Thursday, March 25, 2010

Day 5 Discussion

I want to set up a post for people who want to discuss the games tonight. We had some pretty good discussions so far this Tournament, so let's keep it up tonight.

My short thoughts on each of these games are here. Of the first two games, the more interesting is the Syracuse/Butler game. The real question is clearly whether Rick Jackson can stay out of foul trouble. Butler's weakness is inside, and Jackson can eat them alive. But when he was in foul trouble against Gonzaga, the Orange turned into a jump shooting team, and Butler's perimeter players are more explosive offensively than the Syracuse perimeter players. And that's why Jackson is also needed defensively, to protect the paint.

Of the second two games, everybody is mostly focused on the Kentucky-Cornell game. It's an interesting clash of style, but in the end it's really just going to come down to how well Cornell shoots. I can't recall ever seeing a team where all five starters got as hot as Cornell did against Wisconsin, and if they repeat that performance they'll beat Kentucky. But it's hard to see them shooting that well again, and if the shots aren't falling at a higher than typical rate then they're going to get blown off the floor. The question will just be whether they can shoot well enough to stay in the game against a vastly more talented Kentucky team.

I'll be here all night working on my 2010-11 previews (Big West, Ivy League, MEAC and MAC are up next), so join me tonight watching the games.


Anonymous said...

Syracuse is about to lose...

Anonymous said...

Butler looked pretty good tonight, but if K-State can get past Xavier, I think K-State has the faster, stronger team with a suffocating man defense. K-State's chances just got a lot better if they can get to the elite 8.

Anonymous said...

WVU is not looking very good tonight, or is the Husky defense really that good?

Jeff said...

It's official. Syracuse was a jump shooting team all game, and so it made them streaky, and unfortunately for them their final cold streak happened over the final five minutes of the game.

That said, it shouldn't be at all a shock that Syracuse turned the ball over so much. They were the worst ball handling team in the entire Big East. They were a great defensive team, and a great offensive rebounding team (at least while Onuaku was healthy), but never good handling the ball. Coming into this game they'd committed a turnover on 21.4% of possessions, which by my math says they should have expected 14 turnovers against Butler. They had 18. Considering a couple of those came during aggressive play when they were trying to come back from a deficit, and that they were playing a pretty good defensive team, I'd say they pretty much nailed expectations with turnovers.

Butler is a good team. They're better than they were last season, and it's easy to forget that they've spent most of the year ranked in the Top 15 in the nation. And while you had to give Syracuse the slight edge coming into the night, it should not have been much of a surprise to see them go down.

Jeff said...

Washington's defense is good, but but they're about average for the teams left in the Sweet 16. They're certainly no Florida State style defense.

Let's remember that this is West Virginia's first game since losing their starting point guard. You have to expect them to be a bit jittery out of the gate offensively.

And it seems to me West Virginia has been much better with the ball in the second half. They'll continue to improve as they get used to playing without Truck Bryant.

I do agree that Kansas State should be happy they're getting Butler instead of Syracuse. But that will be an even game. Let's remember how sloppy Kansas State occasionally is with the ball. If Jacob Pullen can repeat that BYU performance then they will probably win, but I haven't seen him play like that all year.

Of course, Kansas State should worry about getting by a very good Xavier team first. We can focus more on a potential Butler match-up when it's set in stone.

Anonymous said...

WOW. I am exhausted from watching that game. Was it the best of the tournament in terms of huge shots and lead changes? Or am I biased because my Wildcats are going to the Elite 8 for the first time since '88? Butler looked pretty good, but as long as K-State is not emotionally and physically drained, I think we can pull it out and get to Indy.

Jeff said...

I don't know if it was the best game, because we've had quite a few good ones. That Maryland/Michigan State game was great, and there have been a few others. But when you throw in Gus Johnson that might put the K-State/Xavier game over the top from a television viewer's perspective.

Kansas State is certainly on a wild run, but it's a worry that they're so dependent on Jacob Pullen's three point shooting. They'd have lost to both Xavier and BYU if those shots weren't falling. He's had two great performances in a row, but he also shot 30.4% behind the arc for the entire month of February, and has been so up and down all season. It's a lot to ask for three straight games like this.

Both of the Elite 8 games set up tonight look to be very close match-ups. I'll put some thought into them to see what I come up with for picking the lines and the favorites. I'll have my thoughts posted by Friday evening.