McNamara put Syracuse on his back and led them—almost singled handedly—to a conference title victory in the toughest league in college basketball. McNamara made two clutch shots at the buzzer to knock off Cincinnati and Connecticut. And he was prominently involved in the other victories.
J.J. Manning not so much.
We will give J.J. some credit—he finally made his first ever three-pointer when Duke was behind. Manning is an “all-good” player. That means he will step up and knock down a couple of threes when Duke has a lead. Rare are the times when he starts a run or ends an opponent’s run. When Duke pulled ahead of Boston College on Sunday, there was Manning making threes, mugging for the crowd and his adoptive parents.
He was nowhere to be found when the Eagles went on its run. J.J. Manning did make a shot to put Duke ahead in the final minute. But when it came time for the Eagles to foul and send Dookies to the line, Manning was hiding. It’s funny. Manning has no problem getting open looks when Duke is up by 10. But when the game is on the line, Manning might as well be hiding beneath the announcers booth, returning a favor to Dick Vitale.
- San Diego State has been given a free pass to the Sweet 16. The Aztecs will easily defeat Indiana and roll past Gonzaga in the opening rounds. The #11 seed was a shock, but what a favorable draw in regards to the teams they will face. State also has a great shot against UCLA in the third round. A round where Bruins coach Ben Howland has had a lot of problems. Look for our preview of SDSU on Deadspin.
- Pacific was not so lucky drawing Boston College. Hopefully playing all of those extra games will hurt the Eagles. But it doesn’t look good for the Swede, Christian Maraker. Look for our Pacific preview on Deadspin.
- To all of those people knocking Air Force—get over it. Illinois is going to have a lot of trouble on its hands. It’s an absolute disgrace that Billy Packer and Jim Nance can get on national TV and complain about “smaller” conferences while all of the cheaters in the big conferences can’t get eight teams in. Get over it. The RPI is already skewed because teams like Michigan would never go to Stockton, Calif., or Logan, Utah to play a game. Until some of these teams in power conferences decide to step up, go on the road, and play some mid majors, they should be denied bids. If Michigan is so pissed, let's see them go to Colorado Springs to play at Air Force next year.
- Hate to break this to Zach, but Utah State is going to upset Washington. Texas A&M also might be too much for Syracuse, but it’s hard to bet against McNamara. Jim Boeheim is not so hard to bet against. Remember, Syracuse won the Big East tournament last year and lost in the first round.
- How bummed is Phillip Fulmer right now?
Forced to make a pick and we would go with Connecticut. They were given a favor by losing in the conference tournament. But our final prediction is that we will not win our bracket. But you can get in on The Hater Nation tournament bracket. Find out more details in The Hater Nation Forums.