College Basketball

Sweet Sixteen 2009

By Trevor Freeman

With March Madness right around the corner….God Bless the NCAA Tournament, we decided to do a little preliminary analysis for those of you pining for the moment that the bracket is revealed.  Over the past month, I have sat down and watched as much college basketball as humanly possible.  I formulated the sixteen teams that I think look Sweet Sixteen worthy.

As you all know, the sixteen best teams in the NCAA Tournament more often than not do not comprise the Sweet Sixteen.  That is the beauty of the NCAA Tournament.  Just when you think you know everything there is to know, George Mason is defeating a Connecticut team with four future NBA players in its starting five.  However, we are going to take our best shot below.  Without further ado, here are the sixteen teams that we think represent the sixteen teams most likely to get to the Sweet Sixteen.

North Carolina

The Tar Heels are going to be the Championship pick in 50% of the brackets this season.  With Ty Lawson, Wayne Ellington and Tyler Hansbrough leading the way, the Tar Heels will be the safe pick the masses flock towards.  Their depth and variety of offensive weapons is scary as Danny Green and Deon Thompson are also NBA players in waiting.


I have a feeling this might be the year Coach K makes a run back into the Elite Eight/Final Four.  Duke is sneaky good and might actually be underrated right now.  Kyle Singler and Gerald Henderson are both having tremendous seasons.  Jon Scheyer allows Duke to stretch the floor and Greg Pawlus has been steady at the point guard spot.


I have this team in the Sweet Sixteen because I cannot see how one can exclude a team with the likes Hasheem Thabeet, Jeff Adrien and A.J. Price.  However, I still cannot shake the haunting image of watching them get beat by the University of San Diego last year in the first round.  This team could have problems if matched up with somebody that has athletes on their perimeter.


This team is legit and it is not just Blake Griffin.  I like their backcourt as Tony Crocker and Willie Warren can both heat up in a hurry.  Maybe they lost that game to Texas on Saturday night, but you had to be impressed at the way they played without Blake Griffin on the road.  Oklahoma will make a deep run this season.


I feel like I pick Pittsburgh every year to get to the Sweet Sixteen and they let me down.  This year, I cannot fathom how this Panther team could possibly do that.  While the Panthers are always rugged defensively, I feel like the offense is better with DeJuan Blair being an absolute animal.

(I’m just throwing this out there, but does anyone else think DeJuan Blair is missing his true calling.  Doesn’t he have elite Defensive End written all over him?)

Michigan State

A classic Tom Izzo squad that will lock teams down on the defensive end.  Kalin Lucas and Raymar Morgan give the Spartans a nice one-two punch.  Goran Suton is a solid player for Michigan State as well as he can hit that mid-range jumper and will bang down low.


The Bruin defense is a constant.  There is a reason why UCLA has found itself in the Final Four the past three seasons and why they are an underrated bet this season.

Wake Forest

The Demon Deacons are as athletic as any team in this field.  Jeff Teague, James Johnson and Al-Farouq Aminu are all capable of having a big night.  The only lingering doubt about this team is their experience as their best players are all underclassmen.


On paper the Zags have as much talent as anybody in this field.  Jeremy Pargo, Josh Heytvelt, Austin Daye, Matt Bouldin and Stephen Gray could all be playing in the NBA someday.  Offensively, Gonzaga has as diversified attack as any team in the field.  The question will be on defense.  The Zags are going to have to be able to get stops in pressure situation.  Can they is the question.


Everybody seems to be sleeping on the Wildcats, but I love their chances to make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament.  Guard play might be the most crucial component in having NCAA success and I love the Nova guards.  Scottie Reynolds, Corey Fisher and Corey Stokes can all handle the ball and create their own shot with the shot clock winding down.  Dante Cunningham has been superb this season and can get a double-double on the board any time he wants.


The Golden Eagles are another team that is loaded on the perimeter.  Guard play is the most important factor in NCAA success and Marquette has a true point guard in Dominic James that can handle anything he sees.  His backcourt mates, Jerel McNeal and Wesley Matthews can also handle the ball and can create their own shot.  Marquette can really knock down the threeball as McNeal is around 44% on the season while Matthews is just a shade under 40%.

St. Mary’s

This will be my most controversial selection, but people forget that St. Mary’s was 18-1 before Patty Mills broke his hand.  If Mills is healthy, St. Mary’s probably has the second best guard in this whole tournament behind Stephen Curry and the best point guard in the field.  Mills is a surefire NBA starter (reminds me a lot of T.J. Ford) and is expected back before the WCC Tournament. He gets adequate help from Omar Samhan and Diamon Simpson who combined with Ian O’Leary give the Gaels a very strong frontcourt.  St. Mary’s biggest hurdle will be getting an invite to the Dance.  I hope the Selection Committee evaluates this team on what they did when Patty Mills was healthy.


The Cardinals attack in waves and they have two extremely talented forwards in Earl Clark and Terrence Williams.  While Edgar Sosa’s numbers are not great, he has shown some big-game moxie in the past.  Rick Pitino’s teams always fare well in the Big Dance and this year will not be an exception.

Arizona State

I love teams that have a dominant player that can create an opportunity with the shot clock winding down.  James Harden can do that for the Sun Devils and that is why they feel Sweet Sixteen bound.  Harden reminds me a lot of Brandon Roy, except left-handed.


There’s just no way I can leave them off this list.  Stephen Curry is too good.  Having the best player on the court means something in basketball and Curry will be the best player on the court in just about every game played.  There is no substitute for having been there before and this team has the experience of an Elite Eight run last year.


The Tigers have quietly been playing some of the best basketball in the country.  The way they took Gonzaga behind the woodshed at Gonzaga was stunning.  Tyreke Evans is quietly putting up a better freshman year than people are giving him credit for.

7 replies on “Sweet Sixteen 2009”

no way Davidson doesn’t win there conference tourney. granted, the two conference loses won’t look good for there seed. I don’t believe that they will make it to the 16 this year- but i believe there are 2 others that could make a sweet 16 run if they win there conference tourney

Siena (possibly could be an at large)

Davidson will be in but I don’t know if they’ll go as far. They had a great senior PG last year and he took a lot of pressure off Curry. Plus the unknown factor is gone.

I like the St. Marys pick because there’s always going to be some surprise teams. I like Cal, LSU and maybe a Providence or Villanova that come out of the Big East wars and go far.

Pitt needs a good draw to go far. They seem to struggle with teams that have good guards and their perimeter D is very poor. I think Howland left behind that reputation of good defense but it’s not really good at all. Plus, they can’t shoot free throws or handle full-court pressure, which will always kill you in March.

I think Duke might finally be due after going out so early in recent years. And I’m kind of sick of Gonzaga. They’re like so 1999.

Yeah, I’m sick of the Gonzaga love too. They were great as underdogs and haven’t done jack since they because a little powerhouse.

I predict another Sweet Sixteen for Villanova and… that’s it when they run into a big front court and can’t make outside shots. Same song every year. Jay Wright is tremendous though.

now that davidson is out- unofficially- who will be this years Stephen Curry

I cast my vote for Eric Maynor

I am very surprised Davidson lost their tourney and is firmly on the bubble. That being said, I still think they deserve to get in.

One note, I just need to mention is that if the Big Ten really gets eight teams into the Big Dance, it will be a complete outrage. No way should that conference get more teams in than the ACC or Big East. I’d rather see Davidson or Creighton get an at-large spot than one of the string of mediocre teams in the middle of that conference.

BTW, I love the Siena call. I think with the right draw they could find their way into the Sweet Sixteen.

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