I like not being picked to win.
SI picking 4 seed Wisconsin over 2 seed Florida are also a sign of how much they respect KenPom, where Wisconsin is #4. Interesting that gamblers and "experts" go with KenPom more often, but the RPI is still used as the ultimate metric for NCAA selection and seeding.
Take Kentucky, getting 28+ minutes per game out of Senior Josh Harrellson. That's a good chunk of the game where a senior is getting minutes... except Harrellson didn't even play as a freshman and was pretty much just a benchwarmer the past 2 seasons. Is getting 28 minutes from this senior the same as getting 28 minutes from a kid as experienced in big games as Nolan Smith or Kyle Singler?
And what do you do with Seth Curry? He's a soph in terms of his class, but this is his third year of playing college ball. Where does he fall on that chart? I can tell you that he has a ton more experience than Harrellson, that's for sure.
What's more, as we have seen over and over again in recent seasons, having those young studs -- the freshmen and sophs who turn into NBA lottery picks -- is a huge key to NCAA tourney success. Now, no one is saying you should have all freshmen on your team (hey to John Calipari), but having a good mix of future lottery picks and experienced upperclassmen seems to be a pretty solid formula when it comes to making a deep NCAA tourney run.
Anyway, that is an interesting chart but, aside from Kansas, most of the top national title contenders would appear to be at the "short end" of the upperclassmen graph.
-Jason "UNC reliance on young guys is impressive-- if those kids stay in school a couple more years, Carolina will be very tough" Evans
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Iíve reached that stage in the NCAAT where Iíve seen all the teams play at least one game so Iíll predict the winners for tonightís games based on what I have seen:
Duke Ė Arizona
This may be one of those rare occasions where the best player on the floor is not wearing a Duke uniform. Williams didnít look great in the game I saw him play but the pro scouts love him and I expect him to have a good game tonight. The rest of the Arizona team is undersized although they are a better shooting team than Duke. The Devils have more talent, considerably more size and they play better defense. I donít see anyone on Arizona who can stop the combination of Smith, Singler and Irving. I like the Devils to win this game by 8-10 points.
Florida Ė BYU
The Gators have a nice combination of experience, size and skill. The backcourt of Walker and Boynton is skilled and fun to watch while the frontcourt is big, big and bigger. Parsons is a nice all around player, Macklin has developed into good center and Tyus appears to be a strong defensive player. All are seniors and 6-8 or taller. BYU relies on Fredette and contributions from a variety of players. Based on what Iíve seen, Emery is a good defensive player, Hartsock is an outstanding shooter and Abouo is their best all around player. Overall, Florida has too much talent for the Cougars and should win by double digits.
Butler Ė Wisconsin
I expect this game to be close. Butler appears to have the advantage in the backcourt while Wisconsin has the advantage in the frontcourt. Statistically, the Badgers are a slightly better shooting team from the field and, I believe that they are the best in the country from the foul line (82% as a team). Wisconsin also takes better care of the ball (13 apg vs 7 tpg). I expect that it will come down to either a player getting hot or in foul trouble. I like the Badgers to pull out a victory.
UConn Ė SDSU
This is a tough game to pick because Iíve not seen either play many games. Walker and Oriakhi are terrific players for the Huskies while Leonard and Thomas are impressive for SDSU. The rebounding battle should be fierce. Iíll pick SDSU for two reasons: (1) this is close to being a home game for them and (2) I like their supporting players (Gay, White and Tapley).
Neither UConn or Kentucky has the overall consistency to win the next four games and win the NCAA tournament. But they are dangerous teams capable of beating anyone. Kinda like "death stars:" they can blow anyone up, but are just as likely to blow themselves up through erratic play.
The team I have seen most (other than Duke) is UNC, and I am completely puzzled by those guys. After playing for a month-and-a-half like one of the best teams in the country, the Heels have turned in five -- 5 -- mediocre performances in a row. What's going on? The effort is just not there.
UNC has a record of eking out close wins, with a record of 9-1 (nine and one!) in games decided by three points or fewer (including the Clemson OT game). UNC lost only to Texas, 78-76. And almost all were won at the very end. UNC is very big and talented, and the size is effective in the closing minutes when both teams are getting tired.
UNC should beat Marquette, but who knows?
I have also noted how many games UNC has squeaked out. I wonder if this gives them any kind of "team of destiny" feeling, which actually builds confidence. You keep thinking they will lose when they get behind and play so inconsistantly, but they keep on pulling it out at the end. Let's hope the law of averages catches up with them.
By the way, I really hate it that I root "against" someone, instead of just rooting "for" my team. But that's just the way it is with the UNC/Duke situation. I used to not be that way, until 'ole Roy showed up.
As much as I'd love to see Marquette take out UNC, I'm not seeing any reasonable way that happens. Sure, they could go nuts from 3-point land and hit 60% of their treys, or UNC could have a couple of players go down with injuries (not wishing that on anyone, just presenting crazy scenarios). But apart from something really unusual happening, the fact is UNC has a fantastic matchup against a smaller team that's not really going to slow them down or make them heave a bunch of shots up from long range. I look for the Heels to easily dispatch the Eagles, probably by double digits.
Ohio State just seems like a machine right now and while UK is capable of staying close if they play to their maximum, I'd expect a Buckeye victory. I look for that game to stay close for a while, but I see OSU pulling away in the 2nd half.
If those two things happen, I'm left with the unenviable task of rooting for OSU in the Elite Eight because... Heck, I'm never pulling for the Heels (no self-respecting Duke fan ever should). And trust me, I don't like Ohio State.
Kansas looks to have a cakewalk to the Elite Eight. As much as I love the Spiders, I think the pumpkin awaits. Nuff said there.
I'd like to think FSU would represent the ACC well and just crush VCU, but for some reason I think this one will be close. For me it's a toss-up.
I'm not a big Gator fan (sorry Stray), but I do think they have a favorable match up with what I believe is a good, but not great, BYU team. As long as Jimmer doesn't go absolutely bonkers with another 50+ point game, I think Florida squeaks by. Not sure why, but I liken the Gators run with the Tar Heels run. Both teams are pretty good, but also seem to be somewhat lucky in a weird way. I just don't buy either team as being legitimately a FF team, but with the way things have been going it wouldn't surprise me to see the Gators get back there.
As crazy as it may sound, I think Butler is probably the best team left in the SE bracket. To my way of thinking, Wisconsin's style of play fits in nicely with what Butler wants to do and see them playing Florida on Saturday for a chance to return to the Final Four.
The West region is a killer. Not only because it's Duke's bracket and I'm emotionally invested in it, but because I really can see any of these four teams breaking through and moving on to Houston. I believe I'm speaking with my head and not just my heart when I say Duke should win tonight. They really are the better team and unless they just lay an egg I like them to advance, winning by anywhere from 8-14 points.
The SDSU v UConn game is a real tough one to analyze. A case could be made that either/both teams are truly great and/or truly not so great. Frankly I think either team could come out and lay an egg. SDSU certainly isn't as battle-tested as UConn (all Big Least jokes aside), but they certainly have a great frontcourt edge with their size. I'm not saying it all comes down to Kemba, but he'll certainly play a huge part in how this one shapes out. If the game is close late, you have to like UConn. And oh how I don't want to play them again. Maybe some of you do, but I don't. We've been snake bit by this team and while it doesn't rise to the much-dreaded, hypothetical, nightmare scenario of Duke playing UNC in the FF, it's pretty darn close to that in my book. If we end up winning tonight and then have to face UConn, it's gonna be either great jubilation or soul-wrenching agony for us on Saturday night. I'm just not sure I'm up to that. Plus, I think we match up better with SDSU (in spite of the crowd).
No matter how you slice it, we might be looking at back-to-back nightmare/dream scenarios. Duke vs UConn and then Duke vs UNC. I must schedule a visit to my doctor right now! See you folks later tonight (if my hospital room has a good internet connection, that is).
Reading and posting at DBR for over 19 years and loving every... well, almost every minute of it!
SDSU is out in force, and they're rowdy and loud.
Kemba's starting to run wild...
And I don't know about you guys but I would take Lundquist/Raftery over the media favorite, Gus Johnson, any day of the week. There's something about Gus that's a little too much for me, although he does know how to call the buzzer beaters.
I can't tell everyone how uneasy seeing UConn play this well is making me. Not looking ahead (really, really not), but I just hate seeing the Huskies playing with all this swagger. Brings back bad memories. Really bad ones.
Reading and posting at DBR for over 19 years and loving every... well, almost every minute of it!
this helps you feel a little better about UConn.
Honestly, I wouldn't mind UConn winning like this. SDSU is making a lot of poor decisions and UConn is hitting some 3's (5-10 from outside). I think we would let them do this in a hypotheticalnotsayingitwillhappensoIcan'tjinxanyth ing matchup.
However, if you saying this UCONN team isn't scary than you are lying. They are playing with incredible confidence and haven't loss a tournament game this season. They have the best player in the country at the most important position. They have an elite big man that rebounds the ball well on the offensive glass. They also get to the free throw line better than just about anyone. Not to mention the elephant in the room: Coach K has been out-coached in their last 2 meetings in the NCAA tournament.
Nolan and Kyle will be channeling this tonight.
This appears to be a battle of tempo-
SDSU wants to play half court, force UConn to defend for 30 seconds and let the Aztec D kick in.
UConn wants to get up and down, shoot 3s, scramble for O rebounds.
They are back and forth on who controls the tempo - it's been a game of runs so far. Not sure how this plays out, but SDSU is controlling things as of now.