Sweet Sixteen – Day One

OK, if they weren’t already, my NCAA picks are dead now. For some reason, I was possessed by the evil spirit of Billy Packer when I filled out my brackets and I put inconsistent Wake Forest in the Final Four (along with even more inconsistent UNC). Poof.
Big little men
I had only seen St. Joe’s play part of one other game before last night. They are impressive. Their guards, their whole team really, have so much poise and confidence. They never seemed to have a doubt that they’d win. On the flip side, Chris Paul had a terrible game, and it seemed due to lack of confidence. He didn’t think he could beat his man, and continually picked up his dribble 25 feet away from the basket. A point guard of his caliber shouldn’t be picking up his dribble out there. Additionally, Phil Martelli completely outcoached Skip Prosser. Prosser had a reasonable plan of exploiting Wake’s superior inside game. They succeeded in getting four fouls on each of St. Joe’s starting inside guys just a few minutes into the second half. So, then Martelli went small, and instead of taking advantage of their size mismatch, Wake went small to match. The problem was, St. Joe’s guards were much better than Wake’s. Well, Wake has seven months to think about it and to get better. They should be a hell of a team next year.
Cruise control
At the start of the tourney, I picked UConn to win it all. I still feel that way. Vanderbilt seemed like they were just happy to be there and take their lumps, so UConn methodically took them out. It was never in question. UConn just looks stronger with each game.
OK State is OK
I hadn’t seen either OK State or Pitt play too much this year. Just a few minutes here and there and highlights. One thing I hadn’t realized was just how quick the Cowboys are. I guess I just assumed that they were the standard physical Eddie Sutton team, grinding it out on offense and beating you up on defense (and mailing you cash via Emery Express). But not this team. John Lucas junior is quick as hell. Hopefully he didn’t get all of his daddy’s genes. The Oklahoma State – St. Joe’s game should be a helluva matchup. I have a feeling the Cowboys will be more affective at using their inside strength than Wake was though.
By the way, when did Ben Affleck take over as coach at Pitt?
No repeat for the Orange
I wasn’t surprised at all that Alabama won this game. It looked like a pretty even matchup. What surprised me was how well coached and smart Alabama looked. Frankly, “smart” just isn’t a word that comes to mind much when you think of Alabama athletics. The way they attacked Syracuse’s zone in the second half was just brilliant though. They had beautiful interior passing, often starting with an entry pass to the free throw line and ending with a dunk or layup. Maybe ‘Cuse’s defense wasn’t up their normal standard, but they have a fairly experienced team. ‘Bama just outplayed them. The big time basketball programs out there should be taking a good look at Mark Gottfried, because he shouldn’t be stuck at a school where fans think basketball is just a slight diversion between the college bowls and spring football.
Tournament performance by conference:

 

NCAA NIT Total Postseason

Conference

Bids W-L Win % Bids W-L Win % Bids W-L Win %

ACC

6 9-4 .692 2 2-2 .500 8 11-6 .647

Conference USA

6 4-5 .444 2 3-2 .600 8 7-7 .500

Big East

6 9-5 .643 4 9-3 .750 10 18-8 .692

Big Ten

3 3-2 .600 3 3-2 .600 6 6-4 .600

Big Twelve

4 8-1 .889 5 6-4 .600 9 14-5 .737

Pac 10

3 1-3 .250 1 3-0 1.000 4 4-3 .571

SEC

6 7-5 .583 3 0-3 .000 9 7-8 .467

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