Tag Archive: road to the Final Four



This tournament has been nothing short of ridiculous.  I’m not very old but I don’t remember ever seeing so many upsets not only during the tournament but during the regular season.  Which makes me wonder.  It’s the game of college basketball becoming watered down or are the players becoming that much better? Making the game much more competitive? I’ll go with the latter.

Personally, I’m not  a fan of this year’s tournament.  I also think it’s fair to say that Ohio State was the most consistent and dominant team and was eliminated in the Sweet 16.  Pittsburgh could also be argued to be the best team in the nation winning the Big East outright which was considered the best conference this season in basketball.  These two teams are no longer in the field of 5 (Kentucky and UNC are currently playing for the 4th spot in Houston).  I’m all about upsets but not this many. Seriously who wanted to watch Richmond vs. Morehead State? Or even 11 seed VCU vs. 10 seed Florida State in the Sweet 16? I’m all for Cinderella teams but not 4 Cinderella teams.

Another thing that has made this tournament less enjoyable is the pathetic excuse of refereeing.  I know it’s a tough job but let’s get real here.  These are supposed to be professionals.  I’ve seen so many missed or bad calls this tournament to make up a lifetime.  I know that if I make that many mistakes I’m fired and no longer have a job. I like to watch good basketball and solid refereeing is a huge part of a good basketball game.  Crappy refereeing = crappy/sloppy basketball from one team making the games usually lopsided.  Overall, the calling of these games has been less than acceptable.

After the second round (field of 64) I knew not to be surprised by who won and who lost. Yeah all these upsets are good for ratings and possibly for the game but, I’m having a hard time accepting that the way the tournament has played out.

Anyway, Congrats to Uconn, Butler, and VCU for making it to the Final Four and congrats to whoever wins between Kentucky and North Carolina.

Advertisements

Ohio State has hands down been the most consistent and dominating team all season.  Only slipping up to two tough Big Ten teams during the regular season.  Both losses were on the road at Wisconsin and at Purdue.  However, when they played these two teams at home both margins of victories were 20+ points.  That’s impressive.

David Lighty and Jon Diebler have had the hot shooting hands since the Big Ten tournament.  With Aaron Craft at the point distributing the ball to these two guys and Jared Sullinger Ohio State is a force to be reckoned with.  There’s not much that hasn’t been said about the Buckeyes this year and I have to agree with all that’s been said.  I dogged these guys late in December saying they would fall off once Big Ten play started but they shut me up quickly.  I have nothing but respect for this team.

Sullinger (0) and Buford (44) are the Buckeyes two leading scorers this season

Sullinger is leading the team with 17.2 ppg as a true freshman on the Big Ten regular season Champion team and the Big Ten Conference tournament Championship team.  The kid is a monster.  Just like Kansas he has a great supporting cast in William Buford, second on the team in scoring averaging 14.4 ppg.  I’ve already mentioned the likes of Jon Diebler and the hot hand of David Lighty.  These guys can score and shoot lights out on any given night.  I don’t have the numbers and couldn’t find them but I would guess they have the best shooting percentage of any team remaining during tournament play.

Not only can these guys score but they get after it on the defensive end.  Good old fashioned Big Ten basketball.  You have to love it.  They’re scrappy and in your face.  Their hardwork and focus is a complement to their talent.  I’ve always lived by the saying that, “Hardwork beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard”.  Well good luck beating talent that does work hard.  Thad Matta has gotten his team to hit on every cylinder so far in this year’s tournament (all year for that matter) and I expect them to continue to do so.  I don’t see Kentucky being able to pull of the upset but they’ll give the bordering Buckeyes a good game.  To be honest I don’t see Marquette or UNC giving Ohio State much of a fight either. Once Ohio State gets by Kentucky it should be an easy Elite 8 game to advance to the Final Four.

Something to keep in mind.  Back in December I heard some “experts” talking about how Sullinger has given his word that he’ll play at least 2 seasons at Ohio State.  If he gets to the title game and even wins a national championship it could be the end of a beautiful relationship between Sullinger and the Buckeyes.  Just something to keep in mind.

To wrap it up I have my Final Four looking like this.  Ohio State meets the Uconn Huskies  in Houston while the Kansas Jayhawks face off with the Butler Bulldogs! There you have it folks.  I hope my picks have peaked your interest and I thank you for reading my posts!

–Ryan K.


Bill Self is 202-43 (.824) as Kansas Head Coach. Self has led the Jayhawks to 7 straight regular season Big 12 Titles

Kansas has been one of my favorite teams since I can remember.  They’ve also been more of a heartache and let down than Purdue in past years.  Losing to Bucknell, Bradley, and even Northern Iowa in recent tournaments.  The always highly seeded and most respected Kansas teams have underachieved.  Not this year folks.

At this point in the tournament you can say that every team deserves to be here. Honestly I don’t think that’s the case this season. If you’re going to tell me that VCU REALLY deserves to be here then we should talk.  VCU got hot the last 5th of the season, Kansas and pretty much every other team played full seasons.  Anyway, I would say Richmond deserves to be where they are.  There first round game was a classic 12 over 5 seed upset, it happens.  Let me get back to my point.  I don’t think Kansas will flop this year like in years past.  Bill Self has stated the importance of those losses early in the tournament and how that’s made them tough.  That’s what helped them come back against Memphis in the ’08 tournament.  This year it’s obvious.  The Southwest Region is now watered down.  The match ups left to get to the Final Four are against Richmond and the winner of the VCU/FSU game (11/10 seeds respectively).  I think Kansas is too overpowering in the paint and has too much perimeter support from their guards.

Markieff and Marcus Morris look to continue dominating the competitions big men

The Morris twins are definitely the best big men duos this year.  The only comparison from years past that I can remember being this dominant is the Lopez twins from Stanford a few years back. This is how dominant the twins are.  They are the top two scorers and rebounders on the Jayhawks squad.  I can’t see Richmond being able to defend down low long enough without getting into foul trouble or just being ripped apart.

Not only are the twins dominant but they have a good supporting cast.  Tyshawn Taylor was a distraction earlier in the year and after serving a suspension has come back hot and contributing and distributing the ball extremely well.  If Brady Morningstar and Tyrel Reed can continue knocking down perimeter jump shots they’ll be tough to handle.  Let’s not forget Josh Selby either.  The kid is a baller and is a smart basketball player and still has a lot of room to grow.  Elijah Johnson also stepped up and ran the point in Taylor’s absence and played terrifically.  Kansas has the all around squad and the coach to get them to the Final Four.  Along with, what I call, watered down competition the road to the Final Four for the Jayhawks should be a done deal.  But, that’s why they play the games!

I look forward to seeing another great Final Four match up between Kansas and Butler.  Too bad it’s next weekend!


My Sweet 16 analysis has basically turned into my Final Four predictions.  You may have guessed it from the title but, I think Uconn is going to make the Final Four from the West Region.  And here’s why:

Uconn is coach by Jim Calhoun.  You cannot argue that Calhoun isn’t a great coach. He’s been in the tournament multiple times and has won a national championship.  The point is Calhoun knows how to coach in big games and in close games.  Plus it always helps to have one of the Player of the Year nominees on your squad.

Kemba is in contention for the Naismith Award (Player of the Year). His moves will be needed to lead the Huskies to a hopeful Final Four run.

I’ve said it all year that I like Kemba Walker.  Personally I can’t think of another player that I’ve ever seen.  He’s the all around player that can take over games and put the team on his back.  Kemba is 1st on his team in points (23.5) and assists (4.3) per game and second in rebounds per game (5.3).  To me that’s amazing.  It’s really good for a guard to be in the top 2 for points and assists but when you’re guard can also get up there in rebounds too your ball club will be given an advantage.  Walker has that uncanny ability to find the ball.  I remember watching the Pittsburgh vs. Uconn game on the Dec. 27th 2010 and even though Uconn lost I knew Uconn was going to be a Final Four team.  I just remember Kemba Walker making plays that no other player was making at the time (Jared Sullinger was making post player plays like none other, can’t compare the two).  Personally, I think Kemba is damn near impossible to stop and nobody can stop him besides himself at the college level.

Not only have the Huskies been through the brutal Big East schedule this season but they managed to win the Big East Tournament.  All 9 of Uconn’s losses came during Big East play (regular season obviously).  The Huskies are currently on a 7 game winning streak including 4 wins against teams ranked in the top 25! If that’s not being hot at the right time I’m not really sure what is.

I can’t forget to mention the fact that I don’t think San Diego State is very good.  Giving them a 2 seed was very very generous by the Selection Committee and they had a close game from a Temple Owls team I hadn’t heard too much about. I know it’s March and should expect close games but I thought they played sloppy against Temple.  I’m still not convinced SDSU is an Elite 8 or Final Four team.  I like Uconn in this match up, I think the Huskies will win big!

Purdue


It’s very disappointing to write this post, as I’m a Purdue fan.  However, I think I have to bite the bullet and explain why Purdue was eliminated and failed to make the Sweet 16.

  1. Purdue played shitty defense Sunday night.  VCU shot about 60% from the field. Purdue played with zero authority on either end of the floor. Their is no way VCU should have scored 94 points! Purdue’s defense is what carried them through the season and led to their 26 wins.  Along with playing with zero authority Purdue played without a sense of intensity or urgency.  They also looked extremely slow and it seemed as if they had their feet stuck in cement for the entire game.  They played like they were scared as well as lost.
  2. Not only did they not play defense they didn’t make easy layups or open shots.  Yeah they shot 45% from the field but there were way too many times when Purdue had easy layups that they missed, and they didn’t have anybody crashing the boards because they should’ve been easy 2-pointers.  Disappointing to be a Purdue fan tonight.
  3. Just like on the defensive end Purdue played with zero intensity or authority on the offensive end.  JaJuan Johnson didn’t go hard to the rim and expected to get calls.  They didn’t deserve them the way they “attacked” the rim. I use attack lightly because that’s the complete opposite of what they were doing.
  4. Overall, Purdue played lousy basketball
  5. E’Twaun Moore didn’t show up.  He only scored 10 points on 5 field goals. He didn’t attempt a free throw and was 0-3 from behind the arc.

    Moore's subpar 10 point game isn't how the senior expected to leave Purdue

  6. JaJuan Johnson needed more help from his Senior pal E’Twaun.  Johnson had 25 points but wasn’t a presence on the defensive end of the floor like he was all year.
  7. Ryne Smith couldn’t do it by himself.  He had 20 points but needed help from his teammates to set him screens to get him more open looks.
  8. Just a thought here: If I was Robbie Hummel I would kill E’Twaun Moore and JaJuan Johnson.  The senior leader was in tears at the end of the game and I strongly believe that Robbie cares more than Johnson and Moore combined.
  9. Moore and Johnson leave Purdue as two of the top 5 scorers in Purdue history

    Moore and Johnson may have been seeing dollar signs, they sure played like they didn’t care and without heart (I can’t say that too positively though, I’m angry/disappointed/heated, I’ll most likely retract these harsh statements later).

  10. VCU played one hell of a game and I take nothing away from the Rams.  I’ll be on your side the rest of the way.  Good Luck to the VCU Rams.

Although this is a disappointing loss I look forward to next year.  Robbie Hummel says he’ll be back and I like the guys already on the squad, plus we have some really good looking freshman coming in.  Yeah, we lose E’Twaun Moore and JaJuan Johnson but they’re moving on to bigger things and I think their hearts might be in other places now.  I wish them both luck in their future endeavors.

Rodriguez's double-double helped VCU topple Purdue enroute to the sweet 16


The North Carolina/Washington game was an exciting game to watch from start to finish.  I didn’t get a chance to watch either team very much during the regular season or during conference tournaments.  However, I took a few notes that I think were key to success and failure. I’ll also get to the controversial call at the end of the game.

Harrison's 22 point performance helped the Tarheels escape a close game to advance to the Sweet 16

1st, I’m not very impressed with UNC.  I am impressed with Harrison Barnes, Tyler Zeller, and Kendall Marshall.  Barnes can score and create his own shots like nobody else I’ve seen this year, maybe I shouldn’t forget about Kemba and Jimmer? Barnes literally took control of the game for about 3 minutes and led UNC on a couple runs that gave them the lead.  Personally I think the kid is living up to all the hype.  Tyler Zeller is a tough player that can finish at the rim.  I was very impressed with Zeller.  I was also amazed by Kendall Marshall.  14 assists in a tournament game is big time!

However, I’m not sure UNC has the team discipline needed to win a national championship.  Too many times I watched UNC break down defensively and give up easy shots.  There wasn’t a sense of urgency or hustle on the defensive end of the floor.  If I was a Tarheel fan I would be a little concerned.  Also, Roy Williams’ teams like to run and get a lot of transition and fast break points.  They’re usually pretty solid at getting back on defense in the transition game.  I know that Washington likes to push the tempo too but I saw Washington beat UNC down the floor and get some good looks.  Again this addresses UNC’s hustle issue.

I had Washington taking this game and advancing to the Sweet 16, I was wrong.  I don’t think Washington deserved to win any more than I think UNC deserved to win.  Both teams played outstanding.  However, Washington made a few too many mistakes during a crucial time period towards the end of the game.  The Huskies turned the ball over a couple of times at very inopportune times and also took some bad shots that ended with empty possessions.  I can’t stress enough how debilitating empty possessions are in the last 5 minutes of the game.

Isaiah Thomas's 12 points wasn't enough to propell the hopeful Huskies to the Sweet 16

Even though Washington loss I was fairly impressed with them.  As I mentioned above Roy Williams likes to have his guys out on that floor running it to death.  The Huskies ability to beat them at their own game was eye opening and a lot of fun to watch.  Isaiah Thomas’s performance was anything but electrifying like it has been in the past.  Much of the Huskies success came from his solid play and ability to score.  I think the Huskies were looking for and needed more out of him today scoring wise.  He finished the game with 12 points.  Something to note is Terrence Ross’s game high 19 points for Washington. He gave the Huskies a huge lift off the Washington bench.

I don’t think UNC will make it much further in the tournament.  I predict Syracuse being able to take care of business by playing disciplined basketball and controlling the tempo.

As for the ending of the game I have a problem with the referees not attempting to make sure they had the right amount of time left on the clock.  I know the rules state that the clock is supposed to be stopped on the referees whistle but, I know for a fact that I’ve seen referee crews go to the monitors and put time back on the clock when the ball hit out of bounds.  The rules are the rules but I really wish they would have taken another look at the monitors.

Morehead St. vs Richmond


Richmond took care of business Saturday afternoon against Morehead State.  The Spiders were successful for many reasons.  One of the things that really impressed me about Richmond was their unselfishness with the ball.  They moved the ball very well and for the most part made the extra pass to get the easy jumper or the lay in.  Richmond’s Kevin Smith led the way with 6 assists followed by bench player Kevin Anderson who had 4 assists.

Justin Harper's 19 points against Morehead State helped Richmond advance to the Sweet 16 over Morehead State

None of Richmond’s starters scored in double digits but were led by Justin Harper coming off the bench with 19 points, he also had 3 assists.  Kevin Anderson dropped in 14 points and Dan Geriot contributed by scoring 13.

I also thought that Richmond’s pace really threw Morehead State out of their rhythm.  Too often the Eagles looked to force the pace and ended up taking bad shots.  The Spiders especially worked the shot clock late in the game cutting Morehead State’s possessions.

Not only did Richmond share the ball well and control the pace they made shots.  They shot 48.1% as a team from the field and 69.2% from the free throw line.

The Spiders also played sound defensively.  They played very good team defense and communicated well calling out screens and boxing out.  Although they got out-rebounded 32 to 30 they came up with huge stops down the stretch and really made a point to get to the glass when Morehead St. put up shots.

I feel bad for the Spiders.  Though they’re making a run at being the Cinderella story of the year they’re about to run into the Jayhawks very soon (yes I know Kansas still has to play Illinois before that but that’s my prediction).  I enjoy watching Richmond play and have been rooting for them.  I mean I am an Indiana boy, I kind of have to.  The Spiders are hot right now but a lot can happen in a week.  I think Kansas will handle them pretty well but they will have to watch out for falling into the Spiders web!