Trading carrots for chocolate pudding since 2012.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year! It is NCAA tourney time and I absolutely love filling out a bracket!
I love coming home from work and watching games all day and night.
I love “One Shining Moment.”
I love that a Cinderella team can upset the heavy favorite and ruin your bracket on the first day!
But there is no better feeling than winning your bracket pool. I have won twice and paid for a nice vacation, thanks to Carmelo Anthony and Kemba Walker. My strategy is simple when it comes to my picks. Pick the team with the best overall player. Sure there have been solid teams like UNLV and the Fab Five, but I always feel like big players step up in the tournament.
One great example was the year I picked Marquette to go to the Final Four. I had watched a few of their games and saw that they had a BEAST at shooting guard. Dwyane Wade’s first great run didn’t happen in Miami. It happened at Marquette. That year, they were my sleeper Final Four pick and helped me rake in the big bucks.
Wade has always held a special place in this guy’s heart. It was almost as though I had discovered him! I would have drafted him at No. 2 over Chris Bosh, Melo, and Darko Horriblepick, but that is just me.
Hey NBA owners, I’m available to be your GM!
Anyway, this is the first post that will have an NCAA Tourney theme. Today I am focusing on the 11 best players to play in the tournament during my lifetime (1979-present), so Bill Walton and Lew Alcindor don’t fit on this list. These are MY top 11 NCAA Tourney guys, and if you want to argue them — I invite you to do so!
Honorable mention to Cuttino Mobley from URI, as Yeti Vedder will always be a Rhody Ram first!
This performance by Manning made it clear that he was the best player in the nation. It was also one of the most boring tournaments ever. Danny Manning was to NCAA basketball what Tim Duncan is to NBA basketball. You respect the player and his greatness, but he is boring as hell to watch play!
This performance may not be memorable to most, but being a kid from Rhode Island this performance sticks out. Billy “The Kid” Donovan carried Providence College on his back and brought them to the Final Four in 1987. They lost to a Syracuse team that was stacked with NBA talent in Derrick Coleman, Rony Seikaly, and Sherman Douglas. Billy’s tournament was magical and made this 8 year old basketball fan love the game even more. I’ll never forget meeting Billy when my brothers went to Rick Pitino Basketball Camp. It would be like me meeting Springsteen now.
The Legend of Melo. If you can’t figure out why his performance was memorable to me you are not reading close enough. CHA-CHING! I don’t think he wins anything without Gerry McNamara though. G-Mac was the unsung hero of that Cuse squad. If you watched Melo play in college and watch him now they are 2 different players because he actually played defense in college. If I own the Knicks I offer Jim Boeheim the world to come coach and GM.
One way you can tell when a player is great is when you cheer for that player to lose and he still wins. Hansbrough is right up there with J.J. Reddick on that list of college basketball players that people hate. You have to give credit where credit is due. Hansbrough was awesome in college and led that UNC team to their title in quite an impressive fashion.
Grandma Ma could have gone down as a top 5 college player ever if he had just won that second championship against Duke. That UNLV team was ridiculous and one of the most exciting college teams ever to watch. The Fab Five is still my favorite, but Larry Johnson’s UNLV team with Greg Anthony and Stacey Augmon is a close second.
“The Brow” played on a team that totally goes with, but against my philosophy. Anthony Davis was the best player in the tourney last year, but his team overall was the best team. I picked them, but in a weird I hate myself kind of way, was cheering for them to lose. It didn’t happen because Davis was awesome.
Scotty Thurman was also awesome, but Corliss was the man. He was like a Charles Barkley in the fact that he wasn’t super tall (6 ft 7) but yet he still dominated the boards. During Arkansas’ run he was the dominant big man in college basketball and with Thurman on the outside and Williamson on the inside Arkansas was amazing. Why do I rank him higher then Larry Johnson or Anthony Davis? Because he didn’t have All Star NBA players around him or NBA talent! This team was so good, but looking back not one player ever did much in the NBA.
Remember what I said about Billy Donavan? Steve Alford was on a good Indiana squad. There is NO WAY they should have beat Syracuse, but they did. Everyone remembers Keith Smart’s shot. I remember Steve Alford being dominant and carrying the team through the tournament. He did what Billy Donovan couldn’t and that is why he is number 4.
It started in the Big East Tournament and Kemba put on a magical performance in both that tournament and the NCAA Tournament. He won both and will forever be a college basketball legend. I can still see him hitting step back jump shots in my head. The guys broke ankles in that tournament and he did it without much of a supporting cast. Jim Calhoun’s last title run and it was awesome.
I remember where I was when he hit that shot against Kentucky. I hated how he beat the Fab Five in their Freshman year, but Laettner was the best college basketball player of all time to some. Why is he not my number one? I would say because he had awesome teams around him. He played with Bobby Hurley and Grant Hill. In some circles you could say Grant Hill was the better player of the two in college, but that would be for a different debate. Laettner was amazing in the tournament, but my number one is number one for a reason to me.
Talk about putting a school on the map! I loved cheering for Curry and Davidson. It was the one tournament that I can remember making sure I didn’t miss that Cinderella’s games! Everyone knew the ball went through Curry and he still led them to wins. Did he win the tournmanet? OF COURSE NOT! He played for freaking Davidson! But the kid put on a shooting clinic over the first few rounds and almost led them to an upset of eventual champ Kansas. Steph Curry’s performance to this day is still the best in any tournament in my lifetime.
NCAA Tourney time holds a special place in my heart — and it probably does in yours too, considering you read this entire article!