Saturday, March 26, 2011

Saturday Open Thread + Picking The Lines

This will be the open thread for today's games. The Sweet 16 results were shocking almost across the board. This has been the craziest set of upsets we've had in a Tournament in years. But I'll still try my best to preview the games:

Round of 16 ATS: 3-5
Total through Round of 16 ATS: 37-22-1
2010 Tournament ATS: 35-25-3

Florida (-4) over Butler: Butler's magical run has been different from VCU's. VCU has been playing out of their minds, and they've just played great basketball on both ends of the floor. If they'd played like this all season they wouldn't have been such a shocking Elite 8 team. Butler is different. I knew that the computers were underrating them because they had those awful results during the middle of the season when they fell to Youngstown State and got swept by UW-Milwaukee. They just didn't have the appropriate concentration and motivation. Their defense has picked things up considerably. But they've also been just very lucky in the NCAA Tournament. They've won their three games by a combined ten points, benefited from ice cold shooting from ODU and Wisconsin, and were given some gifts down the stretch by a brain-dead Pittsburgh team. VCU confounds me with how well they're playing, but Butler still is who I thought they were. They're a well-coached team that can a few things well but nothing great, and can struggle against over-powering front lines or teams that can shoot. Butler's done a good job so far of keeping opponents off the offensive boards (particularly in that ODU game), but Florida will really test them, particularly with their front court depth. If Andrew Smith is not 100% it's going to be a big problem. Wisconsin did Butler a favor by launching outside shots instead of attacking the paint, but I doubt Florida will repeat that error. Florida can struggle against teams that have a lot of post offense, but Butler really doesn't have that. They get a lot of second chance offense, but don't post their bigs up in the paint often. Butler could continue their magical run, but unlike the talking heads on television I can't say "The stats support Team A, but Team B has magic so I'm picking them." If both of these teams play an average game, Florida will win.

Arizona (+3) over UConn: You want to see a crazy stat on UConn? They were 195th in the nation in eFG%, but Pomeroy rates their offense 11th most efficient in the nation. The reason? They are 7th in the nation in offensive rebounding percentage, and led the Big East in offensive turnover rate. They simply take more shots than their opponents. Arizona finished dead last in the Pac-10 in forcing turnovers and first in defensive rebounding. So they won't turn over UConn, but UConn hasn't been turning the ball over anyway, and Arizona should be able to keep UConn off the boards. A big worry for UConn is finding a way to deal with Derrick Williams. They simply don't have a player who can both guard him on the perimeter and in the paint (Roscoe Smith is probably the best shot physically, but I don't see him containing Williams one-on-one all game). I wonder if Jim Calhoun will be willing to play a zone, because that's probably his best shot of containing Williams. Arizona's biggest weakness is post defense, and they are particularly thin on the bench inside as well. UConn's best shot is to go big with Alex Oriakhi and Charles Okwandu, and to pound the ball inside. But short of actually getting Derrick Williams in foul trouble, the edge has to go to an Arizona team that is so explosive offensively right now. Unless UConn dominates the offensive glass against the best defensive rebounding team in the Pac-10, I don't see how they keep up offensively.

But I went 3-5 in Sweet 16 games... so what do I know anyway?


Jeff said...

Florida did a good job of getting the ball into the paint early, then went away from it, and then got back in there late in the first half. They're having so much more success when they attack there - they're scoring more efficiently, and they're getting Butler's front line in foul trouble.

The only way Florida loses this game is if Walker & Boynton try to do too much and launch too many jump shots... not an improbability by any means.

Tom said...

Let's go Cats!

Jeff said...

Butler's last eight NCAA Tournament wins have been by seven points or less. An unbelievable streak of luck that has to be unprecedented, at least in modern history. I can't think of another program ever on a run like this.

Jeff said...

Seth Davis keeps saying on his twitter feed that Kemba Walker "will not let his team lose". If they only lose when he lets them lose, why did he let them lose 9 Big East games?

Jeff said...

Arizona shot over 40% on threes for the season, but 4-for-21 three-point shooting in this one doomed them.

UConn, like Butler, is on a tremendous streak of close victories. And like Butler, the media will not give any credit to luck. I know Kemba Walker "willed his team to victory", but how exactly did Walker keep Derrick Williams and Jamelle Horne (47% three-point shooting combined on the year) from hitting open threes in the final ten seconds - either of which would have won the game?