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Every Player In The Sweet Sixteen

Today I want to talk about all 154 players that have made some noise for the teams in the Sweet Sixteen this year. While I am ignoring a handful of players who stayed glued to the bench all year, today I will discuss everyone else, from the role players to the superstars.

Injured or kicked off the team (8): Iowa St.’s Georges Niang, Arizona’s Brandon Ashley, Michigan’s Mitch McGary, Stanford’s Aaron Bright, Tennessee’s Robert Hubbs, Florida’s Eli Carter, Louisville’s Chane Behanan and Kevin Ware.

Niang is the most recent player to get injured, but he certainly isn’t the first. Perhaps the most interesting story belongs to Kevin Ware. A year ago, he broke his leg. In the fall, he was back playing in an exhibition. But some combination of off-court issues and injuries have caused him to no longer travel with Louisville this season.

New to lineup thanks to those injuries (3): Iowa St.’s Daniel Edozie, Arizona’s Elliott Pitts and Jordin Mayes.

With Niang and Ashley going down, these players have seen their minutes tick up lately. But we still don’t know very much about how good these players can be. As much as injuries hurt, sometimes the best news is that the opposition doesn’t have a detailed scouting report on these players yet.

Cut from the rotation late in the year (15): Baylor’s Ish Wainwright, Connecticut’s Omar Calhoun and Tyler Olander, Dayton’s Devon Scott and Kyle Davis, Florida’s Devon Walker and Jacob Kurtz, Kentucky’s Dominique Hawkins, Louisville’s Tim Henderson, Michigan St.’s Alex Gauna and Russell Byrd, San Diego St.’s Dakarai Allen, Stanford’s Grant Verhoeven, Tennessee’s AJ Davis, Virginia’s Darion Atkins.

These players may play a few minutes this weekend. And one or two might even play a larger role if there is some unexpected foul trouble. But all these players have seen their minutes cut at the end of the year. The reasons are fairly straightforward. Everyone on this list either has a low ORtg or never shoots. And you can’t afford to put non-scorers on the floor in the NCAA tournament.

Never plays but you should care (1): Florida’s Chris Walker.

Walker was an elite recruit but eligibility issues prevented him from practicing with Florida for most of the year. If Florida can get a commanding lead and get to garbage time, look for him to get a monster dunk.

They started as walk-ons (2): Kentucky’s Jarrod Polson and Stanford’s Robbie Lemons.

Because both teams lack guard depth these two players will sometimes play meaningful minutes. They are mainly in to help with ball-handling.

One game wonders? (2): Virginia’s Evan Nolte and Connecticut’s Terrence Samuel

Nolte was starting to fall out of the rotation but he hit two huge threes against Coastal Carolina when the game was still in doubt. Samuel scored a career high 11 points in the NCAA tournament game against Villanova.

He’s a big body (4): Wisconsin’s Duje Dukan, Michigan St.’s Gavin Schilling, Tennesee’s Derek Reese, Arizona’s Matt Korcheck.

The rotation patterns suggest these team’s head coaches are not in love with these players. They play because big men get in foul trouble and need rest. But these players are only on the court for short stretches. Schilling is one of only two Spartans to play in every game this season.

Defensive subs (8):

Player

Team

Steal Rate

Block Rate

Justin Anderson

Virginia

1.1

4.1

Dwayne Polee

San Diego St.

3.7

3.3

Lasan Kromah

Connecticut

3.1

1.8

Aqeel Quinn

San Diego St.

2.8

0.4

Alvin Ellis III

Michigan St.

2.7

1.2

Armani Moore

Tennessee

2.3

5

Kendall Pollard

Dayton

2.3

4.2

Marcus Allen

Stanford

2.3

0.7

Defensive subs is sometimes a code word for “this guy can’t shoot.” That isn’t quite fair to everyone on this list. Dwayne Polee is actually a pretty solid spot-up shooter. But it is fair to say that none of these guys are scoring stars. They get their hands on steals, or in Justin Anderson’s case, they block a lot of shots from the wing position. And that still earns them some rotation time.

Get the opening tip, then come sit on the bench (2): Connecticut’s Philip Nolan and Dayton’s Matt Kavanaugh.

Despite starting a ton of games for these two teams, these two play shockingly few minutes.

Defensive rebounding specialists (6):

Player

Team

DR%

Jon Horford

Michigan

25.6

Josh Davis

San Diego St.

24.9

Akil Mitchell

Virginia

23.7

Dustin Hogue

Iowa St.

20.5

Cory Jefferson

Baylor

20.8

Will Yeguete

Florida

18.6

There are elite defensive rebounders in the groups that will follow (Kenny Kaminsky, Rico Gathers, Branden Dawson, Kyle Anderson, Jarnell Stokes, Adreian Payne, Julius Randle), but for these six, it is their defining quality.

Two point scorers (7):

Player

Team

eFG%

Royce O’Neale

Baylor

61.6

Anthony Gill

Virginia

59.7

Kaleb Tarczewski

Arizona

57.6

Stefan Nastic

Stanford

57.4

Norman Powell

UCLA

57.3

Travis Wear

UCLA

56.1

David Wear

UCLA

55.7

These are all players with a high eFG% without taking a lot of threes. I am cheating a bit with this category, as these players do not have all that much in common. But I honestly did not know what to do with these guys. They aren’t great rebounders, they are not really their team’s primary ball-handlers, and they aren’t three point gunners. But they can all score when you get them the ball inside the arc.

O’Neale is probably the most versatile player on the list. He has solid assist numbers, makes wide open threes, and is decent on the boards. But he makes 56% of his twos and that is probably his biggest contribution at this point.

Rim Protectors (7):

Player

Team

DR%

Block%

Amida Brimah

Connecticut

11.3

15.4

Willie Cauley-Stein

Kentucky

16.0

12.2

Isaiah Austin

Baylor

13.5

11.9

Skylar Spencer

San Diego St.

11.8

11.5

Mangok Mathiang

Louisville

13.2

9.9

Matt Costello

Michigan St.

14.8

9.8

Mike Tobey

Virginia

12.3

7

I might be stretching a bit with Tobey, but these are the best shot-blockers left in the field.

No one left in this tournament is both an elite shot-blocker and defensive rebounder. These guys are all tall and explosive enough to have defensive rebounding rates above 20%, but none of them come close. Because these guys go for blocks, they tend to be out of position when fighting for defensive boards.

When you get the offensive rebound, it is easier to score (16):

Player

Team

OR%

Rico Gathers

Baylor

18.2

Dakari Johnson

Kentucky

17.5

Jeronne Maymon

Tennessee

13.9

Stephan Van Treese

Louisville

13.9

Branden Dawson

Michigan St.

13.3

Jordan Morgan

Michigan

12.8

Patric Young

Florida

12.8

Tony Parker

UCLA

12.5

Dorian Finney-Smith

Florida

12.1

Alex Poythress

Kentucky

11.6

Dyshawn Pierre

Dayton

10.6

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson

Arizona

10.5

Jalen Robinson

Dayton

10.5

Taurean Prince

Baylor

8.7

J.J. O`Brien

San Diego St.

8.3

Winston Shepard

San Diego St.

7.2

Most of these guys are not skilled offensive players, but by getting offensive rebounds, they tend to get high quality put-backs. Shepard is a surprisingly good passer for a rebounder of his size.

Finney-Smith is a little hard to classify, but given his shooting woes this year, his put-backs are probably his greatest contribution.

The Shooters (26):

Do not leave these players open:

Player

Team

3P%

3PM

3PA

Michael Frazier II

Florida

44%

110

248

Brady Heslip

Baylor

46%

109

235

Ben Brust

Wisconsin

39%

89

229

Jordan Sibert

Dayton

43%

79

184

Joe Harris

Virginia

40%

70

173

Luke Hancock

Louisville

34%

65

192

Naz Long

Iowa St.

41%

63

154

Zak Irvin

Michigan

41%

58

142

Caris LeVert

Michigan

41%

57

139

Gabe York

Arizona

39%

56

144

Niels Giffey

Connecticut

52%

55

106

Anthony Brown

Stanford

45%

52

115

Zach LaVine

UCLA

38%

48

125

Josh Gasser

Wisconsin

46%

47

103

DeAndre Daniels

Connecticut

45%

46

103

Khari Price

Dayton

41%

46

113

Wayne Blackshear

Louisville

40%

45

112

Matt Thomas

Iowa St.

34%

44

130

Sam Dekker

Wisconsin

32%

39

121

Devin Oliver

Dayton

39%

37

95

Kenny Kaminski

Michigan St.

49%

37

75

Matt Shrigley

San Diego St.

35%

35

100

Josh Richardson

Tennessee

34%

33

96

John Gage

Stanford

36%

26

73

Josh Huestis

Stanford

34%

25

74

Bronson Koenig

Wisconsin

32%

19

60

A lot of these guys don't fit in just one category. Luke Hancock and Anthony Brown are very good at driving and getting fouled. Wayne Blackshear is a versatile defender. Devin Oliver and Josh Huestis are great rebounders. Sam Dekker is a very good driver for a big man. Regardless, you don't want to leave any of these guys open.

Pass-First PGs (13):

Player

Team

ORtg

A%

A/TO

T.J. McConnell

Arizona

112.5

31.1

3.1

Kasey Hill

Florida

99.0

25.5

2.0

Darius Thompson

Tennessee

104.3

25.2

2.7

Spike Albrecht

Michigan

127.0

24.8

4.6

London Perrantes

Virginia

118.3

24.3

3.6

Scoochie Smith

Dayton

88.7

20.7

1.8

Monte Morris

Iowa St.

125.2

20.5

5.0

Derrick Walton Jr.

Michigan

112.3

20.3

1.9

Gary Franklin

Baylor

105.1

19.9

1.7

Bryce Alford

UCLA

110.3

19.2

2.1

Travis Trice

Michigan St.

118.2

18.9

2.3

Terry Rozier

Louisville

116.9

17.0

3.0

Antonio Barton

Tennessee

111.1

15.8

2.2

Hill, Thompson, Smith, and Franklin are the only guys without a solid jump shot, and that hurts their ORtg overall. But Hill makes up for it by getting to the free throw line at an elite rate. Barton has not been an effective creator this year and thus the ball-handling duties have fallen more on Tennessee's Jordan McRae.

Scoring and Passing (7):

Player

Team

PPG

PctPoss

ORtg

A%

A/TO

Kenny Chery

Baylor

11.5

23.1

115.6

34

2.3

Keith Appling

Michigan St.

11.7

21.5

110.1

26.3

2.2

Traevon Jackson

Wisconsin

10.8

22.5

107

25

1.8

Andrew Harrison

Kentucky

11

21.7

104

23.1

1.4

Ryan Boatright

Connecticut

11.9

22.5

104.7

22

1.8

Chris Jones

Louisville

10.4

21.7

110.2

20.6

2.1

Vee Sanford

Dayton

9.9

25

103.4

17.5

1.2

Appling, Jackson, and Harrison live at the FT line. Appling is obviously still not 100%, and the biggest question left in this tournament is whether Appling's injury will hurt Michigan St. when they play a close game against a quality opponent.

The stats don’t tell the story (3): Wisconsin’s Nigel Hayes, Michigan’s Glenn Robinson, and Arizona’s Aaron Gordon.

Aaron Gordon should be a lottery pick in the draft, but when you look at his stats, he doesn’t dominate in any statistical category. But I strongly believe the stats are missing something here. Sean Miller has taken a team to the NCAA tournament 7 times, but he’s never had a Top 10 defense in his career until this season. And I believe Gordon and Hollis-Jefferson are largely responsible for the peak defensive success. Gordon has an incredible ability to both help in the lane and close out on three point shooters. Gordon has a superstar level impact even if that isn’t reflected in the stats.

Glenn Robinson has seen his draft stock slip substantially this season, and his numbers aren’t great. But he is still an impressive player in the open floor and he has the athleticism to frustrate opposing players.

Finally, Nigel Hayes is statistically a liability for the Badgers. He is one of the least efficient players on the team. But what makes him so important is that Hayes is the Badgers only true inside big man. Hayes has a free throw rate of 94, meaning he gets 94 FTs for every 100 shots he takes. For a perimeter oriented Badger team, he provides some key balance.

They Do Everything! (5):

Player

Team

PPG

DR%

A%

Steal%

Shabazz Napier

Connecticut

17.8

15.2

30.9

3.0

Kyle Anderson

UCLA

14.7

25.4

34.3

3.0

Dwight Powell

Stanford

13.9

17.3

20.5

2.3

Malcolm Brogdon

Virginia

12.6

17.3

19.4

2.4

Denzel Valentine

Michigan St.

8.1

18.3

23.0

1.9

Napier is one of the best rebounding guards you will ever see. Brogdon is a super-versatile wing player. And Anderson and Powell are talented playmakers with the size of forwards. Valentine doesn't have the scoring of the others, but he's still a dynamic point forward. Other than Powell, all are quality three point shooters too.

The Pure Scorers (19):

These players all score a lot, but let’s break down the contributing factors. Jarnell Stokes is scoring a lot despite Tennessee’s slow tempo. Adreian Payne is scoring a lot, despite playing limited minutes.  Meanwhile Russ Smith is the highest volume scorer left in the field, and Nik Stauskas is the most efficient.

Player

Team

PPG

Tempo

PctMin

PctPoss

ORtg

Nik Stauskas

Michigan

17.4

62.7

85.4

23.7

124.5

Frank Kaminsky

Wisconsin

13.6

63.7

66.3

24.9

123.0

Jordan Adams

UCLA

17.4

70.1

72.6

25.6

121.7

Xavier Thames

San Diego St.

17.3

63.4

77.3

27.6

120.6

Montrezl Harrell

Louisville

14.0

69.1

72.9

22.1

117.6

Jarnell Stokes

Tennessee

15.2

62.8

80.3

26.0

117.4

Aaron Harrison

Kentucky

14.1

66.5

79.7

20.7

116.6

Jordan McRae

Tennessee

18.6

62.8

79.4

28.6

115.8

Casey Prather

Florida

14.1

62.8

66.8

25.2

115.4

Russ Smith

Louisville

18.1

69.1

72.9

30.8

114.5

Nick Johnson

Arizona

16.3

64.6

80.7

24.8

114.4

Gary Harris

Michigan St.

16.9

66.4

73.2

25.5

114.1

Adreian Payne

Michigan St.

16.6

66.4

55.1

27.2

114.0

Melvin Ejim

Iowa St.

18.1

71.9

74.3

25.8

113.0

Chasson Randle

Stanford

18.7

67.0

87.0

25.5

112.9

Scottie Wilbekin

Florida

13.1

62.8

72.4

21.5

112.9

Julius Randle

Kentucky

15.1

66.5

75.9

26.3

111.2

DeAndre Kane

Iowa St.

17.1

71.9

84.2

26.7

110.9

James Young

Kentucky

14.3

66.5

80.1

22.0

110.4

Harrell, Stokes, and Julius Randle are all monster offensive rebounders. Other than those three and Casey Prather, all these players are dangerous from three point range. Surprisingly, Jordan Adams has the best steal rate, though Russ Smith isn't far behind. Kane and Smith are also dynamic passers and creators for their teammates.

2013 Holiday Tournaments (Part 1)

In 2013, college basketball practices were allowed to start earlier which means Midnight Madness is now spread over four weekends. That has taken some of the flair out of the tipoff to the season.

And that’s a bad thing because the real season tips off is usually a bit of a yawn. Friday, November 8th features a few intriguing games (such as Maryland vs Connecticut) but most people probably won’t get too excited until the 24-hour marathon On November 12th. But the 24-hour marathon isn’t quite must-see TV either. West Virginia vs Virginia Tech might be an intriguing matchup again in a few years, but after how those teams fared last year, I can’t quite recommend that people skip work to watch it in the afternoon. Any many of the AM games are only draws to the true college basketball die-hards.

Luckily ESPN has built one true must-see TV event. On the night of November 12th we get the Champions Classic pairing Duke vs Kansas and Michigan St. vs Kentucky. I will talk more about that event as it approaches. But assuming your team isn’t one of those four blue-bloods, the true tipoff is probably the string of holiday tournaments. Today, I will start breaking down these tournaments down in a three part series.

2K Sports Nov 21-22

While my preseason rankings won’t be revealed until closer to the start of the season, I thought I would use my rankings to project some of the early season tournaments. Each of the tables lists the odds of each team advancing through each round. Teams are ordered as they appear in the bracket meaning Boston College plays Connecticut in the first round of the first event.

 

Final

Champ

Boston College

30%

10%

Connecticut

70%

38%

Indiana

57%

31%

Washington

43%

20% 

Connecticut has been reluctant to play Boston College since BC left for the ACC, but the regional rivals will square off in the first tournament of the season. And the guard play in this tournament should be outstanding. Connecticut is the favorite thanks to Ryan Boatright and Shabazz Napier. But everyone wants to see BC rising sophomore Olivier Hanlan after he exploded for 41 points in the first round of the ACC tournament last year. Meanwhile Indiana PG Yogi Ferrell will try to lead a young but talented Hoosier team. And Washington adds elite PG recruit Nigel Williams-Goss.

Puerto Rico Tip Off, Nov 21-24

 

Semis

Final

Champ

Charlotte

16%

2%

0%

Kansas St.

84%

36%

11%

Northeastern

11%

2%

0%

Georgetown

89%

59%

25%

Long Beach St.

7%

1%

0%

Michigan

93%

62%

43%

Florida St.

23%

5%

1%

VCU

77%

33%

19%

Michigan and VCU are the best two teams, but because they are on the same half of the bracket, VCU’s title odds are only third best.

VCU added Florida St. transfer Terrance Shannon this off-season which adds some intrigue to the first round game between the two schools. But Leonard Hamilton’s Florida St. teams almost always struggle with turnovers, and that is a bad sign against VCU’s HAVOC.

Kansas St. loses half its roster to graduation or transfer, and now no one on the Kansas St. roster was ranked out of the Top 100 out of high school. Kansas St. could be primed for an upset, but Charlotte also must replace substantial production, and they aren’t the ideal sleeper team.

Georgetown and Northeastern both lose their most important player from last year (Otto Porter and Joel Smith respectively). Despite a CAA title last year, I don’t view Northeastern as a likely upset possibility. That’s because Northeastern was very fortunate in close games last year and their overall margin-of-victory numbers were not that strong.

Charleston Classic, Nov 21-24

 

Semis

Final

Champ

Nebraska

35%

7%

3%

Massachusetts

65%

21%

12%

UAB

23%

12%

6%

New Mexico

77%

60%

48%

Georgia

44%

21%

6%

Davidson

56%

31%

10%

Temple

39%

16%

4%

Clemson

61%

32%

10% 

With four starters back from last year’s MWC championship team, New Mexico is the heavy favorite. But the rest of this field is extremely balanced. UMass might be the next best team thanks to elite PG Chaz Williams, but as their 9-7 record in the A10 last year showed, they were an inconsistent team too. A lot of people will lean towards Temple here based on their recent history, but this is by far the weakest returning roster head coach Fran Dunphy has had in his career at Temple.

Coaches vs Cancer, Nov 22 and 23

 

Final

Champ

Oklahoma

39%

5%

Seton Hall

61%

11%

Virginia Tech

6%

2%

Michigan St.

94%

83%

Oklahoma, Seton Hall and Virginia Tech are not in Michigan St.’s league. It would be better to watch the Spartans in the Champions Classic when they take on Kentucky. Or it would be more fun to take the trip to Madison Square Garden to see the Spartans play Georgetown in a February non-conference matchup before the Super Bowl. This tournament is not worth the trip.

Hall of Fame Tipoff, Nov 23 and 24

 

Final

Champ

North Carolina

78%

31%

Richmond

22%

4%

Louisville

93%

64%

Fairfield

7%

1%

This tournament on the other hand, is extremely intriguing. Everyone knows about defending champion Louisville. I would like to see which elite PG recruit Chris Jones or Terry Rozier plays better in their attempt to replace Peyton Siva. And I would like to see how the team defends the paint without Gorgui Dieng. But we know the Louisville juggernaut well. Russ Smith and Luke Hancock are household names at this point and if Montrezl Harrell isn’t a household name now, he will be in March.

So this tournament is really a litmus test for the Tar Heels. How far has Roy Williams team come? I know a lot of people don’t give Roy Williams credit for his coaching ability. They think he only wins with talent. But what Williams really does is throw his freshmen into the fire early. They often struggle, but by the time they are sophomores they are usually substantially improved. I would expect Marcus Paige and Brice Johnson in particular, to make big strides from last season. And with a few more reinforcements like Isaiah Hicks and Kennedy Meeks in the front court, this team will not lack explosive offensive players.

The only thing that would stop me from ranking the Tar Heels in the Top 10 at this point is the PJ Hairston situation. Hairston has had numerous off-court incidents this offseason, and while it seems like North Carolina is going to take the public relations hit and start playing Hairston pretty early in the season, that distraction is disconcerting.

Paradise Jam, Nov 22-25

 

Semis

Final

Champ

Northern Iowa

70%

31%

13%

Loyola Marymount

30%

8%

2%

Marist

9%

2%

0%

Maryland

91%

60%

32%

Providence

65%

35%

19%

Vanderbilt

35%

14%

5%

Morgan St.

12%

2%

0%

La Salle

88%

50%

28% 

Maryland will probably finish near .500 in the ACC this year due to the strength of the top of the league. Thus winning a tournament like this would really help their overall perception on selection Sunday. And even with Alex Len departing, I think they can do it. Elite recruit Roddy Peters and returning backup Seth Allen should provide a substantial upgrade over the enigmatic Pe’Shon Howard at PG. Dez Wells is a star. Nick Faust and Jake Layman are former elite recruits who continue to have great upside. The team adds Michigan transfer Even Smotrycz and his outstanding outside shooting. And Shaquille Cleare, Charles Mitchell, and Damonte Dodd provided plenty of muscle in the paint.

My only concern is that if Jon Graham doesn’t get a waiver, the team really only has 9 scholarship players. That is risky because if someone doesn’t play well, there are not any other options. Moreover, even a minor injury (like Shaquille Cleare’s ongoing back problems) can make it hard to practice and can substantially weaken the rotation. The lack of depth probably won’t be a concern in November, but it will be something to watch as the year rolls on.

La Salle, fresh off a Sweet Sixteen run, is the other favorite in this event. Ramon Galloway is gone, but just about everyone else is back from last year’s team.

But don’t sleep on Providence. Bryce Cotton, LaDontae Henton, and Kadeem Batts have all been efficient high volume scorers, and Kris Dunn’s recruiting ranking out of high school suggests he should be able to take over and dominate at PG. The team also adds a couple of former Top 100 recruits in transfer Carson Desrosiers and freshman Brandon Austin. This could be the kind of event where Providence upsets a couple of teams on their way to a surprise NCAA tournament bid.

Congratulations Louisville

Heading into the tournament, Louisville was the prohibitive favorite. They were the hottest team. They were the most consistent team. And if you studied the numbers, there was but one potential fatal flaw with this team. If Russ Smith struggled, Louisville could be beat. And make no mistake, Smith struggled in Monday’s championship. He started 1-10 from the field and ended up 3 of 16. He had a terrible turnover with 90 seconds left in the game. He had 4 fouls and 0 steals.

And yet, with the season on the line, Louisville refused to let its biggest weakness be the team’s undoing. With Russ Smith having one of his worst games of the season, his teammates stepped up and carried him. Wayne Blackshear had averaged fewer than 4 points per game over the last 4 games, but there he was going toe-to-toe with Trey Burke to open the game. Chane Behanan battled for offensive rebounds like his life depended on it. (At one point he grabbed an offensive rebound while surrounded by four Michigan jerseys.) Gorgui Dieng had a couple of beautiful offensive plays that sort of signified how far his offensive game has come. (He hit a jumper from the free throw line and had a gorgeous power move for a lay-up on the right post.) Meanwhile Peyton Siva had a second half he will never forget. Sure the alley-oop wheel play will probably be his highlight. But Siva’s overall assertiveness in dishing the rock led to incredible second half shooting for Louisville. Michigan stayed close by making some tough shots, but down the stretch Peyton Siva made sure Louisville was getting the better shots. And of course Luke Hancock hit the four huge threes to lead the first half comeback.

Pregame Rick Pitino was asked whether Trey Burke or Mitch McGary scared him more. He said in a game like this, you have to fear that any player could be the hero. For much of the game it seemed like he was oddly prophetic about Michigan’s Spike Albrecht. But maybe he was just prophetic about his own team. In this season, in this tournament, in this Final Four, it seemed that everyone on Louisville embraced the moment.

But for me two players will always stand out, not so much for the plays or the moments, but for the memories. Peyton Siva’s childhood was brutally rough. His family had problems with drugs and crime, and at one point he had to talk his dad out of committing suicide. Attending college away from his family, his Dad rarely could attend games. But I will never forget the first time I saw Peyton Siva’s dad in the Louisville stands cheering on his son. Whatever mistakes his dad had made in his life, you could tell that Peyton Siva’s dad took great pride in his son’s performance. And to see him again on the sideline in the championship game with his hand-drawn Kevin Ware t-shirt, was truly a joyous moment.

And maybe that’s why another connection to this team also hit me. Sadly I also live 500 miles away from my parents. I don’t get to see my dad as often as I would like. But in 2010, my Dad and I drove to the Charleston Classic and saw George Mason play three times. I remember seeing Luke Hancock for the first time in that tournament. And I remember raving about how, even if he wasn’t the most athletic player on the floor, he seemed to play his best in the biggest moments of the game. The memory of spending that time with my father will always be special.

And really, for many of us, these college basketball games aren't about the stats or the coaching decisions. They aren't about the referees.

-Whether you walked over to Midnight Madness on the quad on a cold October night and saw Louisville’s tip-off scrimmage

-Whether you went to a bunch of games with your girlfriend and couldn’t believe how much she cared about basketball

-Whether you went to a bunch of games with your Dad so you could get free dinner afterward

-Whether you drove back to the Louisville campus to see your team play twice this winter, and raved to your wife about the new stadium

-Whether you bought your five year old daughter a Louisville jersey and made her wear it on game-day

-Whether you were crazy enough to make the trip to the Bahamas and were disappointed to see Gorgui Dieng get injured

-Whether you tuned in for the first time when you clicked the Yahoo link and saw your alma matter was in the tournament and some poor kid broke his leg

In the end, this season is full of memories that Louisville fans and alumni will never forget.

Recap Of Final Four Saturday

The Number One Offense will now meet the Number One Defense, but Syracuse and Wichita St. have nothing to hang their heads about.

Sweet Sixteen Day 2

Revisiting a dramatic comeback, the end of FGCU's run, and praising Kevin Ware for his improved play.

Initial Bracket Thoughts

Which top seeded teams have been the most/least consistent since the start of the year?

Comparing The Conferences

The Pac-12 has been suffering through a long dark period. The Big Ten has been dominant (at least in the pre-conference schedule) for the last few years. Should we expect a change this year? Is the Pac-12’s slump over? Is the Big Ten’s boom about to come to an end?

Final Four Saturday

Sarcasm, Triumph, and Heartbreak from a fantastic Saturday at the Final Four.

Sweet Sixteen Day 1

On a night that saw three Big Ten/Big East match-ups, Dan Hanner explains one flaw in the Big Ten's current league configuration.

NCAA Tournament Day 4

Twelve of the 16 teams in the Sweet Sixteen were in the preseason AP Top 25, and Michigan St. was among the first teams in the “others receiving votes” category. But Indiana, Ohio, and NC State have all exceeded expectations this season by making it this far.

Major Conference Tournaments Day 4

Baylor broke through, Michigan and Tennessee had huge game tying 3's, but the true action on Friday took place in the A10.

2012 Big East Power Rankings

Syracuse finished the regular season with a 17-1 record and were predictably significantly better than any Big East rival.

Major Conference Tournaments Day 2: Big East, Pac-12

How important is it to have Jim Calhoun on the sideline, Oklahoma's late game gamble, and other observations from Wednesday of Championship Week.

Top NCAA Coaches Of Past Five Years

There are a lot of complicated ways to evaluate college coaches, but in this edition we look at the coaches with the best per possession numbers over the last five years.

Freshmen Bring Hope

Teams that play a lot of freshmen are the most likely to improve as the season goes on, while those with a lot of experience are more likely to plateau. In this piece, we examine freshmen minutes for every major school in the country.

The Census: RealGM's NCAA Rankings For Dec. 12

Syracuse has yet to leave New York and have played a relatively soft schedule, with their only impressive wins coming against Florida and Stanford, but they are 10-0 and now No. 1 in RealGM’s weekly poll.

The Census: RealGM's NCAA Rankings For Dec. 5

Aaron Craft, Jared Sullinger and Ohio State were ready to trounce on the No. 1 slot in RealGM's rankings if not for an Anthony Davis block.

The Census: RealGM's NCAA Rankings For Nov. 28th

Kentucky at No. 1, North Carolina drops to No. 4, while Saint Louis, Harvard, San Diego State and Creighton enter RealGM's rankings.

Big East Prospect Watch

With Jeremy Lamb, Andre Drummond, Khem Birch and Mouphtaou Yarou, the Big East once again has several high-quality NBA prospects.

2011 McDonald's All-American Game Recap

The most exciting player in the game may have been on the losing team.

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