Scoop Jackson makes his ESPN debut.
ESPN.com's new Page 2 writer, Scoop Jackson (the award-winning writer and editor formerly of Slam magazine), wrote his first column for ESPN.com yesterday, then wrote his second a moments later on the end of Illinois perfect season and how the city of Chicago latched onto this team.
I probably won't agree with everything he says. But I do think this he's going to be worth reading.
(And no, agreeing with someone and liking their work are two separate things. I took issue with Sporting Fools' Corey over his take on the steroids in baseball issue, but I still read Sporting Fools because Corey's a good writer)
Texas Tech Bracketology Watch
Joe Lunardi (ESPN)
Projected Seed: #9 Syracuse (East) Regional
Projected opponent: #8 UCLA
Highest seed in pod: #1 North Carolina
Almost the same position Texas Tech was in yesterday, except UCLA takes the place of Stanford. Nice first round opponent. Bad second round matchup because of Sean May.
Now granted, if by some miracle Texas Tech did make the Final Four, they would probably have to play May and the Tar Heels anyway. We'd lose then too. It's just that there's a difference between losing in the Final Four and losing in the second round.
Michael Lazarus (Fox Sports Net)
Projected Seed: #8 Syracuse (East) Regional
Projected Opponent: #9 Stanford
Highest Seed in Pod: #1 North Carolina
Basically identical to where Lunardi had us yesterday.
Big XII Conference Tournament Preview, Part 3 (Finale)
The Four Teams with Byes
Record: 10-6 conference, 18-9 overall
Key Players: Ronald Ross (16.6 PPG 3.1 APG); Jarrious Jackson (14.6 PPG 3.7 APG); Martin Zeno(13.5 PPG, 3.4 APG); Devonne Giles (11.6 PPG)
Summary: This team is definitely more balanced offensively than last year when everything ran through Andre Emmett. Any one of these guys can step up on a given night, which creates matchup problems for people. You go man to man you don't know who to matchup with. You put your best defender on Ross, and Jackson kills you. You put him on Jackson and Zeno kills you. Go to a zone and Jackson and Ross will kill you on dribble penetration or Giles will kill you flashing into the high post with a mid-range jumper or Zeno will kill you from the perimeter. Even Darryl Dora, disappointing as he is, will get in the act on occasion.
And Ross, Jackson, Zeno, Giles, and Dora play tough man-to-man defense and crash the boards.
But that's when everything working. There are times when Tech has looked out-of-sync and you can scrap everything nice thing I just said.
Still, Tech has made some strides this year: Beating Kansas for the first time ever, Beating Texas for the first time since Rick Barnes coached the Horns, Beating OU in Norman, Being a projected tournament lock going into the Big XII tournament. Now they need to get out of a projected 8/9 game so they can have a better chance of making the Sweet 16.
Draw: The draw hurts Texas Tech a lot. They will most likely face Iowa State in the second round unless Baylor pulls a serious miracle. Iowa State has already beat Tech once this year. Granted that was in Ames, and this is a neutral site, but they have the psychological edge of having beaten us once.
Prediction: Upset by Iowa State. At-Large Berth
Record: 11-5 conference, 21-6 overall
Key Players: John Lucas (18.3 PPG, 4.5 APG); Joey Graham (17.7 PPG) Ivan McFarlin (11.6 PPG, 7.4 RPG); JamesOn Curry (8.6 PPG)
Summary: This team has a lot of great talent, they won 13 of their first 14 and challenged for the Big 12 regular season title until a bad loss to Kansas at the end of February in effect knocked them out. They also
The X-Factor for this team is the freshman Curry. At times, he scores 20+ points and looks like the best player on the court. At other times he clanks almost everything, scores 4 points, and disappears.
Draw: Oklahoma State has a chance to extract some revenge here against Texas, who embarrased them on senior night. This team is too good not to take advantage of that. But they have Kansas in the next round. They got spanked in Allen Fieldhouse, and they are basically playing Kansas at home when the tournament is in KC.
Prediction: Beat Texas, lose in Semifinal. At-large Berth.
Record: 12-4 conference, 22-5 overall
Key Players: Wayne Simien (19.4 PPG, 11.2 RPG, Big XII Player of the year); J.R. Giddens (10.2 PPG); Aaron Miles (9.4 PPG, 7.3 PPG).
Summary: Yes, Keith Langford will miss part of the tournament. It's really not going to make much difference. In fact, it may refocus a team that needs to do so after a rough stretch in the last two weeks. Someone will take up the slack.
Draw: First of all the tournament is in Kansas City, which is about an hour away from Lawrence. (I know, I've driven it, which is a story for another blog). Plus, they have beaten Texas A&M and Oklahoma State already this year.
Prediction: Home crowd carries them to victory despite Langford's absence. 2005 Big XII Tournament Champs and automatic berth.
Record: 12-4 conference, 23-6 overall
Key Players: Taj Gray (14.7 PPG, 7.8 RPG); Terrell Everett (12.3 PPG, 5.1 APG); Kevin Bookout (11.8 PPG, 6.4 RPG).
Summary: Yes, Everett and late season bloomer Drew Lavender provide for nice outside balance. It still revolves around Taj Gray and Kevin Bookout down low, and there's very few teams in the nation who can stop them when they are on. However, they have dropped games to quality teams over the course of the year, especially in conference.
Draw: One of those teams that beat them already, Iowa State, is in their half of the bracket. And their potential rematch with Kansas in KC is basically a KU home game
Prediction: Advance to the finals. At-Large Berth
Later Today: Conference Tournament Watch