Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Mock Draft 1.0: Featuring Rick and Coop (Part III)

1. Texans (TSB): Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
2. Rams via Redskins (Coop): Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
3. Jaguars (Rick): Blake Bortles, QB, University of Central Florida
4. Browns (Coop): Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
5. Raiders (TSB): Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
6. Falcons (Rick): Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
7. Bucs (TSB): Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
8. Vikings (Coop): Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma St.

See details of top eight pick from Part I here.

9. Bills (Rick): Khalil Mack, LB, University of Buffalo
10. Lions (TSB):Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State
11. Titans (Coop): Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh
12. Giants (Rick): Eric Ebron, TE, UNC
13. Rams (Coop): Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, FS, Alabama
14. Bears (TSB): Calvin Pryor, FS, Louisville
15. Steelers (Rick): Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech
16. Cowboys (Rick): Dee Ford, DE/OLB, Auburn
17. Ravens (Coop): Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
18. Jets (TSB): Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA
19. Dolphins (Rick): Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State

See details of picks 9-19 here.

20. Cardinals (Coop): Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri: Forget who is getting all the media attention, Kony Ealy was the best prospect to play for the Missouri Tigers in 2013. This guy has NFL comparisons to Greg Hardy and Robert Quinn, not bad right? Ealy played all over the line and as a stand up linebacker at Mizzou, so he will give the Cardinals plenty of options as an edge rusher. Pairing Ealy with John Abraham should give the Cards a formidable pass rushing duo.

21. Packers (Rick): Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan - A tackle that could easily end up in the top 10 is a great value pick here not to mention fills a big need. Aaron Rodgers has been sacked on average 36 times the past 3 seasons. They lost their starting Center in free agency, the only player with a solidified position along the line. Former fourth rounder David Bakhtiari plugged in there last season and performed admirably but isn't a long term solution to protect the top QB in the NFL.  Brian Bulaga was expected to play LT last season before blowing out his knee I'm camp. As he comes back there's questions on where to put him and how effective he'd be a year after a major knee injury. Lewan can provide another option for Green Bay and potentially limit the hits on Aaron Rodgers this season.

22. Eagles (TSB): Jason Verrett, CB, TCU - A little undersized, the 5'9" Verrett played injured this season and still intercepted six passes. He's a great athlete that can solidify a weak area for Philly. In pretty short (no pun) order, he will be the #1 corner for this team. That speaks a little bit to how little I believe in Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher and how highly I think of Verrett. For what it's worth, I still like Brandon Boykin as much as I did two years ago when he fell to the fourth round.

23. Chiefs (Coop): Marqise Lee, WR, USC – Alex Smith is a game manager not a dynamic play maker, so the Chiefs have to give him some help. Marqise Lee was the consensus top WR coming into the 2013 season before an injury-plagued junior campaign. When he finally got healthy at the end of the year, albeit against Fresno St., he was able to show his dominance (7 catches for 119 yards, 2 TDs) and proved his big play ability was back.  After swinging and missing at finding a competent #2 receiver in the past (Jon Baldwin), plugging Lee into the lineup will take some pressure of Dwayne Bowe and open up a bit more space in the running game for Jamaal Charles.

24. Bengals (Rick): Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State - Seems to be deja-vu, undersized WR comes to the combine and blazes a 4.3 40 and watches his draft stock soar. Tavon Austin went from a fringe first rounder to a top-10 pick. Cooks won't go that high because the WR class is crazy deep this year but I think he's a better overall prospect than Tavon Austin. The Bengals just lost their slot weapon Andrew Hawkins to free agency and will have to fill that role. AJ Green, Tyler Eifert, Gio Bernard and Brandin Cooks form the youngest nucleus of explosive weapons I think I've ever seen assembled on one team. If Andy Dalton can't make this work... Next years first rounder could be used on a QB.

25. Chargers (TSB): Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State - I'm all over the DB's in this mock. Roby would probably be the top corner on this San Diego team by the end of his rookie season. He's talented, yes, but this is a skeleton crew the Chargers are using to stop Peyton manning twice per season.

26. Browns (Via Colts): Zack Martin, OL, Notre Dame – With the luxury of #35 overall as well, the Browns can use this pick to add to a strength by bolstering the line for new QB Johnny Manziel. Martin played LT at Notre Dame but will most like slide inside to Guard as a pro, and that is a perfect fit for the Browns who have All-World LT Joe Thomas protecting the blind side. Tagging Alex Mack and adding Martin shows a commitment to dominating up front, something they can definitely use in the problematic Cleveland winter weather.

27. Saints (Rick): CJ Mosley, LB, Alabama - The Saints have never had an issue scoring points, it was stopping the other team from scoring that was the issue. Rob Ryan was a revelation for the Saints last year, combine that with the signing of the best safety on the market and the Saints defense is looking good. They don't have a QB in the middle and that's what Mosley can provide. If not for some injury flags he'd be talked about in the top 5 picks and the Saints could be getting a bargain here at 27.

28. Panthers (TSB): Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State - The Panthers have no wide receivers on their roster that registered a catch for them last year. None. Zero. Zilch. Robinson is the best wideout on the board. Hopefully he and the freshly injured Cam can develop some early chemistry.

29. Patriots (Coop): Louis Nix III , DT, Notre Dame – Vince Wilfork is on his way out the door in Foxboro, and Nix is as close to a carbon copy that you are going to find in this draft. At 6’2” and 330+ pounds, Irish Chocolate is the prototypical 3-4 NT and will eat up plenty of space on the line. Despite a lackluster season (due to a rash of injuries) and a poor performance at the combine, he possesses a rare combination of quickness and agility that makes him a key contributor in stopping the running game. Finally, Nix is a high character player which is a nice change of pace for the Patriots in the wake of the Aaron Hernandez saga.

30. 49ers (Rick): Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU - Seems like every year the 49ers are stuck looking for WR help as their defense brings them to the brink of a championship. Their WR corps has been uninspiring for a while now, they lack explosiveness. Beckham can change that and add an explosive playmaker to pair with possession receivers Michael Crabtree and Anquan Boldin.

31. Broncos (TSB): Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State - Top-10 talent that was a little inconsistent and he looked gassed in the National Title game against Auburn. That has me questioning his work ethic (how can you possibly not be in shape for a the title game?), but the talent is too good to pass up on this defensive line will be scary.

32. Seahawks (TSB): Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech - He's an upgrade over Zack Miller and gives Russell Wilson another wide bodied target.

Second Round to follow over the next few days.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Mock Draft 1.0: Featuring Rick and Coop (Part II)

1. Texans (TSB): Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
2. Rams via Redskins (Coop): Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
3. Jaguars (Rick): Blake Bortles, QB, University of Central Florida
4. Browns (Coop): Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
5. Raiders (TSB): Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
6. Falcons (Rick): Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
7. Bucs (TSB): Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
8. Vikings (Coop): Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma St.

See details of top eight pick from Part I here.

9. Bills (Rick): Khalil Mack, LB, University of Buffalo - This would be considered a steal to get Mack at #9; he’s viewed by some scouts as a the better overall talent than Jadeveon Clowney. Buffalo has hired Jim Schwartz as its new DC and has promised a ball hawking and attacking defense. Buffalo ran a bit of a hybrid defense last year with multiple looks and Mack would fit right in as a versatile piece to move around. Not to mention the obvious ties to Buffalo. Not sure if that would make Mack happy or really depressed.

10. Lions (TSB):Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State - Let's stick with the local theme here as Detroit nabs the MSU product who also happens to be a shutdown corner. Dennard paired with 2013 second round CB Darius Slay could give some stability to a secondary unit in desperate need of it. The Golden Tate signing alleviates the need to address the wide receiver position, not to mention that offense isn't the problem in Motown. This makes too much sense not to happen.

11. Titans (Coop): Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh - Donald has dominated his college competition for 3 years in a row now, and backed up his performance on the field by dominating the competition at the combine.  The biggest concern is that he is undersized at DT, but he makes up for it by being a disruptive force on the line. Last year he managed 28.5 tackles for a loss and 11.0 sacks, those numbers don’t lie. With the Titans possibly transitioning to some variety of a 3-4, they can use his versatility and possibly pencil him in at Defensive End. No matter where he lines up, he should immediately help the run defense and take some pressure off the linebackers.

12. Giants (Rick): Eric Ebron, TE, UNC - Five years, five different tight ends. Although the Giants have been developing Adrian Robinson I'm not sure they're totally sold on him as he's been unable to stay on the field. Ebron runs '6'5 250 with 4.5 wheels. He's an incredible athlete with sticky hands and he's a weapon Eli hasn't had since Jeremy Shockey was in town. With the Giants aggressively attacking their offensive line in FA and the top two corners off the board this seems like a logical pick for The Giants. If Robinson (6'5/270/4.56) does stay healthy enough to make a leap this season the Giants will have two matchup nightmares at TE.

13. Rams (Coop): Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, FS, Alabama - Aside from having the top name in the draft, Ha Ha fills the 2nd biggest need for the Rams. Now they have someone to pair with TJ McDonald at the back end, giving them some good young talent at safety.  Clinton-Dix’s draft stock took a bit of a hit after receiving a 2-game suspension for receiving improper benefits, but his performance on the field never fell off. He could very well be a steal for the Rams at 13.

14. Bears (TSB): Calvin Pryor, FS, Louisville - Freak athletes playing safety are all the rage these days. Just look at how the safeties in Seattle catapulted a very good defense into the league's best. The Saints made a big move to pair Jairus Byrd with 2013 first rounder Kenny Vaccaro to form another dynamic duo. It's time for the Bears to get involved. Pryor is the best safety in this class regardless of who Coop took with the last pick, and he's a huge upgrade over the shell known as Chris Conte.

15. Steelers (Rick): Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech - Steelers need help on defense. Yes. The staple of this team for so long has been aging and it's caught up to them. Ryan Clark is gone, Lamarr Woodley is gone, Larry Foote is gone, #43 has lost multiple steps and the once overwhelming strength of this team is now a weak point. Fuller's stock is starting to rise as evaluators start watching his film and seeing a physical and aggressive corner who won't back down to anyone. He's someone who would thrive from day one in Pittsburgh.

16. Cowboys (Rick): Dee Ford, DE/OLB, Auburn - Demarcus Ware was cut, time to bring in a younger and cheaper replacement. Ford has a lightning fast first step and should fit right into Ware's old spot and start harassing quarterbacks right away. The Cowboys need help all over their defense which seems to be the case every draft season.

17. Ravens (Coop): Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M – The Ravens are desperate for help at wide receiver, however there is no way they can pass up this value pick. Matthews is arguably the second best tackle in the draft, and has the ridiculous Matthews’ NFL pedigree (Bruce, Clay, Casey). He hasn’t shown the athleticism that Robinson and Lewan have displayed, but he has been rock solid in the SEC’s leading offense for the last two years (Ok, so Auburn outgained them by 19 yards this year). After re-signing Eugene Monroe, Baltimore can plug in Matthews at the other tackle position and not give the position a thought for another few years.

18. Jets (TSB): Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA - The "passing" offense the Jets put on display last year was one of the most painful things I've watched in sports. It was a complete trainwreck. Santonio Holmes? Awful (when he played). Stephen Hill? Has been a bust to date with little hope for the future. Jeremy Kerley? We can keep him as a #3 receiver in the slot but not as the alpha dog. As I have been saying for years: This. Team. Needs. Playmakers. The Jets just brought in Eric Decker for a surprisingly reasonable price. He can slot in as the new number two guy. Now, the Jets need a number one wideout and a pass-catching tight end to go along with a competent quarterback. Unfortunately, the Jets only have one pick at this spot and not three. Even worse, I don't love any of the players at these positions of need right now. I would have loved Watkins, Evans, Ebron, or any of the quarterbacks taken so far, but that's not how this worked out. Do I reach for a wide receiver? No, becuase I think this is a deep draft at the position and there will be options in the later rounds only slightly worse than what's available right now. I'll take a Troy Niklas-type tight end in round two rather than reach for Jace Amaro now. I'm not crazy about Derek Carr (David Carr 2.0?) either. I'm in a pickle so I am going a little bit off the reservation and taking a defensive player! It's painful in many ways to go this direction, but I think Barr is the best player on the board by a fairly wide margin. In the middle of the season, he was being considered with the top pick. Now, he's available at 18? I need to take him here to further solidy a defense that carried this team in 2013 and hope I can pick up my playmakers in the next few rounds and in free agency (still $40m of cap room). Michael Vick and James Jones, anyone? Barr gives the team an edge rusher and replaces Calvin Pace at OLB. Rex Ryan will have him motivated and put him in position to be successful.

Will Barr be Rex's newest toy?
19.    Dolphins (Rick): Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State - I love the fit for this guy in this offense. I thought quickly about Brandin Cooks but Benjamin's size cannot be ignored. 6 foot 5 inches at 240 pounds with gigantic 10.25 inch hands with 4.5 speed. This isn't a raw prospect either, he put up monster production last year scoring 15 touchdowns as a redshirt sophomore. Ryan Tannehill has been working with Brian Hartline and the gimmicky Mike Wallace. Benjamin would complement this WR corps and allow the other guys to do what they do best while he gave Tannehill a big target for once in his career. Wallace would be able to take the top off the defense running his fly patterns while Hartline did his work from the slot allowing Benjamin plenty of opportunities on the intermediate routes where he can dominate smaller corners on the outside. They still need to address their offensive line but can add later in the draft. Taylor Lewan may be too tough to pass up in this spot but I love Benjamin too much for Tannehill.

Trade of the Week: Cubs/Mets Swap Prospects

Neither the Mets and Cubs have serious aspirations of competing for the playoffs this season. However, the prospects are bright in 2015 and beyond for both clubs. These teams line up perfectly to swap their respective best prospects for each other.

The Trade of the Week: P Noah Syndergaard for SS Javier Baez

The Cubs have a glut of young hitters including Baez, Kris Bryant, Albert Almora, Arismendy Alcantara, Jorge Soler, and Dan Vogelbach who are all 21 or under. Chicago's starting shortstop - who happens to be under contract through at least 2019 - is only 23. Offense will not be a problem.

Their pitching prospects, however, leave a lot to be desired. Its a system littered with number 3 through 5 starters but no ace. They tried signing Masahiro Tanaka this offseason to be their number 1, but he opted to sign with the Yankees. Could Jeff Samardzija be the top of the rotation starter they need? Possibly, but his name has been in countless rumors and the chances he's dealt increase every day he doesn't sign long term. Personally, I'm not sure he can be the ace of the staff.

Enter Syndergaard.

He has protypical size (6'6", 240 lbs.) and stuff (98mph FB, hammer curve) to sit atop a staff for the next 10 years. After being acquired as part of the R.A. Dickey deal, he struck out 10 batter per 9 IP across two levels in the minors and sky-rocketed to the top of all the Mets prospect lists. He's a stud.

The Mets have the opposite dilemma: all pitching, no bats. A healthy Matt Harvey will - hopefully - return in 2015 to lead the Mets rotation with Zack Wheeler, Jon Niese, and Rafael Montero filling in as the 2, 3, and 4 starters. But where will the offense come from? Aside from David Wright and Curtis Granderson, the 2014 squad will be devoid of any consistent power. This team was painful to watch last year, and it started with the circus at shortstop. Ruben Tejada? Omar Quintanilla? Please make it stop.

Enter Baez.

I'm giddy thinking about the possibility of a guy that has 30-homer upside (he hit 37 last year in the minors) manning the left side of the infield in Flushing for the next decade. I would be more than happy with some below average defense at the position if it meant I would actually be excited to see someone swing the stick at Citi Field on a regular basis. Someone with bat speed? In the Mets lineup? Sign me up.

It's a great match that makes both teams better.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Mock Draft 1.0: Featuring Rick and Coop (Part I)

It's March. Free agency is in full swing three days after it officially began. The Combine is done. It is time for the first mock draft of the offseason.

Rick, Coop, and I will be alternating picks in a somewhat organized chaos kind of way.

Since we all have jobs, we can only make picks early in the morning or late at night so this will be split into four parts. Maybe we will try to speed it up a little on the weekend, but I wouldn't count on it.

Round 1

1. Texans (TSB): Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina - Clowney has the most talent of anyone in this draft, and I’m not a huge believer in any of the quarterbacks in this class (although I did consider Johnny Football here since he already dominates the state of Texas). Only two teams in football finished the 2013 season with fewer sacks than Houston which is especially amazing considering they had JJ Watt playing for them. The Texans are also about to lose DE Antonio Smith, who finished third on the team in sacks last season. I think Watt will keep Clowney plenty motivated (something that scouts are worried about right now), and they will be among the league leaders in sacks next season. He makes the entire defense better including the secondary which finished with a league-worst seven interceptions last year.

2. Rams via Redskins (Coop): Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn - 130. That is how many pancake blocks Greg Robinson had during the 2013 run to the BCS National Championship. That is a big, strong, nasty man blocking downfield.  Robinson is the most talented lineman in this class, and his dominance in the run game will be a much needed boost to the 30th ranked offense in the NFL. The Rams O-line is a mess right now. Jake Long is recovering from a knee reconstruction in late January, and Roger Saffold left to explore his free agency options. With the talents they have emerging at the skill positions (Stacy/Austin), bolstering the line is the next step to competing in a division the featured three of the top-6 defensive teams in the league.

[Update: The Rame re-signed Roger Saffold. Their O-Line is still a mess.]

3. Jaguars (Rick): Blake Bortles, QB, University of Central Florida - the re-signing of Chad Henne allows a bridge to a franchise QB. Bortles is widely assumed not yet ready to shoulder the load of an NFL franchise, but here he won't have to right away. The Jaguars won't be contenders for a while and this will allow them to develop a young QB which they haven't been able to do (see Blaine Gabbert). None of the QB's in this class are overwhelming, but Bortles has that overrated prototypical size and pocket presence GM's love.

4. Browns (Coop): Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M - The Browns haven’t spent a draft pick this high on a QB in the 21st Century, and it is time for them to pull the trigger.  Manziel cannot draw up a better situation to be walking into as a rookie. Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron immediately give him playmakers to work with, and the offensive line has been rock solid for the past 2 years. All he has to do is keep being Johnny Football, and the Browns should be on the right track.

The Franchise
5. Raiders (TSB): Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville - Oakland might have more roster turnover than any team in football. Their cap situation was a mess that’s finally been cleared up. Now it’s time for them to clean up another messy situation: their quarterback position. This has been the black hole of the Black Hole since Rich Gannon left. Just listen to some of these names that have lined up under center since 2004: Carson Palmer, Jason Campbell, Jamarcus Russell, Dante Culpepper, Andrew Walter, Kerry Collins. And it’s not like these guys were backups. Each of them led the Raiders in passing at least once in the last decade. Yikes. The Raiders need some stability at the position. Even though I think Sammy Watkins will be the better player, I think the Raiders need TeddyB more. The Raiders just need him to be solid, not spectacular and I think he's capable of that. I also think Rod Streater and Denarius Moore can do the job adequately enough that they can wait to take a wideout later in the draft. Terrelle Pryor and Matt McGloin, not so much. A couple tangential points here. Pryor would make a great wide receiver if he can catch (and he’s a great athlete so I imagine he can catch). I owe McGloin an overdue thank you. Betting against you while you were in college made me a lot of money. I appreciate it.

6. Falcons (Rick): Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson - Atlanta splashed in free agency by building up in the trenches and getting more physical. They probably aren't done there. I can see them using another pick along the offensive line, but if Watkins falls in their lap here they won't pass him up. He's the premier weapon in the draft and with Roddy White slowing down he'll slide right in and immediately create the best WR tandem in the NFL with Julio Jones.

7. Bucs (TSB): Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M - I have to say I'm a little shocked at that Watkins pick. I was already prepping my Sammy-to-the-Bucs write-up where he would have been a perfect fit with Vincent Jackson. But the draft will surprise you sometimes. The more I thought about it though, the more I thought adding Evans would be an even better fit for the Bucs. 6'5", 230 lbs, good speed, great hands, some off the field issues. He is V-Jax 2.0. Is it crazy to have two of the identical players on a team? I can't think of a great reason why that would be a bad thing if that player is incredibly gifted and creates all types of mismatches. V-Jax 1.0 is 31 years old. He's not playing in the Not For Long forever. This will be a passing of the torch eventually, but for now, gimme both of them. Related note: how on Earth does Lovie Smith think it's a good idea to tell the world that the QB job is Josh McCown's to lose? I'm not saying Mike Glennon is a the long-term solution, but Lovie came to town last week, and he's already kicking Glennon to the curb after he had a decent rookie campaign. Makes no sense.

8. Vikings (Coop):  Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma St. - After the top 3 QBs come off the board, there is a steep drop off and no reason for Minnesota to reach for a guy like Derek Carr at 8. Hemmed and hawed about this pick quite a bit because of what Khalil Mack can bring to the table, but the reality is the Vikes are desperate for help at the corner position. They had the 2nd worst pass defense in the league, which is no surprise when facing Smoking Jay Cutler (Brandon Marshall/Alshon Jeffery), Aaron Rodgers (Jordy Nelson/Randall Cobb), and Matt Stafford (Megatron/Anyone) twice a year. Gilbert is the #1 corner available in the draft providing a good combination of size, speed, and ball skills. The good news for the Vikings is that Xavier Rhodes comes back from an ACL injury, and by drafting Gilbert they will have a young and capable top set of corners to help them compete in the NFC North.

9. Bills (Rick):
10. Lions (TSB):
11. Titans (Coop):
12. Giants (Rick):
13. Rams (Coop):
14. Bears (TSB):
15. Steelers (Rick):
16. Cowboys (Rick):
17. Ravens (Coop):
18. Jets (TSB):

Saturday, March 8, 2014

NCAA Conference Tournament Updates

(Updated: 3/12 at 11:30pm)

I'm stuck in a two-year drought of not winning any March Madness pools, and put simply, that sucks.

I have not been following college basketball since November, but I'm hoping a serious cram session can get me - and you the beneficiary of said cramming - up to speed by the time the tournament starts. Especially now that Warren Buffett has offered a BILLION dollars for a perfect bracket.

My goal is to provide conference tournament updates daily for the next week and a half and analyze which auto-qualifiers have the best chance of pulling off an upset or two in the Big Dance.

The exact format is TBD, but by the time Selection Sunday rolls around, I'm hoping this post can be my (and your) one-stop upset shopping hot spot. Just don't get into the same pools as me, please. If you do join Warren's pool and strike it rich, remember to tip your primary information source, TSB.

College Basketball Talk put together this easy-to-use schedule for all the conference tournaments.

The things I'll be looking for when trying to find a team capable of pulling the upset(s):

1. A guy that can win a game by himself. This player doesn't need to be a consistent superstar, just a guy that has proven he can get hot in stretches.
2. Size. It's possible, just not very probable, that a team lacking any rotation player over 6'8" can win against a much higher seed who typically play in the power conferences and attract that highest-skilled bug men.
3. A team that scores. Yes, I would like a superstar, but at the mid-major to low-major level, that's likely not going to happen. But, a team featuring a few double-digit scorers can see all those guys getting hot at the same time to shock someone.

On to the Dancers...

(In order of ticket punching)

Clinched on Friday, March 7th-

Ivy: Harvard

Roster / Stats

You'll notice the Ivy League isn't on the schedule above, and that's because they think they are better than everyone else so they choose not to have a postseason tournament. [Minor truth to the rumor that the Ivy League has adopted a new conference logo for next year of: The Fun Stops Here.]

Anyway, Harvard secured the auto-berth from the Ivy for the third straight season by virtue of winning the regular season, and they have a very good chance of pulling off a first round upset like they did last year as a 14-seed against 3-seed New Mexico.

The Crimson sit at 26-4. They have six guys that all average between 9 and 14 points per game and play the majority of the team's minutes, which I love. Wesley Saunders, their leading scorer, has gone for 20 or more in five games this season, and their second-leading scorer has hit the 20-point mark three times on the year.

All low seeds are going to have warts, and the biggest one for this team is its size. None of their regulars is taller than 6'7" so they could be in trouble if they match up with a bigger team (Captain Obvious Alert). Still, there's plenty of reason for hope here.

Clinched on Saturday, March 8th- 

The Good: The Iowa State-Oklahoma State game was incredibly entertaining, and I loved this:

The Bad: My biggest sleeper - Green Bay - was eliminated today, likely saving me a few incorrect picks in my real bracket.

Just one team punched a ticket today: EKU.

Ohio Valley: Eastern Kentucky

Roster / Stats

EKU knocked off top-seeded Belmont in the OVC Final. The Colonels start four guards which is incredibly troubling to me, and their fifth starter is only 6'8". It stands to reason that they rank 350th in the nation in rebounding. That being said, these guards can play a little bit. Glenn Cosey averages 19 points per game, and four other players average over 9.

I'm not thrilled with this team making the Dance, but I guess it's possible they could knock off a top seed if that opponent had some weaker guards. I like the superstar factor. One more reason for hesitation: the Colonels lost by 25 earlier in the year at Wisconsin.

Clinched on Sunday, March 9th-

This was actually a crushing day for three teams I had high hopes for: Towson, Vermont, and Davidson. Aside from Harvard, my sleepers are dropping like flies. Officially, three teams clinched today although Wichita State clinched a looong time ago, unofficially.

Missouri Valley: Wichita State

This post is meant to find sleepers, not to rehash how great the only defeated team in America is. Sure they haven't played the toughest schedule, but they have have won every game they've played. Give them a lot of credit. They deserve it.

Atlantic Sun: Mercer

Roster / Stats

The Bears upset Dunk City, Florida Gulf Coast, for the auto-berth. I love that they have five senior starters, including Daniel Coursey who registers at 6'10'. They score too (almost 80 per) and have beaten some big conference opponents including Ole Miss and Seton Hall. Unfortunately, they only have one player that averages in double-figures, and Coursey secures less than seven boards a game. How is that possible in the Atlantic Sun?

I haven't made up my mind on these guys just yet, but the seniors will make me give them an extra long look especially if they are matched against a perennial tournament underachiever like Wisconsin or Kansas.

Big South: Coastal Carolina

Roster / Stats

I try to look for the good in all of these auto-qualifiers, and the Chanticleers have a lot of good for a team that will likely be a 16-seed next week.

They are 10th in the country in rebounding and have three guards that score over 14 points per game. They even have a little bit of size with the 6'10" El Hadji Ndieguene manning the middle. The bad news is that after watching the Big South final, I just don't think they can hang with any of the big boys. Nice run, but I think it's one and done for these guys.

Clinched on Monday, March 10th-

MAAC: Manhattan

Roster / Stats

The Jaspers have the superstar I look for in my sleepers (George Beamon - who also has a superstar name), but I have to admit that I wasn't impressed watching these guys in the MAAC Final. Their starting PG Michael Alvarado was limited by a facial injury and didn't look comfortable wearing a mask.

Maybe they can ride Beamon, but I'm just not seeing it.

CAA: Delaware

Roster / Stats

The Blue Hens ride their horses. In the CAA title game, three of their starters played all 40 minutes while the other two logged 34 minutes apiece. They start four guards which I don't like, but three of those guards average over 18 points per game. These guys can put the ball in the hoop, and they take care of the rock too.

These guys are dangerous. 

Full disclosure: My DVR didn't cooperate so this is the only team I haven't actually seen play this year of all auto-qualifiers.

Southern: Wofford

Roster / Stats

G Karl Cochran can play a little, but this team will be one and done. The talent level just isn't there.

I'll save you the Google search: Wofford is in South Carolina.

Clinched on Tuesday, March 11th-

West Coast: Gonzaga

Roster / Stats

It's March which means we will inevitably be talking about the Bulldogs. I'll have more on these guys soon, but they can win a few games if things break right.

Summit: North Dakota St.

Roster / Stats

I'll have more details in the next day or two, but the Bison are live 'dogs with a shot at the Sweet 16. 

Northeast: Mt. St. Mary's

Roster / Stats

Don't waste your time here.

Horizon: Milwaukee

Roster / Stats

Or here.

Clinched on Wednesday, March 12th-

Patriot: American

Roster / Stats
The Eagles have three double-digit scorers and play some solid D, but the talent level just doesn't seem to be there. I won't discount them entirely because they also have a 6'10" player, Tony Wroblicky, that hits the glass a bit.