When we last saw the hardest working player in college basketball ever, his team was getting absolutely smashed by the Kansas Jayhawks in the Final Four. Apparently, that was enough to motivate him to return to Chapel Hill for his senior season.
Posts Tagged ‘North Carolina Tarheels’
And then there were Four. The Fantastic Four. Four Square. Whatever Final Four-inspired name you’d like to use to describe this weekend’s games and the bunch above me is fine. I’m sure they all fit. In the amazingly slight chance you don’t know what I’m referring to, the Final Four is this weekend with all four teams fighting for a chance to go to Monday night’s National Championship game.
So, who ya got? We’ll try to make it a little easier for you.
A lot of folks are picking UCLA to win here, saying they are due after three straight Final Four trips and while that may be so, isn’t a group that’s going for the first time kind-of due as well?
What we have here is Memphis’ scary athleticism versus Ben Howland’s defense-first attack. Can the Bruins turn the game into a 51-49/Texas A&M slugfest or will the Tigers run the court with ease like they did against Texas?
Can Joey Dorsey slow down the Kevin Love train? How about the Darren Collison/Derrick Rose match-up? Who has the edge? Youthful talent or a savvy, veteran guard who isn’t an athletic slouch by any means? Will Josh Shipp get abused by Chris Douglas-Roberts, much like everybody else who has tried to guard him during the Tournament (22.5 ppg during Memphis’ run to the Final Four)?
Considering the fact that Memphis has been consistently the best team since the Dance started, I’m going to go out on a limb here and pick the Tigers in surprisingly easy game – 75-62.
I don’t see UCLA keeping up with the horses in Memphis’ stable. However, if the game is close, I would expect UCLA to win because John Calipari has a habit of over-coaching his team in tense situations. And no, I’m not going to bring Memphis and free throw shooting into the discussion either.
If you are an opposing coach and that’s your strategy — counting on a team to miss charity shots — you don’t have much of a chance to begin with.
Ah yes, the headline bout. Roy “Coca-Cola” Williams versus Bill “Soon-to-be hounded-by-Oklahoma-State” Self.
While most of the free speaking media members in the world will present this game in that light — rightfully so — I think it’s going to come down to Darrell Arthur andTyler Hansbrough. Which one of these immovable objects will win the battle of the paint?
Looking at it, these teams couldn’t more equal matched if they were using exact clones of each other. For every Ty Lawson and Danny Green, there’s a Mario Chalmers and Brandon Rush waiting to counter.
Both teams have depth, athleticism and a whole heap of talent. Both teams also have great coaches; and a great subplot to go along with them — Roy Williams was the previous coach of his current opponent, of course — which gives us one hell of an intriguing match-up.
Instead of going on stats and match-ups and this coach versus that coach, this one’s coming down to a gut feeling: Kansas – 83, North Carolina – 79.
And the Jayhawks go marching on.
For the first time since they’ve started seeding, the NCAA Tournament finally has all four number one seeds in the Final Four. Your participants: Memphis, UCLA, Kansas and North Carolina. Did your bracket reflect this?
Whatever your thoughts on the teams remaining, it’s hard to deny they have been the best four teams in college basketball this season. Two have spent time in the top ranking (Memphis, North Carolina), while the other two didn’t spend much time at all outside of the top five.
While we are waiting for Saturday to arrive, here are some story lines to keep an eye on:
Can Bill Self get Kansas over the proverbial Championship hump? It’s about time that program won something, especially if they want to continue to be mentioned in the same sentence as Carolina, UCLA and Kentucky. One thing’s for sure, he certainly has the team to do so.
Can Memphis finish what the way they started? Over the past two tournament games, the Tigers have looked like one of the best teams remaining. Will this be the case next weekend?
Can Ben Howland actually win one of these Final Four appearances?
Will Roy Williams win another one, putting him right at the top for best coaches in college?
It should be fun seeing which one of these subjects becomes reality.
Well folks, it’s Sweet 16 time. You ready? Starting us off is West Virginia/Xavier with North Carolina/Washington State overlapping.
6:20 – Xavier, who has come from behind in both of their earlier wins, jumps on West Virginia early, 10-2.
6:35 – Xavier/WVU is quickly turning into a rout. Did the Mountaineers think the tournament ended after they beat Duke?
6:40 – However, Washington State/UNC is not. The Cougars are not scared of the Tarheels, benefits of playing in a tough Pac-10.
6:50 – It’s the Danny Green/Aron Baynes show in Charlotte. Meanwhile, it looks like West Virginia found a pulse… or at least the basket. However, they are still 0-6 from behind the arc. Doubtful it continues, though.
7:10 – Washington State is having a tough time scoring… Stating the obvious here, but the if the Cougars are going to stay in this game, they have to start rebounding better. Oh yeah, guarding Danny Green would be smart.
7:15 – Lawson’s 3 might have turned out the Dancing lights for Washington State.
8:15 – One hour on the dot. I got everything backwards apparently. WVU came back and WSU wilted. This West Virginia/Xavier finish it going to be a good one.
8:22 – ONIONS!
8:24 – Overtime. Hopefully with some ONIONS.
8:29 – Well, Wazzu held UNC to 68 points… but they only scored 47. Next up for UNC: the winner of Louisville/Tennessee and a trip to the Final Four… provided they win.
8:36 – Lavendar with the 3 and Bill Raftery comes with this gem: the little guy with the big ticker. Love Raftery.
8:42 – ONIONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
8:47 – Xavier advances and I was 6 points away from nailing the score. Yay me.
Washington State/North Carolina
Great defense versus great offense. Who wins? That’s what this game is coming down to. On one hand, you have North Carolina. They’ve scored over 100 points in their first two tournament games, making one harken for the Loyola-Marymount days. On the other hand, you have Washington State. They haven’t allowed a team to score OVER 41 points in their first to games, so what gives here?
Will the Cougars, led by Derrick Low, be able to slow the Carolina bum rush down or will Tyler and his band of merry men walk all over the Cougars like they did Arkansas and Mount St. Mary’s?
While Derrick Low, Kyle Weaver and the rest of the Cougars are a tenacious bunch on the defensive end, I’m not sure if they have enough overall firepower to derail the Tarheels. With Ty Lawson, Wayne Ellington, Danny Green, and of course, the hardest working basketball player ever, North Carolina looks like a favorite to win it all and Washington State looks like one of their stepping stones.
However, it is unwise to discount the chances of team that plays defense the way Wazzu does. It could certainly come back to haunt you.
As it stands, it looks like Carolina has too much for the Cougars. 85-70, UNC.
Chris Webber is going to be announcing his retirement this afternoon, ending his “comeback” attempt after playing in just nine games since rejoining Golden State. His stats during his little supporting roll stint reinforce the decision: 3.9 points and 3.6 rebounds. Webber was averaging 14 minutes a game.
Now, I’ve been thinking how to celebrate Webber’s career and have been debating whether or not to use this… However, because it’s officially March, you almost have to:
It’s funny, Webber called that infamous timeout just when Jim Nantz was saying Michigan didn’t have anymore. Maybe Christopher should have been listening to the telecast.
While that play is one of the more memorable ones from his career, it should be noted Webber, when healthy, was a prototypical NBA power forward. He could distribute the ball and was a load in the paint, something his career numbers indicate quite nicely:
20.7 points, 9.8 rebounds and 4.2 assists and 1.44 blocks.
These are numbers any NBA coach would die to have from his power forward.
I’d like you to meet the first 20-loss team to make the NCAA Tournament, a designation that actually steals some spotlight away from Georgia and their unlikely bid.
Howeva, are the Eagles as bad as their record appears? If you go by the early season (until about February), the answer is unequivocally yes. But look a little closer. You’ll find a team that actually won 12 of their last 13 games (including their conference tournament).
The key to March success in college basketball is peaking at the right time and believe me, 12-of-13 is certainly the definition of peaking. Granted, Coppin State DID lose six games in-a-row before their strong finish, but finish strong they did.
And now they have a Tournament bid to show for their efforts.
If you were the coach of Mount St. Mary’s, the Eagles player you’d be most concerned about is Tywain McKee. During the Eagles strong close, McKee posted these scoring totals:
For those of you scoring at home, McKee averaged 22.6 points per game when Coppin State’s season came down to win-or-else time. Furthermore, during that 13-game season-saving finish, McKee never scored lower than 12 points.
Now, does this mean Coppin State is some sexy Cinderella pick? Not likely. If they do get by Mount St. Mary’s (tonight at 7:30 EST), they’ll have to play North Carolina, who, in case you didn’t know, features the hardest working player ever to play a minute of college basketball. Just ask Dick Vitale.
However, when you consider how much better CSU has been playing, coupled with a good player like McKee and the fact teams with losing records perform well in the play-in game, it’s pretty easy to like Coppin State’s chances to at least make it to the North Carolina game.
After that, it would be all gravy for the Eagles, but if UNC didn’t come to play, McKee and the rest of his teammates would make things most interesting… for a half, anyway.
From the “I doubt you missed this but you need to see it again and again” files, Danny Green put the exclamation mark on North Carolina’s victory over Duke on Saturday, much to the enjoyment of Cameron “Crazies” (is “Crazies” short for not very knowledgeable when it comes to college basketball?).
If Greg keeps this up, he’ll join Reggie Love in the tea bag Hall of Fame.