Big East Hoops

Archive for March, 2008

Memories of the ’06 Gators

March 28, 2008 8:58 am by Big Willie Style

This was the first year they won the tournament. The year they beat Georgetown in the Sweet 16, Villanova in the Elite 8, Mason in the Final Four and then UCLA for the title.

The reason this year’s Louisville squad reminds me of them, is because the are big, fast, tremendously athletic and talented, and probably under-seeded because of some hiccups during the season. UF crushed their opponents in the ’06 tournament. In fact, of their 6 consecutive victories, only the Georgetown game was even close. Louisville has done similar work this season, crushing all three of their NCAA opponents. Now, they have UNC, who has looked mighty good as well. As most know, I’ve been riding the Cards all year, and not unexpected, I’ve got them in my Final Four with 3 other number one seeds. Now we get to see if they can beat the nation’s “best” team.

But I challenge you all, take a look, ’08 Louisville & ’06 Florida look eerily similar.

Nothing is sweeter

March 23, 2008 12:00 am by donald

Marquette lost.

Notre Dame lost.

Pittsburgh lost.

But it’s all okay. Because Duke lost. West Virginia won.

My favorite game of the tournament every year: the game when Duke goes out. Call me a hater, and you’d be right. I hate Duke. I love West Virginia. I only saw this one game today, but what a game it was! Joe Mazzulla, the backup point guard, had a near triple-double, and Joe Alexander was a stud again. Although Alexander shot a bit too much in my opinion, he made some unbelievable blocks and assisted on two key backdoor cuts. Most importantly, he talked a lot of smack to Duke. Even after the game.

Apparently, this carried on to the rest of the ‘Neers. If you have some time, read that blog post. My favorite quote from that article:

Cam Thoroughman asked whether Duke’s Greg Paulus was one of the eight McDonald’s all-Americans. When told yes, Thoroughman said, “Oh my God. Are you kidding?”

Awesome.

4-0

March 21, 2008 9:36 am by Dan'l B

Halfway to a clean first round for the Beast, and the best — G-town and Louisville — were reserved for today. No complaints whatsoever so far. Only 20 more wins to an all-Big East round of eight!

Needless to say, if Villanova sneaks past a very good Clemson team, we should all be very happy. I certainly hope it happens. I’m also a little worried about UConn, who we can recognize is a bit of a paper tiger as a 4-seed. If the defense shows up though, as it generally has most of the year, they should be ok.

Debunking “experts”, disturbing trends

March 20, 2008 11:30 am by donald

When it comes to NCAA Tournament selection, there are no experts. Dick Vitale — he’s no expert. Jay Bilas — he’s no expert. Pat Forde…again, no expert. Big Willie…certainly not an expert.

Year in and year out, though, we hear the same talking heads on ESPN, giving us the “breakdown” of games and espousing “bracketology.” It’s mostly a bunch of nonsense. I’m not saying these people don’t know what they’re talking about — I love to hear Jay Bilas break down the intracacies of a game and enjoy hearing ex-coaches expose a bit of what goes on behind the scene, but I think a significant component of what happens in the NCAAs is random. Over a long enough run, I would bet that nobody beats picking higher seeds in a statistically significant way.

This is partly why it angers/saddens me that SportsCenter, a show I used to absolutely love, looks more like “The View” than a sports highlight show. Show us the highlights in a half hour. We watch because of the athletes and the game, not because of Stephen A. Smith.

Pat Forde….genius. The Best and Worst Case Scenarios of each team

March 19, 2008 7:22 pm by Big Willie Style

These are hilarious, BEHoops gives props to ESPN.com‘s Pat Forde. Below is excerpts from his article found here:

sports.espn.go.com/espn/columns/story?columnist=forde_pat&id=3300956&sportCat=ncb&lpos=spotlight&lid=tab1pos1

And here’s Pat’s run down of our teams.

GEORGETOWN (2)
Best Case: Hoyas finish proving there is life after Jeff Green by grinding their way to San Antonio, where they again upset North Carolina and then slow down Memphis to win the title. The team, which is 5-0 in games decided by five points or fewer, wins two more that way in the Alamodome. Guards Jonathan Wallace and Jessie Sapp make all the big shots, Hibbert shuts down the lane and JT III makes every opponent play at Georgetown’s preferred pace. Thompson and Thompson become the first father-son title winners.

Worst Case: Team that occasionally struggles to score and really struggles to create shots off the dribble goes cold against unafraid Gonzaga in the second round. Rigid offensive structure means Hibbert doesn’t get enough touches in the post, which means the offense bogs down, which means the Hoyas can be beaten. Early.

LOUISVILLE (3)
Best Case: Louisville’s rotation of big men limits Tyler Hansbrough and the Cardinals’ zone stops the Tar Heels to win in Charlotte and make the Final Four. Once there, Earl Clark becomes the best player left in the field and Rick Pitino outcoaches Final Four rookie Bill Self in the semifinals. Then the Cards beat Cinderella team Xavier for their first national title in 22 yeras. Kentucky loses by 20 in the first round.

Worst Case: Guards Jerry Smith and Edgar Sosa (a combined 7-for-40 from the floor this month) still can’t find the basket. Centers David Padgett and Derrick Caracter get in foul trouble. Cards do what they did in 2003: lose a second-round upset game in Birmingham to a double-digit seed — then it was Butler, this time Saint Joseph’s. Meanwhile, Kentucky somehow sneaks into the Sweet 16.

CONNECTICUT (4)
Best Case: Hasheem Thabeet blocks so many shots that they have to ice his palm daily by the time the Huskies reach the Final Four. Pleasant memories flourish for UConn fans, since they won the last Final Four played in the Alamodome, but the Huskies are taken down in the title game by North Carolina. Everyone returns on senior-less team and UConn is preseason No. 1 for 2008-09.

Worst Case: Jim Calhoun calls timeout four seconds into the opener against San Diego, furious at his team for failing to line up correctly for the jump ball. Grabs A.J. Price by the jersey, barks profanity at fans behind the bench, dumps on officials and generally acts like the unhappiest man in the Dance. Team follows his lead, plays miserably and loses to the Toreros. Thabeet and Price go pro.

PITTSBURGH (4)
Best Case: Absurd Big East tourney roll carries over, picks up steam with Bob Knight endorsement, shatters Sweet 16 ceiling and does not end until the Panthers are in San Antonio losing a pitched championship battle to North Carolina. Sam Young keeps blocking shots, Levance Fields and Ronald Ramon keep making jumpers, and nobody can get close enough to take advantage of Pitt’s scattershot free-throw shooting.

Worst Case: Take the Panthers out of the Garden and you take the starch out of the Panthers. Absurd Big East roll ends in thin mountain air against experienced Oral Roberts, intensifying the belief that Pitt will not get beyond the Sweet 16 anytime this century, no matter how it comes into the Big Dance. Panthers return home to watch West Virginia going farther.

NOTRE DAME (5)
Best Case: Fighting Irish win four for the Gipper, returning to the Final Four for the first time in 30 years. Kelly Tripucka nostalgia rules. Luke Harangody outplays Tyler Hansbrough in Sweet 16 upset. In the regional final, Kyle McAlarney finally shakes free of Louisville (he was 3-for-14 versus Cards on Feb. 28) to hit the game-winner. Mike Brey enjoys newfound appreciation nationwide. Charlie Weis takes notes on how to win the big ones.

Worst Case: Laissez-faire defense that allowed opponents to score 80 or more points nine times in ND’s last 17 games shows up in Denver, and George Mason obliges by perpetrating a first-round upset. Danny Ainge flashbacks are everywhere as Folarin Campbell drives through the Irish for winning layup. Nation notes that Brey doesn’t look good in turtlenecks. Weis wads up notes, throws them away post.

MARQUETTE (6)
Best Case: Golden Eagles win their first NCAA tournament game since the Dwyane Wade days by beating the same team they beat last in the 2003 regional final, Kentucky. Then they win another, beating a Stanford team overmatched athletically by Marquette’s studly backcourt. Sweet 16 run equals Wisconsin’s. Junior guards all come back to be seniors.

Worst Case: Kentucky team that matches up well with the Eagles (all backcourt, no frontcourt) extends the post-Wade streak without a tournament win to five years. Wisconsin makes Final Four. Jerel McNeal and/or Dominic James goes pro.

WEST VIRGINIA (7)
Best Case: Joe Alexander lives up to Bob Knight’s lavish praise, plays like the Stud of March, averages 30 points and seven rebounds, and leads the Mountaineers to the regional final. Big East seasoning helps WVU past Duke and Xavier along the way. Bob Huggins remembers what the second weekend of the tournament feels like — he hasn’t seen it since 2001, and has a string of memorable second-round flameouts.

Worst Case: Pac-10 seasoning trumps Big East seasoning as Arizona streaks past West Virginia in the first round. Mountaineers lack an athletic answer for Wildcats point guard Jerryd Bayless. Huggins wears god-awful Colonel Mustard suit, compounding bad loss with bad fashion, then dog cusses the team every minute of the trip back to Morgantown from Washington, D.C. Pitt makes Final Four.

VILLANOVA (12)
Best Case: Last at-large team in the Dance justifies its inclusion by stunning Clemson, then takes advantage of upset in the bracket to face No. 13 seed Siena in the second round. Suddenly Nova has won two games and has advanced to the Sweet 16, and everybody remembers why they loved Jay Wright so much when his team won 30 games in 2006.

Worst Case: Nova looks like a poseur better suited for the NIT when it gets routed by the Tigers. Sophomore Scottie Reynolds goes pro and Wright follows, taking an NBA job. Saint Joseph’s makes the Sweet 16.