Which basketball team is set to win NCAA tourney?

February 09, 2011

Any of Big East's beasts

Chris Dufresne

Los Angeles Times

Let's first eliminate No.1 Ohio State, unless the Buckeyes plan on losing a game soon. No undefeated team has won the NCAA title since Indiana in 1976. Butler, last year's silver medalist, won't have a Bulldog in this hunt. Duke, the defending champions, is well-positioned because it is Duke and Mike Krzyzewski is still the coach. The Blue Devils would have been prohibitive favorites had they not lost freshman point guard Kyrie Irving to a foot injury.

The team best-positioned, though, is actually a conference. The Big East may have an argument for placing 11 schools in the tournament.

So there's a good shot this year's NCAA champion will be Pittsburgh. Or Villanova. Or Notre Dame. Or Connecticut. But don't count out Louisville, keep an eye on Syracuse and Georgetown, take a flier on West Virginia and watch out for Marquette and St. John's.

cdufresne@tribune.com

Banking on Buckeyes

Paul Doyle

Hartford Courant

In a year when we continually hear that there is no great team, Ohio State just wins. The Buckeyes are unbeaten with six games remaining and they've defeated all comers, from ranked teams such as Illinois, Minnesota and Purdue to their early-season layups who could have set a trap.

They have a great player in Jared Sullinger and they've shown they can win tight games. Does this add up to Ohio State being the favorite for an NCAA title? Until someone beats them, yes.

History may tell us that it's nearly impossible to run the table, but we're going with Ohio State if they can enter the tournament without a loss.

What if they do lose before the tournament? Hey, the monkey's off their back and they'll be ready to roll. Either way, the Buckeyes are the team to beat.

pdoyle@courant.com

Texas' depth a key

Shannon Ryan

Chicago Tribune

A year ago this was a laughable prediction. But after Texas crumbled from its No. 1 perch last season, the team is in better position than any other team to win the NCAA title this season.

The Longhorns, winners of 14 of their last 15 games have won every Big 12 game by double digits. Their depth is ocean-deep, something No. 1 Ohio State lacks. And they already tossed aside No. 2 Kansas in an 11-point victory on the road.

Guard J'Covan Brown comes off the bench and separates Texas with his 3-point shooting. Freshman center Tristan Thompson has more than 50 blocks. Sophomore guard Jordan Hamilton averages 18.9 points per game.

Cory Joseph (11 ppg) is another scoring option, and the Longhorns rank seventh nationally with 41.1 boards per game.

Those numbers are evidence they have what it takes to go the distance.

sryan@tribune.com

Ohio State is top dog

Andrew Carter

Orlando Sentinel

Ohio State is the obvious answer and, at this point, the correct answer. Though the overall quality of college basketball seems to have declined this season — there's more parity than ever, at least — the Buckeyes are the closest thing there is to a truly dominant power.

Even so, casual college basketball fans might struggle to name one Ohio State player other than forward Jared Sullinger, who averages a team-high 18 points per game. No matter. Ohio State hasn't built a 24-0 record for nothing.

The Buckeyes, who beat Northwestern recently by just one point, are far from invincible. But they've clearly risen above during a season that might most be remembered for its parity.

acarterb@tribune.com

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