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The NCAA Once Again Reaps What They Sow

March 24, 2018

Spending a few minutes looking at the National Quarterfinals a.k.a. the Elite 8 of the 2018 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championships™ …

SOUTH REGIONAL FINAL: Kansas State (9) vs. Loyola-Chicago (11), 6:09PM EST, TBS – What the **** is this?  You know the NCAA Selection Committee has done an abysmal job when this is the remaining matchup of a regional to decide a Final Four berth. Schlock like this is why I lambasted the Selection Committee in my March Madness Preview; When you do a poor job of seeding and matching up teams, you end up with this type of imbalance, where three of the Top 6 overall seeds remain on one side of the bracket, and only one of the Top 30 overall seeds (No. 11 Michigan) on the other.  You couldn’t pay me to watch these two teams play each other in December – Even though I love basketball – Why the heck should I watch them in late March? Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt, and her bobblehead, is a wonderful story, the Ramblers reinvigorating the concept of the “Cinderella” by winning their three (3) NCAA games by a total of four (4) points. Bruce Weber has been doing good work in The Little Apple, his Wildcats on the verge of Kansas State’s first Final Four in 54 years without their best player Dean Wade. Yet, with all apologies to Wildcats and Ramblers fans, I will find something else to do during this game. No further analysis here, except to suggest the first team to 55 wins (likely Kansas State). Let me know what happens …

WEST REGIONAL FINAL: Michigan (3) vs. Florida State (9), 8:49PM EST, TBS – On the other hand, I may find a screen for this one. Michigan is where I expected them to be, looking every bit the Final Four team I anticipated, albeit with a great escape needed against Houston in the Second Round.  Florida State for once has capitalized on their usual plus-athleticism against highly seeded mid-majors in Xavier and Gonzaga (I won’t say overseeded … Oops, I just said overseeded … there it is again!) to get Leonard Hamilton his first shot at a Final Four in his 30th year as an NCAA Division 1 head coach. They have a puncher’s chance, especially if they can solve Michigan’s perimeter offense, who found their mojo against Texas A&M, going 14/24 (58.3%) from three after going 13/46 (28.3%) combined in their prior two NCAA Tournament games. Although FSU’s length will bother Michigan a bit, a defense that lives up to the spirit of their school mascot the Wolverine, ranked 4th in the nation with an adjD of 91.8 points allowed per 100 possessions, should punch John Beilien and his Wolverines’ ticket to San Antonio.

EAST REGIONAL FINAL: Villanova (1) vs. Texas Tech (3), 2:20PM EST, CBS – Although I am mildly surprised that Texas Tech is here, no one should be shocked that they beat Purdue without Isaac Haas, despite Purdue Engineering’s best efforts. Especially since the Red Raiders’ head coach Chris Beard had beaten Purdue in the NCAA Tournament two years ago while at Arkansas-Little Rock. I must admit, I thought Villanova was in trouble last night against “Press” Virginia with about 11 minutes to go, down 60-54. Then I blinked and ‘Nova had flipped the game, using a 22-6 run to go up 76-66 and never looking back. Jay Wright has assembled a team of shooters at every position, and when it is clicking, it is a thing of beauty.  The Mountaineers caused 16 turnovers, roughly six (6) above Villanova’s season average, but gave up 90 points (their 2nd most allowed of the season) to the #1 offense in the nation, proving once again you live by the press, and die by the press. Texas Tech will pose a different challenge, the highest-rated defense left in the field, providing their resistance in the half-court with the #3 adjD in the nation, 91.1 points allowed per 100 possessions. Texas Tech has seen great point guards in Kansas’ Devonte’ Graham and Oklahoma’s Trae Young, but I don’t think they will have an answer for Villanova’s Jalen Brunson, who was a one-man press breaker against West Virginia, and is the straw that stirs ‘Nova’s drink.

MIDWEST REGIONAL FINAL: Kansas (1) vs. Duke (2), 5:05PM EST, CBS – The obvious marquee matchup of the four Elite 8 games, CBS saved the best for last. Kansas demonstrates how important it is for the top teams to get a #1 seed, having Penn, Seton Hall and Clemson no more than 200 miles from campus between Wichita last week and now Omaha. Even with primarily playing a zone defense, Duke is back to their eminently hateable floor-slapping selves, holding their three NCAA Tournament opponents to under 68 points. Kansas often deploys four guards around center Udoka Azubuike, while Duke surrounds senior lightning-rod Grayson Allen with four supremely talented freshman, including likely NBA 1st Round picks Marvin Bagley III, Wendell Carter, and Trevon Duval. Look for this matchup to be decided by how well Duke’s fourth starting freshman, Gary Trent Jr., plays at both ends of the floor. If Trent can give Duke a reliable 3-point option, to counter the Jayhawks’ collective 43.3% efforts from three, as he did in their first two NCAA Tournament games, I like the Blue Devils’ chances. Get the popcorn ready.

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  1. The Seeming Inevitability of It All … | Bobby True

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