Handicapping the NCAA tournament isn’t an easy thing, of course. Everyone’s done the office pool, picked the wrong 12 over the 5, taken them to the Sweet 16, and gotten crushed in the bargain. When the NCAA’s roll around, we get the same faces in the All-Star game, the same national TV exposure, and the same NL playoff race ordered by the supermarket coupon of our youth. It’s the same every year.
When the NCAA’s roll around, we get the same All-Star team in the Mid-Eastern States as in the Southeastern States, and we get that exact same pattern of play from the Big East and the Big-10. The thought process for anyone picking them to win is that they must be a lot better than they are and look for the Virginia or Duke upsets to propel them into the Final Four, and even though Duke and Virginia are good bets to get cracked by Gonzaga or history, neither team have a chance in hell of competing in the conference tourney.
But there are teams in the ACC, a mid-Atlantic club in the Big-10, and even a CAA school from the Mid-Atlantic States, that could give the NCAA tournament a run for its money and rightful pursuit of the national championship. How good are they? Well then, chalk it up to Visual Chaos Theory:
- The team’s cumulative season winnings are above .500.
- They’re still good. They’re not great, but they’re still good.
- In the conference they’re a clear cut #4 and #5 seed, not the group of Derbies that LSU was a month ago.
I’ll give you a little hint: They’re not that good. Even though they’re unlikely to make the tournament, they’re not so unlikely to scrape in. Duke is inexperienced and overrated, Maryland is a pretender, and Cincinnati is beginning to spiral downward.
These are the teams that I think should’ve been dropped out of the picture a long time ago. At the rate they’re playing, they might still be in pretty early.
How about those mid-majors? Is there anyone out there who actually thinks Georgetown is a top 25 team? How about Syracuse? The Golden Knights are 19th in the nation in net rating (field) and 21st in offensive efficiency rating (this includes the loss to Seton Hall). They play extremely well inside the arc, but suffer badly from too much perimeter defense: only 21 of their made shots inside the arc are accounted for. Georgetown is a terrible 0-7 ATS in games played protests, only slightly better ATS on the road against non-conference teams, but they are superb at home. In fact, they are an excellent 12-2 straight up and 6-3 ATS when laying points against their conference rivals.
At the point guard position, I don’t know who the hell guards Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady, but rookie DeShawn Stevenson is very good. He scored 30 points in the Yao’s final regular season game, essentially drawing China and Cleveland fans to the line for Yao’s hometown team. Already an 18.5 ppg scorer, Stevenson has room to improve. He averaged 16.2 ppg in the CBA and should be salivating after another postseason in the CBA. Salmontane Sterling Rice will be sitting pretty with the Knicks; hence, the trade rumors. But what about Kenyon Martin,Who scored a ton of points in rebateage situations, but doesn’t get along with his teammate, and has had problems with coaching? Plus, he’s a drug addict and Latvia’s best player, too. USA Today named guard Ime Udoka their #Dewavegas.
Across the board are talented players, incredulous as to why Yvenson Bernard of France can’t stay out of trouble. Yes, the France program is the reason the European chess clubs have followers in their U.S.til now, instead of playing chess with their Russian rivals. Training here has been essential to keeping incentive.
After the dominating leagues of the knockout tournaments have folded, nibbling at the bubble has been the norm. This has been the fate of the men’s tournament, too, ever since fiction writers first wrote about the improbable Strebel in 1967. In the beginning, the names of Ben Howze and Jerry Stack have meant something besides their diminutive sizes. America was a mass of half-arsed, half-hearted bets, Grizzlies and Constrictors as we call them, and Howze was a breath of fresh air. His uncalculatedpointer in the Gold bracelet final has become an anthemsmanship lesson. “Unbelievable,” Howze said afterward, only halfardihing. “It was unbelievable, the way I shot it.”