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NCAA Tourney Preview Part 2
2007-03-15 16:53
by Scott Long

There are 3 factors that I look at when choosing who will do best during March Madness.

1. Coaching Tourney Success
2. Defensive Pressure
3. Style Match-ups

During years when offensive talented teams rule the Top seeds, it leads to all lot of upset possibilities. With teams like Washington State and Texas A&M overachieving this year, it leads me to think most of the top seeds will be in the Sweet 16. Here is my brief synopsis of why I chose who I did.


North Carolina is the most overrated top seed, as the Tar Heels team defense is still coming together. While they might be the most talented team in college b-ball, their youth and Hansborough's mask trouble hurt them in March. Roy Williams has lost to lower-seeded, but more physical active teams many times. Meet super tourney coach Tom Izzo's Spartans. Playing in Winston Salem will be Michigan State's biggest obstacle to making the Sweet 16.

While not as good of a defensive team as the others I have in the Sweet 16, Rick Barnes demand physical toughness, which makes his young team dangerous. Of course, having the most dynamic player in college basketball, Kevin Durant, makes Texas just good enough to get by the improving USC Trojans.

Washington State and Georgetown play similar styles, with strong defense and the use of offensive back-cuts keeping their opposition off-balance. The Hoyas have too much talent to lose out to the Cougars. It would be fun to watch Durant face the Hoyas' Twin Towers of Hibbert and Green during the regional finals.
I like Georgetown to make it back to the final 4, as John Thompson, the son, is a better tactical coach than his dad.


Greg Oden is the most dominant freshman defensive force I've ever seen. Oden's high school teammate, point guard Mike Conley is a great QB. Seniors Butler and Lewis are athletic 3-point shooters. Add to this that coach Thad Matta is one of the best in college basketball and I just don't see anyone challenging them in this region.

Tennessee plays a difficult style to match-up with, as they press and shoot 3's so well. I think the Vols will get past Virginia, but don't have enough to challenge the Buckeyes. Number 2 seed Memphis is nowhere as good as last year's team and I think the Creighton/Nevada winner will pull the biggest seeded upset of the tourney.
Texas A&M plays a great style for tourney play, with high defensive intensity, plus having the top guard in the country (A.C. Law). The Aggies just don't have the strength down low to handle Oden in the Elite 8.


It's hard to find a place where Florida will lose, as no one in this region has the athletic ability or experience to hang with them. Donovan uses many of the unique schemes that he learned under Rick Pitino, which are tough to prepare for in a short turn-around. I think Maryland is the weakest of the 4 seeds and felt they would lose to Old Dominion in the second round. (oops) I don't see Florida challenged until the Elite 8.

Not a big fan of Oregon, as they are very streaky. Their athletic backcourt will get them to the Sweet 16. Wisconsin was a perfect match-up for Florida, but without their most offensive talented big man (Brian Beard), I think it will tough for them to make the Final 4. Time to break-out the clichés. Only Florida can beat Florida in this region.


Kansas is a little younger than I generally like, but Coach Bill Self demands physical toughness out of his players, which helps mask some of their youth. The Jayhawks have a nice path to regional finals, as Southern Illinois lacks the bigs who could hurt them on the boards.

Of the Number 3 seeds, Pittsburgh is the most fraudulent. While Duke is a little soft, I think the Coach K magic will be enough to get them past the Panthers into the round of 16. Ben Howland has brought a physical nature to the Bruins that have been missing. Their road to the Elite 8 is pretty sweet. The Kansas/UCLA battle should be a great game, with it being basically a coin-flip for me. I will take the Bruins, as playing in California and having more experience is enough to push them past the more athletic Jayhawks.

Final 4

Not a lot of surprises, with 2 one seeds and 2 two seeds here. The Ohio State/Georgetown game should be a war. I like the Buckeyes 3-point shooting as being the difference.
Florida just has too much talent down low, as I don't know how the Bruins can cover both Noah and Horford.

What a great game Ohio State versus Florida would be. Championship experience of the Gators going up against the college's best true center since Patrick Ewing. Oden will provide enough defensive intimidation to slow down Noah and Horford, with the very underrated shooting of the Buckeyes pushing them ahead in the end.

But of course, I'm the guy that said Old Dominion would beat Butler.

2007-03-15 20:33:39
1.   saltcreek
Hey I said Old Dominion would win did most of the "exper.ts" over at ESPN.
2007-03-15 22:18:51
2.   Eric Enders
"What a great game Ohio State versus Florida would be."

I've already seen that game. Trust me, it's not as good as you think it is.

2007-03-15 23:23:51
3.   Scott Long
This is a different Ohio State team than it was 3 months ago. Oden is a whole different player now that he's not hampered with a big ass cast.

I remember seeing Duke/UNLV during the first Rebel championship. BLOWOUT. Then, I was saw in person the Final 4 semi which Duke upset Vegas. The talent on the floor was mainly the same, but the Blue Devils had matured as a team. I think a similar outcome would happen between the Gators and Buckeyes. I guarantee it would be more competitive than the football national championship the 2 teams played in.

2007-03-15 23:24:21
4.   Voxter
Told yis Duke wasn't that good.

Oregon versus Wisconsin should be like a sausage factory, and not in the kind of way that warms the heart of a native Oregonian like myself. The Ducks did manage to beat UCLA, a real set of thumpers, once, and Wazzu, another banging bunch, twice, but Big Ten-style physical basketball is a totally different animal, I expect. Though it's not a sure thing to happen, a Wisconsin-Oregon matchup should be low-scoring and not nearly as close as it looks, with a margin in the single digits but no serious competition in the second half. Sigh.

I have UCLA over Texas A&M in the final. I'll admit that my bracket is a bit eccentric. But I think that, given the dearth of truly good seniors in the game anymore, having a game-changing senior like Mr Law is going to be a big advantage. I don't usually go in for that sort of magical thinking, but it seems oddly valid to me in this instance.

I expect a UCLA-Florida semi to be a total bloodbath.

2007-03-16 00:17:22
5.   trainwreck

Here is a website with some advanced stat research on college basketball teams. According to Ken's defensive efficiency stats, UNC plays better defense than Georgetown does. Granted, when I have watched UNC play, I never thought to myself that this is a good defensive team. But I am a hardcore UCLA fan and I think our defensive ability is often overrated. While most people see them and think they are great. I still think last year's UCLA team was leaps and bounds better defensively (mostly because of Bozeman over Shipp and Collison and Mata being backups).

Just thought it was some interesting info to pass along.

2007-03-16 06:38:49
6.   Penarol1916
5. For the whole season it is true that North Carolina has played better defense than Georgetown, the fact is that Georgetown's defense has signficantly improved, it's low defensive stats come primarily from two early season games, its loss to ODU and its loss in its first game to Pittsburgh. Looking at the last 12 games though, Georgetown's defensive efficiency has been better than North Carolina's.
2007-03-16 07:18:27
7.   JasonO
Watch out for Vanderbilt.
2007-03-16 07:19:41
8.   Scott Long
I have done interviews with Ken the past 2 NCAA tourney post-seasons. Pomeroy is the best of the statistical sites breaking down the tourney. Definitely worth checking it out.

Penarol brings up the exact point that I noticed when checking out the Hoyas. Wow did ODU not show up against Butler. Picked the wrong CAA team.

If you saw the Duke game, 2 things were obvious. You can't miss as many free throws as they did and expect to win. Also, Coach K lost the game by stubbornly sticking to a man-to-man, even though their guards didn't have enough speed to handle VCU.

2007-03-16 08:02:43
9.   Penarol1916
8. Well as a huge Georgetown fan, you can't really take me as an objective source when discussing them.
2007-03-16 09:41:16
10.   Voxter
8 - One other thing was obvious: Paulus has no neck.
2007-03-16 16:24:52
11.   Scott Long
Well, I've missed almost everyone of my upset picks. Since there hasn't hardly been any, that was pretty easy.

I was right in saying, though, that the Midwest region was most ripe for upsets. Low seeds Winthrop, Davidson, and YES, Miami of Ohio were in the game from the beginning until the end.

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