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Tourney Observations from the First Round
2007-03-16 22:08
by Scott Long

1. 2007 will go down as the most boring first-round of games since it went to a field of 64.

2. Coach K might have turned in the worst coaching job of the first round. I'm tired of these Bob Knight disciples refusing to go to a zone defense, because they believe in the sanctity of the man-to-man. Duke lacks quickness at almost every spot on the floor. At least mix up your defenses. Coach K not using a zone was the worst decision made by a citizen from Durham, since the citizens decided to elect Mike Nifong their District Attorney.

3. If I had a program that was in the dumps, I would hire a coach who likes to full-court press. Most teams who do press, have a match-up advantage, as so few teams use one. If you think you have to have athletic talent like Memphis, you are wrong. Sure Nolan Richardson, Rick Pitino, Gary Williams, and Billy Donovan have had a lot of great players, but when they started, they didn't, but still won with this style. Many of these press techniques were taken from Dr. Tom Davis. Let me tell you that he never had much talent at Boston College, Stanford, and Iowa, but still had great success in the NCAA tourney, because it's hard to prepare for. Also, it's really fun to watch, which helps a struggling program draw more fan interest.

4. Bruce Pearl is my favorite coach in sports. Pearl's mentor was Dr. Tom and he has improved on Davis' system. He is one of the most dynamic people you will ever meet, which makes him a far better recruiter than the Doctor ever was. I met Pearl just once, when he was building division 1 success at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. I talked to him for a total of about 10 minutes, but he just might be the most charismatic guy I've ever met. I mean who wouldn't want to play for a coach who's willing to do this?.

5. If you are at a struggling program, but too conservative to hire a guy who will full-court press, go the opposite direction and hire a Tony Bennett-type. Your fans might end up hating you after 5 years of watching the boredom that goes with ball-control offense, but it will give you a chance to win at an impossible place to do so like Pullman, Washington. College Basketball is about match-ups and if you aren't at a national power, have great facilities, or/and have a ton of prep talent within 100 miles, you need to run a system that is unique.

6. The Big 10 was better than I even thought. If Illinois doesn't get outscored 12-0 in the final 4 minutes of its game versus Virginia Tech, the conference would be 6-0. Ohio State looked scary. Let me mention again that Michigan State has a really good chance of sending the first 1 seed home (North Carolina). Since only the Buckeyes and Badgers are favored to win their second round match-ups, the Big 10's record will probably take a major hit, but their teams are so physical, I don't see any of them getting blown-out.

7. This year's Arizona Wildcats play with the least amount of passion of any college team I've ever seen. While the score wasn't a blow-out and Arizona did actually cut the lead to 4, the game always seemed to be dominated by the Boilers. Lute Olson's squad gave the effort of a bottom-dwelling NBA team hoping to get more ping pong balls for the Oden/Durant lottery. Even if he was the Wildcats coach, Pete Rose wouldn't bet on these lackadasical louts.

8. How do you have a FG% of .413 and win by 11? Play against an Old Dominion team who shoots .327 from the field. On this same subject, Virginia Tech shot .357 against Illinois and actually won. Ugh-Lee.

9. What do Clark Kellogg and Seth Davis offer for analysis? Even Dick and Digger offer more than these 2 talking heads. Kellogg is good doing color, but I don't get why they have him in the studio. Time for CBS to see about calling up some of the ESPN JV into the studio. Doug Gottlieb is a complete a-hole, but he is really knowledgeable and is willing to take on anyone. Jay Bilas has formed a great broadcast team with Dick Enberg, but help is needed back in New York. While his coaching might be a question mark, I think Steve Lavin has become one of the best breaking down the game and has a good sense of humor, as well. If you want to learn about the game, listen to Rick Majerus. I've even come to accept how he pronounces offense as oh-fence.

10. Best Chance for a Major Upset in Round 2
East: Michigan State over North Carolina
South: Nevada over Memphis
Midwest: Winthrop over Oregon
West: VCU over Pittsburgh

I think at least 2 of these will happen.

2007-03-17 00:11:29
1.   Voxter
Oregon is not materially better than Notre Dame and is almost exactly the same kind of team. Prime for an upset. I must say that my earlier comments about their invulnerability in the first round had less to do with an overestimation of their talents than an underestimation of Miami's. The major difference is that Oregon can play strong defense out of a match-up zone, as they showed perfectly well in the first half this afternoon.

I think Nevada over Memphis is a pretty strong bet, but I also think your midwest bias (heh heh) shows in you faith in Big 10 teams; No Carolina should show MSU who's boss. The fact that I've said that of course means that MSU will beat NCU by fairly wide margin.

2007-03-17 17:50:29
2.   misterjohnny
We'll see how good the big ten is this weekend when they play better seeded teams. So far, Big Ten held serve with the exception of 9's beating 8's - not a big deal. So far, I'm not impressed with an overtime win by OSU.
2007-03-18 16:10:37
3.   misterjohnny
Well, I guess we saw the real Big Ten. Pretender Wisconsin folded. Purdue lost, but made a good run at Florida. Mich State lost, as did Indiana. Now all of them had tough seeds, playing 1's or 2's, except Wisconsin. So all that's left is Ohio State, who had to go to overtime to beat Xavier.

As for the major upsets, none of the ones Scott picked happened. The only ones were Wisconsin losing and a Washington State losing to Vanderbilt, which played giant-killer earlier in the year when they beat Florida. I don't consider 5's beating 4's much of an upset, just like I don't see 9's beating 8's as upsets.

2007-03-18 16:35:30
4.   Scott Long
This is the worst I have done picking games in the tourney. Purdue and Indiana were tied with a couple of minutes in the game, while MSU was up with 5 minutes left. This was when talent took over.

Wisconsin really missed Butch's offense (he is their only McDonald's HS all-american). Tucker didn't play with much passion, which was very atypical of him.

Looking at the draws, the Big 12 I think has the best chance of any conference placing 2 teams in the Final 4. I'm still sticking to my final 4 of Florida, Ohio St., UCLA, and Georgetown, but Kansas and Texas A&M are in these teams league. Watch-out for USC vs North Carolina, as Pink Floyd is one of the best college coaches in America.

2007-03-19 09:13:37
5.   misterjohnny
I'm not leading my pool, but I'm in good shape with all my elite 8 teams still alive. I've got the same final 4 as you, but I'm a little worried about UCLA. They haven't been as sharp as earlier in the season. Memphis is a team that could surprise people though.

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