This college basketball season has been as exciting and unpredictable as ever, so we turned to resident NCAA Hoops expert Pat Forde of Yahoo! Sports to sort everything out.
While Syracuse is currently ranked #2 in the polls, they have not found much postseason success in past years, having failed to advance past the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament since 2003. However, Forde told Bill Littlefield that this Syracuse team will break the mold.
“I think that they’re in it for the long haul this time,” he said. “Syracuse is a little deeper this time around than the average Boeheim club. Players in the past maybe have gotten a little bit worn down, that shouldn’t be the case with this group.”
Saturday night features the two highest-ranked teams in the Big 10 squaring off against each other, with Ohio State and Michigan State squaring off in Columbus. Forde said that he expects the Buckeyes to come out on top.
“Michigan State has had a great season,” Forde said. “Expect a real physical battle like you get in the Big 10, but I like Ohio State to win that game and probably to win the Big 10.”
Along with Harvard, Murray State, and Missouri, the Saint Mary’s Gaels have made a surprising run into the Top 25 this season, currently ranked No. 13 with a 22-3 record. Bill asked Forde what the secret to their success was.
“Randy Bennett, the coach there, has done a tremendous job building that program into a consistent winner. He’s recruited a lot internationally, and they have a very good guard right now, Matthew Dellavedova, from Australia, who is probably their key player.”
Despite all these strong teams making noise this season, Forde said he believes that there is a clear favorite this season – the Kentucky Wildcats.
“There’s only one challenge left for Kentucky,” he said, “and that’s to play a good SEC team on the road. They have not done that yet. Now, finally, Kentucky will go on the road and play somebody good, and that will be Vanderbilt. There’s no real stopping the Kentucky freight train that I see right now – I expect them to be the overall No. 1 seed when the NCAA tournament starts.”