Two years ago a system built on Value Add projected the 2014 Final Four (see May 20, 2012 post here). Three of the Final Four teams remain from what Value Add projected two years ago. Seven of the teams projected to go to the Elite 8 just before the tournament are also still alive. The following is the breakdown of all Sweet 16 games Thursday and Friday, as well as which Value Add Top 100 players and potential future NBA players will be on the court for each game.
The Value Add system (www.valueaddbasketball.com) is a precise measurement of how many points each player has added to his team’s final scores, and taken off his opponent’s final scores. The projections based on Value Add numbers are simply rough projections that bring in other factors. Projecting the future is not precise in any way, particularly when dealing with young athletes.
7:15 p.m. CBS – #11 Dayton vs. #10 Stanford (our only Elite 8 team already gone is #3 Syracuse)
Syracuse is the only of our Elite 8 picks did not make the Sweet 16–missing their last second shot. We did correctly pick Kansas to lose opening weekend. Based on the picks two years out (click here to see how Value Add combined projections of recruits, transfers, who will still be on the team and projections of how much players typically improve between their freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior seasons), we actually had Stanford as a borderline Sweet 16 team. We actually thought Stanford would beat Kansas (with Joel Embiid out) if they met, we just thought they’d fall to New Mexico and the Lobos would take care of Kansas.
Value Add Top 100/ NBA Players on Court: Dayton 1, Stanford 1
(each player shows their top 100 Value Add ranking as well as their height and year in school)
Dayton (Value Add’s 98th ranked – Oliver, Devin – 6-foot-07 -Sr); Stanford (Powell, Dwight is a potential NBA power forward)
7:47 p.m. TBS – #2 Wisconsin (our Final 4) vs. #6 Baylor
We’ve touted Wisconsin from early in the season due to three top 100 players, and Value Add has them projected to win two more games to go to the Final Four.
However, they will face a tough challenge in Baylor and three NBA prospects. I stupidly ignored the Value Add system last weekend and bought into the Nebraska hype. Value Add projected Baylor as a Top 25 team two years out, as a Sweet 16 team in the preseason, and still had them as a Top 25 on Selection Sunday. Wisconsin was 20th to start the season and 13th on Selection Sunday.
Value Add Top 100/ NBA Players on Court: Wisconsin 3, Baylor 3
Wisconsin (16 -Kaminsky, Frank – 6-11 – 3 Jr; 88, Dekker, Sam – 6-07 – 2 So, potential – SF NBA; 99, Brust, Ben – 6-01 – 4 Sr); Baylor (67 – Jefferson, Cory – 6-09 – 4 Sr, potential PF NBA, they also have future potential NBA players in SG-Heslip, Brady and C-Austin, Isaiah).
9:45 p.m. CBS – #1 Florida (our runner up) vs. #4 UCLA
Two years ago we predicted UCLA for this season’s Final Four against Arizona, Kentucky and Texas, so only the latter does not have a chance. This year Value Add projected Florida as fifth, and at the beginning of the tournament Value Add projected them to go all the way to the title game against Louisville.
Value Add Top 100/ NBA Players on Court: Florida 4, UCLA 4
Florida (30 – Frazier, Michael – 6-04 – 2 So; 81, Prather, Casey – 6-06 – 4 Sr; 87, Young, Patric – Florida – 6-09 – 4 Sr – potential C NBA and Florida also has and potential PG NBA Hill, Kasey). UCLA (7 – Adams, Jordan – 6-05; 2 So – potential SG NBA; 24 Anderson, Kyle – 6-09 – 2 So – potential SF NBA and UCLA also has potential NBA Guard LaVine, Zach).
10:17 p.m. TBS – #4 San Diego St. (our Elite 8) vs. #1 Arizona
NBA execs were impressed when Value Add pegged TJ McConnell as a top 20 player way back when he was playing in the obscurity of Duquesne. When he transferred to Arizona we projected he completed a team that could go to the Final Four. They looked every bit a national contender last weekend. Pre-tournament we actually picked San Diego State to make a surprise Elite 8 appearance, but I have to admit I’d rather see the two-year out projection come through with an Arizona win.
Value Add Top 100/ NBA Players on Court: San Diego State 2, Arizona 3
San Diego St. (11 – Thames, Xavier – 6-03 – 4 Sr – and San Diego State also has potential SF NBA Shepard, Winston); Arizona (17 – Johnson, Nick – 6-03 – 3 Jr – potential SG NBA; 61 – McConnell, TJ – 6-01 – 3 Jr – and Arizona also has potential NBA center Tarczewski, Kaleb).
7:15 p.m. CBS – #11 Tennessee (our Elite 8) vs. #2 Michigan
Value Add picked 11-seed Tennessee as a surprise Elite 8 team, but am torn on this game as well as Value Add projected Michigan as the No. 2 team in the country at the beginning of the season. Obviously losing a potential All-American like Mitch McGary at the outset can sidetrack plans. I received an email from a reader after the projections telling me I would be Nostradamus if a play-in 11-seed made the Elite 8 game, and I’m not counting it yet.
Michigan State fans were not happy when I ranked Nik Stauskas ahead of all the Spartans early in the season, but he backed it up as the top player in conference play, though Value Add did rank him second, just one spot behind the Spartans Gary Harris).
Value Add Top 100/ NBA Players on Court: Tennessee 2, Michigan 2
Tennessee (18 – Stokes, Jarnell – 6-08 – 3 Jr – potential PF NBA; 35 – McRae, Jordan – 6-06 – 4 Sr – potential SG/SF NBA); Michigan (47 – Stauskas, Nik – 6-06 – 2 So – potential SF NBA, and Michigan also has potential NBA players in SF Robinson, Glenn and C McGary, Mitch, the latter of whom was lost to injury early in the year).
7:27 p.m. TBS – #7 Connecticut (our Elite 8) vs. #3 Iowa St
Value Add projected UConn as a borderline Elite 8 team two years out (actually #9 nationally), still had them at #11 to start the season, and picked them to ride the best player all-around player in the tournament (Shabazz Napier) to a surprise Elite 8 for a No. 7 seed. Iowa State has been a surprise to Value Add, as the team has moved transfers deftly to rise to the top. Both teams show two Elite players, but really you have to consider Napier’s backcourt mate Ryan Boatwright elite as well to form one of the backcourts in the country.
This was one reason Value Add picked the UConn upset of Villanova. We shocked even Value Add fans by choosing Napier as an All-American last year, but many have joined in our selection of him again this year. The game he played against Villanova despite two in-game injuries was almost at the level of his old backcourt mate Kemba Walker the year UConn finished 9th in the Big East and won the national title. They don’t have enough for another title, but we’d like to see them get one more upset win to live up to our surprise Elite 8 pick.
Value Add Top 100/ NBA Players on Court: UConn 2, Iowa State 2
Connecticut (2 – Napier, Shabazz – 6-01 – 4 Sr – potential PG NBA and UConn also has potential SF NBA Daniels, DeAndre); Iowa St. (72 – Kane, DeAndre – Iowa St. – 6-04 – 4 Sr; 97 – Ejim, Melvin – 6-06 – 4 Sr).
9:45 p.m. CBS – #4 Louisville (our Champion) vs. #8 Kentucky
Something has to give. Value Add picked Kentucky as the 2014 champion two years out and again at the beginning of this season, but by tournament time Value Add went with Louisville. The stakes could not be higher. Russ Smith has gone from outside the Value Add Top 100 to a top 10 player down the stretch for the second straight season–meaning he has actually been the best player in basketball the last month.
John Calipari faces the most difficult decisions, such as which three future NBA players does he start on the bench. The Wildcats have twice as many elite players than Louisville. Wow, what more can we write?
Value Add Top 100/ NBA Players on Court: Louisville 4, Kentucky 8)
Louisville (10 – Smith, Russ – 6-00 – 4 Sr – potential PG NBA, 20 – Harrell, Montrezl – 6-08 – 2 So – potential PF/C NBA, and Louisville also has potential NBA players in SF Blackshear, Wayne and SF Behanan, Chane); Kentucky (57 – Cauley-Stein, Willie – 7-00 – 2 So – potential C NBA, 65 – Randle, Julius – 6-09 – 1 Fr – potential SF/PF NBA, and Kentucky also has six other potential NBA players in SG Harrison, Aaron, SG Young, James, C Johnson, Dakari, forward Poythress, Alex, guard Harrison, Andrew, and finally PF/C – Lee, Marcus).
9:57 p.m. TBS – #4 Michigan St. (our Final 4) vs. #1 Virginia
Virginia has shocked just about everyone except Value Add. Two years out Value Add projected UVa would be a Top 25 team by 2014. At the beginning of this year I almost had to apologize that Value Add projected UVa as the 13th best team in the nation. While Michigan State is back healthy and being picked by virtually every TV pundit to take the title, the UVa run has not been a fluke and we give Michigan State only a very slight edge.
We would be surprised if Michigan State takes the title, but certainly never doubt Jay Bilas when he makes a call.
Value Add Top 100/ NBA Players on Court: Michigan State 3, Virginia 2
Michigan State (46 – Harris, Gary – 6-04 – 2 So and the Spartans also have potential NBA players in SF Dawson, Branden and PF/C Payne, Adreian); Virginia (55 – Brogdon, Malcolm – 6-05 – 2 So, and UVa also has potential NBA center Tobey, Mike).