Tuesday, April 8, 2014

NCAA Tournament, Day 10

Connecticut 60 - Kentucky 54

I believe it was after the Connecticut-Michigan State game when I started asking around to friends better plugged into the college basketball scene than I just what had happened in that game. Michigan State was not an elite offensive team, far from it, but UConn harassed them into easily their worst offensive showing of the season. The feedback I got was, yes, UConn is good defensively but they aren't that good and that MSU played a big part in their own struggles.

Then UConn plays Florida, the #1 overall seed in the tournament, owner of a 30-game winning streak, and touted as the most balanced team in the country. Surely it will be different this time, no? After all, Florida had been using its size much more effectively than the Spartans (read: their big man doesn't just camp out at the three-point line and lunch threes, even if he hits quite a few of them). And UConn holds the Gators to their worst offensive showing of the season.

Back to last night, okay, Florida had good size but Kentucky lives off of its size. UConn's guards throttled Michigan State's guards and Florida's guards, and it showed in teach team's three-point shooting and turnovers. Enter the Wildcats, who knocked off Wisconsin shooting just 5 threes (making just 2), and turning the ball over a whopping 4 times.

Of course, they shot 16 threes in this game (making just 5, 31.3%) and turned the ball over 13 times.

And I have my answer, yes, UConn is that nasty defensively. Congratulations, Huskies, you now have your 4th National title in the last 15 seasons.

Let's close out March Madness 2014 with a few bulletpoints:

  • I don't fully understand how UConn so effectively neutralized the bigs of MSU, UF, and UK. Their guard play was elite, no question, but their bigs (at least in this game) were foul-prone and didn't seem to match-up well with UK's bigs, especially Julius Randle. Which begs the question, why did Randle only shoot the ball 7 times last night?
  • Did anyone else (read: John Calipari) get flashbacks to his title game loss with Memphis every time UK bricked another free throw? That Memphis team made 12/19 (63.2%) free throws (but they missed 4/5 in the last 75 seconds of regulation). This Kentucky team made 13/24 (54.2%). That's awful. 
  • Shabazz Napier had a couple of interesting comments after the game.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is what happens when you banned us.
Translation: If we graduate so few players that even you, the NCAA, feels compelled to slap us on the wrist, watch out, because we'll use that as fuel and use that slight to come back better (on the court, not the classroom) than ever!
We do have hungry nights that we don’t have enough money to get food in
Translation: I see you, NCAA, making hundreds of millions of dollars on the basketball tournament alone. Oh, and making money off of selling my jersey. Maybe we should be getting a little bit of that. Maybe this whole "student-athlete" designation is a sham. Maybe you, the NCAA, should think about making some changes before the system comes crashing down around you as you bury your heads in the sand piles and piles of money.

On one final note, the vast majority of you emerge from March Madness with your bracket busted. Take heart, you could have been this guy instead.

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