Friday, March 20, 2009
FREE TO FLIRT!
It's every sports fan's favorite time of year once again - the NCAA tournament. Nothing is more exciting, dramatic,
and competitive than this 65-team tournament. While the Super Bowl is probably more exciting in terms of a one-
game event, the tournament runs three weeks, all of which have their share of upsets and drama. I am not an expert on the entire field of sixty-five, but based on what I know about the number one seeds, here are my predictions.
The number one overall seed in the tournament is Louisville, and with good reason. Louisville struggled at times to score earlier in the year, but now it seems that coach Pitino's masterful ability is really shining through, and Louisville, in my opinion, is the clear pick for the number one overall seed. No Big East team is better top-to-bottom, and North Carolina does not remember how to play defense. Louisville uses Pitino's typical high-pressure full-court defense, and it has the depth to sustain the pressure the entire game. Louisville, like all Big East teams, played a brutal schedule, meaning that it has had those intense end-game experiences that championship caliber teams are made of. The one flaw that this team has is the lack of a consistent star player. Terrence Williams is NBA-material and has dominated games in the past, but his shooting can go cold at times, and this is when Louisville is vulnerable.
The regular season winner of the Atlantic Coast Conference (probably the nation's second best conference) was North Carolina. How did they do it? Run-and-gun fast break basketball, combined with veteran leadership from player of the year candidate Tyler Hansbrough and Ty Lawson allowed this team to score tons of easy buckets. This might be the best starting five in the country in terms of future NBA potential, but the big flaw with this team is that it sometimes falls asleep on defense. If coach Roy Williams can get this team to be more consistent on defense, and if Ty Lawson's injured ankle heals, the rest of the teams in the tournament will start getting scared. But, if that doesn't happen, this team might be seeing an early exit.
FREE TO FLIRT!
The best big man in the nation whose name is not Blake Griffin is Dejuan Blair. Despite his short stature compared to most college big men, Blair really knows how to use his body around the hoop to dominate the game. Combined with Levance Fields who has a knack for getting in the lane and making the big shot, and this team can really be a huge threat. The downside is that this team does not have much beyond its starting five, and it only plays adequate, not championship caliber defense. Expect Pittsburgh to make it to the Elite Eight or Final Four, but don't expect a National Championship.
At the beginning of the season, Connecticut was looking nearly unstoppable. This team features a deep roster and can play championship caliber defense, however, it will be missing one of its key players in Jerome Dyson, who is out for the rest of the season with a knee injury. The big man in the middle, Hasheem Thabeet, will ensure that opponents will have a difficult time scoring around the basket, but as Dejuan Blair showed earlier this season, Thabeet is not invincible. The key for UCONN will be finding who can step up to fill Jerome Dyson's production, and this team has the depth necessary to do so.
Overall, this year does not feature a clearcut number one team that has dominated the competition all year long. The picture is rather murky. While Louisville seems very likely to reach the Final Four, all the rest of the number one seeds have significant flaws which have buried number one seeds early on in past tournaments. This year's tournament should be exciting like all others, and probably will feature a Final Four and championship matchup that few expect.This year should be another crazy tournament.