True Hoops

True Hoops

Thursday, March 17, 2011

It takes 4 to tango

I'm going to put myself out there right now.
Having never watched a majority of teams play this year, here are my Final Four predictions:

I am going to say that I am probably the only one out there that has these picks. And by the end of tonight, we'll know if they are still viable.

You'll say to me: "what if you're wrong"...

If I'm wrong, I'm wrong. You'll put me in jail and throw away the key.
But if I'm right....if I'm right...... Lenny....

EAST bracket: Ohio St.
I have never see them play this year, but they have been ranked in the top 5 seemingly throughout the season. They also seem to have one of the top players in the country, Jared Sullinger (I've never seen him play either).

There is usually one bracket every year that plays out according to seeding. I'm going with this one. Ohio St. over North Carolina in the Elite 8...just because.

Here is where we get non-canonical...

WEST bracket: UCONN
This can go either way. I really wouldn't be shocked if they lose in the first round to Bucknell. That is the 'trap' game. There is a tendency sometimes for Big East tournament champion teams to bow out early. This is most likely due to them depleting enormous amounts of resources to win their conference crown. 5 games in 5 nights can do that.

However, they have Kemba walker.

With that said, if they get by Bucknell, I think they handle Cincy and San Diego State. 
I know San Diego was able to finally figure out the one man team BYU (Jimmer) in the MWC title game. 
But UCONN has more depth.

A potential match-up with Duke in the elite 8 should be fun. They have had two classic match-ups in the past and I wouldn't expect this to be different. Still, I think the Huskies may just have the Blue Devils number.

SOUTHWEST bracket: Notre Dame
I HAVE seen these guys play. And let me tell you, they are impressive. 

They have the Big East player of the year, Ben Hansbrough, who averages 18.5 points per game and shoots a better percentage than Jimmer Fredette. They also have a lot of weapons beyond him: at least 3 knockdown shooters, at least 3 excellent ball handlers (including their center), a bruiser, and they are long.

Furthermore they don't have you're typical 1 dimensional type of shooter, we're talking about guys that get to the cup and finish - as some poor guy on Louisville found out the hard way.

My concern with them is perhaps lack of interior size. Kansas is big.
But if these guy get it rolling from out. 
Plus they got their bad loss out of the way in the Big East semi's against Louisville.

SOUTHEAST bracket: St. John's
What? You expected me NOT to go with the home team?
There is also always one bracket where a team no expects makes it through.
So why not us?
Our first time in the tournament since 2002, but really our first time being a threat since 2000.
They have shown they can compete and beat the best.

Let me tell you, there is really an opportunity for these guys.
I know they lost an important piece in D.J. Kennedy, but I'm thinking they'll rally around him and step up.
10 Big East seniors. 
Having upperclassmen is good recipe for making a run in the tournament.
They also have a big-time player in Dwight hardy.
If they play with confidence and NYC swag, then it is on.

Some people say they will go down tonight against Gonzaga.
This is payback time. 
If the Johnnies play aggressive and dictate the tempo, it will be in our favor.
We lost in 2000 to Gonzaga because we didn't enough depth and height. This year is different.

I think they then handle Jimmer and BYU in the 2nd round.
Next I have them beating an always gritty Michigan St. team in a potential ugly sweet 16 match-up. 
(I have Michigan St. beating Florida in the second round - my brother always tells me well-coached Tom Izzo teams are poised to make a run).

And then Pittsburgh in the elite 8? 
For some reason Pitt never does well in the tournament, even though they get decent seeds. Maybe this is the year they change that. Or maybe this is the year they let another Big East team beat them and get to the final four on a last second shot.
St. John's beat them earlier in the year at the Garden. They can do it again. 

There has been an amazing resurgence in NYC basketball this year.
No time to stop now.

Besides, when it comes to dancing....
As the late great GURU of Gang Starr said:
"you know your pops told you watch them New York boys..."

The Storm is coming!


  1. Well, it would be really easy for me to sit here and take your bracket apart based on the tournament having already begun, but that would be unfair. I base a lot of my pics on hunches, how teams are playing, how they play in general, and past tournament experience. Perfect example, Morehead State and Louisville. I picked Morehead State. Why? I thought when Pitino signed w/ Louisville, that they would be the team of the 2000s. Hasn't panned out that way. They have played well, but in order to be considered a dominant team, you need to win a championship or 2. They have zero under his tenure. So that alone has left a sour taste in my mouth. That encompasses a few of the factors I use to make picks. But this is the most important one: A wise man once said, "Pressing teams hate being pressed." And they pressed them to death. On top of that, Pitino has allowed Morehead State to come in and WATCH HIS TEAM PRACTICE in the past to learn their press defense/offense. How long did you think that was gonna last till they caught up??? Another factor is that while both teams had the same time to prepare for this game, there is more video on Louisville available than there is Morehead State. On top of that, all these double digit seeds out of the conferences that have more than 3 letters have the all or nothing attitude in all their NCAA appearances. A perceived powerhouse like the Cardinals, not so much. Then again, Im not in the locker room, so I could be wrong.

    I find it difficult to pick against "the chalk" when it comes to picking the Final Four. Look at the history. How many teams seeded below 4 have made it??? Not a lot. I dont think ANY team seeded lower than 6 has made it in the last 25 years. Ohio State is overwhelmingly impressive. I would NOT have Duke in the Final 4, but based on rumors alone with Irving supposedly coming back, how can you not??? Nolan Smith is a candidate for Player of the Year, and he's not even the best player ON HIS TEAM!!! That has GOT to count for something. Kansas just has unbelievable depth and length, and, barring them laying an egg in the second round (which they've been known to do) they should have an easy road till the Elite 8 with a potential match up with the Fighting Irish. As for the other bracket, I decided to go with Jimmer. Last night for the first time in my life I saw a give n go run for a 35 footer from Fredette. That's AWESOME!!! I think the potential match ups favor them, and I think Pitt will live up to their usual expectations, and get cracked in round 2 (or 3. Whatever the NCAA Powers That Be are calling it now) National Champion: Kansas. Charles Barkley said something about Ohio St and it's stuck in my head, and it stopped me from picking them. They CAN NOT dominate teams that they are clearly better than. How will they play against a team that has equal or greater talent? You better be right, Sir Charles.

  2. Let me address my picks.
    First of all, I make no apologies for being incredibly Big East Biased.
    You will notice 3 of my Final Four teams are from the Big East. Top to bottom, it is the toughest conference in the country. That doesn't mean individual teams from other conferences aren't better - as evidenced last night by how Gonzaga overmatched St. John's.

    I partially blame myself for that loss. All year long I haven't been following St. John's. In fact I never watched one of their games. It wasn't only until after I jumped on the bandwagon that they had a let down. I should of just played it cool. But can you blame me?

    New York has been yearning for quality basketball for a LONG time. And there is no denying the ton of excitement in the city that was generated by the Red Storm this year. Credit this senior class for bringing the program back. I must say, I don't know if I have ever been as excited to watch a St. John's game as I was yesterday - and that includes while I was on the team!

    But the truth is they were overmatched. Clearly they were undersized - out rebounded 43-20! Not only that, but they were out skilled, out shot, and even out swagged. One thing I wanted to caution against yesterday was for St. Johns to be aggressive but not over-zealous. To not rely on their athleticism too much and feel they could just win by running. They gambled too much and seemed as if they didn't have much of a plan besides pressing full court. They never switched it up. The problem is when you face a patient/confident team, that is fundamentally sound and has a game plan - you will be at a disadvantage. Which is why Gonzaga got wide open shots all night long and shot close to 70% from three.

    I think they beat BYU in the next round, and I'm not hating on Jimmer.
    Jimmer is nice. He can put up 60...... but Gonzaga as a team is putting up 70-80 points. We'll see what happens. My Michigan St. pick was also wrong.

    But if you want to talk about picks homie, you picked all one seeds! Who do you think yo are? President Obama? Way to take a risk on that buddy. Of course all of those teams are impressive or have players that are impressive, thats why they are one seeds. But if you talk about going against the chalk? How many times have 3 one seeds made the final four?

    There are so many intangibles that go into these single elimination games. The most important is how confident a team is playing vs. if they or their opponent is playing scared. Then of course there is strategy. If a team is confident, has a game play and executes it, they have a chance. If the are skilled, then that is even better.

    And as for you picking Duke. I don't care who they have, if they play UNCONN Kemba walker will be the best player on the floor. Period.

  3. Not sure how many times 3 one seeds have made it, but I can guarantee you it's more than seeds under number 4 making it. And dont worry about Duke matching up with UConn, cuz Kemba wont be getting past San Diego State. Bitter sweet, no???