Sunday, March 21, 2010

Day 4 Discussion

Now that everybody's bracket has been ruined except for the secretary in your office who picked the teams with the prettiest uniforms (it's been one of those years), we can now just sit back and enjoy the games without worrying about our brackets.

We're starting the day with Gonzaga-Syracuse, and Syracuse has major problems, despite their big halftime lead. Onuaku will not play, and Rick Jackson got himself into very quick foul trouble, meaning that Syracuse is now depending heavily on DaShonte Riley, who entered this game with 14 made baskets all season long. Gonzaga has pounded the ball inside all game, and will continue to pound the ball inside. And unless they start committing a lot of turnovers to allow Syracuse to get out in transition, the Orange will be forced to become a three-point shooting team. They will not run any offense through Riley.

Even without Onuaku, Syracuse is still the better, more talented team. But Gonzaga is deeper, and the longer this game goes along the more that depth will have an impact. And Gonzaga has historically been much better in Tournament games when they're underdogs than when they're favorites. We've only seen multiple 1 seeds fail to make the Sweet 16 twice in the 25 years of the modern NCAA Tournament: 2000 and 2004. But the Zags could pull off the upset here, and don't sleep on California tonight against Duke. We could see it happen again.


There are a lot of great games today. Basically the only game I'm not excited for is the Ohio State-Georgia Tech game, which the Buckeyes should win easily unless they spend too much time dreaming about a Regional Semifinals and Finals without Georgetown and Kansas. Georgia Tech only even got to this round because of a statistically insane 24-for-25 free throw shooting performance. But every other game should be competitive, and if Northern Iowa could beat Kansas then anything is possible.

Once again, I'll join you all in the comments to this post to discuss today's games.

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

I don't think the Zags will be pulling off the upset, but I think Cal has a very good shot at taking out Duke. The other game I am really interested in watching is the Missouri v WVU game, I think the Mountaineers are a great hard working team, but Missouri is a tough matchup for any team, especially one that does not have guards who can protect the ball. I say the Tigers will pull that one out, and then of course I am curious to see who my Wildcats will match up against, in that Xavier v Pitt game, no real idea who is going to win that one. Any thoughts on that matchup and then on the matchup with K-State?

Jeff said...

Xavier/Pitt is an interesting match-up because Pitt is such a weak 3 seed. Xavier showed real toughness and quality in that clinical destruction of Minnesota, and Pitt proved by almost losing to Montana that they're almost as big of a fraud of a 3 seed as New Mexico was.

At this point the game is a total toss-up. Pitt won't get blown away the way that New Mexico did, but there's a 50-50 shot that they lose. Pitt is a 2.5 point favorite, and I've already said that I'd bet on Xavier.

And K-State certainly has to like their Sweet 16 match-up. They'll be more talented and more athletic than either team that they play. The question will be whether they come down to reality after their statistical fluke of a shooting night against BYU.

Anonymous said...

Jeff, Michigan St. has a lead over Maryland at the half, but Kalin Lucas got hurt...if they move on to face N. Iowa, how does an injured Kalin Lucas affect the game vs. N. Iowa?

Anonymous said...

also N. Iowa plays in St. Louis where the MVC tournament is at...so they'll be close to home...could N. Iowa actually make the Final Four?

Jeff said...

Kalin Lucas will have close to a week to recover, but even if he doesn't play I don't think Northern Iowa has the ability to make them pay much for it.

The big cost of a Lucas injury is turnovers, because he's by far their best ball handler. During the regular season their turnovers went up dramatically when he was on the bench with his last ankle injury. But Northern Iowa isn't a team that forces a ton of turnovers, so they're not positioned well to take advantage of a Lucas-less Michigan State team.


The bigger worry for Michigan State is surviving a Maryland team that actually is able to force a lot of turnovers. If Lucas doesn't play the rest of the game then don't be surprised to see a series of dumb turnovers causing them to blow their lead. Korie Lucious has been particularly shaky in big games, where he tends to get nervous and try to hard. He could be a turnover machine filling in for Lucas in the NCAA Tournament.

Anonymous said...

then again...N. Iowa did beat a statistically superior Kansas team...so I mean...anyone can beat anyone lol...Jeff, you must've been stunned when George Mason made the final four in '06, huh?

Jeff said...

Absolutely, on any given day anything can happen. I'm just telling you what's statistically likely or not. But if Georgia Tech or Kansas State can put on free throw clinics after being awful at the line all season long, then anything is possible in a 40 minute sample size.

Anonymous said...

Cornell is putting on a clinic against Wisconsin, thoughts?

Jeff said...

I should have know that since I picked Wisconsin to win this game that there would be some statistical fluke that would go against them in this game. It's the way the entire Tournament has gone for me.

Wisconsin is actually playing good defense (don't believe a word Clark Kellogg says, he's an idiot). But Cornell just cannot miss.

Wisconsin's offense has been sloppy and bad, but they're playing good defense. There's no defense in the country that can stop a team shooting as well as Cornell is.

Anonymous said...

wow...hell of a finish to the mich st. - maryland game...but ur right jeff, they're in trouble without kalin lucas, we'll see what happens

Jeff said...

Yeah. Michigan State committed 9 second half turnovers, which is what they're going to be seeing if Lucas can't play next week. That team is just a turnover machine without the ball in his hands.


Although between Georgia Tech's 24-for-25, the Jacob Pullen show yesterday, and Cornell putting on the best team shooting performance I've ever seen in all of my years watching the NCAA Tournament... anything> can happen this year.

DMoore said...

I would think you'd have to favor Northern Iowa in that game if Lucas isn't available. The spread would have been pretty close already, and the turnover differential between the teams could be scary, because Northern Iowa turns the ball over so rarely. Northern Iowa defends their glass very well, which should neutralize one of Michigan State's usual advantages.

Is there another factor I'm overlooking?

Anonymous said...

Horrible absolute garbage Wisconsin is horrible!

Jeff said...

DMoore, it will definitely be a close game. The thing to remember is that Northern Iowa is not the team that beat Kansas - they likely won't play that well again. If Michigan State can hold their turnovers under 20 then they should win. The thing to remember is that while Northern Iowa doesn't turn the ball over often, they're not good at all at forcing turnovers. They're 166th in the nation in defensive turnover percentage.

And to anonymous: Wisconsin played fine. Their offense was sloppy in the first half, but they played very good defense. I don't think any of us have ever seen a whole team put on a shooting display like that for an entire game. No team in the country has a defense capable of stopping a team that shoots like that.

But this is all great news for a Kentucky team that would have really struggled to get by Wisconsin. Wisconsin would have had the edge in that game. But unless Cornell repeats a once-in-a-lifetime shooting performance, they're going to get blown away.

Anonymous said...

Will you publicly acknowledge the greatness of Jay Bilas and apologize to him if Cornell beats UK?

Anonymous said...

damn Pitt....

CLIN said...

Lol at anonymous regarding jay bilas

Anonymous said...

now that the sweet sixteen is finalized, any thoughts on the second chance brackets?

Jeff said...

I was actually planning on spending the next few days working on 2010-11 previews. I figured I'd start doing second weekend thoughts on either Tuesday night or Wednesday.

Do a lot of people really do brackets that start with the second weekend? I've never done such a thing...

Phil Hamilton said...

I'm in a group that re-picks after the first week's game. Two different games. The first is for all 63 games. The second starts with week 2.

Jeff said...

Okay, well I'll plan on putting something up on Tuesday evening about the second weekend's games. I'll be working on my 2010-11 previews until then.

Anonymous said...

I love your site Jeff. This has been by far the craziest tournament I've ever witnessed. It goes to show that even when the numbers strongly favor one team over the other there's still that "human" element that of course the numbers never seem to catch. I had Cuse over Duke for the title in all of my pools. I thought they were the two teams with the best combination of talent, experience, and basketball IQ. Hopefully it turns out well for me.

BTW next year things will be alot more stable...it's very clear who'll be preseason ranked number one next season.

LDUTheCoach said...

Oh man, isn't this why we tune into March Madness... we got upsets all over the place but in the West Bracket, Syracuse and Kansas State the number one and two seeds both were able to get to the sweet 16. To add to that Butler and Xavier got there and they are no team to take lightly. I am sure I am not the only one who waits all year to see basketball played at this caliber. Any team could honestly go on in this bracket to the Elite Eight.

If you are as confused as I am, and most people for that matter on who to take going into the Eight Eight and Final Four, you might want to check out this write up @ http://www.lionsdenu.com/march-madness-2010-sweet-16-west-bracket-syr-vs-but-xav-vs-ksu/ ... it has full in depth write-ups on all sixteen teams as well as predictions for all eight games in the sweet sixteen round.

So who you got in the West Bracket? I have to take the favourites in Syracuse and Kansas State, they are simply playing the best basketball out of any team in the bracket... But anything is possible, especially this year!!!

Nathan said...

You are awesome. I respect all the time you put into this. I consulted all your predictions when filling out my bracket. Granted, that didn't pan out great this year, but I will defiantly be back next year to hear your take on the tournament.

Keep up the good work.