Tuesday, March 15, 2011

NCAA First Round Preview: Southeast Region

12:40 Thursday, Washington58 possessions
9Old Dominion49.3%62.549.020.239.627.3
Old Dominion is the best offensive rebounding team in the nation, but their undoing might be that they just don't value possession enough. The contrast between Butler's precise, methodical style and ODU's physicality should make for an intriguing matchup.

3:10 Thursday, Washington64.5 possessions
16N.C. Asheville7.1%59.343.118.926.025.1
When I was a student at Virginia, my friends and I used to get to games early enough to get seats in the first couple rows of the student section, which meant at University Hall that we were right on the floor behind the baseline. ("Early enough" at the end of the Jeff Jones era and the beginning of the Pete Gillen era generally meant showing up an hour before tipoff.) At the UNC game in 1999, Bruce Hornsby and his two kids happened to be sitting across the aisle from us. It was a typical Carolina game, in that it seemed none of the calls were going our way, and I was doing my best to make the game officials aware of my displeasure until at some point Bruce, in a friendly yet firm manner, asked me to tone it down. Y'know, for the kids. Virginia wound up losing the game when Ademola Okulaja hit a three pointer at the buzzer to break our hearts. Anyway, one of the little kids whose tender ears kept me from giving Mike Wood, Duke Edsall, and Karl Hess what-for will be playing hoops for Asheville next year. I feel old.

6:50 Thursday, Tampa60.4 possessions
I'm gonna go out on a limb and make this my big upset pick. There's no analytic reason for such a pick--everything points to the Gators being able to handle the Gauchos easily--but I've just got a feeling about this one. I'll either look like a genius or a fool come 9:00 Thursday night. I'm far more accustomed to the latter.

7:15 Thursday, Denver66.8 possessions
Jimmer Fredette is an amazing scorer, and one of the most entertaining players in recent memory, but he's far from being a complete basketball player. Jackson Emery does all the dirty work that allows Fredette to be The Jimmer, but he doesn't get much credit. So when you're watching BYU play, be sure to shift a little bit of your focus to the guy in the #4 jersey. When you do that, you'll be watching the Cougars' best player.

7:27 Thursday, Tucson58.3 possessions
I've been telling anyone who will listen for the last two months that Belmont would be a surprise Sweet Sixteen team. I've also been telling people that this is the year Wisconsin finally puts it all together and makes a deep run. My heart sank when these two popped up next to each other on Sunday.

9:20 Thursday, Tampa64.1 possessions
10Michigan St.57.7%
This is one of just three games in which TAPE favors a double-digit seed. I don't think that's an indication so much that the selection committee did a good job of seeding the Tournament as it is an accident of pairing underseeded and overseeded teams into the same games (see ODU-Butler and Belmont-Wisconsin for examples of each).

9:45 Thursday, Denver66.4 possessions
6St. John's50.7%68.347.418.830.334.0
Those who value experience over all else will probably be picking St. John's to go far in this year's Tournament. Seniors have accounted for 87.3% of the Johnnies' floor minutes this season.

9:57 Thursday, Tucson63.1 possessions
12Utah St.52.6%64.447.521.833.637.8
5Kansas St.47.4%63.645.518.334.226.1
TAPE pegs the odds of Utah State meeting Texas A&M in an all-Aggies Final Four game at 1-in-833.

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