Monday, February 23, 2009

Bracket Talk: 2/23

We're gonna talk some bracketology today and some thoughts about NCAA Tournament teams.

Final Four Projections (As of today):

Pittsburgh Panthers
Why they'll make it:
They're coming off an impressive road win vs. UConn. They play strong, physical defense. They have depth and experience to go along with solid guard play with DeJuan Blair and Sam Young in the frontcourt.

Why they won't make it:
Every single Final Four team ever, has been a strong 3-point shooting team. Pittsburgh isn't very consistent from deep. When they're on from the outside, they are a damn good team. When they're not, they can be exposed. If they're not hitting their threes against a top power conference team in the Big Dance, they'll be done for.

North Carolina Tar Heels
Why they'll make it:
UNC is dangerous. They have a lot of talent and good experience. This team made it to last years Final Four and that should help with this years tourney run. They have the best frontcourt depth in the nation now with Tyler Zeller back. Ty Lawson is arguably the best PG in the country and Wayne Ellington is their strike-dead shooter. Depth is lacking, but they have enough to get over the hump.

Why they won't make it:
UNC's overall depth will be tested deep in the tournament. It isn't nearly as deep as last years team, but once they run into an equally talented team with better quality depth (Like Kansas in the Final Four last year) they'll lose. Defense is a concern as well. Perimeter defense needs to be shored up.

Connecticut Huskies
Why they'll make it
They're extremely talented and have great depth. One of the best defenses in the country and they pose match-up problems for a lot of teams; not many can bang down low with Hasheem Thabeet, Jeff Adrien is long and physical, and AJ Price is a quick and great decision-making point man. They won't give you many extra scoring opportunities because they're the best rebounding team out there.

Why they won't make it:
The loss of Jerome Dyson. UConn looked destined for the Final Four before Dyson went down with a torn MCL. Now they'll need Kemba Walker and Craig Austrie to step up and provide some scoring help. This hurt their depth quite a bit and it may have screwed up their scheme.

Memphis Tigers
Why they'll make it
Memphis is talented and experienced. Plus, they play exceptional defense. They're physical and they'll get in your face. Tyreke Evans is not your typical PG.; He can dominate you at any time. Their frontcourt can play with anybody with Shawn Taggart and Robert Dozier. Experience will help them as well.

Why they won't make it:
Offense can be stagnant at times. Once they go up against a team that is just as strong defensively and match-up with them individually, they could have some trouble putting up points. Also, as in every year, lack of competition in C-USA will hurt them.

Final Four Sleepers:
Watch out for the Wildcats. They're experienced and have some good guard depth. Dante Cunningham is the most improved big in the nation. Plus, they can shoot it from deep and make you pay for your mistakes.

Another team with great guard play. Their guards have been around awhile and they can shoot as well. They're not very big, but their defense and quickness will help make up for that.

Arizona St.
Don't sleep on the Sun Devils. They may not be very deep, but they have a stellar 1-2 punch with James Harden and Jeff Pendergraph. Plus, the defense is pretty strong.

Michigan St.
If Raymar Morgan stays healthy and can regain his oldself, the Spartans will be dangerous. Izzo always gets the best out of his teams in March.

The Boilermakers haven't done much without Robbie Hummel, but if he can stay healthy they're a real threat. They nearly made the Elite 8 last year with virtually the same squad. They're talented, versatile, long, and athletic.

This team has been there done that. They made it to the Elite 8 last year and the 2nd round two years ago. They have 3 starters back from those two teams and the depth is even better.

Overall Sleepers
They have everybody back from last years 2nd round team. They'll be dangerous after playing a tough schedule.

The Jays are a well-known squad and they play in a good enough league to give them some competition for the tourney. They shoot the 3-ball well and they also defend well too.

The Rebs have been inconsistent lately, but they're experienced. Wink Adams may be one of the most underappreciated guards out there. They're a well-coached squad and their top players have been there before.

West Virginia
WVA returns a lot of players from last years Elite 8 team. Bob Huggins is a terrific coach and WVA always seems to give match-up problems to teams in the tournament. This team is battle-tested and they can hang with anybody.

South Carolina
SC could sneak up on some people. They're one of the fastest teams in the country and they like to get out and run when they can. Devan Downey is a top-notch guard and has the ability to catch fire from the outside.

Stephen F. Austin
This is a well-balanced team overall. They have scorers and play tough, physical defense.

North Dakota State
This is probably the most experienced team in the country with 4 fifth-year senior starters. They've played in some big games and have gotten some big wins. They can score and they rank pretty high in some offensive statistics nationally. Ben Woodside is a very good guard for them.

Western Kentucky
They play in a formidable league and they lost in the Sweet 16 last season. Some of those players are back, including AJ Slaughter. This team is dangerous from the outside.

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