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Tuesday, November 16, 2010
2010-2011 NCAA Men's Basketball Storylines
The road to the 2011 Final Four is underway and here are a few interesting story lines to keep an eye on as the season unfolds...
Can the Duke Blue Devils repeat as National Champions?
There is a very good possibility a repeat is on the horizon in Cameron due to the old adage, "Guard play is the key to NCAA Tournament success". This guard group is led by senior Nolan Smith, who could very easily win ACC Player of the year. Complimenting him is stud freshman Kyrie Iriving, who was the top rated PG coming out of high school and for good reason. I know they played Princeton, but 17pts and 9 assists isn't bad in a debut. Another piece in that guard play is Seth Curry, transfer from Liberty College that averaged 20 points as a freshman. Just for good measure, there is sharpshooting Andre Dawson who can come off the bench and easily knock down shots. Stellar guard play will probably be a Duke staple this year, but the front line has improved as well.
Another ACC player of the year candidate is Kyle Singler, but he can actually be a National Player of the Year candidate as well. Singler is complete college player as he can shoot from just about anywhere on the floor, create his own tough offense and can play defense. Miles and Mason Plumlee will add interior presence on the defensive end and clean up a few of those missed jump shots on the offensive end.
On the whole, it's tough to bet against Duke because they are such a well put together team, but we all know the Tournament is full of surprises.
Sticking with the ACC, will Harrison Barnes live up to the hype?
Harrison Barnes is a freshman at North Carolina that has been put into the perfect storm. North Carolina has been gutted by the NBA draft and is currently putting the pieces back together. Barnes has the potential to be a good scorer and be one and done in Chapel Hill. He has pretty good range and is quite explosive around the basket. UNC has a lot of work to do, finishing 10th in the ACC last season, but Barnes is the type of player that can elevate the play of his teammates.
The Big 10 Conference will be regarded as the best conference this season...
Purdue, Ohio State and Michigan State were tops in the Big 10 last season with 14-4 conference records.
Purdue's major loss is Robbie Hummel, who tore is ACL in practice and is out for the season. I don't think it will hurt them too bad as they had to play without Hummel for at least half of last season as well. They should finish in the top 3 again this year.
Ohio State will have to deal with the loss of Evan Turner, last season's National Player of the Year. Look for David Lighty to make his mark, and keep OSU in the discussion around the top of the conference.
Michigan State is my pick to win the conference as long as senior guard Kalin Lucas stays healthy. Lucas probably would have left for the NBA last year, if it wasn't for injury. This brings opportunity for MSU because Lucas is a top 5 guard in the country and having him back will win the Big 10 and I'll even predict at least an Elite 8 showing.
The middle of the conference is packed with talent as well with Illinois, Wisconsin and watch out for a team who could make some noise in Northwestern.
Gonzaga's Stephen Gray will be a good story and probably win WCC Player of the Year.
Kentucky's Brandon Knight is John Calipari's next one and done, but his impact for the Wildcats is going to be something nice.