TSN's Jack Armstrong offers his thoughts on the impressive run of the Phoenix Suns, the absence of Patrick Patterson in the Toronto Raptors' lineup, and the upcoming mayhem of NCAA March Madness.
1. PHOENIX SUNS: Second time this year I've seen them in person and watched them countless other times on TV. Quite impressed with this squad. Ten games over .500 in the brutal Western Conference. Who would have thought that in the Fall? Here's the amazing thing - they've got a very favourable salary cap situation as well as three first-round picks and a second-round selection in this year's deep draft. Long term it really puts them in a nice situation bringing players into a winning and competitive environment internally where talented young picks will have to 'earn' their minutes rather than having them handed to them as it happens on lousy teams. Good for the growth of the franchise.
2. PATRICK PATTERSON (Raptors): Even though his team is 3-2 without him and lost both games by less than 10 points, you can clearly see that they miss him big-time. His ability to shoot the three, rebound, defend on the perimeter and in the post and overall smart play is really missed. The second unit was absolutely dominated yesterday by the Suns and when you're missing one of your main focal points of your second unit you'll get exposed some days. Yesterday was one of them.
3. CANADIANS IN THE NCAA'S: They'll be a bunch of them to watch and we'll have it covered on TSN starting on Thursday. Really cool to see some of the elite teams having young Canadian players who have vital roles. The game keeps growing and the stories get better.
4. NCAA FINAL FOUR & CHAMPS: My Picks for the Final Four are: Florida, Duke, Oklahoma and Virginia. My Pick for the champs is: Florida.
5. A FEW NCAA LOWER SEEDS THAT CAN WIN A 1ST ROUND GAME : Harvard, St. Joseph's, Providence, Nebraska, Oklahoma State and Arizona State. Always fun to see who will be this year's 'Cinderella' which makes the tournament really special. Have fun and enjoy the games! I can't wait!