Get inside March Madness with SI.com's Luke Winn in the Tourney Blog, a daily journal of college basketball commentary, on-site reporting and reader-driven discussions.
3/20/2006 06:43:00 PM
Pool Update: The Smartest Siblings?
A portion of the most low-budget pool prize package in history.
With the tourney's second-round games in the books, we have a new leader: Brad Smalling's Team Smalling, which dethroned my grade-school hoops teammate, Stephen Ciurczak, and his first-round-leading squad, Petridish Disaster. We'll forgive Brad for not customizing his squad's name, because his picks have been so good: With 40 right and 62 total points, he ranks 34th amongst all entries in SI.com's Bracket Challenge. (Although he does have Gonzaga as his national champ ... so good luck with that.)
Brad, coincidentally, is not the only Smalling to earn fame for his forecasting skills: His brother, Todd, of Johnson City, Tenn., throttled Seth Davis in a February edition of our Weekend Pickoff. The Smallings could possibly be the smartest sibling duo in the SI.com college hoops section's readership.
Here, the Tourney Blog Pool's top five teams, through two rounds (and no, I don't find it amusing that "Look Out Luke Winn" is 48 spots higher than my bracket):
Rk. Team Champ Pts. Corr. Ovr.* 1 Team Smalling Gonzaga 62 40 (34) 2 Team Chitwood UConn 61 39 (65) 3 Look Out Luke Winn UConn 60 38 (112) 4 Aureo's semi smart UConn 59 36 (195) 5 Team Habs UConn 59 36 (195) 51 Luke Winn UConn 51 34 (5986) (* Overall rank in SI.com's Bracket Challenge)
Teams listed in the top five: Contact the Blog through this form ASAP. We'll talk to some of the leaders in the week leading up the Final Four, and I need to know how you can be reached. And also where to mail that wonderful package of prizes at the end ...
Shelden Williams has become Duke's MVP during the NCAA tournament.
The Blog's All-First-Weekend Team, comprised solely of players still in the dance:
PG: Marcus Williams, Jr., UConn 21 points, 8 assists vs. Albany; 20 points, 8 assists vs. Kentucky
Huskies coach Jim Calhoun said last week that Williams is the most important player in the entire NCAA tournament; while that may be a stretch, Williams is the glue that's holding the fragile Huskies together. Already the nation's top point guard, he's stepped up as a scorer when his teammates have struggled to get points in crunch time.
SG: Brandon Roy, Sr., Washington 28 points, 3 rebounds, 5 assists vs. Utah State; 21 points, 7 rebs, 3 assists vs. Illinois
Roy told the Seattle Times that the Illini were "not giving me anything easy," yet he still managed his second straight 20-point game to power the Huskies to another trip to the Sweet 16.
SF: Marcellus Sommerville, Sr., Bradley 21 points, 5 rebounds vs. Kansas; 18 points, 6 rebounds vs. Pittsburgh
This has become the mid-majors' dance, and Sommerville is their first-team representation. He's technically a four for the Braves, but he's athletic enough to be a major-conference swingman; Sommerville shot down the fourth-seeded Jayhawks in the first round with five treys.
PF: Craig Smith, Sr., Boston College 25 points, 13 rebounds vs. Pacific; 22 points, 16 rebounds, 4 assists vs. Montana
BC head coach Al Skinner said of Smith's monster game against the Grizzlies, "Let's face it, he was a beast in there." Smith put the Eagles on his back and outmuscled double- and triple-teams from two feisty mid-majors; now, can he do the same against Villnova's small front line?
C/F: Shelden Williams, Sr., Duke 29 points, 18 rebounds, 4 blocks vs. Southern; 17 points, 14 rebounds, 7 blocks vs. George Washington
Williams set Duke's all-time rebounding record this weekend, passing Mike Gminski, and GW guard Danilo "don't-call-me-J.R." Pinnock had these kind words to say of Williams' stellar D (in the Raleigh News & Observer): "He changes every shot that comes in the lane. If it's not a 3, he's changing it. ... That's why he's the best big man in the country." And we're proud to have him lording over this team's lane.
Sixth Man: Joakim Noah, Soph., Florida 16 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists, 5 blocks vs. South Alabama; 17 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists, 4 blocks vs. Wisconsin-Milwaukee
The energetic Noah was a sparingly used reserve for the Gators in last year's tournament; this postseason, he's become one of the nation's most well-rounded big men. In the first round, the Jaguars drove at Noah, only to be greeted with a series of emphatic rejections. "If that was their game plan," Noah said, "then they got denied."
Coach: Jim Larranaga, George Mason
Larranaga led George Mason over two of 2005's Final Four teams (Michigan State and North Carolina) and into the Sweet 16. And Stew Mandelreports that the head of the Patriots -- who's 56 years old -- charged up his troops to face the Heels by playing the Purple Ribbon All-Stars' rap track Kryptonite (click to listen) in the locker room. Larranaga told the GMU players, hilariously, that they were UNC's kryptonite. This selection's a no-brainer.
Now, for the second team ...
Guards:Folarin Campbell, George Mason (21 points, 7 boards, 8-of-8 shooting vs. Michigan State; 15 points, 7 boards vs. UNC); Allan Ray, Villanova (19 points vs. Monmouth, 25 points vs. Arizona).
Forwards:Glen Davis, LSU (22 points, 13 rebounds, 6 blocks vs. Iona; 21 points, 8 rebounds vs. Texas A&M); Adam Morrison, Gonzaga (35 points vs. Xavier; 14 points, 9 rebounds vs. Indiana).