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MLB: MLB Players Who Could be Traded During the 2012 Offseason:

With Free Agents Jake Peavy (Chicago White Sox) and David Ortiz (Boston Red Sox) resigning with their respected teams, the MLB Free Agency pool seems quite limited but there’s still a few significant players to watch this offseason as the Free Agency period gets underway. Below are a list of the top free-agents and which team I feel they will sign with during the offseason:

1. Zach Greinke: (Los Angeles Angles): With Zack Greinke being the only elite level pitcher on the Free Agent Market, there’s no question that he will be the most sought after free agent this winter. The 2009 Cy-Young Award winner will have numerous teams interested in signing him during the offseason and that list will start with Greinke’s 2012 Team: the Los Angeles Angeles. With Bobby Abreu, Dan Haren, Torii Hunter, and Ervin Santana off their payroll, I feel the Angels will have the necessary money they need to resign Zack Greinke to the biggest Pitcher contract this offseason. The other teams that would be interested in signing Zack Greinke this offseason are the Texas Rangers and St. Louis Cardinals.

2. Josh Hamilton: (Washington Nationals): The Nationals already feature a sold core of hitters (Ian Desmond, Bryce Harper, Michael Morse, Jayson Werth, and Ryan Zimmerman) but have been looking for an additional left-handed impact bat to add to their lineup so they can be that much more deeper from both sides of the plate. If the Nationals were able to sign Hamilton, then they could move Morse from the outfield to First Base and feature one of the best offensive and defensive outfields in Hamilton, Harper, and Werth. In addition to the Nationals, I feel the Baltimore Orioles and Hamilton’s current team, the Texas Rangers, would still be interested in bringing him back to Texas.

3. Michael Bourn: (Philadelphia Phillies): The Braves would love to bring back the 2-Time All-Star and Gold-Glove winner however it seems unlikely they would be able to afford his reported asking price. With the Phillies dropping almost 40 million dollars from

last years and in addition to trading 2 of the teams 3 starting outfielder from last years team, I feel Philly will be one of the most active teams during

the offseason. Other teams that will look to sign Michael Bourn are his former team, Atlanta Braves along with the Washington Nationals if there unable to sign Josh Hamilton.

4.  AJ Pierzynski: (Texas Rangers): At 35 (and soon to be 36 years old) the 2-Time All-Star Catcher had his best statistical season of his career winning his first silver slugger award and still looked to be at the top of his game. With that said, as much as Pierzynski has ment to the White Sox organization, it seems like the White Sox have decided to go younger and start last year backup catcher Tyler Flowers. Flowers proved last season that he can do a solid job at calling a game in addition to having a great deal of power from the catcher position. I feel the Rangers will sign Pierzynski who has proven to be a much more durable catcher behind the plate than 2011 Ranger Mike Napoli (Napoli has never caught 760 innings in a season while Pierzynski has caught 1,000 Plus innings 11 times in his career). The other teams that also might look to sign Pierzynski this offseason are the Chicago White Sox, Tampa Bay Rays, and Los Angeles Dodgers.

In addition to the Free Agency Process, there’s 5 other significant players that I feel will be mentioned in a number of trade rumors this offseason.

Alex Rodriguez: (New York Yankees): The Yankees expensive 3rd Baseman had another injury plagued season and showed that he’s still having some durability issues as A-Rod hasn’t played in 140 games in season since the 2007 season and in three of those season he played in under 125 games. Even with all his injuries and problems throughout the MLB Playoffs, I still feel A-Rod will be a Yankee when the 2013 season starts. On the other hand, will the Yankees at-least test the Trade Market… absolutely. So which teams will the Yankees talk with A-Rod about: before the Blockbuster Trade on Tuesday I would have said the Miami Marlins, but now I feel there’s only two teams that would consider trading for the former 3-Time AL MVP Winner: Chicago White Sox (however, with Rick Hahn now the GM, the White Sox might have a new perspective on A-Rod) and drs. In the end, I feel Rodriguez will once again be in Yankee Pinstripes when the 2013 Baseball season begins.

Chase Headley: (San Diego Padres): The Padres have a ton of solid prospects in their organization and with the Giants, Dodgers, and Diamondbacks in their division, I’m not sure there ready to win now so I feel they should look to trade their best asset; Chase Headley. Headley had by far his best season, Hitting .286, to go along with 31 Home Runs and an NL High 115 RBI’s while playing in arguably the toughest hitting ballpark in all of baseball and because of this he’s a finalist for the 2012 NL MVP Award. In addition to having such a great season, Headley is just hitting his prime (28 years old) and has 3 more Arbitration Eligible Seasons left on his contract. Because of his age, contract status, the chances of him replicating this season and the state of this franchise, I feel the Padres should look to trade Chase Headley this offseason. Some of the places that have enough assets to acquire Headley and look to trade for him are the Tampa Bay Rays, Texas Rangers, and the Oakland Athletics. In the end, I feel the Padres will ask for too much and not trade the 28 year old 3rd Baseman whose also proven he can play First Base and Left Field.

Gavin Floyd: (Milwaukee BrewersWith White Sox 2012 Third Baseman Kevin Youkilis most likely departing from the South Side of Chicago this offseason, its very clear that the Chicago White Sox have a significant void to fill at the hot corner that they’ll look fill via a Trade (the Free-Agent Market is quite thin). With that said, a number of teams are looking for veteran pitchers that haven’t had any significant injuries in the past. Fortunately, Floyd fits the criteria as he’s thrown over 180 innings for of the past 5 seasons showing that he can take the ball at any time. Because of this, I feel the White Sox will either trade Floyd straight up for a 3rd Baseman or trade Floyd for a number of prospects that they can then flip the prospects for a third baseman. I feel the White Sox number one option would be moving Floyd and a few other prospects for either top prospects Anthony Rendon (Washington Nationals) or Mike Olt (Texas Rangers). So why would Texas or Washington be in such a hurry to trade one of their top prospects? Because both teams have a log jam at third base in Ryan Zimmerman (Nationals) and Adrian Beltre (Ranges). Zimmerman, (who agreed to a new contract last offseason), and Beltre, (who hit .321 to along with 36 Homers and 102 RBI and has 4 more years left on his contract) might feel they don’t need one of these elite level prospects and instead might look to acquire a quality veteran pitcher. Both teams have the two different options for these two players: either move one of the top prospects in baseball so they can fill other holes on their roster or have them change positions because nethor will be playing 3rd Base in the near future. In the end, do I foresee the White Sox acquiring one of these two young 3rd Base prospects…no and because of this I feel they will trade Floyd to the Milwaukee Brewers for a number of prospects to help improve their farm system. With that in mind, I also feel the Colorado Rockies, Los Angeles Dodgers, St. Louis Cardinals, and Texas Rangers will also make a run at Floyd.

Matt Garza: (Chicago Cubs): The Cubs 28 year old right hander had an up and 2012 season that unfortunately ended with him on the DL from July 21st until the completion of the Season. With Garza being in the prime of his career, a proven winner, and having no significant injuries in the past, its a forgone conclusion that a number of teams will look to trade for Garza this offseason. So what teams will look to trade for Garza? I feel the list for Garza will include the Baltimore Orioles, AL Champion Detroit TigersKansas City Royals (who feature a great Bullpen and Offense but need to upgrade their starting rotation), New York Yankees, and Texas Rangers. In the end, I think Garza will start the season with the Cubs so they can show he’s recovered from his triceps injury and then decide wither or not to trade him depending on where the Cubs are in the standings around the July 31st Trade Deadline.

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San Francisco Giants: Bruce Bochy Hello Hall-of-Fame

Following a Kick return for a Touchdown by Desmond Howard in a game between Michigan and Ohio State during the 1991 season, notable commentator Keith Jackson uttered the words “Hello Heisman” as Howard did the Heisman pose in the Michigan Stadium end zone. With that in mind, I wanted to use a similar variation of that line for current San Francisco Giants Manager Bruce Bochy “Hello Hall-of-Fame. With the Giants winning their second championship in the past 3 years, manager Bruce Bochy has proven to be one of the best postseason in-game managers in baseball since he started managing during the 1995.

Bochy, a former catcher, started his managerial career during the 1995 season with the San Diego Padres where he spent the last 4 seasons of his playing career. During his tenure as manager of the Padres, Bochy finished in first place 4 times and in 1998 he led the Padres to the World Series for the first time since 1984 when Bochy was a player on that team. However, following the 2006 season, with new management taking over their front office, San Diego decided they wanted to go in another direction so Bochy decided to move up the California coast to another member of the NL West; the San Francisco Giants. In San Francisco, Bochy’s first season was surrounded by a number of significant events in the 2007 All-Star Game being played in San Francisco along with Barry Bonds quest for Hank Aaron’s Home Run record of 755. Following the 2007 season, the Giants decided to go in a different direction as they allowed Bonds to move on and instead decided to build their roster around pitching and defense. The new direction seemed to fit more of Bochy’s style that he managed with in San Diego.

So with that, the Giants decided to build through the draft, (Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum, Madison Bumgarner, Buster Posey were all former 1st Round Picks) add a few under the radar free agents, (Aubry Huff, Gregor Blanco, and Ryan Vogelsong), along with making a couple of quiet, but effective trades (Pat Burrell, Cody Ross, Angel Pagan, Hunter Pence, Marco Scutaro, ) to help add to the depth on their roster.

So what make’s Bruce Bochy such a great manager? Two Reasons:

1. Unlike other teams, the Giants don’t have a great deal of offensive star-power: The Giants have won 2 of the last 3 World Series, and during both Championship runs had to go through 6 different teams that featured a number of elite offensive players in their lineups. Going back to the 2010 Playoffs, the Giants faced the Braves (Chipper Jones (1999 MVP), Brian McCann (2010 All-Star Game MVP), Martin Prado) Phillies (Ryan Howard (2006 MVP), Jimmy Rollins (2007 MVP), Chase Utley, Shane Victoriano, Jayson Werth), and Rangers (Nelson Cruz, Josh Hamilton (2010 MVP), Michael Young, Elvis Andrus, Ian Kinsler) and during the 2012 Playoffs they faced the Reds (Joey Votto (2010 MVP), Brandon Phillips, Jay Bruce, Scott Rolen, Drew Stubbs), Cardinals (Carlos Beltran (9th Most Postseason Home Runs), David Freese (2011 NLCS and World Series MVP), Yadier Molina, Matt Holliday), and the Tigers (Miguel Cabrera (2012 Triple Crown Winner), Prince Fielder (2011 All-Star Game MVP), Austin Jackson, Jhonny Peralta). Not that the Giants didn’t trot out a number of solid hitters (Posey, Pablo Sandoval, Scutaro, Pence) but the Giants hitters don’t have the star power that the other teams they faced feature.

2. Bochy and the Giants aren’t afraid to make bold moves in the Playoffs: The majority of managers wouldn’t ever think of ever making some of the moves that the Bochy and the Giants front office made over the past 3 seasons. Once again, I want to go back and look at the Giants 2010 Season and then move forward to some of the decisions they made during the 2012 season. During their 2010 Playoff Run, the Giants decided to trade starting catcher (and former World Series Champion (2002)) Bengie Molina to the Rangers for a minor prospects. This move was made so the Giants could have top prospect (at that time) Buster Posey start at catcher and Aubry Huff move to first base. Posey went onto win the 2010 Rookie of the Year Award and became the face of the Giants offense. An additional key move the Giants decided to make during their first World Series run was putting Pablo Sandoval and Aaron Rowand on the bench during the Playoffs along with having former Cy-Young Award winner Barry Zito (the highest paid player on their roster) not apart Playoff roster. Finally, following a game 3 loss to the Rangers, Manager Bruce Bochy decided to change-up his lineup by moving Aubry Huff to DH and added Travis Ishikawa and Nate Schierholtz to their lineup. It seemed that at every significant time during the 2010 Playoffs, Bruce Bochy was making all the correct calls throughout these crucial moments.

As for the 2012 Playoffs, Bruce Bochy and the Giants once again showed why they are on top of and prepared for any situation that comes their way. Bochy’s problems started at the beginning of the season when on April 15th, 3-Time All-Star Closer Brian Wilson was forced to miss the remainder of the season with Tommy John Surgery. With Wilson on the shelf for the remainder of the season, the Giants were forced to go with a closer by committee situation which included Santiago Casilla (25), Sergio Romo (14) , and Javier Lopez (7). In addition to that, San Francisco also saw the division rival Dodgers acquiring a number of significant players throughout June, July and August to help bolster their lineup and rotation. To the Giants credit, they didn’t panic and instead made a few key under the radar trades in acquiring Colorado Rockies infielder Marco Scutaro and Phillies outfielder Hunter Pence. Just 15 days after the MLB Trade Deadline, All-Star Game MVP (and at the time NL Batting Leader) Melky Cabrera was suspended 50 games for testing positive for a banned substance. The Giants already featured a lack of depth in their outfield and with this occurring. it made it that much more important that the Giants traded for Pence at the deadline.

Once the Playoffs started, even with all his struggles throughout the 2012 season, most people felt that 2-Time Cy-Young Award Winner Tim Lincecum (2008 and 2009) would stay in the rotation for the entirety of the MLB Playoffs. That wasn’t the case as Lincecum only started 1 game during the 2012 MLB Playoffs (NLCS Game 4) and instead the Giants decided to use him out of the bullpen where he worked 13 innings while only giving up 1 run. With Lincecum out of the rotation, and 2010 Postseason hero Cody Ross in Boston, the Giants needed for two people to step up and fill their spots. Ironically it was the 2 players that were little used during the Giants 2010 Championship run: Pablo Sandoval and Barry Zito. During the 2012 NLCS, the Giants need Zito to step up and win a crucial game 5 so the series would be sent back to San Francisco. Fortunately for the Giants, Zito delivered as he threw 7 2/3 innings of scoreless baseball sending the series back to the Bay Area. So what about the hitter that stepped up, it was Pablo “the Panda” Sandoval who had the second most hits in a single Post Season (24) and joined Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson, and Albert Pujols in hitting 3 Home Runs in a World Series Game. With Zito’s dominant pitching, Sandoval’s hot bat, and a team that refused to give up (down 2-0 to the Reds; won 3 straight in Cincinnati and down 3-1 to the Cardinals; won 3 straight games vs he defending World Champs), the Giants used these three aspects to bring another Championship to the City by the Bay. In my opinion, both the 2010 and 2012 MLB Playoffs showed why Bruce Bochy is one of the best in-game managers of all time and why he’s deserves to be considered a future Hall-of-Fame Manager.

Please share your responses and follow us on Twitter (https://twitter.com/ClarkStSports), Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/clarkstreetsports), Pinterest(http://pinterest.com/clarkstsports/), Google Plus (Clark Street Sports), and now Flickr(http://www.flickr.com/photos/clarkstreetsports). Remember to also check out our merchandise at http://www.clarkstreetsports.com/

 

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Sweet 16: The most important players on each team

There are a lot of great players left in the NCAA Tournament, and because of this, I want to highlight the most important players on each of the remaining 16 teams left in the NCAA Tournament.

Kentucky: Marquis Teague: Anthony Davis might be Kentucky’s best player, but I believe Kentucky can’t win a National Championship without great point guard play from Marquis Teague. Teague struggled during the regular season (averaging only 9.4 points and 4.8 assists per game) and the Wildcats will need him to play at a accelerated level  if they want to go deep in the NCAA Tournament. In their first NCAA Tournament game, Teague improved his played a little (12 points and 4 assists) but it was during their second game (when most of the team was struggling), that Teague decided to step-up his game as he delivered 24 points and 7 assists to go along with 10-14 shooting from the field. I’m not saying Marquis Teague has to put up those type of numbers to have Kentucky win a championship, but if he can average 14-16 points and 6-8 assists per game, I feel it will be Kentucky cutting down the nets in New Orleans when April 2nd rolls around.

Syracuse: Rakeem Christmas: Rakeem Christmas has done a tremendous job trying to fill in for star  center Fab Melo while he’s been suspended. Christmas (a feshman) has been forced into the Orange lineup while having little to no time to prepare for the NCAA Tournament and yet so far he’s done a solid job. In the first two games, Christmas averaged 7 points and 9 rebounds to go along with playing 30 minutes per game (before the NCAA Tournament, he only played 20-plus minutes 5 times during his collegiate career). If he’s able to keep playing like this, the Cuse should have a opportunity at winning the East and advancing to the Final Four.

North Carolina: Kendall Marshall: If Kendall Marshall isn’t able to play this weekend; North Carolina will have a more more difficult time winning the Midwest and reaching the final four. Before Marshall was inserted into their starting lineup last year, Carolina’s offense struggled and at times looked lost, however, since Marshall was put into the starting lineup, the Heels offense has been on fire and everyone on the roster has been playing at a much higher level. I feel the Tar Heels need a solid point guard that can set-up Henson, Zeller, Barnes, and McAdoo inside if they want to reach the Final Four. If another UNC point guard can step-up and prove to be successful, the Tar Heels offense will be fine and should have a solid opportunity to make a run at another championship; if not, I don’t feel the Heels will even reach the Final Four.

Michigan State: Draymond Green: The most important player in the NCAA Tournament and  Mr. Do It All (Draymond  Green) for Tom Izzo and the Spartans of Michigan State. Only 3 people have recorded at least 2 triple doubles during the NCAA Tournament and ironically two played at Michigan State (Oscar Robertson, Magic Johnson, and Draymond Green). The Spartans have a nice combination of older players in their rotation (Seniors Green, Wood, and Thornton; Junior Derrick Nix; and Sophomores Trice, Payne, and Appling) along with a nice mix of guards and centers throughout their rotation. At the same time when Green isn’t on the court directing traffic, the Spartans offense looks confused and has a lot of problems; when he’s on the court   organizing everyone and recording triple doubles, the Spartans have a golden opportunity to return to the Final Four for the 6th time under coach Tom Izzo (3rd in 4 years) and maybe bring home the schools 3rd National Championship.

Kansas: Thomas Robinson: Like Draymond Green, Thomas Robinson is the reason why the Jayhawks went 27-6 during the season and made it back to the Sweet 16. During the offseason, the Jayhawks lost almost their entire starting lineup with the departures of both Marcus and Markieff Morris along with Brady Morningstar and Josh Selby. Kansas was able to overcome these departures and reach the sweet 16 thanks to the leadership shown throughout this year by Thomas Robinson. As for the next few rounds, if Robinson doesn’t play like an All-American, Kansas is going to have a difficult time  defeating a suddenly hot NC State Wolfpack team; however, if Robinson players like an All American, and Elijah Johnson/Tyshawn Taylor continue their great play, I feel Kansas will defeat NC State and have a solid chance at defeating a questionable (with Marshall not 100%) UNC team.

Ohio State: Aaron Craft:No question Jared Sullinger is the best player on the Buckeyes, however, I still feel Ohio State’s destiny in the NCAA Tournament will be determined by the play of Aaron Craft. If Craft (the Big 10 Defensive Player of the Year) is attacking the glass and trying to find his shot on the offensive end, the other members of the Buckeyes (Sullinger, Deshaun Thomas, William Buford, and Lenzelle Smith Jr.) will have an easier time finding their shot and have more opportunities on the offensive end. If Craft keeps up his play as of late, Ohio State will reach the Final Four and become a dark horse to win it all in a few weeks.

Baylor Bears: Perry Jones III: Brady Heslip came up huge for Baylor during the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament scoring 17 vs. South Dakota State and 27 against Colorado. As big as Heslip was during the first two games, I feel the most important player on a very good but inconsistent Baylor Bears team is Perry Jones III. With Jones III, Pierre Jackson, Quincy Acy, and Quincy Miller, along with Heslip making his 3’s, the Bears can becomes a legitimate contender that I feel can athletically keep up with Kentucky. On the other hand, if Baylor doesn’t make their shoots, gets away from their game plan, and star Perry Jones III doesn’t play up to his potential, the Bears might get upset by Xavier.

Marquette: Jae Crowder: The Golden Eagles are led by seniors Jae Crowder and Darius Johnson-Odom, whose averaged 18.5 points along with 3 assists this season. As important as Odom is to Marquette success, there’s no question that the leader of this team is senior Jae Crowder (whose averaged 17.4 points and 8.1 rebounds) while also being the leader of their team. The Golden Eagles also feature a few good underclassmen in Davante Gardner, Junior Cadougan, Todd Mayo, Jamil Wilson and Vander Blue to complement the two senior leaders of their roster. If Crowder and DJO (two of the best players remaining in the tournament) play up to their potential, the Golden Eagles should have a solid chance at defeating Florida and upsetting Michigan State in the Elite 8.

Wisconsin: Jordan Taylor: Prior to the start of the tournament, Jordan Taylor had been having a down year, but that didn’t stop him from being considered one of the best senior leaders in college basketball highlighted by the Badgers having the best defense in college basketball. Just as in years past, Coach Bo Ryan has done a tremendous job and has the Badgers playing arguable their best basketball now shown by the play of their team as of late. As for Taylor, he’s currently playing his best basketball (almost recorded a triple double vs. Montana) and has been a great leader throughout this tournament for a tough Badgers team. If Taylor continues his play, Wisconsin makes their outside shoots, and the Badgers defense frustrates the Syracuse offense, Wisconsin should have a good chance to upset Syracuse.

Louisville: Peyton Siva: Since the start of the Big East Tournament, (averaging 11.1 points and 5.67 assists during this span) Peyton Siva has been playing at the top of his game, and the Cardinals haven’t lost a game during this time. It seems that since the end of the Big East Tournament, Siva along with the rest of the Cardinals have turned up their intensity and have been playing much better as of late. Louisville, along with Siva, need to make sure they receive solid contributions from seniors Kyle Kuric (who is the teams leading scorer) and Chris Smith along with Russ Smith and Gorgui Dieng if they want an opportunity to upset the Spartans.

Indiana: Christian Watford: Even though Christian Watford’s stats aren’t as impressive as they were last year, the junior forward has proved he’s willing to step-up to take and make the big shot (as shown earlier in the year against Kentucky). Since the start of the NCAA Tournament, the Hoosiers have received great contributions from everyone in their starting lineup which includes Will Sheehey (who make the game winner last Saturday vs. VCU), Jordan Hulls, Victor Oladipo, and star freshman Cody Zeller. I’m not sure this young and inexperienced Indiana team is ready to upset Kentucky, however, if star center Cody Zeller decides to stay and not enter the NBA Draft along with the majority of their roster returning next year and a great class coming to Bloomington, Indiana in 2012 (which is highlighted by five stars Kevin Ferrell (PG) and Hanner Perea (PF) along with four star small forward Jeremy Hollowell). With the experience these players have received this year, along with the new players coming to Indiana for the 2012-2013 season, IU will be a top 5 team next year and should make a deep run at raising another championship banner.

Cincinnati: Yancy Gates: The Bearcats feature a lot of quality guards (Dion Dixon, Sean Kilpatrick, Jaquan Parker and Cashmere Wright), but  Gates is the only legitimate big man and inside presence on their roster. Yancy Gates  averaged 9.1 rebounds per game this season (while playing in one of the toughest conferences in College Basketball), and after Gates, the person who averaged the most rebounds during the regular season was guard Jaquan Parker with 5.6 rebounds per game. While Gates was suspended from their roster for 6 games (because of a fight between Xavier and Cincinnati on December 10th), the Bearcats had trouble scoring and rebounding in two of their games (vs. Oklahoma scored 55 points and 66 vs. Pittsburgh), however, once Gates returned to the team, the Bearcats were a more focused and committed team to making a long run in the NCAA Tournament. As for this weekend, if Yancy Gates can play stride for stride with Jarred Sullinger and their starting five can stay out of foul trouble, they should have a chance at the end of the game against their instate rivals from Columbus; if not, Ohio State will dominant the underdog  Bearcats.

Florida: Patric Young: Like Cincinnati with Yancy Gates, Sophomore Patric Young has become the lone dominant big-man for the Gators. Entering the NCAA Tournament, Florida had lost four of five games (@ Georgia, @ Vanderbilt, and vs. Kentucky (twice)) but since the loss to Kentucky on 3/10, the Gators offense and defense have been sharp, scoring 77.5 points per game while allowing only 47.5 points. In the first two games, its been their each member of their starting five doing their part, however, if center Patric Young doesn’t step-up and play at an elite level, Marquette’s big man Jae Crowder will dominate Florida on the glass and make it almost impossible to win. If he does show up and plays like he has so far in the tournament, the Gators are a dark-horse to come out of the West Region and reach the final four.

Xavier: Kenny Frease: In their last game vs. Lehigh, Xavier was down 15 midway through the second half and looked like a team that was lost and ready to join Duke and Missouri in loosing to a 15 seed during the 2012 tournament. That’s when 7 footer Kenny Frease decided to show up and help save the Musketeers season by scoring 25 points, grabbing 12 rebounds, and went 13-15 from the field. If Kenny Frease can keep up this elevated play and fellow senior Tu Holloway can continue this tremendous stretch of play (scoring 20 or more points in 5 of his last 6 games), along with containing their turnovers so Baylor doesn’t have too many fast break opportunities, the Musketeers should have a solid chance of upsetting Baylor on Friday.

NC State: C.J. Leslie: What a great bounce back season by forward C.J. Leslie as he has led their team in scoring with averaging 14.6 points to go along with 7.5 rebounds per game, which is good for second on their roster. As good as Leslie has been over the past 4 games (averaging 17.5 points and 8.5 rebounds during this stretch), the Wolfpack will need others to keep stepping up (as they’ve received great contributions from Richard Howell and Lorenzo Brown), if they want this dream season to continue. If the Wolfpack keep playing the same way as they have in the first two games, I believe they will upset Kansas and reach the elite 8 then again if N.C. State is able to defeat Kansas, I feel they would have a chance against North Carolina as the two teams have already met 3 times this year.

Ohio: D.J. Cooper: Congrats to the Ohio Bobcats on making it to the Sweet 16; your reward… a match-up against an angry North Carolina Tar Heels team. Since the start of the MAC Championship (on March 8th vs. Toledo), guard D.J. Cooper has been on tear averaging 19.8 points, 6.4 assist, and 3.2 rebounds (even though he’s not even 6 feet). With the dominant play of Cooper as of late and the possibility of Kendall Marshall not playing, I feel with Cooper and Walter Offutt the Bobcats should have the edge at the guard position. However, I’m still not sure it will be enough to defeat a dominant a Tar Heels front court which features four future NBA Players (Barnes, Henson Zeller, and McAdoo off the bench). The Bobcats should be the favorites to win the MAC next year with their entire starting lineup expecting to return for the 2012-2013 season.

Here’s what I feel will occur the rest of the Tournament:

Kentucky will defeat Indiana, Baylor will defeat Xavier, and Kentucky will defeat Baylor and reach the Final Four

Michigan State will defeat Louisville, Marquette will defeat Florida, and Michigan State will defeat Marquette and reach the Final Four.

North Carolina will defeat Ohio University, NC State will upset Kansas, and North Carolina will defeat NC State for the forth time this season and reach the Final Four.

Wisconsin will upset Syracuse, Ohio State will defeat Cincinnati, and Ohio State will defeat Wisconsin for the second time this year and reach the Final Four.

In the Final Four, Michigan State will defeat Kentucky, North Carolina will defeat Ohio State, and Michigan State will get their avenge their 2009 National Championship loss by defeating North Carolina and be crowned the 2012 National Champions.

 
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Posted by on March 21, 2012 in Basketball, Sports

 

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