Alright, the first round of voting is complete for the What-If Sweet 16. Here are the results:
- MIDWEST: #1 Ohio State over #4 Georgia Tech, 88% of vote; #3 Pittsburgh over #2 Syracuse, 53% of vote.
- WEST: #1 UCLA over #4 St. Mary’s, 81% of vote; #2 USC over #3 Duke, 61% of vote.
- EAST: #1 Memphis over #4 Arizona, 80% of vote; #2 Kentucky over #3 Kansas, 60% of vote.
- SOUTH: #1 Texas over #4 Oklahoma, 73% of vote; #3 North Carolina over #2 Kansas State, 70% of vote.
Here’s the bracket for the Elite Eight:
In case you missed the previous posts, here are the lineups/matchups again. The voting takes place right after each set of teams.
#1 Ohio State
The Buckeyes are our #1 overall seed. They haven’t had as much tournament success as I’m sure their fans would like, but most of that can be attributed to a plethora of early exits. When you see this lineup, it’s clear that Thad Matta is doing a hell of a job recruiting. They’ve got 5 guys who have left early the last few years, including three 7-footers in Greg Oden, Kosta Koufos, and B.J. Mullens.
Greg Oden* – Center, 7 ft, 285 lbs. Despite being plagued by injuries during his NBA career, Oden had a tremendous one year run in college. It’s hard to imagine him not being incredibly dominant as a college senior.
Evan Turner – Forward, 6 ft 7 in, 205 lbs.
Mike Conley* – Guard, 6 ft 1 in, 185 lbs.
Daequan Cook* – Guard, 6 ft 5 in, 195 lbs.
William Buford – Guard, 6 ft 5 in, 185 lbs.
Key Reserves: B.J. Mullens*, Kosta Koufos*.
Take this year’s team, a three seed who lost to Xavier in the second round, and add the ACL-less DeJuan Blair from last year’s one seeded team, and you’ve got quite a juggernaut. Increased experience for the guards would help the team improve upon their 2009 tournament run, though the loss of senior forward Sam Young hurts. Reserve Center Gary McGhee adds some size when needed.
DeJuan Blair* – Forward, 6 ft 7 in, 265 lbs. Averaged 15 and 12 in his last season at Pitt. Now with a respectable 8 and 6 in San Antonio in only 18 minutes per game. Would have been a huge addition to the ’09-10 Pitt team.
Nasir Robinson – Forward, 6 ft 5 in, 220 lbs.
Ashton Gibbs – Guard, 6 ft 2 in, 190 lbs.
Brad Wanamaker – Guard, 6 ft 4 in, 210 lbs.
Jermaine Dixon – Guard, 6 ft 3 in, 200 lbs.
Key Reserves: Gilbert Brown, Gary McGhee.
This season was disappointing for UCLA, but the talent they’ve sent to the NBA over the last few years earns them a #1 seed. Guard Jrue Holiday left after only one season this past spring, and teammates from the 2008 Final Four team, Kevin Love and Russell Westbrook, went 4th and 5th in that year’s draft.
Kevin Love* – Forward, 6 ft 10 in, 260 lbs. Love had an impressive run at UCLA in ’07-08 and probably could have continued to be dominate, although you can’t blame him for taking $3 million a year to head to the pros a couple years early.
Nikola Gragovic – Forward, 6 ft 9 in, 225 lbs.
Jrue Holiday* – Guard, 6 ft 4 in, 199 lbs.
Russell Westbrook* – Guard, 6 ft 3 in, 187 lbs. Developing into a solid point guard for Oklahoma City and would have been a fantastic college player had he decided to hang around.
Michael Roll – Guard, 6 ft 5 in, 200 lbs.
#2 Southern California
You can field an entire starting lineup from players that have left USC early in the last few years, which is important, because they weren’t very good this year without these guys. This team includes one and done Memphis Grizzlies guard O.J. Mayo and two players that left early but went undrafted in Jefferson and Hackett, along with DeMar DeRozan of the Toronto Raptors and Chicago Bulls forward Taj Gibson. Scary thought: Brandon Jenningsoriginally planned on attending USC; his addition probably makes the Trojans a #1 seed.
Taj Gibson* – Forward, 6 ft 10 in, 210 lbs.
Davon Jefferson* – Forward, 6 ft 8 in, 215 lbs.
DeMar DeRozan* – Guard/Forward, 6 ft 7 in, 220 lbs.
O.J. Mayo* – Guard, 6 ft 4 in, 210 lbs.
Daniel Hackett* – Guard, 6 ft 5 in, 205 lbs.
Just two seasons removed from a championship run under John Calipari, the Tigers have lost a lot of talent to the NBA in recent years. This team would be even more dangerous had Calipari not left for Kentucky and taken most of the 2009 recruiting class with him.
Shawn Taggart* – Forward, 6 ft 10 in, 238 lbs.
Wesley Witherspoon – Forward, 6 ft 9 in, 210 lbs.
Elliot Williams – Guard, 6 ft 9 in, 180 lbs.
Tyreke Evans* – Guard, 6 ft 6 in, 219 lbs.
Derrick Rose* – Guard, 6 ft 3 in, 205 lbs. Invalidated SAT scores aside, Rose has been a heck of a player on every level. Hard to imagine him not contending for player of the year with the likes of John Wall and Evan Turner as a senior.
This year’s team has only lost 2 games and is looking like the favorite to win it all. That alone makes them a strong contender here, even though the addition of Jodie Meeks doesn’t have quite as big an impact as the boost some of the other teams receive from having their underclassmen NBAers back.
DeMarcus Cousins – Forward, 6 ft, 11 in, 270 lbs.
Patrick Patterson – Forward, 6 ft 9 in, 235 lbs.
Eric Bledsoe – Guard, 6 ft 1 in, 190 lbs.
John Wall – Guard, 6 ft 4 in, 195 lbs.
Jodie Meeks* – Guard, 6 ft 4 in, 211 lbs. Excellent scorer to go alongside Wall. Had 30+ points 7 times his junior season before being drafted in the second round.
This was a down year for the Longhorns, but if they still had Kevin Durant and D.J. Augustin, things would be a little different. Augustin has been solid after leaving before his junior season, and Durant is an MVP candidate who is averaging almost 30 points per game in Oklahoma City.
Dexter Pittman – Center, 6 ft 10 in, 290 lbs.
Damion James – Forward, 6 ft 7 in, 225 lbs.
Kevin Durant* – Forward, 6 ft 9 in, 230 lbs.
D.J. Augustin* – Guard, 6 ft, 180 lbs.
Avery Bradley – Guard, 6 ft 2 in, 180 lbs.
#3 North Carolina
It’s been a very rough year for Roy Williams and the Tar Heels. They always have talent, and they lost quite a few guys to the NBA who still had eligibility remaining. Wayne Ellington and Ty Lawson are obvious choices, but people forget about Brandan Wright, who left after his freshman season in 2007.
Wayne Ellington* – Guard, 6 ft 5 in, 202 lbs.
Ty Lawson* – Guard, 5 ft 11 in, 195 lbs.
Brandan Wright* – Forward, 6 ft 9 in, 205 lbs.
Deon Thompson – Forward, 6 ft 9 in, 245 lbs.
Ed Davis – Forward, 6 ft, 10 in, 225 lbs.
These polls will be open until midnight Friday and I’ll have the Final Four ready before the real tournament games tip off on Saturday. Thanks for reading/voting!