Ugh, I am disgusted. What did I get in the mail today? Sports Illustrated’s NCAA Championship issue with Tyler Hansbrough on the front. I could not have been more upset. Sports Illustrated should’ve known better. I don’t want this! You know what I did? Yep, you got it. Ripped that cover right off (the rest of the magazine was good, come on now). I should get a one magazine refund for even having to look at that right out of the mailbox. Even worse, the Tar Heel I hate the most, Tyler Hansbrough, highlighted the front cover with a ridiculous, goofy looking face while taking a shot against one of State’s defenders in the NCAA title game last Monday night. Gross…SI, take it back. I would’ve rather had a “Duke Gets Knocked Out” issue to be perfectly honest. At least I wouldn’t have had to look at Hansbrough and the rest of his lady friend Tar Heels. Come on SI, you know better…
Archive for Michigan State
He’s done it again. Tom Izzo has pulled yet another rabbit out of his hat. Instead, this time it was a 2009 Michigan State Spartan.Izzo and his “under the radar” Spartans have stepped back onto the NCAA stage and stolen the spotlight heading into the Final Four…in Detroit, Michigan. Home Sweet Home State? I think so. Izzo has taken a bunch of unknowns outside of Michigan and turned them magically into another overachieving unit that has simply played flawlessly throughout March Madness and the NCAA Tournament. Whatever tricks that Izzo has had up his sleeve have proved brilliant in the team’s journey through the NCAA field. This says a lot about Izzo and his leadership. Though I cannot stand the Big 10, you must give credit where credit is due. Outside of the Michigan State campus, if you asked someone, including me, to name one member of their current roster they and I would’ve laughed and said “Who cares? They’re not going to do anything anyways.” And there you go folks, I was wrong. I’ll admit it. Shoot, they’ve proved us all wrong, even so-called bracketologists. NO ONE, and I mean no one, had them in the Final Four of their pick’em bracket, let alone winning the dance and cutting down the nets. Why would you have? They play in the Big 10! That’s strike 1. But Izzo and company have simply stunned the College Basketball world and booked their trip to Detroit where they are likely to sell the place out with Spartan fans so close to home. It’s going to be ruckus and absolute pandemonium when State steps onto the court…
Do I think Michigan State has a chance against UConn and likely UNC this weekend? Well, Izzo’s already proved me wrong once getting his guys to play outside their minds. Why not two more games, huh? I think he’d tell you they’re pretty good…but that’s just a hunch. Don’t count them out…It could be another night at Izzo’s Magic Theater. We’ll just have to wait and see, but for now, buy your tickets folks and get out your wands. You’re in for a treat. Nobody knows how he does it, but he’s got the right touch..the magic touch if you will.
After last night’s chalk results, the NCAA Tournament is on to the Elite 8. Tonight, we’ll see Villanova-Pitt and Missouri-UConn. Below is my analysis on each game and my prediction as to who will make it to Detroit and represent in the Final Four….
Villanova vs. Pittsburgh
In the late night matchup, Pitt faces off against another Run ‘n Gun type squad and will have their hands full with Jay Wright’s Villanova Wildcats. If they think they’re going to cakewalk to the Final Four as everyone once thought they would, think again. Pitt hasn’t impressed me yet so tonight they better show me something, especially Lavance Fields. Show the nation that you can lead your team and not rely on DeJuan Blair and Sam Young each time down the floor. Pitt’s tournament journey has been far from easy so far as each one of their games has been relatively close and down to the wire. Shoot, Pitt even struggled to knock out East Tennessee State. Tonight should be no different though. I think they’ll do just enough, once again, to take down the ‘Cats and move on to Detroit.
Though Villanova is hot right now, I think their “gas” finally runs out later this evening.After watching them dismantle my Dukies the other night, I have been more than impressed by what Scottie Reynolds and Dante Cunningham have done on both ends of the floor. Nova’s hawk style defense has been shutting opponents down from 3-point land and has made it tough for anyone to establish a balanced offense. However, they haven’t seen size like Pittsburgh and I think that because Nova has a smaller team, they will get largely out-rebounded and be hurt by second chance points. Look for the ‘Cats to shut down Lavance Fields but not be able to contain DeJuan Blair and/or Sam Young. One of them is bound to go off tonight. It won’t be of any surprise to see Blair or Young put up a monster double-double. Though I do give the guard play advantage to Villanova, I just don’t think it will be enough. I see the ‘Cats racking up fouls inside the paint and giving Pitt the opportunity to cash in at the free throw line. It will be competitively close on the scoreboard the entire game, but Pitt pulls it out in the end. Congrats Jamie Dixon….see you in the Motor City.
Prediction: Pittsburgh 78, Villanova 73
Missouri vs. Connecticut
UConn-Missouri…intriguing. No one knows a lot about the Missouri Tigers but they have been the dark horse in this stage in the tournament, without a doubt. Where did they come from? Who cares, they’re lights out. UConn, however, has done its job and taken care of business each round with Thabeet leading the charge and A.J. Price following close behind…like everyone thought they would. Tonight, UConn will match up against Mizzou’s pressure defense and fast-break offense and will hope to slow the game down enough to take over and move on. I think this game stays close for a while but UConn pulls away in the second half when the Tigers finally struggle to shoot it….
Look for Thabeet, assuming he stays out of foul trouble, to have a big night against the Tigers’ less-than-big-men down in the paint. Thabeet should take full advantage of size differential and he’ll likely get four or five dunks/layups being so close to the basket.On the other end, Mizzou will have to rely on the three point shot…look for them to be hesitant to drive to the hoop because of UConn’s monster in the middle. I give Missouri a chance here, but just a little one. They might surprise everyone by leading at half time but look for UConn to continue to go inside and if Mizzou doubles down, UConn will take advantage of open looks from behind the arc. If I had to guess, Thabeet will likely go for 22 points and 11 rebounds, doing it all for the Huskies. Huskies roll late and Jim Calhoun gets another ticket to the Final Four…
Prediction: Connecticut 82, Missouri 71
2009 NCAA Tournament Midwest Region Bracket Seeding
1 – Louisville, 2 – Michigan State, 3 – Kansas, 4 – Wake Forest
5 – Utah, 6 – West Virginia, 7 – Boston College, 8 – Ohio State
9 – Siena, 10 – USC, 11 – Dayton, 12 – Arizona, 13 – Cleveland State
14 – North Dakota State, 15 – Robert Morris, 16 – Play in Game Winner (won’t matter, trust me)
On the night of March 20th, these teams will begin their journey on their way to a potential National Championship run in Detroit on April 6th. Compared to the other regions in the tournament and the opportunity for the #1 seed (in this case, Louisville) to make it to the Final Four, I rank the Midwest as the 2nd toughest bracket out of the field.At a broad look at the bracket, Louisville will find a tough road to Detroit after just winning the more-than-grueling Big East Conference Tournament. However, tournament time is Pitino time so look for the Cards and Terence Williams to step up and be a force in the tournament. Louisville will likely have to face Siena after they win an upset special over the overrated Buckeyes in the first round. Don’t sleep on Siena, they’ve won games before and have NCAA tourney history. In the 5-12 matchup, Arizona, a team that no one thought would even be considered to make an appearance in the tourney, is set up to take down the fightin’ Utes of Utah. However, the winner of the 5-12 matchup will be up against Wake Forest in the Round of 32. Wake Forest, though streaky at times, will give Louisville a run for their money in the Sweet 16. Now, the 6-11 game. I am definitely on the bandwagon of streaking West Virginia. The Mountaineers have played extremely well as of late and will continue their strong play, led by Butler and Ruoff, in the early rounds of the Tourney. I think they’ll take care of Dayton then take it to a Kansas team who is struggling of late and has little tournament experience with its current cast of players. Sheron Collins is the only member remaining on the squad who played in the National Championship vs. Memphis last year. I like WVU to win a couple games then bite the bullet against Louisville in the Elite Eight, a direct result of Pitino’s experience and tournament history. In the Midwest region’s 7-10 matchup, USC, another streaker, will struggle to pull away from but eventually take care of business against Boston College and Tyrese Rice. As much as I like Rice and the rest of the ACC in the Tourney, I have USC making a couple game run and really surprising people. This would include upsetting a too highly praised Michigan State ball club. After winning their first round game, I see them in a huge letdown against USC in the Round of 32. Tom Izzo is a great coach, but his team in 2009 is just not that deep. And I can’t stand the Big Ten….oh by the way.
In the Sweet 16, West Virginia will continue its stellar shooting from 3-point range and Louisville will prove its dominance and both will meet in a great, high scoring matchup in the Elite 8 for the right to go to Detroit. Overall, I really can’t see Louisville letting the NCAA committee and the rest of the field down. Rick Pitino, see you in Detroit.
Ok folks, get out your brackets…
2009 MIDWEST REGION PREDICTIONS
Sleeper teams to win at least one game: USC, Arizona, Siena
Most intriguing team to watch: Wake Forest (can they prove themselves?)
Biggest regional upset: USC beating Michigan State in the Round of 32 to advance to the Sweet 16
1st Round Winners: Louisville, Kansas, West Virginia, Siena, Arizona, Wake Forest, USC, and Michigan State
2nd Round Winners: Louisville, Wake Forest, West Virginia, and USC
Midwest Region Sweet 16 Winners: West Virginia, Louisville
Midwest Region Elite 8 Winner: Louisville
OUT OF THE MIDWEST REGION, Louisville WILL REPRESENT THE FIELD IN DETROIT AT THE FINAL FOUR
Analysis and breakdown of the West Region coming soon….