Friday, March 13, 2009

College Basketball Observations

Some quick hit thoughts from the conference tournament action so far. UPDATED Sunday at 5:00.
  • Missouri is not exceptionally talented and does not have many great shooters, but Mike Anderson has his team giving great effort and playing great basketball. The Tigers execute the press better than any team I have seen this year.
  • Missouri showed that they are for real by winning the Big 12 tournament and may even sneak out a 2 seed. They may be a threat to make the elite eight instead of the sweet sixteen like I wrote earlier.
  • Kansas' loss to Baylor most likely eliminates them from consideration for a number two seed. I think they will probably end up with a 3 or 4. Oklahoma lost any chance of a one seed with their loss to Oklahoma State, and also may be pushed out of the last two seed (Memphis, Wake Forest, Michigan State are my other 2 seeds). I think it will be a competition between Oklahoma, Duke, and Mizzou (if they win the Big 12 tournament).
  • Uconn may have actually benefitted by losing the 6OT epic last night, as they will get a chance to rest. If they had won last night and made it to the Big East final, I think they would be at serious risk of coming out flat early in the NCAA tournament. Additionally, Connecticut showed a toughness absent the past couple years that I think will carry them to the Final Four.
  • Louisville should get a #1 seed and once again Rick Pitino has his club playing great basketball in March after a slow start to the season. Last year UNC had to put forth a great effort to beat them in the elite eight, and Louisville should make the final four.
  • Virginia Tech has the worst Karma in the NCAA, and are headed to the NIT after a second year of losing to UNC in the last minutes of the ACC tournament. UNC showed a great amount of character to pull off the win against a desperate team without their most valueable player (Ty Lawson). While Tyler Hansbrough is the best player on UNC (as he proved with a 28 point effort), Lawson's court leadership and ability to score makes him the most valuable player for UNC.
  • Memphis could possibly end up ranked #1 in Monday's poll and still be denied a one seed. While this seems like an injustice, I reall cannot convice myself that Memphis is better than Carolina, Connecticut, Pittsburgh, or Louisville.
  • Say Hello to the NIT Kentucky. The loss to LSU should cement a bid to the Not Invited Tournament for the Wildcats. While this honor is dubious, it should actually help Kentucky keep a little more space between them and UNC on the all-time wins list.
  • I was right about FSU beating UNC, but dead wrong about Wake. Wake clearly peaked too early and will make it no further than the Sweet 16. They are a young talented team like UConn was the past couple years whose lack of experience is catching up to them. Look for them to be a title contender next year if Teague and Aminou return. Duke on the other hand showed a clutchness missing the past few years and may even be a final four contender if they get a good draw. As for UNC they are still the best team in the nation with Lawson (who should be fine by Thursday), but without him they can't make it past the second weekend.
  • My Elite Eight Right now look like this:
  1. Carolina- get a pass for losing without Lawson with very little to gain
  2. Louisville- see above for thoughts on how they are playing.
  3. Pittsburgh- also had little to gain with a #1 seed already locked up
  4. UConn- Gave a great effort in the 6OT game, still may not have the character to win it all
  5. Memphis- I know they will be a #1 seed, but I can't see them making it past the elite eight.
  6. Duke- suddenly playing good basketball again and could make a run at the final four
  7. Missouri- can probably beat the middle of the road teams with tenacious defense before falling to superior talent in the elite 8
  8. Kansas- Michigan State is not impressive, Oklahoma is fading fast. Kansas gets the spot partly due to respect from las year, and partly because they have one of the best guard-big men combos in the game.

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