (20-3)

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Fast Forward

Marquette at Villanova (Tuesday, 6:00 ESPN)
Big bounce back chance for Marquette. Nova is playing good basketball having won five straight and are clicking offensively as they put up 94 points on Providence and 102 on Syracuse last week.

North Carolina at Duke (Wednesday, 8:00 ESPN)
Dickie V’s wet dream game. I don’t even need to pimp it any further.

Xavier at Dayton (Wednesday, 6:00 ESPN2)
Despite the fact that both teams were upset this past week, this game still has a lot of meaning in the A-10 race. Dayton has flown under the radar for a 21-3 team and could get a big boost come seeding time with a win over the Musketeers.

UCLA at Arizona (Saturday, 12:00 CBS)

Don’t look now but Zona has won five straight and is back in the NCAA Tournament picture. A win against UCLA would be a huge boost for their argument to make their 25th trip to the Big Dance.

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The Drive to 225

To update my goal of watching 225 college basketball games this season… By the way, I am going to hit 225 before the conference tournaments even begin. I think I need a girlfriend.

Games watched through 2/8: 170

Games watched this past week: 17
UConn at Louisville
Marquette at DePaul
South Carolina at Florida
West Virginia at Syracuse
Duke at Clemson
Minnesota at Michigan State
Illinois at Wisconsin
Arizona at Oregon State
Gonzaga at Portland
Marquette at South Florida
Villanova at Syracuse
Notre Dame at UCLA
Michigan at UConn
Memphis at Gonzaga
Charleston at Davidson
Purdue at Illinois
Wisconsin at Penn State