Tuesday, March 27, 2007

8 Ball

This is a recap of what happened before this weekend:

Shake, shake, shake....

Shake, shake shake....

What can the Magic 8 ball tell us about this year's Elite Eight?

Shake, shake, shake...

Shake, shake, shake...

Magic 8 ball, who will go from Elite Eight to NCAA champion?

Wow, the Magic 8 ball never ceases to amaze.

As you all know out there, we're down to the round of four, but I just want to do a quick recap of what's happened so far.

My picks have been mediocre at best. I'll get through them quickly, stylizing the winner in Bold and my pick in Italics (For example: Big East Team v. Team From Wussy Conference; or: Big East Victim of Tough Refereeing and Doubtless Other Instances of Poor Sportsmanship and Cheating v. Lucky Unskilled Nonhustling Overrated ACC Team Who Got All The Calls And Consistantly Made Once In A Lifetime Shots). Anyway...

Florida v. Butler: I managed to botch up an easy one by picking the winner and then saying: "[despite picking Florida to win this game] I am dying to pick against Floria and will go so far as to guarantee a loss in the Elite Eight." That didn't happen. Florida makes me mad. Noah makes me mad. The thought of them winning back-to-back makes me mad. Sometimes loathsome teams win. This is one of them. (You know what's really incredible? All this hate stems from one man; that lousy, no-good, overly celebratory, androgynous Noah. I can't remember the last time one player moved me so strongly against his team.) [Oh, and by the way...I GUARANTEE a Florida loss in the Final Four. The power of my hate cannot be beaten.]

Oregon v. UNLV: This was kind of the opposite of the above pick. I qualified my pick by noting my newfound respect for the Ducks, and I feel a little less embarrassed. A little.

Kansas v. Southern Illinois: Pretty simple story here. If the Salukis had won this game, it would have been amazing. They didn't. I predicted their loss. Wee.

Pittsburgh v. UCLA: Pittsburgh sent a valuable message to other Big East teams: If you're going to get a big, soft, white guy, do not feature him. You will lose.

UNC v. USC: As if there was any doubt.

Georgetown v. Vanderbilt: See above.

Ohio State v. Tennessee: I thought that this wouldn't even be close, and I was really impressed with Tennessee. I wonder how this program will be in the coming years. (Take me to another place, take me to another land, Make me forget all that hurts me, let me understand your plan....)

Memphis v. Texas A&M: I was right about this one, and it's good to see that John Calipari is raising the fortunes of an entire conference (Conference USA). I have nothing but respect for Calipari; I remember not long ago when Memphis was completely in shambles, and he has really raised the quality of both the players and the style of play. If they still had Darius Washington, Jr., I wonder if anybody could beat this team.

Now, let's look ahead to the biggest event in college hoops:

The Final Four

The two games of the Final Four each have a lot of promise, and for the first time in a couple of years, neither one is easy to predict (thank god). Let's start off with the sunshine teams:

UCLA v. Florida: I like how UCLA matches up against Florida, except in the frontcourt. It seems like this game will be won by Florida if they can exploit their advantage with the big guys, and by UCLA if they can do so with the small guys. Both coaches of these teams are top-flight, and I think it will be interesting to see how they try to accomplish the aforementioned goals.

The reason I think Florida will fail is because I don't think they'll be able to discipline themselves into a half-court game that can beat UCLA's. The reason I feel that way has to do most with Taurean Green, an excellent player for sure, but one who I think will have a very hard time against Darren Collison. Collison was just juicing on the best players in the country (to whom he gave up a lot of size) against Kansas, and I was really impressed with him. I think he's tougher, quicker, and more skilled than Green, even if he's not quite as polished offensively.

I think Mbah a Moute may have a fighting chance to slow down Noah, but it's Al Horford that will be the hardest matchup for UCLA. If the Gators double him, it will be trouble because of the Bruin's perimeter aptitude; I'd almost say he presents the kind of situation where you just keep one guy on him, playing him as physically as possible, and substitute his man out a lot to keep fouls down and stamina up. If UCLA can do that and let everybody else worry about everybody else, they will win, says Jimmy V.

Georgetown v. Ohio State: I'm sure anyone who knows me or has ever read this blog knew I was picking Georgetown because I love Big East basketball. Fine, I'm a homer, I'll admit it. But let's look at these two teams:

Greg Oden is obviously the man, but Roy Hibbert is actually two inches taller than him. I'm not saying that Hibbert can win a battle between the two, but I do think he is probably one of the best-equipped players in the country to box Oden out and keep him from causing weak-side defensive havoc.

Ohio State's complimentary players are also very skilled; especially Mike Conley, Jr. They don't quite have anyone like Jeff Green, though, and Jeff Green is key in this game because he's probably the only player that can take the ball to the hoop against Oden and draw fouls consistently. I don't see how anyone on Ohio State can stop him.

I also think Georgetown is a superior team with superior coaching. Since their back-to-back losses against Villanova and Pittsburgh, Georgetown has been absolutely unstoppable, blowing teams out of the water (their only loss was to Syracuse...hard to believe the Orangemen didn't make the tournament).

They didn't look that great against Vandy, but it seems like that woke them up, as they were able to run with a UNC team that was very arguably more talented. With Georgetown, as with most Big East teams, it's all about the coaching and the defense. Ohio State only sees teams like that a couple of times a year, when they play Wisconsin (who they're 2-1 against this year). So far in the tourney, they've played relatively weak defensive teams in Memphis, Tennessee, Xavier, and Central Connecticut. I think they'll be used to their offense executing without a lot of problems, and when it doesn't, they will fall apart just like Kansas did.

That's it. E-mail me at dontgiveupthebasketballblog@gmail.com


oden said...

Oden is energized ever since the big Tennessee block - but this game comes down to the guard play. Oden will get his 20/10, even against Hibbert.

The question is, what is Connelly going to do?

JimmyValente said...

That's a good question, Oden, and I have no idea. I think Ohio State has yet to see a defensive team as good as Georgetown, and one of the Hoyas' greatest strengths is stopping the opposing teams' offense at the point.

Look at what they did to the small guys on UNC (combined 4-20 between Lawson, Ellington, and Ginyard). In the close game to Vandy, the scoring breakdown was similar; 7-20 from Cage, Gordon, and Neltner (none of whom is really a point guard, but still).

Conley is better than any guards Georgetown has faced yet, but I don't think he's special enough to penetrate or get the transition offense started. If that doesn't happen, I think Oden's going to have to have a career night for OSU to win (i.e., more than 20-10).


JimmyValente said...

By the way, I like your site.

MattG21 said...

Oden hasn't even had a dominating game in The Tourney yet. He's been plagued by foul trouble and hasn't gotten consistent minutes...I really don't see this game being any different with him matching up against Hibbert. When looking at his games against tough opponents i.e. big men, he hasn't done too well (7 pts, 6 rbds vs. Florida's big men).

He had 19 against Central CT, and that's his high for the tourney...I wouldn't bet on Ohio St....(even though I have them winning the whole thing in my bracket)