Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Welcome to Bracketville---Conference Tournament Week Edition

Count me among those who consider March Madness starts with the conference tournaments.
Conference tournaments showcase some of the best-played ball all year since many teams’ only chance of getting in the NCAA Tournament is by winning their conference tournament.
There is that sense of desperation and impending doom for certain teams…especially those with seniors for whom this year is the last chance.
Tonight, I am looking forward to the Big East Women’s Final between UConn and Notre Dame…#3 and #2 respectively. The Irish won both meetings in the regular season. Notre Dame has never won a Big East Tournament. This is their last opportunity. Notre Dame’s Skylar Diggins (#4) is wonderful to watch. 7 PM on ESPN
At 9 PM on espn2, it’s the Summit League Final between North and South Dakota States. SDSU’s Nate Wolters is worth the price of admission. He has averaged double-figures all four years. This season he’s averaging 22.5 ppg, 5.6 rpg. 5.8 apg.
Last night Iona and Western Kentucky played their way in by a combined five points. Some thrills in that pair of games.
Gonzaga played like a #1 seed last night, beating a good and experienced Saint Mary’s team.
The Zags’ roster resembles Noah’s Ark. They seem to have two of everything. They’re balanced in the frontcourt, the backcourt and on the wings. A model mix of players.
With this player distribution, they are able to withstand foul trouble…or take preemptive action. Last night Coach Few took Kelly Olynyk out early in the first after his first foul. Not many teams have that luxury.
I’ve heard pundits say that Gonzaga’s flaw is undersized guards.
To that I point out that last night Kevin Pangos and David Stockton limited All WCC guard Matthew Dellavedova to two-points on 1-for-8 shooting. Dellavedova is a former WCC Player of the year who averages 16.2 ppg.
Gonzaga’s guards are quicksilver fast, savvy and possess high basketball IQs.
Kelly Olynyk is a smooth, efficient, heady presence on the floor…and he can really run the floor. I wish that I had been clever enough to come up with the sobriquet “Olynyk the Clinic.” He fills that bill.
The WCC Tournament sold out the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas. Très bien!
It will be interesting to see how well the Pac-12 draws, as their tournament will be played at the MGM Grand.
Iona had a stretch late in the season when they lost six of seven. All six losses were by fewer than three-points in a combined five overtimes.
Davidson went 17-1 in the Southern Conference prior to the three conference tournament victories. They have not lost since January 14th.
James Madison ranks #25 in lowest turnover percentage and #22 in turnovers per game {just 11 a game}.
Six of Western Kentucky’s top eight scorers missed time this season. Getting everyone healthy is a major reason why they have won seven of their last eight games.
Not so fast: Four Davidson starters finished in double-figures last night.
One more thing: I can’t imagine how frustrating it must be to be a Minnesota fan.
You made it to the end -- celebrate by watching some basketball.

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