Q: WHO IS THE NEXT LOUISVILLE?
Dark horse Final Four pick that could easily get knocked out in the first round.
A: Florida State
I have to wonder if the Seminoles, as Bill Walton once said on national TV, “shot their wad” in the ACC Tournament. Emotional, hard-fought, down-to-wire wins over Duke and North Carolina back-to-back are not only physically draining, but also a potentially overwhelming thrill for any ACC team who has that built-in underdog mentality whenever the Tobacco Road royal families are on the court.
With an ACC title in hand, a lot of people are starting to look at FSU as a sleeper Final Four squad – Dick Vitale picked them to make it to New Orleans following the Selection Show – thanks to a solid defense and junior guard Michael Snaer (14.5 ppg).
The challenge for Leonard Hamilton’s staff and players will be maintaining that conference tourney momentum without dwelling on what happened last week. Because first-round opponent St. Bonaventure is no 14-seed pushover, having knocked off St. Joe’s, UMass and Xavier in the A-10 Tournament and boasting a future NBA player in power forward Andrew Nicholson.
Q: WHO IS THE NEXT KENNETH FARIED?
Mid-major player that will become a household name, and later, crack an NBA rotation.
A: Andrew Nicholson, PF, St. Bonaventure
The reigning A-10 Player of the Year (and one of the five under-the-radar players we proclaimed having some serious skill) stamped 26 points, 14 boards and eight blocks on Xavier in the conference title game. Measuring 6-9 and 225 pounds and sans dreads, Nicholson isn’t the YouTube hit-making athlete or personality that Faried was last year for Morehead State and is now for the Nuggets, but he’s a skilled post player whom Xavier coach Chris Mack called “a poor man’s Tim Duncan.” He’ll be making noise in the NBA by this time next year.
Q: WHO IS THE NEXT JAMIE SKEEN?
Mid-major player that will become a household name, then vanish into overseas pro obscurity.
A: Carlon Brown, Colorado
There’s a good chance that Brown, who averaged 15.8 points and 2.3 steals in the Pac-12 Tournament on his way to tourney MVP honors, will do something Vince Carter-like before the Buffaloes are done in the Dance. Or at least J.R. Smith-like. The 6-5 wing is an aggressive slasher who will also get out in transition and put a hurting on the rim.
After that? Brown is ranked 73rd among NCAA seniors by DraftExpress.com. And you know NBA teams are always itching to get more four-year college players on their roster. Ain’t that right, David Lighty?