Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Welcome to Bracketville---Conference Tournaments Week Edition

Hard to believe Connecticut had gone six years since its last victory at the Big East tournament.

With the loss of Reggie Bullock, North Carolina is down to eight scholarship players. Didn’t matter against Duke, did it?


The UConn women are down to eight scholarship players as well…four are freshmen. When one of those players is Maya Moore, nobody with shed a tear for Gino. In fact, Gino said if foul trouble left him with just four eligible players and Maya was one of them, there were a lot of teams he could beat. She is that good. There is no team I’d rather watch that the UConn girls, and no player I would rather see than Maya Moore. Losing accomplished point guard Caroline Doty before the season was a devastating loss.

Maya’s father is Mike Dabney, who started for the Rutgers 1976 Final Four team.

Miami has never had a winning ACC record.

Belmont might be the deepest team in college basketball. The Bruins have 11 players who average 10 minutes or more, and sophomore guard Ian Clark leads the team with just under 25 minutes per game. Every player is capable of scoring, too, with 10 of its 11 regulars taking 100 shots or more this season. Going into the A-Sun tournament, Belmont’s bench averaged 40 points per game, the highest average in the country. The Bruins have 13 road wins and 18 road/neutral victories this season, more than any other team in the country.

In two games last week, Ohio State’s Jon Diebler shot 17 for 20 on threes.

UVa’s coach Tony Bennett did a tremendous job this season. I think if Mike Scoot had been healthy all season, they would be in the field of 68.

Louisville’s Rick Pitino has also done more with less talent this season.

Pitt ranks 270th in free throw shooting at 66%.

Wake Forest’s 1-13 conference record is the worst in the ACC since 1989 when Maryland had the same record. Wake scored an anemic 0.88 points per possession in ACC play, ranking them at # 334 in ppp in conference play.

Old Dominion has won 13 of their last 14 games, including its second consecutive CAA tournament. ODU is the nation’s top rebounding squad and #3 defensive team.

Duke’s Kyle Singler has made just two of his last 19 3-point attempts.

CCNY is the only school to win both the NIT and NCAA Tournaments in the same year.

Duke and North Carolina have not met in the ACC Tournament since 2003…the longest gap in the history of the tournament.

If I had pick my Final Four right now, it would come from the following teams: Pitt, Notre Dame, Kansas, North Carolina, Ohio State, Florida, Purdue, with Xavier, Kentucky and St. Johns as sleepers. I’ll change my mind dozens of times as conference tournament take place.

For me, teams with senior leadership, who pass more than dribble, have a proficient big man or two, a high percentage of assists to baskets and lots of offensive rebounds are my dream teams. As usual, it is all about match-ups.

Duke is eminently beatable, especially by teams with a skilled big man. Were I setting up a defense on Duke, I would guard Singler, Dawkins, the Plumlees and Kelly loosely until they show they can make a shot…sliding off to cover Curry with an extra body. Curry can become frustrated and taken out of his game and get in foul trouble (just ask Virginia Tech.) That leaves Nolan Smith who is going to get his 20 to 30 points no matter what. As the season has wound down he has taken more and more poor shots because no one other than Curry can score. His scoring percentage in the past couple of weeks is way off his season average. His assists are down as well, as he takes more shots.

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