Eating Crow: Michigan, UConn, Notre Dame

Its that time of the year, crow eating time. The time when the college basketball fans that had big enough cojones to make pre-season predictions look back at them and either pat themselves on the back, or just laugh. This will be the laughing edition.

It seems fitting to lead crow eating off with the biggest of all the crows: Kemba Walker and Connecticut. Who would have thought that the Huskies, who had to replace Gavin Edwards, Stanley Robinson and Jerome Dyson (42PPG~) would have won the Big East Tournament and make the Final 4? I didn’t, the AP/USA poll didn’t and even the coaches who had to face Connecticut this season didn’t think they’d be this good. Kemba Walker and a handful of unproven freshmen put Husky Nation on their back, all the way to the Final 4. Kemba Walker upped his PPG average by nearly 10 points and Jeremy Lamb has spearheaded the impressive freshman class with 11PPG.

The best news? Connecticut’s run isn’t even over.

Next up, the Michigan Wolverines. Michigan only garnered an eight seed and exited in the second round, but that doesn’t tell the whole story.

Coming off a sub .500 season while losing your two leading scorers (Manny Harris 18PPG, DeShawn Sims 16PPG) isn’t a recipe for a success anywhere but Ann Arbor. The Wolverines were picked to finish in the bottom third of the Big Ten by just about everyone. After stumbling out to a 1-6 start to Big Ten play (11-9 overall), these predictions looked spot on. However, a 9-4 finish, including wins over Michigan State (x2), Penn State and Illinois produced a 180 in Michigan’s season that would leave “experts” scratching their heads. The Wolverines capped off an impressive season by going down in honorable fashion in the NCAA tournament. They thrashed Tennessee in the first round and nearly knocked off #1 seeded Duke in the second round.

Michigan graduates no one and several of their contributors were just freshmen, including the impressive Tim Hardaway Jr. Its safe to say Michigan won’t be overlooked when next season’s batch of pre-season predictions are released.

The last plate of crow I will be eating has been shipped from South Bend. The Notre Dame Fighting Irish exceeded my expectations and then some. Once again, the Big East coaches also slipped up. Bubble team? More like a 2 seed.

I had some confidence in Mike Brey’s ability to replace Luke Harangody since Notre Dame played so well without him at the conclusion of last season. Did I think the team would get much better without him? Not a chance. But thats what they did. Throw out their early exit of the NCAA tournament against a Florida State team that was a huge matchup problem and the Fighting Irish surely exceeded expectations. Heck, I think any Irish fan would have taken a second round exit in the NCAA tournament in a heartbeat last September.

Will Mike Brey be able to conjure another miracle next season? The Irish lose four seniors that played major minutes (Hansbrough, Abromaitis, Scott, Nash).

Honorable mentions:

Penn State – After winning just 11 games last season, the Nittany Lions made the Big Ten Championship game for the first time in their history and reached the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2001. Penn State seemed out of sorts after losing to Maine at home in December, but rebounded nicely by finishing 9-9 in the Big Ten and punched their ticket by winning three games in Indianapolis.

Arizona – In Sean Miller’s first season, the Wildcats missed the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1984. How did they respond? By losing the Pac-10 tournament in OT on this shot and losing to Connecticut by 2 in the Elite 8. Not bad.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: