Sunday, February 13, 2011

College Basketball Midseason Report - By Jeff Bailey

We are a little more than halfway through the NCAA basketball season, so it is time to look where the top teams and players stand.  Just like college football, I like to sit back and break down the top candidates for Player of the Year, Coach of the Year, and the teams that I think will be in the Final Four in Houston.

Player of the Year:
In my mind there about 3 guys that have separated themselves from the rest of the field for this award at the end of the season.  There are other guys that could be mentioned for this award but these are the three that have the best chance to win.

  1. Jimmer Fredette, BYU

The 6-2 senior guard has led BYU to a 22-2 record at mid season.  Jimmer is leading the nation, by quite a large margin, in scoring at 27.6ppg.  On top of that he averages just over 4 assists per game, 3.5 rebounds and 1.5 steals.  He is also a 48% field goal shooter.  Jimmer has had eight games of over 30 points, three of which he went for over 40 points with a high of 47 points.  As good as Jimmer has been the past few years, he is still relatively unknown around the country.  In my mind, the Player of the Year award is Jimmer’s to lose.  As long as he keeps his numbers up and BYU keeps on winning he should end up with some hardware in his hands at the end of the day.

  1. Jared Sullinger, Ohio St
Sullinger is the best player on the best team in the country at the mid season.  He is also only a true freshman.  Sullinger was named National High School Player of the Year last year, and is showing why he won that award.  At this point Sullinger is averaging 18ppg, 10rpg, and shooting just over 58% from the field.  Sullinger had one game of over 40 points earlier in the season.  Most people believe that Sullinger will win this award, but I don’t believe he can keep up with Jimmer in stats.  Sullinger is on a better team, but I think stats will prevail.

  1. Kemba Walker, Connecticut

Walker was pretty much an unknown name going into the 2011 season.  UConn was not supposed to make noise within the Big East, but Kemba Walker put the team on his back and took them from not ranked to a top 10 team.  Walker blew onto the scene averaging well over 30ppg, but as the season has gone on he has come back down to reality, and is now averaging 23ppg.  Walker is also averaging just over 4rpg and 5apg.  Walker did post one game of over 40 points, and also had a triple double earlier in the season.  Since his huge first few games of the season Walker has been pretty quiet.  In my mind he is a tier below Fredette and Sullinger and will not be able to overtake them for the Player of the Year.

  1. JaJuan Johnson, Purdue

Johnson is my dark horse for this award.  His whole career he has been in the shadow of Robbie Hummel, but has finally stepped out this year.  A lot of people probably still don’t know who he is because when they think of the best player in the Big Ten they think of Sullinger.  After seeing Sullinger go head to head against Johnson a few weeks ago, Johnson is a much better all around player and should win Big Ten Player of the Year.  If Purdue gets things back together and BYU and OSU stumble a bit, Johnson in my mind could sneak up.

Coach of the Year:
Coach of the Year award is bit hard to determine, especially halfway through the season, but these are the top three candidates in my mind.

  1. Thad Matta, Ohio State

Matta has led the Buckeyes to a 24-0 start, 2nd best in school history, and the sole remaining unbeaten in the country.  This is also the best start for any team in NCAA history after losing the National Player of the Year the previous season.  Ohio State might be the most well rounded team in the country, and we should see them playing deep into March.

  1. Steve Fisher, San Diego St

Fisher has done an amazing job once again at SDSU.  In the past few years Fisher has done a great job at SDSU, but this year he has led them to their best start in school history.  San Diego State and Ohio State were the last two unbeaten teams in the country before their lone loss at this point in the season was to BYU.  SDSU is a very athletic team that could make a lot of noise in the tournament this year.

  1. Rick Barnes, Texas

Texas was supposed to be somewhat of a player in the Big 12 race this year, but not to the level they currently are.  Texas is probably the hottest team in the country right now and is now up to #3 in the country.  At mid season they are undefeated in league play and have beaten 4 ranked teams in their past 6 games, including knocking off then #2 Kansas in a huge statement game.  Texas is another team that will probably go deep in March.

Final Four Prediction:
You can agree or disagree, but this is my prediction for the Final Four at the half way mark of the season.  My prediction will probably change as the season goes on.
  1. Ohio St
  2. Texas
  3. Pitt
  4. BYU