The Basketblog

Celebrating the love of the Game.

Tournament Breakdown: Part 1

I’ll look at one part of the bracket today. I’ll do another part tonight and the other half tomorrow.

South

Memphis vs. UT-Arlington
I must confess. Because I was busy with high school basketball teams all winter, I have not actually watched Memphis play this year. I’ve seen more of Arlington than I have of Memphis, so I’m not exactly qualified to talk about this game. I do know, however, that Arlington had lost 5 of their last 7 games before their conference tournament and Memphis had lost 1 of their last 31. I do think this is the best chance a 16 has to beat a 1 this year though. The occasional times those games go down to the end, the better team shows their power at the end and pulls away, right? What if, when Memphis starts to pull away, Arlington just puts them on the line every possession and hits a couple big threes?

Mississippi State vs. Oregon
I didn’t think Oregon should be in it; I can’t figure out why Mississippi State isn’t better than they are. Needless to say, I’m picking MSU. Their starting five is about as talented as it gets. Check out their stats. Oregon only had one big conference win–over Stanford. They never beat USC, UCLA, or Washington State. Their non-conference win was over an overrated Kansas State. Explain why they got in. They have a small guard-oriented team that will not match up well against MSU’s size. They’ll need to force a lot of turnovers and hit threes to have a chance.

Michigan State vs. Temple
Michigan State can compete with anyone on the right day (beat Texas, put up 103 on Indiana) but can play terribly on others (lost to Penn State and Iowa). They committed 18 turnovers and shot only 4 free throws against Iowa. I don’t see that happening in the tournament with Tom Izzo as their coach. Temple has gotten hot at the right time, but they’re still not a particularly good team and don’t have the size to defend Michigan State inside.

Pittsburgh vs. Oral Roberts
Oral Roberts is over-seeded here. They aren’t as good as last year’s team that got a 14-seed and lost by 16 to Washington State. However, there are a ton of bad teams at the bottom of this bracket, so I guess the seed is fair. Still, they don’t have much of a chance against Pittsburgh that is finally (mostly) healthy and could make a deep run.

Marquette vs. Kentucky
Remember that Kentucky doesn’t have their best player, Patrick Patterson. Supposedly they’ve played well without him, but they’ve gone 2-2 without him. Both wins were over non-tournament teams. Only three of their wins were over tournament teams. Compare that to Marquette, who has wins at Wisconsin and Villanova and a neutral court win over Notre Dame. They were playing well in the big east tournament until they ran into the Pittsburgh buzzsaw. They only lose to good teams; Kentucky is not one of them.

Stanford vs. Cornell
Even in their losses, Cornell has not been blown out. I don’t know how they play, but they shoot almost 50% from the field and over 40% from behind the three-point line. Stanford is an inside-dominated team with twin seven-footers Robin and Brook Lopez. Judging by stats, Cornell has a team of jump-shooters. This game could come down to whether the game is played on the inside or outside. If Cornell is able to speed the game up and force Stanford to shoot from the outside, they could pull off an upset. I am picking Stanford, however.

Miami vs. St. Mary’s
I haven’t seen Miami play this year. The one time I watched St. Mary’s impressed me even though they lost to San Diego. They play solid defense, forcing almost 8 steals a game. They’re better than you might think. Their only loss to a non-tournament team was at Southern Illinois, which is as tough a place to win as any. Even though I don’t know much about Miami, I’m picking St. Mary’s because I think they’re that good.

Texas vs. Austin Peay
Texas is as good as anyone in the nation. They aren’t a 1-seed only because they’ve lost some bad games. To be fair though, Missouri made an incredible amount of shots to beat them, and Texas Tech shot 43 free throws to beat them. Austin Peay shot very well against Memphis but still lost by 22 because they couldn’t handle Memphis’s talent and athleticism. Don’t expect anything different to happen here.

Second Round

Memphis vs. Mississippi State.
MSU can match Memphis in athleticism, but they turn the ball over far too much and also shoot free throws poorly. If they protect the ball, they can definitely pull off an upset, but I am picking Memphis.

Michigan State vs. Pittsburgh
Pitt’s better…but I’m picking Michigan State. I just like Tom Izzo in the postseason and still think Michigan State can beat anyone in the nation if they play right. Ultimately, I think Pittsburgh’s long run in the Big East tournament will wear them down and cause their loss in this game.

Marquette vs. Stanford
Marquette does not have nearly enough size to handle Stanford. They lost big to Connecticut and lost a close one at home to Georgetown (even though Georgetown had a bad game). If they can force turnovers and get fast break points, they might have a chance, but they are not big enough or good enough at shooting to beat a big team.

St. Mary’s vs. Texas
They played earlier this year. Texas won by 19, despite making only 25% of their threes and 54% from the free-throw line and getting outrebounded by 8. Augustin had 30 points despite making only one three pointer. I don’t see anything different happening this time.

Third Round

Memphis vs. Michigan State
Another game I think Memphis could lose but won’t. I’m ripping the Big Ten here: I don’t believe any team from that conference besides Indiana (with a real coach) can beat an athletic team. Michigan State lost by 19 to the athletic Hoosiers when they still had Sampson as their coach. This game will be closer than that, but Memphis will win fairly easily.

Stanford vs. Texas
Texas is a team that can shoot well enough and get enough fast break points to beat Stanford without competing against their size. It will be competitive, but the game is being played in Houston. Stanford is 2,000 miles away. Texas is 150. That gives Texas an advantage in a fairly even game otherwise.

Regional Championship

Memphis vs. Texas

Texas comes to play in big games. They beat UCLA and Tennessee earlier in the year when both were ranked high and beat Kansas when Kansas was ranked #2. Their loss in the conference championship game wouldn’t have happened if Kansas had shot a normal three-point percentage… Memphis’s early-season wins don’t look as impressive anymore. Oklahoma, USC, Georgetown, Arizona, and Gonzaga have all dropped in the rankings since they played Memphis. They lost at home to the best team they’ve played this year–Tennessee. Oh yeah, the game is played in Texas too. Texas wins and advances to the Final Four.

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March 17, 2008 - Posted by | ACC, Basketball, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, CUSA, MWC, NCAA, Pac-10, SEC, Sports | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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