- Duke was exposed for what they are, a talented outside shooting team with very few other scoring options. Their horrible shooting performance was partially due to tough defense by Villanova, but ultimately it will be very hard for Duke to win enough games in a row against quality opponents without any threat from down low. Luckily for the dookies, Gerald Henderson and Kyle Singler's horrid performance probably means those two will be returning, and while he won't be able to play next year, picking up Seth Curry will ensure that the Duke backcourt is solid for years to come. The dynamic of Curry with Duke will be very interesting from a fans perspective. His brother was one of the most beloved players in the NCAA tournament last year, but he may end up being another hated Dookie in tournaments to come.
- Pittsburgh did finally make it past the sweet sixteen by squeaking past Xavier partially due to the late game heroics of talented (and debatably fat) point guard Levance Fields. However they watched their chances disappear at the hands of Scottie Reynolds of Villanova. Pittsburgh was a talented team, but they never looked comfortable during the tournament. Villanova looked impressive in this win and their domination of Duke and their talented quartet of guards should be an interesting matchup against UNC.
- While Mizzou fell to a vastly more talented Uconn team, the Tigers have to feel great about their performance in the tournament. They hung an unthinkable 102 points on a very athletic and talented Memphis team, then pushed Uconn to the brink before falling by only seven points. Demare Carroll is one of the most passionate and hard working players in college basketball and Mike Anderson's 40 minutes of Hell system is a work of art that will wear out and break down all but the most talented and athletic teams in the nation.
- Michigan State pulled out a gutsy win against Kansas on friday, then completely took a talented Louisville team out of their element to make it to Detroit. I admit that after the 35 point beatdown UNC put on MSU earlier this year in Detroit, I didn't think they would go too far in the tournament. But Tom Izzo has his team playing best when it matters, and Uconn better come prepared when facing the Spartans in what will essentially be a home game for Michigan State.
- Blake Griffin is every bit the player of the year and should be a dangerous force in the NBA next year should he choose to enter the draft. That said Griffin was not enough to carry Oklahoma to a final four. The Sooners took down Syracuse because Crocker put up 28 points to complement Griffin. When the Sooner guards went cold from 3, Griffin couldn't single handedly keep up with the UNC scoring machine.
- Aside from the two #1 seeds falling to a 2 and a 3, this tournament has been almost devoid of upsets. The two "cinderellas" in the elite 8, Purdue and Arizona were both overmatched by more talented teams. However I think next year will be much more unpredictable as many of the top teams have upperclassman that will be gone next year, and many of the talented underclassman will also be off the the NBA. Very young teams like Memphis (who has the #2 and #3 recruits next year and is also in the running for #1) and UNC (who has several blue chip recruits) will have a chance to fight though the tournament.
- Tyler Hansbrough was outperformed by Griffin in the much hyped showdown of last years POY vs this year's presumptive winner. Hansbrough will not be a dominant force in the NBA and will likely have to find a niche as a 6th or 7th man. That said Hansbrough has been one of the most dominant players in college basketball and holds the ACC scoring record along with the NCAA record for most free throws made. While he may draw comparisons to Beaker from the muppets in appearance and is not the most well spoken player in UNC history his career achievements add to an already stellar UNC legacy.
- The questions about Lawson's toe may now finally be put to rest as he produced another impressive performance against OU just 48 hours after playing on the toe against Gonzaga. The Tar Heels utterly dominated a talented Gonzaga team and provided too much scoring and balance for Blake Griffin to deal with on his own. While UNC still will have momentary lapses in concentration, and Roy Willams will disrupt momentum by subbing too often from time to time, the Tar Heels look to be the best team in the final four and have a great chance of cutting down the nets in Detriot.
- Check back later in the week for a preview of the final four matchups.
Sunday, March 29, 2009
Wrapping up the second weekend
A largely unexciting sweet sixteen was followed by a much more exciting Elite Eight this weekend, leading into the Final Four in Detroit next weekend. Some thoughts on this weekend's action.