Most Outstanding Player – Josh Hart, Villanova
Hart returned to college with the goal of helping his NBA stock and defending their national championship – and he’s absolutely delivered this far. Hart is the lifeblood of the nation’s best team, paying 84% of his teams minutes while shooting 65% from 2 and 38% from 3. His 37 point performance against Notre Dame in Newark included a 14-14 FT performance to go along with 11 rebounds. Take him off Villanova and they quickly fall into the mix with the rest of the Big East.
Most Outstanding Coach – Leonard Hamilton, Florida State
Florida State was long labeled as a team that played suffocating defense while offensive talent went to waste and the team would fight for tournament bids on a yearly basis. There was a large contingent of Florida State fans last season who were calling for Hamilton’s job after he failed to make the tournament with hyped freshmen Dwayne Bacon and Malik Beasly joining the team. This year’s team has not wasted an ounce of talent. With Beasly off to the pros, Hamilton has balanced a star freshman Jonahthan Isaac with the experience of Bacon and Xavier Rathan-Mayes with a slew of role players to find a winning formula.
Speaking of role players, that’s been where Hamilton has really done an amazing job this season. The Seminoles go an incredible 12 players deep, wearing teams with shorter benches down and routinely taking control of games in the last 10 minutes. All the sudden, pundits are calling the Seminoles Final Four contenders. Not to bad for a team without a player with NCAA tournament experience.
Mid-Season All-American Team
G: Josh Hart, Villanova
G: Malik Monk, Kentucky
F: Lonzo Ball, UCLA
F: Johnathan Motley, Baylor
C: Jock Landale, Saint Mary’s
Most Surprising Team – Baylor
Baylor was barley on anybody’s radar before they knocked off Oregon at home in the season opening week. After they completed a monster comeback to beat Louisville for the Battle 4 Atlantis title Thanksgiving weekend, everyone noticed. They climbed all the way to #1 in all the major rankings, which was inevitably met with a quick demise as West Virginia ran them out of the gym last night. They’re still contenders in the Big 12 and major players for a 1-seed – a far cry from the 8/9 season they were thought to be pre-season.
Most Disappointing Team – Michigan State
Injuries have definitely beset Tom Izzo’s team, but their struggles seem to far surpass that. Losses to Northeastern and Penn State, along with a narrow escape at home to Florida Gulf Coast has left the Spartans on the outside of the field looking in currently. They have plenty of opportunities to play themselves back in, but they need to get with it before they continue to dig their hole any deeper than it already it.