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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

NCAA Tournament Review/Preview: Tu More to New Orleans...


I think I've finally come up with a good analogy for describing the NCAA Tournament. One that I feel is particularly appropriate when describing the opening weekend. Check it out. The NCAA Tournament: It's like a Vegas hooker. It takes your money, brings you on a wild ride, then leaves you half a man and completely questioning your value system. Oh, and there's a good possibility that both could leave you with inexplicable ass pain...

Not bad, right? Yeah, and neither was my attempt at helping you navigate your way through the first two rounds. Naturally, I didn't take nearly enough of my own advice, but that doesn't mean all has already been lost. Let's take a look at what's gone down and what's still to come in what I like to call, the review/preview. It's a 2 birds with 1 stone type of deal, and I even manage to avoid talking about Peyton Manning. You're gonna love it more than Tim Tebow loves Jesus...

Enjoy...


EAST
Kris Joseph could prove a vital half court weapon for the Orange
in helping to combat the Badgers slow pace.
(1) Syracuse vs (4) Wisconsin

Probably the least tested team in the field up to this point, the Orange find themselves in the Sweet 16 courtesy of sloppy win over UNC Asheville and decent win over an undermanned Kansas St.. Now, they'll actually need to play a full and talented Wisconsin team if they want to keep dancin' towards New Orleans. The Badgers will try to slow Syracuse down, and should (like every team) give the Orange a tough time on the glass. That's what this match up is really all about. Pace. If Jim Boeheim can get his boys out and running, feeding off turnovers and finishing on the break, then the Orange should move on. But if this is a game that's destined to end with two scores in the 50's, then it will likely be Bo Ryan and friends that will be advancing. I've still got the undermanned Orange taking this one down, led by the strong guard play of Dion Waiters and Scoop Jardine, but it won't be pretty. That's Wisconsin's style, and win lose or draw, they'll impose enough of their will to make this, at times, a tough one to watch...


(2) Ohio St. vs (6) Cincinnati

Two of the 4 teams from Ohio square off in the other half of the Boston bracket, and neither took a particularly entertaining journey to arrive there. Much like I said about the bottom of the MIDWEST bracket before the tournament started, the bottom half of the EAST was filled with lots of similar and like-styled teams. So no matter what the match up would be in this round of 16, the style of game to be played was more or less already set in stone. A half court rock fight with the more physical team walking away with the win. And that's exactly what this should be. Don't get me wrong, both Ohio St. (Craft, Buford) and the Ill Natty (Wright, Dixon, Kilpatrick) have plenty of perimeter players that may indeed fill it up, but it will be the battle on the interior between Jared Sullinger and Yancy Gates that should determine which of these squads lives to see another day. My money is still on the Buckeyes, because they're just too well rounded to be ignored, but if Gates can get Sullinger off the floor with some early fouls, then Cincy might be able to even the playing field just enough to put themselves in position for the unlikely win. They're playing their best ball of the season, right now, which cannot be ignored, but their intrastate rivals are just too talented, and much like the delicious cream, that talent should help them rise right to the top...

WEST
With Kendall Marshall down, this becomes the most dangerous
1-2 punch left in the bracket.
(1) Michigan St. vs (4) Louisville

So Tom Izzo and Michigan St. are back in the Sweet 16. Yawn. That's just what they do, and in doing so this year, Draymond Green and company have looked as impressive as any other team in the field. Louisville is also one of the hotter teams in the country, carrying the momentum from their Big East Tournament title and playing the brand of uptempo offense and hard nosed defense that in the pre season had them labeled as one of the teams to watch. Well, we're watchin' 'em now, and they've put themselves in a great position to continue their run just a little further...

Much like the Cincy/OSU match up, this is a game that will be decided not by the scoring that's to be done on the outside, but the dirty work that's to be done on the inside. MSU is averaging better than 40 points per game through the first weekend, mostly thanks to the versatile play of Green, and if Pitino and crew hope to live to see another day, Gorgui Dieng and Chane Behanan will have to neutralize Sparty's inside play, and make this game all about the outside shooting. That's a game, with Peyton Siva, Kyle Kuric and Russ Smith, that the Cardinals can win, it will just be a lot tougher than I just made it sound for them to actually force that style of play. I give the slight edge to MSU, but make no mistake, between the coaching legends involved and the versatility of so many of the players, this could easily end up becoming one of the tournament's most entertaining games...


(3) Marquette vs (7) Florida

Florida is here, more or less, because Missouri couldn't handle a #15, and Marquette is here because, well, because they're still one of the best teams in the country. That's not to say Florida is undeserving and that Marquette should walk all over them, it's just stating what I believe are a couple of facts...

The key in this one, like so many games of contrasting styles, will be for Florida to force the smaller Eagles into a lot of half court sets, and avoid letting scorers Darius Johnson-Odom and Jae Crowder run wild on them. That's where Marquette thrives, running up and down, but they can be taken advantage of on the inside, with the Gators having just the tools to get that done. The question for Billy Donovan's club will be if bigs like Patric Young and Kyle Murphy actually play like the size that they are. If they get drawn into playing on the perimeter, it will not only allow Marquette to run, but it will also minimize the critical advantage that Florida should have on the glass...

I admire how Florida has sort of put things together here down the stretch and made a great attempt at salvaging their season, but Marquette is a great team that's built for March, and it's their strong guard play that should go a long way towards garnering them a second game in the Regionals, and a shot at cutting down the nets...

MIDWEST
From MVP to MIA? There's a lot riding on Kendall Marshall's wrist...
(1) North Carolina vs (13) Ohio

You know you've got a college basketball problem when you care more about the health of Kendall Marshall than you do about the health of pretty much everyone you actually know in real life. But, here we are. I have a college basketball problem. Thankfully, I've long since come to grips with it, so we can move on...

It is a shame though, that Marshall broke his wrist and had to have emergency surgery, because through the first two rounds not only were the Tar Heels the most impressive team, but Marshall was their most impressive player. Already a world class distributor, the sophomore was finally starting to score, and that lethal combination was proving unstoppable. Can UNC beat Ohio without him? Sure. I mean, sorry Ohio, nice run and all, but neither of your wins have been all that impressive. The real question for The Tar Heels, is can Marshall play, and can he be effective. If he can, they can still win it all. Hell, they were favorites in my eyes until he went down. But if he can't, and that's really the most likely scenario, I wouldn't count on the Tar Heels any further than the round of 8. It's a damn shame, too. Kid was head and shoulders leading the race for Tournament MVP, and he gets cut down. Oh well, at least he's just a sophomore. Guess that can serve as some sort of silver lining. Although not for anyone in the ACC. This kid is just getting started...


(2) Kansas vs (11) NC State

Their #11 seed makes them look out of place, but seeing as they opened their 6/11 game as a 3 point favorite over 6th seeded San Diego St., not to many people should be surprised to see the Wolfpack still hanging around. And those that witnessed their run to the ACC title game are even less surprised. Sophomore CJ Leslie has been electric with his play in the paint on both ends of the floor, and that combined with his team's efficiency from behind the arc (10/24 42%) has made for a tough combination for NC State's opponents to handle. They're a little prone to turning the ball over (20 in 2 games), which is an area where Kansas will try to take advantage, but barring that, Bill Self and the Jayhawks should have their hands full for the full 40 minutes...

And not to merely brush over Kansas and their nice little run, but wins over Detroit and Purdue didn't tell you anything you didn't already know about this year's Jayhawks. When Robinson and Taylor lead the way (26 points on 12/21 vs Detroit) Kansas is great, but when that duo struggles (21 points on 6/23 vs Purdue), the Jayhawks can be easily beaten. As Bob Hummel tried so desperately to prove, and very nearly pulled off. So that serve as your barometer. If those two are on, then NC State should be in trouble. IF they're neutralized? The Wolfpaack could be dancing right into an ACC rematch with a dinged up UNC...

The freaking tournament. It's potential scenarios like these that make you just sit back, scratch your head, and marvel at this wondrous machine and the sheer awesomeness that it so regularly creates...

SOUTH
Deja vu? Yeah, I wouldn't bet on it...
(1) Kentucky vs (4) Indiana

There's one major difference between this game, and the one during the regular season in which Indiana handed Kentucky their one and only regular season loss. This game won't be played in Bloomington, Indiana...

Yep, I said all year that was the deciding factor in Indiana winning that game, and seeing as the game won't be being played on their home floor, I give them little chance of knocking off the best team in the land for the second time this season. Kentucky is still the most talented team in the tournament, and while they haven't exactly lit the world on fire through the first two rounds, they haven't done anything to make you question their readiness, either. I give props to Indiana, whom I didn't think would even make it this far, but their ride ends here. Tom Crean may have knocked off #1 Kentucky on his first trip to a New Orleans Final Four in 2003, but I'd put the chances at slim and none that he's able to turn the trick a second time and pull off what would be the biggest upset of the tournament to date...

Dwayne Wade's not walkin' through that door, friends. Unless he's there to see Anthony Davis...

My name is Tu, even though I make 3's. And no,
I never went to Baylor...
(3) Baylor vs (10) Xavier

Earlier in the season I had a friend, who shall remain "Anonymous", that called me asking my advice on betting the upcoming Baylor game. I was confused, because I was under the impression that this friend despised Baylor, and when he mentioned the fact that he wanted to bet because he heard Tu Holloway was coming back for Baylor, my confusion deepened. Needless to say I set him straight and the bet was off, but I've also never let him forget it. Actually, I probably remind him of it about once or twice a week. That's why, not only doesn't this match up surprise me, but I'm 100% positive that Tu Holloway is going to go off, and the Xavier Musketeers are going to win this game. Sure, the longer, more talented and more athletic Bears are a terrible match up, but sometimes you have to ignore what you can actually see and/or refuse to ignore all the signals that are being sent out through the mysterious and magical region known as the college basketball ether. It's a mysterious place, with no earthly rules, and I believe it's from here that Xavier will harvest the sketchy energy they need to extend their stay in Atlanta...

...until they get clobbered by the Cats. I didn't receive any magical signals about that one...

(pink sign) WE ARE RIDICULOUS LEHIGH! Nice.
I guess in hindsight it was more of a preview than a review, but in all honesty, I didn't feel there was that much to review. Mizzou and Duke getting clipped? Yeah, those were big upsets, but I'm not exactly trying to break them down. Those teams lost because they played like ass. End of story. And in terms of a favorite, I still like Kentucky to take it down, with MSU and UNC waiting in the wings. As for the tournament on the whole, I'd give it a B/B+ right now if I were grading it on entertainment value. A much lower grade than you'd expect with those two #2's goin down, but with the lack of buzzer beating type activity, it's one I feel is very appropriate. Either way, it's been a great tournament, and I fully expect it to only get better from here on out. Hope all of you have been enjoying it, as well, and I hope that next we speak, we'll be ready to recap one of the best weekend's in the history of college basketball...

And in failing that, we'll continue talking about hookers...

Have a great week, everyone, and LET'S GO ORANGE!


Teddy Williams...
100...

#$>

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

What a sweet, sweet Lehigh sign. And major major props to whoever's apartment that is, bc they are reppin the R2D2 air conditioner. Xavier final 4???? TUUUUUUUUUU..KE?

Brett Ferruccio said...

That is a sweet apartment. And I get the feeling that are some really cool Weezy posters in the room that we can't even see.

FREE HOLLOWEEZY!

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