The Basketblog

Celebrating the love of the Game.

Tournament Breakdown: Part 3

Thanks to the first two parts, this blog has been viewed more today than it has in any single month (before this one, obviously). Part 4 will come after I know the winner of the…play-in game.

Midwest

Kansas vs. Portland State
I’ve criticized Kansas because they didn’t beat great teams this year (1-1 against 5 seeds or higher–both games against Texas), but one thing they do well is beat up on bad teams. I thought Portland State should have been higher because they played some good teams (as many as Kansas did) and came within 12 of winning at Washington State, but they won’t compete with Kansas. Their guards are pretty good and might not get killed by Kansas’s guards, but their top rebounder is only 6’4″. Kansas will kill them inside, which will lead to outside shots.

UNLV vs. Kent State
I think this is the best first-round game that no one is talking about. UNLV protects the ball and turns teams over (11 turnovers per game/8 steals per game), so they could just get lucky and make a run in the tournament. Kent State has inside and outside scorers and also forces a lot of turnovers (8.5 steals per game). Kent State got a win at St. Mary’s, and UNLV had a 29 point win against BYU. I’m taking UNLV because of the tournament experience they got last year.

Clemson vs. Villanova
I’m not as high on Clemson as others are. They play a heavy-pressure, gambling defense and are bad at free throws. If they play a team that protects the ball well or is in a game that comes down to the last few possessions, they might be in trouble. As good as Scottie Reynolds is, he is young and turns the ball over 3 times a game. Villanova as a team had more turnovers than assists this year. Clemson wins.

Vanderbilt vs. Siena
Siena’s great win this year against Stanford came before Brook Lopez was playing. They apparently got some favorable calls in that game too…they shot 32 free throws to Stanford’s 3. If Shan Foster gets hurt for Vanderbilt and the refs call 12 more fouls on Vanderbilt than on Siena, Siena might just pull off an upset.

USC vs. Kansas State
I’ve said the only reason Kansas State made it is because they have a great freshman. This matchup supports my theory–they paired Beasley with OJ Mayo. Kansas State had a great six-game stretch in January (beating Oklahoma, Texas A&M and Kansas), but they were 14-11 without any wins against tournament teams the rest of the year. USC played well against the best big man they faced this year–beating Stanford at home and holding the Lopez twins to 10 combined points when they played at Stanford. They’ll do well enough against Beasley to get the win.

Wisconsin vs. Cal State Fullerton
Like Kansas, Wisconsin wins big against bad teams. Outside their conference season, they did not have a single-digit win against a non-tournament team. They had a couple bad losses (big to Duke and at home to Marquette) but got it together since then. Their only two losses were to Purdue who is a bad matchup for Wisconsin. CSF played a couple tournament teams and lost by double digits to both St. Mary’s and Arizona. They are high-scoring, but they won’t get to 50 in this one.

Gonzaga vs. Davidson
I said at the beginning of the year that I’d pick Davidson in the first round no matter who they played (like I did with Winthrop last year). Gonzaga is a tough game for them though. Unlike a power conference team that might overlook somewhat a team like Davidson, Gonzaga is used to playing teams like them every game in their conference. Gonzaga has good depth and balance, while Davidson gets 1/3 of their scoring from Stephen Curry. I think he is solid enough to get them a win though. They almost beat Maryland last year and had almost everyone back.

Georgetown vs. UMBC
If possible, I think Georgetown is underrated. They won the Big East regular season and easily won their first two conference tournament games before falling to a hot Pittsburgh team. They’ve showed that they can both blow out good teams and win close games. They won six games by three points or less, which will help them in this tournament. UMBC doesn’t have anyone who can challenge Hibbert inside. Their top rebounder is 6’4″. They lost by 24 to West Virginia and shouldn’t be much closer in this one.

Round 2

Kansas vs. UNLV
I think this will be a tougher game for Kansas than most do. UNLV is one of the best in the nation at protecting the ball. If they don’t turn it over and get a good shot each possession, they could beat Kansas. Kansas would need to shoot poorly to lose this one. They’ll be able to look ahead somewhat, which is something UNLV will not be able to do. The two teams are very similar, but Kansas is just better.

Clemson vs. Vanderbilt
Vanderbilt is not very good away from home. They were 2-6 on the road in the SEC and 1-1 in the SEC tournament. They only won by 6 on the road against a Depaul team that only won 11 games all year. Clemson isn’t great on the road either, but they did well in the neutral ACC tournament. Shan Foster is the best shooter in the nation, but will Clemson’s pressure defense give him enough good, in-rhythm looks? I’m taking Clemson, but only because Vanderbilt is bad away from home.

USC vs. Wisconsin
Wisconsin’s relaxed, slow style of play is something Mayo and USC hasn’t seen this year. USC was 2-7 when they didn’t score 60 points this year; Wisconsin allowed 60 points only 9 times all year. Wisconsin is underrated because they play in the Big Ten and aren’t flashy, but they are as good as anyone. They’ll shut down USC’s offense and win this one by 12.

Davidson vs. Georgetown
Another game Davidson can win because Georgetown plays so many close games, and Davidson plays well against good teams. Georgetown is a great team though and is able to play any style. This one will probably come down to the last few possessions, and Davidson could very well pull of an upset. I am picking Georgetown’s talent and experience though.

Round 3

Kansas vs. Clemson
If Clemson makes it this far, it is because their hot streak has continued. I think this is the toughest team Kansas could play in this position–Clemson is a team that is able to push and defend all game like Kansas is. It could come down to which team makes more shots. I see this one coming down to the end, and I’m picking the better free throw shooting team: Kansas.

Wisconsin vs. Georgetown
As I said previously, Georgetown can play any style, including Wisconsin’s super-slow style. This game will be played in the 50’s. Georgetown has actually played more games this year with both teams below 60. They’ve beaten good teams in games like that (Louisville, West Virginia, Villanova). Wisconsin also has played good teams in close, low-scoring games, beating Michigan State and losing to Purdue. The teams are very similar, but Georgetown has played more big games this year, has more tournament experience, and has better outside shooting. That is why I am picking them.

Regional Championship

Kansas vs. Georgetown
Continuing the trend in this region, this will be a very competitive game. In fact, there are five or six teams that have a good chance of getting to the final four.  As said before, Georgetown can play any style…but so can Kansas.  In all previous games, I’ve picked the team I think is better.  I’m going to break that trend here.  I’m picking Georgetown because their tournament experience and Bill Self’s inability to win the big games will work in their favor in an otherwise even game.  Both teams have a tough road to get here though.  One could get knocked off earlier or be so beat up that they lose here.  Don’t bet anything big on this region.

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March 18, 2008 - Posted by | ACC, Basketball, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, MWC, NCAA, Pac-10, SEC, Sports | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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