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Entries in Syracuse (10)


Bracket Breakdown: Forecasting The Sweet 16 And Elite 8

John Wall

One Great Season

Surprises abound in the Sweet 16, and not all of them are pleasant.

Two days after Michigan State lost star point guard Kalin Lucas for the remainder of the tournament, West Virginia learned Tuesday that its own floor general, Truck Bryant, has a broken foot and also will be unable the rest of the way. I think Lucas' absence hurts the Spartans more than Bryant's hurts WVU.

But getting back to surprises, Cornell and Northern Iowa are hogging all the headlines. Let us not forget, however, about Omar Samhan and St. Mary's. Sure more unpredictable outcomes are on tap; about the only thing that won't surprise us this weekend will be that Miller Lite will show us the ad with Buster the dumb dog 15 times. Here's a preview:


+ WEST REGION: Xavier Fans Love Unheralded Senior Forward
+ EAST REGION: Cornell Cute, But Big Red Will Be Feeling Blue
+ TV CRITIC: March Adness: Cheers To Dos Equis
+ TOURNAMENT TAKEAWAYS: What The First Weekend Taught Us
+ KANSAS COLLAPSE: Jayhawks Fans Left Speechless, Except This One
+ RECIPE: 7 Ingredients For A National Championship
+ MARCH MADNESS: Tourney No Longer Leads To April Sadness
+ COUNTDOWN: The Top 10 Title Games Since 1979
+ LIST: The Top 10 Analysts In College Basketball
+ LIST: The Top 10 Play-By-Play Men In College Basketball

+ EAST -- Everybody wants to pick Cornell over Kentucky because a) if the Big Red does pull off the grand upset, they can say, "I predicted it. I'm really smart," and b) when UK wins, no one will really remember the idiots who picked Cornell. You've got brains vs. talent, experience vs. inexperience and discipline vs. the playground. Kentucky's youngsters haven't been bothered by the pressure of the single-elimination, high-stakes event. Cornell is good but Kentucky is better. UK wins and then slices past a West Virginia team that won't necessarily be troubled by Bryant's absence. The Mountaineers' real woes come from their inability to shoot the basketball, a large problem if they hope to beat a Kentucky team that averaged 95 points in its first two tournament games. UK advances to Indianapolis after a physical regional final.

+ SOUTH -- Purdue's grit has been impressive, but Duke is too versatile for the Boilermakers. The Devils are difficult to guard on the perimeter, and they're balanced on the blocks. Slow them down, speed them up, they can play either style and they can defend just as well. Duke beats Purdue and then meets Baylor, an easy winner over St. Mary's, in the regional final. The Baylor-St. Mary's game will be an excellent one, but the Bears will have a little too much firepower, even for Samhan and company. The Duke-Baylor final shall be a dandy, but the basketball gods gave Mike Krzyzewski a dangerous and balanced team this year, as well as a comfortable path to Indianapolis. Of course Duke will advance to meet Kentucky once again when the stakes are high.

+ WEST -- Syracuse, Syracuse, Syracuse. No offense to Kansas State or the Big 12, but the Orange are playing lights out and  I don't believe Arinze Onuaku's return will disrupt any rhythm Jim Boeheim's bunch found in its first two tournament games. And those were some games, eh? The Orange won each time by more than 20 points, including a surprisingly easy blowout of Gonzaga in round two. Syracuse breezes by Butler and will take a large load of confidence into the regional final against KSU. I'm still not fully convinced about Frank Martin. His glare and his overall freakish nature are well documented, and I get the connection he has with his players. But the Elite Eight is the big kid's table, and Boeheim has sat here before. Many times. And Kansas State might be a little beaten up after a nasty regional semifinal against Xavier. KSU will barely beat the Muskies in a knock-down, drag-out brawl. I can't wait to watch that game. But Syracuse advances from the West.
+ MIDWEST -- Northern Iowa proves it's not a one-trick pony with a defeat of a battered Michigan State team. I don't think it will require a gimmick or a heroic late shot, either. The Panthers followed up their defeat of UNLV by staying focused enough to beat top overall seed Kansas in the tournament's biggest upset so far. UNI really controlled that game from start to finish, and although it got sloppy late, it had just enough in the tank and will do the same against the tournament savvy Tom Izzo and his proud Spartans. Ohio State worries me some. Many think the Buckeyes are a lock to come out of the Midwest, but Evan Turner could struggle against Tennessee in a regional semifinal. The Vols will throw some athleticism his way, and since he's not a natural point guard, ET might struggle again with turnover problems. Perimeter assassin Jon Diebler will once again need to hit six or seven threes to keep UT's defense away from Turner some. I think Diebler will do it, and OSU will get a stronger fight in this round than against UNI in the regional final. Ohio State advances to face Syracuse in the Final Four.


Why Syracuse Will Win The NCAA Championship

Andy Rautins

Special to One Great Season

I thought it was a typo when I saw that Syracuse's No. 1 seed is its first since 1980. I was reasonably sure that we had secured a top seed in the early 1990s with one of those Lawrence Moten or Billy Owens teams. I checked and, while those guys had their share of 2 seeds, it was in fact true that it's been 30 years since SU's last appearance at the top of a bracket.

I think it speaks to the Syracuse basketball program's reputation perfectly. SU has almost always been good, sometimes verging on great, but very seldom has it been dominant. So you'll have to excuse Orange fans if they're a little like Corey Feldman in "The Goonies," digging around in the well in search of lost wishes and dreams.  We've thrown a lot of coins down that well hoping for an opportunity like this, and now that another title is within reach ... we're taking them back. We're taking them all back.


+ GUEST COLUMN: Why Syracuse Will Win The National Championship
+ RECIPE: 7 Ingredients For A National Championship
+ GUEST COLUMN: Why Kentucky Will Win The National Championship
+ MYTH MADNESS: 3 Tournament Trends To Ignore This Year
+ FREE ADVICE: Here's How To Win Your NCAA Office Pool
+ QUOTEBOOK: Selection Chairman Dan Guerrero Explains Himself
+ NCAA TOURNAMENT: First-Round Pairings Announced
+ MARCH MADNESS: Tourney No Longer Leads To April Sadness
+ COUNTDOWN: The Top 10 Title Games Since 1979
+ LIST: The Top 10 Analysts In College Basketball
+ LIST: The Top 10 Play-By-Play Men In College Basketball

Syracuse will win the national championship this year for a multitude of reasons. But those reasons begin and end with the players on the court. Before the season started, Jim Boeheim raved about Wes Johnson, saying he was so good that he'd probably only spend one season wearing Orange. We expected Wes to be good but we didn't know he was going to be this good.  What he lacks in pure stats he makes up for in the "Oh My God" factor. As in, at least three times a game, he makes a play that elicits an "Oh My God" reaction from you. Not bad for a guy who's also unselfish to a fault.

Wes was named Big East Player of the Year and to multiple All-American lists but there's one Syracuse player who might even be more important than he is.  Senior Andy Rautins came to SU as a scrawny, three-point specialist. He will leave as the team's emotional leader and a complete basketball player.  As Andy goes, so go the Orange. If he keeps his head on his shoulders and doesn't fall into a turnover spiral, the Orange can go as far as Andy can take them.

As much as this team has individual talent, it's the way it plays as a singular unit that has made the Orange so successful, especially on defense.  Everyone and their mother have raved about how the 2-3 zone is responsible for SU shutting down opponents this season. The only problem is, SU has been playing the 2-3 zone forever, so what's different? The players themselves. This unit is head and shoulders above any SU defensive unit in years.  Between having the best frontcourt in years, the athleticism of Johnson and Kris Joseph and underrated work by Rautins, Brandon Triche and Scoop Jardine up top, SU might not have the most talent but it has the best guys on the floor for this system.

Helping matters is that the Orange officially have a giant chip affixed to their shoulders again. They ended the season losing two in a row. They've been hearing all week how they shouldn't be a 1 seed or that they're not a lock to make the Final Four like Kansas and Kentucky seem to be. This team plays much better when it has the world working against it.  The Orange have something to prove again.

As for their draw? Nothing to sneeze at but nothing to complain about either. As long as Arinze Onuaku is back in some form by the second weekend, the Orange can go toe-to-toe with anyone in the bracket. Though they may be wary of Pittsburgh, who beat up on the zone and the Orange earlier this season, I would imagine they welcome the opportunity to get some revenge as well.

Syracuse has the talent to win it all. It has the system to win it all. It has the coach to win it all. And it has the opportunity to win it all. Now the Orange just have to go do it.

Sean Keeley is a Syracuse grad who writes the Web site Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician. Follow him on Twitter @nunesmagician.


No. 4: Syracuse vs. Indiana, 1987

Keith Smart

Each Monday until the national championship is played in Indianapolis on April 5, One Great Season will count down the Top 10 National Championship games since 1979, when Larry Bird and Magic Johnson squared off in Salt Lake City. Today's No. 4 is the 1987 classic between Indiana and Syracuse in New Orleans.

One Great Season

I was supposed to attend my first concert ever on this night, but a Cleveland snowstorm turned my plans to see Bon Jovi into an evening alone in the basement watching Indiana and Syracuse. Not a terrible consolation by any stretch.

Unless the Hoosiers were playing Ohio State back then, I almost always rooted for Bob Knight and Indiana. But my high school basketball teammates and I were big fans of the Big East, so it was hard not to root for freshman phenom Derrick Coleman and that funny-looking coach with the glasses.


+ No. 5: Kansas vs. Memphis, 2008
+ No. 6: Michigan vs. Seton Hall, 1989
+ No. 7: Syracuse vs. Kansas, 2003
+ No. 8: Georgetown vs. North Carolina, 1982
+ No. 9: Duke vs. Connecticut, 1999
+ No. 10: Indiana State vs. Michigan State, 1979

In such a dilemma, the only thing a teen can then hope for is to see a good game. And that's precisely what America got.

The game was a close one throughout, and when Coleman missed a free throw with 27 seconds left, Indiana legend Steve Alford, who led the Hoosiers all season long, brought the ball upcourt, hoping to set up one final shot for himself.

But it was his backcourtmate Keith Smart who got the best look. He knocked down a baseline jumper with four seconds left to give Indiana the 74-73 lead and Knight his third and final national championship.

Smart, who endured an up-and-down career under Knight, finished the season on the highest of high notes, and even joked after the game that teammate Daryl Thomas made the wise move of kicking the ball back out to Smart to set up the heroic shot.

"I'd like to thank Daryl for not taking that last shot and passing it back out to me," he said. "It was a wise decision on his part."

After the chaos of the winning shot, Syracuse didn't call a timeout until only one second remained. That's when Smart intercepted the three-quarter court pass and heaved the ball skwyard, setting off the great celebration just a few miles down the road from his native Baton Rouge.


Despite Loss, Syracuse Still Deserves Top NCAA Seed

Syracuse Still Deserves A No. 1 NCAA Seed

One Great Season

Unless you're watching a Tom Cruise movie and he's trying to get the girl, there are no sure things in life.

Before taking the floor in its Big East Tournament opener Thursday, Syracuse was a lock for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, which begins next week.

Kansas and Kentucky appear to be headed toward top seeds, and Duke leads Ohio State, Purdue and maybe West Virginia for that fourth No. 1 slot.

But Syracuse lost to longtime rival Georgetown on Thursday, which means the debate is on about whether the Orange still deserve a top seed.

YOUR THOUGHTS: Is Syracuse A No. 1 Seed?

When teams play 30 to 35 games a year, of course they're going to lose a few. It doesn't mean they're not among the top teams; it just means they didn't play their best, or their opponent played a great game. Often times it means both.

But when you're unsure whether a team deserves the top spot, then you compare it against the other candidates. None of the aforementioned teams did anything close to what Syracuse did in posting a 7-0 mark against ranked teams during the regular season. I'm surprised the feat hasn't gotten more attention.

Kansas is probably the best team and will be the top overall seed, but Syracuse is the most complete team in the country and still will be on that top line on when the tournament field is announced on Sunday.


Thursday Hoops Notebook: Big 12 Girls Gone Wild

Brittney Griner

One Great Season

Turns out female thuggery isn't reserved for college soccer. Check out this gem from Wednesday night, when Baylor's Brittney Griner, already a Youtube sensation for her dunking, clocks Texas Tech's Jordan Barncastle.

One thing I never get about cry-baby athletes is the rage-fueled quest to retaliate. Moments before the punch, Barncastle certainly fouled the hell out of Griner, but the refs made the call. Quit acting like a 2-year-old and go to the line and sink the free throws. Or, if you really have problems managing your hate, wait until you're at the other end of the court and return the favor with a hack across the mouth.

Remember the in-game conduct last fall of New Mexico soccer player Elizabeth Lambert?

SEEDING MADNESS: Ohio State has worked its way into the conversation about NCAA Tournament top seeds. The Buckeyes have won 10 of their last 11 games, and despite a complete absence of a bench, they're well coached and their starting five is among the best in the country. I'd like to know the last team to earn a top seed with seven losses.

And don't forget the Bucks have the best player in the country, do-everything Evan Turner, who's more than capable of carrying OSU to a championship a la Danny Manning in 1988.

IF IFS AND BUTS: Speaking of Ohio State's starting five, imagine this lineup if no Buckeye would have left school early in 2007 or 2008:

+ PG Mike Conley Sr
+ SG Daequan Cook Sr
+ SF Evan Turner Jr
+ PF Kosta Koufos Jr
+ C Greg Oden Sr
+ 6th man - David Lighty Jr
+ 7th man - Jon Diebler Jr

THAT FINAL TOP SEED: Duke is more likely to win the ACC Tournament than Kansas State is to win the Big 12 Tournament, so expect the Blue Devils to grab that top honor out West. But then the question becomes, "Who's more deserving of the first No. 2 seed? Ohio State or Kansas State?" That does make a difference because the team that doesn't get it will be squared up with Kansas, Syracuse or Kentucky. Good luck getting past that trio.

FINAL THOUGHT: I hope the brackets line up in a way that will give us Kansas, the best team in the country, and Syracuse, the most complete team in the country, in the championship game on April 5 in Indianapolis.


Syracuse Is The Best Team In America ... For Now

Syracuse forward Rick Jackson

One Great Season

After Kansas and Kentucky each lost road games on Saturday, there must be a new No. 1 team in the country, and that team will without a doubt be Syracuse.

The logic here is simple: The Orange are 7-0 against ranked teams this season, and, after Saturday night's defeat of Villanova, are 14-2 in one of the nation's finest conferences.

Syracuse is a deep team that can beat you on the perimeter or pound it inside. The Orange play excellent defense and are very well coached. If you're a team getting ready for Syracuse on just one day's prep work, say, in an NCAA Tournament weekend, good luck with that. The Orange are the most complete team in America right now.

Right now.

Kansas could still head into the tournament as the most dangerous team, and I don't think anybody will look forward to playing Kentucky. Late-season hiccups -- on the road against good conference foes -- are hardly insurmountable, though I'm sure it won't take long if you want to do a Google search and find blog posts like, "What's Wrong With Kansas?" or "Is Kentucky In Trouble?" Kansas and Kentucky will be fine, but this week, Syracuse is the top team in America.

Do you agree?

Are you following me on Twitter? @onegreatseason | @johnpwise


No. 7: Syracuse vs. Kansas, 2003

Hakim Warrick

Each Monday until the national championship is played in Indianapolis on April 5, One Great Season will count down the Top 10 National Championship games since 1979, when Larry Bird and Magic Johnson squared off in Salt Lake City. In observance of President's Day, OGS took last week off, but today's No. 7 is the 2003 title game between Syracuse and Kansas.

One Great Season


That was about my reaction when longtime Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim won that elusive first national championship.

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I'd become a fan of Big East basketball in the mid-1980s, shortly after the league's inception, and quickly began to favor the Orange. Boeheim came close in 1987 before losing a heartbreaker to Indiana, then lost again in the title game nine years later to a loaded Kentucky team. The third time in a national championship game proved to be the charm for Boeheim's bunch, which held off a late rally by Kansas at the Louisiana Superdome.

But it wasn't easy. Star freshman Carmelo Anthony carried the Orange throughout the season, but he was held scoreless in the final 13 minutes of the game. And the Orange let Kansas trim a 12-point deficit to just three in the final minutes, requiring a heroic defensive play to preserve the win.


+ No. 8: Georgetown vs. North Carolina, 1982
+ No. 9: Duke vs. Connecticut, 1999
+ No. 10: Indiana State vs. Michigan State, 1979

Syracuse led, 81-78, when Hakim Warrick missed two free throws with eight seconds left. At the other end a moment later, Kansas got a great look for a three-point attempt when guard Kirk Hinrich found Michael Lee alone in the corner. Lee launched his shot, but Warrick came out of nowhere to redeem himself for the missed freebies. He swatted Lee's attempt out of bounds with less than a second left. KU got another chance, but Hinrich couldn't convert and the Syracuse celebration was on.

That game also might be remembered for Bonnie Bernstein's insensitive postgame interview with then-Kansas coach Roy Williams, which you can read about here.


Thursday Hoops Notebook: Duke, Syracuse Survive Scares

Syracuse Beats Connecticut

One Great Season

On the surface, two Top 10 teams won a pair of high-profile games against conference rivals on national television Wednesday night.

On talk radio and in the blogosphere, however, Syracuse and Duke are looking like a couple of teams who won't get past the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

My dad used to tell me you're only as good as your last game, and I've always agreed with that to an extent. But a team's body of work throughout a season also merits equal consideration.

And that's why two narrow victories over inferior teams five weeks before the tournament even starts shouldn't worry fans of Syracuse or Duke. Teams play more than 30 games every season. What doesn't kill you in one will make you stronger in the next, right? And these are wins we're talking about!

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Bloggers are always looking for an angle they think hasn't been considered -- or at least published -- often times abandoning clear logic for the sake of uniqueness. Being original gets you noticed, but sometimes for the wrong reason.

What gets lost in all the analysis and doom and gloom are these facts: both squads are on top of their leagues, they're riding nice conference winning streaks and have top NCAA tournament seeds well within their grasp. A team couldn't possibly ask for more than that heading down the stretch.

SYRACUSE SIDESTEPS UCONN: The Orange held off a game Connecticut team Wednesday at the Carrier Dome, beating its Big East rival to remain on top of the conference.

Syracuse got balanced scoring en route to the 72-67 win that stretched its best start in school history to 24-1. The Orange are 12-1 in the Big East, a half game ahead of Villanova.

While Syracuse certainly didn't play its best game of the season, at this point, when players are trying to avoid the wall that often approaches in February, even a home win over a struggling UConnn team is a feather in the Orange fedora.

I still think 'Cuse -- with offensive balance; a late-game, go-to guy; a perimeter marksmen; blue-collar interior guys; a cool-under-pressure freshman playing beyond his years and of course that outstanding zone defense -- is a Final Four team.

Duke Beats North Carolina

DEVILS STEP ON HEELS: Neither North Carolina nor Duke did much outstanding, but Dick Vitale described it accurately maybe 10 or 12 minutes in when he said on the ESPN broadcast, "nobody's shooting all that well, but the effort is certainly there."

That was true in the second half of Duke's 64-54 win as well. North Carolina hit some big shots, like Connecticut, to keep it close late in a game with a superior rival, but in the end, it was the more experienced, more poised team that finished.

Just because Duke struggled to beat one team that clearly has many, many shortcomings, that hardly means it's time to hit the panic button. If they're hitting their shots, the Devils are once again a dangerous team for anyone who can't play an up-tempo style.

But since Duke wasn't hitting shots, it was stuck on the 49-point mark with six minutes left in the game. That was probably the biggest surprise to me. I thought the Devils would approach 100, but the low-scoring win was good enough to keep Duke (20-4, 8-2) atop the ACC, a full game ahead of Maryland, which visits Duke on Saturday. That's when we'll get a better idea whether the Devils are a threat to make a deep run in March.

THROW OUT THE CLICHES: It's 2 a.m. ET Thursday and the SportsCenter repeat just began on ESPN.

"You know what they say ... Throw out the record books when Duke and North Carolina get together," is how the anchorman opened the show.
Does anyone really say that? It seems these days that the only people who say that are broadcasters who claim that everyone else says it. But no one I know ever says that in seriousness. They only say that others say it.

BIG TEN, BIG FUN: Since the league's expansion a few years ago, the Big East race seems to be by default the best in the sport.

But I'm really intrigued by what's happening in the Big Ten. Michigan State has lost its three-game grip on first place in the last nine days. The Spartans went from 9-0 in the league to 9-3, and will play with a gimpy Kalin Lucas for the rest of the season. I'm no doctor, but I'm pretty sure Lucas' ankle will not heal by playing on it.

Illinois and Ohio State, meanwhile, we're two of four teams tied for second place last week, and now they're the two teams tied with Michigan State for first place. The Illini pulled off a rare win at Wisconsin Tuesday, and will welcome Ohio State to Assembly Hall on Sunday.

That large game begins a huge stretch for Ohio State, which follows its Illinois visit with a home date against Purdue on Wednesday, then travels to Michigan State on Feb. 20.

Meanwhile, those Boilermakers are lurking just a half game back at 8-3 and Wisconsin is 8-4. One game separates five teams. That will be fun to watch.

Are you following me on Twitter? @onegreatseason | @johnpwise


Wednesday Hoops Notebook: Badgers Ready To Pounce

Jordan Taylor

One Great Season

After Tuesday's convincing defeat of Michigan State, Wisconsin (17-5, 7-3 Big Ten) has a very favorable remaining schedule down the stretch. The Badgers already have split with Purdue and Ohio State, and the toughest league opponent left for them is Illinois, which Wisconsin will play twice. Two games against Indiana also await, as do games against Michigan, Minnesota, Northwestern and Iowa.

The Badgers seem to be rounding into form as they await the return of Jon Leuer. Left on Michigan State's schedule are road dates at Illinois and Purdue, as well as home games against Ohio State and Purdue. And Sparty (19-4, 9-1) might have to play without reigning Big Ten Player Of The Year Kalin Lucas, who left Tuesday's game with a badly sprained ankle.

With Purdue getting healthy and Ohio State playing some nice basketball, the conference race just got a lot more interesting.

TWITTER NOTES: Here's a sign that we are definitely living in an interesting time: Ohio State star Evan Turner, whose Twitter handle is @thekidet, offered up a sympathetic note ("glad u ain't get hurt on that fall my dude") to Syracuse star Wesley Johnson -- @W_Johnson -- after Johnson landed very awkwardly during Tuesday's game against Providence.

Shortly after Syracuse wrapped up the easy win, Johnson, who ended up being OK, reciprocated: "Appreciate it bro."

TEXAS BOAST: I know it's just one win, but I think Texas has broken free from its slump. You barely heard the names Damion James, Avery Bradley, Dexter Pittman or J'Covan Brown on Monday night's broadcast, yet the Longhorns beat a decent Oklahoma State team on the road by a dozen. That's impressive, as was Jordan Hamilton's second-half scoring spree.

UCONN'T HANDLE THIS TRUTH: Connecticut isn't struggling because its coach, Jim Calhoun, is on medical leave. The Huskies are struggling because they're just not as good as they usually are. Kemba Walker and Jerome Dyson are nice guards, but there's not much else about UConn that excites me.


Tuesday Hoops Notebook

Wesley Johnson

One Great Season

I'm still unimpressed by Georgetown, and in the last month I've probably watched Syracuse more than any other team. After watching the Big East rivals square off at the Carrier Dome Monday night, I like the Orange a lot.

Lacking a true superstar, Syracuse beats you with good balance. Its lineup is stacked with many capable players. Looking for a three? Pass it to Andy Rautins. Want some interior strength? Kris Joseph, Rick Jackson and Arinze Onuaku are your guys. Need an all-around stud? Give Wesley Johnson a call.

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And don't forget Brandon Triche and Scoop Jardine, who, combined with Rautins, average a combined 29 points and 13 assists per game. That's a pretty nice trio of guards.

After surrendering 14 points to open the game, Syracuse steadily crept back into it and even took a lead into halftime. The Orange stretched the margin to more than 20 points after the break, and cruised to its sixth straight defeat of Georgetown.

The best play of the night wasn't a dunk or a trey or a SportsCenter-esque swat. It was actually a long, left-handed bounce pass from Rautins at the top of the arc to Johnson near the low block. Johnson went up for a dunk, but a foul caused him to pull back, though he still converted the deuce and made the subsequent free throw to stretch the Syracuse lead to 55-40 midway through the second half.

If Syracuse can stay healthy, then surly coach Jim Boeheim looks to have a deep and balanced team that will contend for a Final Four spot in Indianapolis.

FINAL FOUR PICKS: Speaking of the best event in all of sports, I'll be making Final Four predictions each week here on OGS. Here's my first guess:

+ EAST: Syracuse
+ SOUTH: Kentucky
+ MIDWEST: Kansas
+ WEST: Texas

TUBE TIME: Keep your schedule open for the following games this week:

+ Tuesday: Michigan State at Michigan (7 p.m. ET, ESPN)
+ Tuesday: Kentucky at South Carolina (9 p.m. ET, ESPN)
+ Tuesday: Not televised -- Kansas State at Baylor (8 p.m. ET)
+ Wednesday: Vanderbilt at Tennessee (7 p.m. ET, ESPNU)
+ Wednesday: Florida State at Duke (9 p.m. ET, ESPN)
+ Thursday: Wisconsin at Purdue (7 p.m. ET, ESPN)
+ Saturday: Duke at Georgetown (1 p.m. ET, CBS)
+ Saturday: Kansas at Kansas State (7 p.m. ET, ESPN)

CONFERENCE RANKINGS: If the Big East didn't impress you in the first few weeks of league play, Saturday's non-conference wins over the weekend (Connecticut over Texas, West Virginia over Ohio State) should have done some convincing. Here are my conference rankings through Monday night's games:

1. Big East
2. Big 12
3. Big 10
4. ACC
5. SEC
6. MWC
7. Atlantic 10
8. PAC 10