Every year, NBA teams and their fans have a chance to play prognosticator when it comes to the draft and which players to select or pass on. To be perfectly fair, most drafted players don’t pan out in the end. Occasionally you get it right, but for the most part, draftees have their short run in the pros and move on to the next phase of life. Here are a few to look out for. (Just to be clear, I wish all of them well and hope they have a long successful career. Good luck, gents!)
It’s has been rumored for years that Florida men’s head basketball coach Billy Donovan would make the jump from the NCAA to the NBA. Well, that day could soon be approaching. The Oklahoma City Thunder fired head coach Scott Brooks on Wednesday and the Thunder have taken public interests in a few candidates in the college realm, including Donovan.
Mike Krzyzewski is headed to the Final Four with his youngest team of his career. With three freshmen starting, the Duke Blue Devils are going to their 16th Final Four and a record-tying 12th for Coach K. Only the late great UCLA coach John Wooden has had as many Final Four appearances, as well as a ridiculous 10 titles, seven of which were earned consecutively. Krzyzewski has a ways to go before he can boast 10 titles, but he can take one step further with a win Saturday against Tom Izzo and the Michigan State Spartans.
Tom Izzo and his seventh-seeded Spartans are headed back to the Elite 8 for the second year in a row. Sparty Nation is counting its blessings for now after fighting off an Oklahoma lead Friday night in Syracuse. The Spartans held on defeating the Sooners, 62-58.
It wasn’t exactly David versus Goliath, but 6-seed and nationally unranked Xavier had a tall order to fill against the red-hot 2-seed Arizona Wildcats in Los Angeles on Thursday night. To add to the tourney drama, Xavier coach Chris Mack faced his former employer of five years and good friend, Arizona coach Sean Miller.
Trailing with seven minutes to go, Arizona fought off a tough team in Xavier with a 19-7 run, defeating the Musketeers, 68-60. Arizona trucks on to face Frank Kaminski and the Wisconsin Badgers in the Elite 8 in a rematch of last year’s West region final.
With three quarters of the teams eliminated, we are entering the Sweet 16, the round that has given hoops fans instant classics for years. Hopefully Thursday’s late game in Los Angeles won’t disappoint. Seven-seed Xavier is taking on 2-seed Arizona in the “House that Kobe Built,” also known as the Staples Center.
Tonight’s showdown took place between 7-seed Iowa and 10-seed Davidson in Seattle’s Key Arena. Eleven minutes into the first half, Iowa and Davidson kept each other within striking distance. But Iowa opened up late in the first half with a big run, continued to build on the lead in the second half and rolled to an 83-52 win.