All Conferences Tournament Part 1
The debate this year over which conference is the deepest and who will get the most tournament bids is up in the air. With the recent fall of Notre Dame and Georgetown, the argument for the ACC can be made. The Big East probably stacks up as the deepest conference, but I don’t know if UConn, Pitt, and Louisville are better than Duke, North Carolina and Wake Forest. But anyways, as I pondered the question I wondered what would happen if you took an “all star team” from each of the conferences and put them in a tournament against each other. So I am going to. The rules of the game are pretty simple in that I am going to pick six players from each conference that I feel would play best together in a game situation. On most accounts this will turn out to be the six best players from each conference, but I am not making an all star team in that sense. I want to break down the individual’s game and put it with five other players that will succeed. There will be a sixth man included that will probably go to the best player left off the team for their respective league. After the teams are made, I will break them down and rank them 1-8, which brings up my next point. With over 20 leagues in the NCAA, there’s no point in making all star teams for EVERY conference. So what I decided to do was take the big 6 conferences (Big East, Big Ten, ACC, SEC, Pac-10, Big 12) as well as C-USA and an “anyone else” team that will be made up based on the rest of the NCAA players not in those seven leagues. Today’s breakdown will consist of the Big East, ACC, SEC, and Big 12 with the other four coming tomorrow.
PG: Levance Fields, Pittsburgh- Not a lot of people realize just how good Fields is. His 3.9 assist-to-turnover ratio is tops in the nation and his senior leadership as court general has the Panthers in good hands.
SG: Jerel McNeal, Marquette- It would be a crime to not have the front runner for Big East MVP not on the team. McNeal is one of the most complete players in the nation and is a monster on defense, averaging two steals and almost a block a game.
SF: Earl Clark, Louisville- A great combination of height (6’9″) and speed that is unlike any other player in the nation. His statistics do not blow you away but his defense and post moves, with the added bonus of a deep outside shot, make him an excellent choice.
PF: Luke Harangody, Notre Dame- Not the flashiest player, a la Thabeet, but gets it done night in and night out. He has all the moves inside but will also take defenders to the elbow with a deadly jump shot or a drive a to the hoop.
C: Hasheem Thabeet, Connecticut- The best defender in the nation is a lock for the starting lineup. Thabeet has increased his offensive play as well but makes his money down in the post on defense, altering or blocking just about any shot in the paint.
6th: DeJuan Blair, Pittsburgh- He is a rebounding machine that averages 6 offensive rebounds A GAME. His presence is definitely felt inside and has a passion on the court that makes him unstoppable.
Apologies to: Johnny Flynn (Syracuse), Terrance Williams (Louisville), Wes Matthews (Marquette)
PG: Ty Lawson, North Carolina- Lawson tends to get lost in Hansbrough’s shadow, but the MVP of North Carolina could be Lawson. As Lawson goes, so do the Tar Heels, and nowhere is this seen better than the stat of Lawson averaging 9.5 points per game and 4.5 assists per game in their losses.
SG: Jeff Teague, Wake Forest- He runs the point just as well as anyone, but has spent most of the year at shooting guard. Either way, he is the reason Wake Forest is where they are this year and is giving Psycho T a run for ACC player of the year. He is averaging 20 points per game while averaging 51% from downtown.
SF: Kyle Singler, SF, Duke- Singler, the outstanding sophomore, has been the leader of a rejuvenated Duke ballclub this year. His versatility to hit the outside shot but also play down low on the block is one of the reasons he makes this squad.
PF: Tyler Hansbrough, North Carolina- A no-brainer for the ACC squad, Hansbrough’s overall talent matched with his competitive nature makes for a great combination that no one else in the nation can match. He works wonders on offense in the post.
C: Trevor Booker, Clemson- Second in the league in rebounds, Booker is a defensive stopper that averages 2.3 blocks per game along with 1.4 steals per game. He also averages 15.1 points per game and finishes at the rim as powerful as anyone in the nation.
6th: Jack McClinton, Miami- I have always liked McClinton’s style of play of play for the Hurricanes, and the 5th year senior has veteran leadership in him to carry the team. He also fits in nicely with this team due to his outside range.
Apologies to: Toney Douglas (Florida State), Gani Lawal (Georgia Tech)
PG: Devan Downey, South Carolina- The freshman phenom has come in right away and led the Gamecocks in scoring and assists. Depsite his 5’9″ stature, he is a speedy driver that can finish very well at the hoop. He will be a great distributer to the outside shooters on the SEC team.
SG: Jodie Meeks, Kentucky- The best player in the SEC and the easiest decision for this team. Meeks leads the league in scoring at 25 points per game while shooting 43% from downtown and 90% from the stripe. His 54-point performance should have been an eye opener to any doubters.
SF: Nick Calathes, Florida- One of my favorite players to watch this year, Calathes plays a lot like Jerel McNeal in that he brings everything to the table in terms of scoring, passing and leadership. He also averages 2 steals a game.
PF: Patrick Patterson, Kentucky- Patterson is an absolute monster inside that does nothing but produce. While averaging 17 points and 9 rebounds, he adds in 2 assists and 2 blocks as well.
C: Jarvis Varnado, Mississippi- The nation’s top shot blocker (4.9 bpg) almost averages a double double and I remember being wowed by him in the tournament last year versus Oregon and Memphis, knowing where to be on every shot.
6th: Marcus Thornton, Louisiana State- Thornton is a very athletic guard that has a deadly outside shot averaging over 2 3′s a game and has LSU on top of the SEC standings.
Apologies to: Courtney Fortson (Arkansas), Michael Washington (Arkansas)
PG: Sherron Collins, Kansas- Despite being just a junior, the leadership that Collins brings to Kansas was one of the main reasons Kansas won it all last year…along with Brandon Rush and Mario Chalmers. Still, Collins is a great pick to run the backcourt for the Big 12 team averaging 5 assists per game.
SG: James Anderson, Oklahoma State- I’ll save you from having to read about my love for Oklahoma State, but Anderson is the real deal. Just a sophomore, he leads the Cowboys in scoring and is contributing in every facet of the game with a steal and a block every night.
SF: Damion James, Texas- James is one of my favorite players in the Big 12, bringing strength and power every night. His thick frame and height make him a tough matchup for opponents
PF: Blake Griffin, Oklahoma- The best player in the nation and the anchor of the Big 12 team. His averages of 22 and 14 really speak for themselves and is the main reason the Sooners will go deep in the tournament come March.
C: Cole Aldrich, Kansas- Aldrich is a stud in the post for Bill Self and the Jayhawks that has really stepped up his game this year after the losses to the front court. Averaging a double double, Aldrich is a presence inside while shooting 61% from the field and 78% from the line.
6th: Craig Brackins, Iowa State- Brackins is a diamond in the rough at Iowa State that isn’t well known nationally, but at 6’10″ he averages 19 and 9 for the Cyclones and will be a force next to Griffin on the Big 12 team.
Apologies to: Chinemelu Elonu (Texas A&M), Byron Eaton (Oklahoma State)