- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Well, the Navy lacrosse team looked great in the third quarter of its 10 a.m. game against Canisius today. Wait? The NCAA basketball tournament is about to start? And Maryland’s in it after a two-year hiatus? Guess the lax talk will have to wait a few weeks.

It will come, but for now the talk will remain on college hoops for the foreseeable future. And the first subject of note for the postseason is simple: What does it take to win a championship?

Well, there had better be a point guard who isn’t kindly referred to as “serviceable.” And some luck. And no poor games. And at least three capable scoring options.

It’s always amusing to hear about the need for a star player. Maybe an NBA-caliber player. But not a star player, a transcendent, luminous athlete who does everything to make up for his teammates’ deficiencies enough to win a title.

While Carmelo Anthony did a bit of everything for Syracuse in 2003, he still had help. The last guy to truly carry a team to a championship was Danny Manning with 1988 Kansas.

Balance, though, is vital. Florida’s championship team last year had five players average double figures. No other team in the field had that luxury. And while that is an exceptionally small sample size, it wouldn’t be a stretch to feel comfortable taking the seven teams with five players averaging at least 9.0 points and let everyone else have the field.

There’s Florida, with four in double figures and Lee Humphrey at 9.9. At Kansas, freshman Sherron Collins averages 9.6 points while four starters score at least 10 points a night. And Maryland is in that company as well; Greivis Vasquez checks in at 9.9 points.

Oregon is the only team in the field with five double-figures scorers on a nightly basis, and that distribution makes the Ducks a difficult team to prepare for (there’s also a lot of ‘06 Villanova in Oregon, which deploys four guards on a regular basis).

Two of the other teams with five 9.0+ scorers have a shot at a win or two (Xavier and Arizona), while the third (North Texas) won’t remain beyond the first round. So while everyone takes chic pick Georgetown or Grandpa Basketball’s Ohio State squad, the smart money is on Kansas or Florida to win it all.

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