Tag Archives: Final Four

DTP Bracket Challenge: The Champ is Here

Congrats to Tom, who is the only smart person in the group and picked UNC.  Tom picked 13 out the Sweet Sixteen, 6 out of the Elite Eight, 2 of the Final Four and UNC and Louisville in the Championship.  It was not close.

But Tom went with what he knew and Vincent is kicking himself – He is a big UNC guy.  My wife finished 2nd even though she picked Duke to win the title.  Katie had 12 out of 16, 6 out of 8, 2 out of 4, but no one in the final.  Strong showing either way.

Thanks for playing and we will see you all next March.

Rank Team Name Score Correct Best Score Best Correct Champion
1 Tom 85 45 85 45 North Carolina (129)
2 Katie 75 45 75 45 Duke (151)
3 Vincent 74 43 74 43 Pittsburgh (159)
4 Steve 74 44 74 44 Connecticut (141)
5 Eric 69 44 69 44 Pittsburgh (135)
6 Daniel 68 46 68 46 Louisville (153)
7 Matt 67 41 67 41 Louisville (163)
8 Anna 56 35 56 35 Louisville (162)

Congratulations to North Carolina: Upper Classmen Win

North CarolinaIt was a great performance and Roy Williams has done it again.  Congrats UNC.

In one of the most dominating championship games I can remember, North Carolina completed the mission and proved everyone right – UNC is the best team in the country.

As a basketball fan that has been very critical of Tyler Hansbrough, I must say that I was happy to see a TEAM led by upper clasmen who came back from testing the NBA waters and was able to finish the job.

Like Kansas, Florida, UNC in 2005 and UConn before, UNC had veteran leadership at every position and off the bench.  It proves home the point that you need upperclassmen to win a championship. 

Since the 1997 Arizona team that had a freshmen Mike Bibby running the point (still had Michael Dickerson and Miles Simon) and with the 2003 Syracuse team that was lead by Carmelo Anthony, Hakim Warrick and Gerry McNamara as an exception, every championship team has had strong leadership from juniors and seniors.

Look at the teams:

  1. 1998 – Kentucky:  Jeff Shepard, Nazr Mohammad, Scott Padgett, Wayne Turner, Heshimu Evans, and Cameron Mills
  2. 1999 – UConn:  Rip Hamilton, Jake Voskuhl, Kevin Freeman, and Ricky Moore
  3. 2000 – Michigan State:  Mateen Cleaves, Morris Peterson, Charlie Bell, and AJ Granger
  4. 2001 – Duke:  Shane Battier and Nate James
  5. 2002 – Maryland:  Juan Dixon, Lonny Baxter, Byraon Mouton, Steve Blake, and Drew Nicholas
  6. 2003 – Syracuse:  Kueth Duany
  7. 2004 – UConn:  Ben Gordon, Emeka Okafor, and Taliek Brown
  8. 2005 – UNC:  Raymond Felton, Sean May, Rashad McCants, Jawad Williams, Jackie Manuel, Melvin Scott, and David NoelTyler Hansbrough
  9. 2006 – Florida:  This is a slight expection to the rule, the leaders were sophomores, Al Horford, Jokin Noah, Turean Green and Corey Brewer.  But you still had Lee Humpry and Chris Richards play key roles.
  10. 2007 – Florida:  See above.  Juniors and Seniors this season.
  11. 2008 – Kansas:  Mario Chalmers, Darnell Jackson, Sasha Kuhn, Russell Robinson, and Brandon Rush. 
  12. 2009 – UNC:  Tyler Hansbrough, Ty Lawson, Wayne Ellington, Danny Green,  and Bobby Fraser                      *Marcus Ginyard played only three games due to injury and will apply for a medical reshirt. 

While “one-and-done” maybe the fade, the teams with the titles have juniors and seniors on their rosters.  That last sentence, is a double edge sword for coaches.  Do you recruit the top tier recruits who may leave after on year?  Or do you search for the four player who has the potential to get better every year?

This is where Roy Williams has a leg up on the the rest of the country.  As a freshmen committing to UNC, you know that the chance to get enough minutes to get looks from NBA scouts if tough.  So you come back. 

UNC will reload next season and should be competing again for an ACC title, but the young Tar Heel may struggle in certain situations.  Williams will look to relatively “new” players to lead the powder blue nation in tough games.

Either way, this team was impressive.

Michigan State over UConn

MSU Over UConnraymar-morgan

I must give credit where credit is due.  First, to Raymar Morgan who played the type of game the Spartans needed to get by UConn.  Morgan played a total of thirty minutes and had 18 points, 9 rebounds and five steals.  He was able to contribute because he was aggressive, but managed to stay out of foul trouble.

Second, to Tom Izzo who did it again.  I don’t think be people are going to over look or underestimate him any more.  He always has his team prepared and playing their best basketball when the games count the most.

Michigan was aggressive on both ends of the court and UConn was not able to get many easy shots.  The Huskies back court players shot 8-for-29 from the field and struggle to get any offensive going until the last minutes of the game.

Three key stats tat tell the whole story.

  • Assist totals for the game. UConn: 8, MSU: 18.
  • Steal totals for the game.  UConn 5, MSU: 11.
  • While UConn went to the foul-line 33 times (13 more times then MSU), they only managed to shot 63.6%

It seemed as though UConn had forgot that they had a massive height advantage on the post and was content to force one-on-one action that rarely lead to a made field goal.kalin-lucas

Michigan State did not shot a great deal better, they did get most of their shots in half court sets or fast breaks.  The latter seemed to be surprising for Jim Calhoun’s team, I guess the expected a half court grind-fest instead of a track meet.

Even with Goran Suton not playing a great game, it was the type of game the Spartans needed to play to win the game, tough defense, strong rebounding, and Raymar Morgan finally played with a purpose.

I forgot to mention that Kalin Lucas is the man.

Moment of  Self Promotion:  My predited score was off only with the MSU score, and by only 4 points.  I was on target with UConn.

Final Four Preview: Michigan State vs. UConn

Before I get to the long awaited preview/breakdown of the Tom Izzo and Jim Calhoun cage match, just a couple quick hits.

  • First – Congrats to Joe Pa U as Penn State defeated Baylor to win the NIT Championship – nice to go out on a win, no matter what.
  • Second – What is going on in Arizona?  Is there some horrible smell that repels coaches?  Something is a little fishy.  That said, Tim Floyd is exactly where he needs to be at USC – aka OJ Mayo NBA Prep School.
  • Third – I will take any of the coaching openings anywhere in D1 – I will even pay for my own move.

Why UConn Will Win?Connecticut Seton Hall Basketball

The front court of Hasheem Thabeet, Stanley Robinson and Jeff Adrien (7’3″, 6’9″ and 6’7″) is taller, longer and stronger than the MSU bigs of Goran Suton, Delvon Roe, and Raymor Morgan (6’10”, 6’8″ and 6’8″).  The Huskies big man will need to add some scoring, but it ultimately comes down to Thabeet’s ability to change shots and keep the MSU guards out of the lane.

Kemba Walker had a break out game with 23 points on 7-for-9 from the floor and 9-for-10 from the foul line in 25 minutes against Missouri.  Craig Austrie and A.J. Price are the Huskies only real outside threats, but should be able to get their shots off over the smaller Spartan back court.

For UConn to win, they must win the battle on the block in scoring and not get out rebounded by a Spartans team that crashed the broads very hard.

Why MSU Will Win?

Early in the season, the Spartans were out of sink and struggled to regain their rhythm, and then the hit their stride about the time the Goran Suton returned to 100%.  In their win to get the Final Four, Suton had a double-double with 19 and 10, shooting 3-for-5 from deep and dishing out five assists carrying the team to Detroit.Michigan St Minnesota Basketball

Tom Izzo would love for Morgan to actually play some meaningful minutes, Morgan has been invisible since the first round match-up with Robert Morris.  He has only scored 23 points and 10 rebounds all tourney long and played only 10 foul-plagued minutes in the win over Louisville.  Roe has not been any better, he has scored only 16 points and grabbed three rebounds all tournament long.  He has not had a rebound in the last three games.

Even if Suton is the final piece to the Spartan puzzle, Kalin Lucas is still the most important player in green.  Much like Ty Lawson is to UNC, Lucas makes this team go.  If Lucas is able to catch fire and still get the ball to other talented shooters, MSU will win.

Deal Breaker:

The benches.  The Huskies only three, mostly two deep on their bench with Walker and forward Gavin Edwards.  The Spartans easily go four or five off the pine.  Expect to see major minutes from guards Chris Allen, Durrell Summers, and forward Draymond Green.  Michigan State has better talent coming off the bench.

Prediection

There are few coaches that prepare their teams better than Izzo (i.e. Louisville) and with a week to prepare, I am feel that Izzo has the team ready to play.  I have been doubting Michigan State all tourney and I  have a feeling that they are going to win just to spite me and my many brackets that I had them losing to USC.

Michigan State 78, UConn 73.

Quick Hits 3/31/09

Walking from MemphisMemphis UAB Basketball

It is coming across the wire that John Calipari has agreed to terms and will be the coach of the Kentucky Wildcats.  Calipari took some time, but in the end it was not much of a decision.  It is Kentucky, enough said.  Like UNC, Duke, UCLA,  and Kansas, this is the job you dream about.  The possibility to coach at a school with tradition as rich as Kentucky, is a what coaches work towards there whole career.

Calipari has made Memphis into the powerhouse that it is – a very good program that will dominate C-USA and will have to fight to a No. 1 or 2 seed in the NCAA.  But at Kentucky, if you win either then regular season or the tourney, you are guaranteed a No. 1 seed.

  • But you must win championships or you will be forced out (i.e. Smith, Tubby – thanks crazy Kentucky fans).

I do think Calipari could have become a legend at Memphis, but would struggle to win a championship.  If Calipari is able to bring any of his players and recruits with him, the Wildcats will be a contender and the favorite to win the SEC NEXT season (that might be a not-so-subtle statement on the state of the SEC, but he is that good at changing the culture.)

Curry to Duke

The nation’s leading freshman scorer, Seth Curry, is packing his bags and heading to Cameron Indoor Stadium.  Curry will not be able to play until the 2010-11 season, but will be joining a talented and deep Blue Devil squad – that depends on who returns.

Maybe Seth could convince his brother to sit out next season and join him at Duke in 2010.  I mean, Stephen is the a big reason he is getting interest from Duke in the first place.

 

Draft Declarers

The majority of college basketball players are at home watching, just like me.  But unlike me, many are being tempted by agents and who will paint a picture of teams throwing money at these young men like they have never seen before.

That is why I consider this the time when student athletes can ruin their lives, by making really stupid choices for all the right reasons.  So, unless you are one of the guaranteed top 10-15 picks, DO NOT HIRE AN AGENT and please weigh the options, carefully.

Everyone who does not have the last name Evans, please proceed with caution.

Here is the list of the latest players to declare for the draft:Tyreke Evans

  1. Nick Calathes, guard from Florida
  2. DaJuan Summers, forward from Georgetown
  3. Brandon Costner, forward from North Carolina State
  4. B.J. Mullens, center from Ohio State
  5. Tyreke Evans, guard from Memphis
  6. Gerivis Vasquez, guard from Maryland

This would be a awesome six man line-up.

Things to Come:

  • Break downs of both Final Four Games – Matthew will be look at the UNC/Villinova match-up and I will take the UConn/MSU game.
  • Finale of DTP Bracket Challenge – a last look at the sad state of bracket.
  • Recap of my Preseason Picks – some good, some bad.  All in all, I can’t complain.

Sweet 16 – Day 1 Preview

Big night of basketball ahead of us.  Some very nice match-ups and potential for…what’s the word….yes, madness

Game 1:  UConn vs. Purdue

The Big East can be defined by superior athletes, the Big 10 can be defined by half-court offense and a lot of white guys (maybe half-court offense and white guys are synonymous).  Purdue has had a nice tourney so far, but I don’t see it going any further than tonight.  I really like JaJuan Johnson and their coach, but they can’t handle UConn’s power.  Although…it will be interesting to see how UConn handles the latest recruiting allegations.  levance

Prediction:  UConn 84, Purdue 71

Game 2:  Pitt vs. Xavier

Pitt has had close calls in both of the early rounds and I think this has a chance to be a great game.  Xavier is actually taller than Pitt at just about every position, and they’ve got a big-time stud in B.J. Raymond.  Although my heart wants to pick Xavier, I’m gonna take Pitt for my bracket’s sake.  I don’t think the Muskateers have an answer for Pitt’s poing guard Levance Fields

Prediction:  Pitt 74, Xavier 72

Game 3:  Memphis vs. Missouri

I think Memphis is going to the final four.  I think they’ll win by 15 tonight. 

Prediction:  Memphis 79, Missouri 64

Game 4:  Duke vs. VillanovaGerald Henderson

This should be the game of the night.  It has the biggest upset potential (even though it’s a 2 vs. 3 game), and has some great athletes on display.  Duke has a 3-headed scoring machine in Gerald Henderson, Jon Scheyer, and Kyle Singler.  ‘Nova has a stud in Daunte Cunningham that could really give Duke some problems inside with his athleticism.  In recent history, Duke has had trouble with teams who are filled with athletes, and that certainly qualifies with ‘Nova’s roster.  But even though ‘Nova may have a more athletic squad as a whole, the best athlete in the tourney not named Blake Griffin happens to be Gerald Henderson

Prediction:  Duke 71, Villanova 65

High School Update:  For those of you who don’t know, I live in Hopkins, MN, which is home to one of the top-5 (ranked #4) high school boys basketball teams in the country.  Yesterday they won their first round game of the state tourney by 42 points.  Their entire starting line-up is going D-1, as well as a couple of reserves.  People are claiming (and legitimately so) that this Hopkins team has the best starting 5 in Minnesota high school basketball history.  I’m already planning on attending their state championship game this Saturday.