Tag Archive: National Player of the Year



There’s a lot of excitement and anticipation building up for this weekends games.  Everyone wants to see the game between VCU and Butler and most forget that Uconn and Kentucky are still even in the tournament.  Unfortunately Jim Calhoun and his Huskies are being put in the shadow this weekend.  His star Kemba Walker has earned himself as much attention as his heart could ever desire with the way he has played this season.  His last second heroics have made him a finalist for the Naismith Award (National Player of the Year).

Kemba looks to stay hot during the Huskies run to the National Championship

Fortunately for John Calipari him and his team are also in the shadow because of the other Final Four game.  I find it strange that Calipari’s last two Final Four appearances have been wiped from the record books for NCAA violations.  Could this be his third strike? Only time will tell and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was.  Regardless of whether or not each team deserves to be in this game because of codes of ethics or what not it’s sad to say that most viewers (besides Uconn and UK faithful) of the Final Four this weekend are only watching simply to see who will play the winner of the VCU/Butler game, which coincidentally is played before the Uconn/UK game.

I have a few thoughts on this game though.  I’m actually looking forward to what the experts are calling the “Goliath” match up.  Not to take away from Butler or VCU but I think this will be a better basketball game. I could be wrong though, as I have been many times in my life.  But, I think watching a combined seed total of 7 (UK=4, Uconn=3) will be much more enjoyable than watching the 11 seed VCU face up against the 8 seed Butler.  Colin Cowherd of sportsnation put it like this, and on this rare occasion I agree with him, “Everybody says they love the Cinderella story but, the day after the game ratings are terrible”.

As for the Uconn and Kentucky game, I think it’s going to be awesome.  I thought Kentucky was going to be beat easily against Ohio State and their bigs played one hell of a game.  Though VCU has been surprising I’m just as surprised by Kentucky.  I didn’t think the SEC this year was worth a darn but here are the Wildcats ready to battle the Huskies.

Even though Calipari figuratively has two Final Four appearances Jim Calhoun has much more tournament experience.  I think Calhoun’s experience mixed with Kemba’s dominance aided by freshman Jeremy Lamb will be unstoppable.  Uconn is currently on a 9 game winning streak.  What’s more surprising than that is all these wins have come during the Big East tourney and the NCAA tourney.  Against quality teams.  The NCAA tournament isn’t necessarily about whose the best team in the nation. It’s about whose the hottest team in the nation and right now I think it’s no doubt that Uconn is the hottest team (though some would argue VCU is).  I see the Huskies continuing their winning streak and making it to the National Championship game.

 

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Purdue does too


Purdue has also met the following criteria to have the best shot of winning the National Championship:

  1. Have a 10 game win streak at some point during the season
  2. Average double digit margin of victory (MoV) wins
  3. ranked in the preseason top 10

Purdue preseason rank: 8

Purdue MoV: 17.88

Purdue Record: 25-5 (14-3 Big Ten)

Purdue RPI: 6

The Boilermakers are a very intriguing team. They are arguably the hottest team as of right now and have put together quite an impressive season.  After losing Robbie Hummel there were a lot of questions as to how the Boilers would respond. Are they going to pack it up and wait til next year when Robbie’s back? Who is going to be their third scorer? Those are just a couple questions many fans and experts had.

I’ll admit that I did not expect Purdue to play as well as they have of late.  I predicted earlier that Purdue would win the Big Ten, I was close but I have to say my heart wasn’t 100% confident in that prediction.  But Matt Painter and his crew has stepped up to the plate and have answered most of the questions we all had.

However, one question still remains for me.  Who is the third go to guy?  Throughout the season different key players have risen to the occasion and helped propel Purdue to a victory.  DJ Byrd had an amazing game at Wisconsin, but the Boilers barely fell short.  Ryne Smith has continued to knock down threes shooting .448% from behind the arc.  Lewis Jackson, who I used to get nervous about when he was handling the ball, has come up big in multiple games.  Not only as a scorer but as a team leader.  Terone Johnson has done some great things as well with his solid defense and streaky 3 point shooting.  Two guys I think everyone should keep an eye out for in the tournament are John Hart and Kelsey Barlow.  Barlow has the ability to lock down any offensive great and hold them scoreless.  The kid can also jump and has a very quick first step.  If he can get close to the hoop you know he can throw it down.  But, sometimes he can play lackadaisically and doesn’t have much of a jump shot (at least he hasn’t shown it yet if he does).  John Hart is that player that comes form nowhere and hits big shots.  My dad knows a lot about basketball and really likes this kid.  He knows talent when he sees it. I think Purdue’s lack of a solid 3rd scorer is actually a good thing, as long as everyone keeps taking turns stepping up and helping out Moore and Johnson

E'Twaun Moore and JaJuan Johnson after their Senior Night Win over the Illinois Fighting Illini

Unsurprisingly the Boilermakers success lies in the Hands of the two senior superstars, E’Twaun Moore and JaJuan Johnson.  JaJuan Johnson is averaging 20.5 ppg and 8.0 rpg.  Johnson’s ability to knock down any shot from every spot on the floor makes him literally impossible to stop.  Not only is his presence felt on the offensive end of the floor.  JaJuan is also averaging 2.4 blocks/game.  Including a 7 block game against Michigan State on February 27th.  In that game he also scored 20 points and had 17 rebounds!  I think Johnson should win the Big Ten Player of the Year and should be considered for the National player of the Year.

E’Twaun Moore on more than one occasion has shown his ability to put the ball in the bucket in pressure situations.  He has also shown that he can take over a game and pretty much win it single handedly.  He did so in 38 point performance against then #3 Ohio State.  I think Moore is catching his stride and at a very good time.  We need him to stay hot and help his buddy Johnson lead the Boilers to a hopeful Final Four run.

Before the season started when Robbie Hummel was still healthy everyone had Purdue making the Final Four and a possible championship appearance.  I would like to take a second to recognize Matt Painter’s efforts this season.  He took a team that was demoralized when their star player went down for the season and led them to a 25-5 record and a possible repeat of co-conference champs (need a win against Iowa and Wisconsin to beat Ohio State this weekend) and thoughts of a possibly still making a Final Four run.  I think Matt Painter should also be recognized for consideration for Big Ten and National Coach of the Year.  During a brief conversation with my dad last night he pointed out that Purdue, with the likes of the two senior superstars/supporting cast/and Matt Painter, still have a “legitimate” shot at winning the National Title.  As I said earlier, I’m not sure I agree with my dad and Jay Williams who think they have a shot to win it all.  However, I hope they’re right and I have confidence that Purdue will make it to the Final Four!

And this is for all you Purdue fans out there that still back your team 100% and still have hope! Enjoy! (thanks dad)