Sunday Elite 8 predictions

Went 2-0 today, much to my dismay since the Pitt loss pretty much took me out of a high-money pool I was leading. Hopefully I’ll go zero for two today if you catch my drift.

Midwest Regional Final
No. 2 Michigan State vs. No. 1 Louisville
The Spartans pulled out their bag of tricks to get past defending-champion Kansas on Friday, as point guard Kalin Lucas made a tough and-1 leaner to break a 62-62 tie. If Michigan State hopes to pull the upset, Lucas will have to have a big game, as point guard is one of the few positions that the Spartans have a personnel advantage over the Cardinals.
MSU will also have to slow the Louisville press-and-run attack quite a bit. The Cardinals played their best game of the tournament – and perhaps the best game of any team in the tourney – in killing Arizona 103-64. They are deep, quick, talented and motivated. If they force MSU into turnovers – an occasional bugaboo for the Spartans – the Cards win this going away.
Pick: Louisville

South Regional Final
No. 2 Oklahoma vs. No. 1 North Carolina
Just in case anyone was wondering if Blake Griffin was worthy of being the No. 1 pick in this summer’s NBA Draft, Griffin has gone for roughly 30 points per game in his first three games. He’s going to have to continue that type of production against the Tar Heels, who can score against and with anyone in the nation.
However, the key may be how the Griffins – Blake and older brother Taylor – deal with Hansbrough inside. They have the athletic advantage over the bullish Tar Heel senior and if they can frustrate him, they can keep UNC based on the perimeter. That, plus big performances from guards Willie Warren and Tony Crocker, would give the Sooners a chance. But I don’t see it.
Pick: North Carolina

Signing Day Breakdown

Here is the complete breakdown of Division I-A and Division I-AA signees per high school and per college.

By High School:
1. Upland 4; 2 tie. Cajon 3; Colony 3; 4 tie. Arroyo Valley 2; Diamond Ranch 2; Etiwanda 2; Los Osos 2; Rancho Cucamonga 2; Redlands 2; Redlands East Valley 2; 11 tie. Aquinas 1; Ayala 1; Bloomington 1; Colton 1; Diamond Bar 1; Eisenhower 1; Kaiser 1; Norco 1; Pomona 1; Roosevelt 1; San Bernardino 1; San Dimas 1; Yucaipa 1.

Obviously Upland was the big winner individually, especially since they had two Pac-10 guys (Josh Nunes and Osahon Irabor) and a Big Ten guy (Davion Fleming). But the city of San Bernardino had seven players (Aarein Booker, Chris Bradford, Daron Griffin, Walter Kazee, Michael Philipp, Marlon Pollard and J.P. Ragan) sign, with Colton’s Nat Berhe giving the SAL another signee.

By University
1. UCLA 5; 2 tie. Oregon State 3; San Diego State 3; 4 tie. Fresno State 2; Idaho 2; New Mexico State 2; Northwestern 2; 8 tie. Air Force 1; Arizona State 1; Cal Poly SLO 1; Colorado State 1; Columbia 1; Louisville 1; Montana 1; Navy 1; New Mexico 1; Northern Arizona 1; South Florida 1; Southern Utah 1; Stanford 1; SUNY Stony Brook 1; UNLV 1; Utah 1; UTEP 1; Washington State 1.

A couple things stand out to me. The first one is the dominance of UCLA. Rick Neuheisel seems to recognize the growth of the Inland Empire and made great efforts out here, signing Marlon Pollard, Jayson Allmond, Richard Brehaut, Jared Koster and Brandon Sermons. San Diego State, who “hasn’t been out here in years” according to Cajon coach Kim Battin seems to be making an IE effort under new coach Brady Hoke. Oregon State had a big year, while Fresno State continues its steady haul of local talent.

A couple of oddities exist as you go further. One is Northwestern, which picked off Fleming and Arby Fields from the Baseline League despite its location in suburban Chicago. Another is SUNY Stony Brook, who signed Taj Johnson from Upland this year, took Dominick Reyes from Hesperia last year and was in on Daron Griffin. Seems like this Long Island school is a player.

Also, look out for New Mexico State and Eastern Michigan in the future. The Aggies are now coached by former UCLA defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker – who is well-versed in the area – while Eastern Michigan is now being coached by Ganesha graduate Ron English. English recruited Southern California well for Michigan while on Lloyd Carr’s staff and pulled Titus Teague from Pomona for Louisville while serving as defensive coordinator there this past season. Don’t be surprised if the Eagles start coming up in conversation among 2010 recruits.