College Basketball took center stage this weekend. The mighty North Carolina Tar Heels were brought to their knees by Maryland. Texas took care of the Blake Griffin-less Oklahoma Sooners, and ESPN (along with the ‘family of networks’) gave us the completely made for television ‘Bracketbuster’ weekend. After a full weekend of watching college hoops, there is one very legitimate question that’s begging to be asked.
Who’s #1?: No, not in the rankings. I’m talking about Number one seeds. Sure I know that Selection Sunday is still a few weeks away (March 15th – I have the date circled on my calendar), but it’s no longer too early to debate who the #1’s might be.
The only locks right now (in my view) are UCONN and Pittsburgh. Sure the Huskies just lost to Pitt a week ago, and Jerome Dyson is out for the year, but they still have Hasheem Thabeet and Jeff Adrien. Even though the Big East is the toughest conference in the country, they should get to the finals of the conference tournament at Madison Square Garden. At which point, they’ll probably face the Panthers again, who have Blair and one of the most underrated coaches in the country in Jamie Dixon. And, no matter what happens in that game, both teams should be #1 seeds.
As far as the other #1 seeds go, you’d have to think that Carolina is in line for one of them, but they have to beat Duke on March 8th, and then win either a third game against the Blue Devils or a matchup against Wake Forest in in the ACC tournament. If they do, they are a no-brainer pick to be a #1.
Which leaves the final top seed up for grabs. Oklahoma is a much different team without Blake Griffin. We all saw that in the loss to Texas on Saturday night. If he’s healthy and the Sooners win the Big 12, then the Sooners have a leg up on getting that remaining top seed. But if they don’t, the door is open for Louisville, Wake Forest, and Duke.
Crabtree Takes a Tumble: The news from the NFL combine over the weekend wasn’t good for Michael Crabtree, the Texas Tech WR who most people believed was going to go #4 overall to the Seattle Seahawks. Crabtree has a stress fracture in his left foot, and measures two inches shorter than Tech listed him in their media guide. As a result, some expect Crabtree to fall out of the top ten.
That would be a mistake. Whoever gets Crabtree is going to get a special player. Yes you could say he has to prove he’s not a product of Mike Leach’s offense. But, I believe Wes Welker has turned into a pretty nice player (a Tech alum). Teams shouldn’t be scared off by the injury to Crabtree. He’s a special player. Anyone who watched him over the last two seasons, and especially in that win over Texas, knows what they saw.
Crabtree is the best wideout in the draft. From what I understand, the injury is similar to what Jonathan Stewart had a year ago at this time. I don’t think the Carolina Panthers regret drafting Stewart. Whoever drafts Crabtree won’t regret it either. But, any team that passes on Crabtree in favor of either Jeremy Maclin or Percy Harvin will be kicking themselves. Just like teams did for passing on some guy named Rice nearly 25 years ago. Crabtree is that good.
Two Days To Tiger’s Return: After missing half of last season and the start of this season because of his knee problems, Tiger Woods is coming back. The world’s best golfer (and still ranked #1 in the world despite his being on the shelf) is going to tee it up on Wednesday at the World Golf Championships. And, as far as the PGA is concerned, it’s not a moment too soon.
No offense to Padraig Harrington, who won two majors in Tiger’s absence, but Tiger is the face of golf. The television ratings are proof of that. They plummeted while Tiger was out. Now that he’s back, it’s a sure bet they will be through the roof this coming weekend (especially if Woods makes it all the way to the finals).
Before Woods came along, golf wasn’t among the ‘major’ sports in the country (NFL, MLB, NBA). Woods made it a major sport. Without him, golf was like it was between Jack Nicklaus’ heyday and Woods’ debut. A nice sport, but not must see TV. With him, it’ll be the top story on Sports Center once again. With Woods, the buzz returns to a sport that needs it.
And, it doesn’t matter if he wins the match play tournament this coming week. All that matters is that he is back.