Thursday, March 24, 2011

Sweet 16 and the Final Four Matchups 2011 - Revisited

Well, the first weekend of March Madness is behind us and a lot of brackets have been busted.  We always expect there to be upsets in the first round of the NCAA tournament, but most were still surprised when we reached the Sweet 16 after Sunday Night.  My national championship pick, Notre Dame, was indeed sent packing to the shock of many as well as myself.  Florida State looked as though they belonged among college basketball’s elite.  The Seminole team that showed up to play on Sunday night was not the same team that the committee felt was no more deserving than a 10 seed.  They held Notre Dame to just 30.6% percent shooting.  Anytime it looked as if the Irish were going to stage a comeback, the Seminoles immediately ran in transition and scored a basket or got a foul in the process. A great weekend for the Seminoles and they look to keep it up this weekend.
When looking at the Southwest Region, hardly anyone could predict we would see three double-digit seeds moving on to the Sweet 16.  The committee raised a lot of questions among the sports world when VCU was given a spot in the tournament over their neighbor Virginia Tech.  Well the committee was bailed out of that controversy as VCU took down Georgetown and steam – rolled Purdue, very impressive job by the Rams.  In making matters worse for Virginia Tech, Richmond also made the round of 16 by squeaking by Vanderbilt, but got a gift in playing Morehead St in the 3rd round.  Once again Virginia Tech was left out of the tournament for the 4th year in a row, but two of their neighbor schools are shockingly in the Sweet 16. 
In the Southeast bracket, Saturday night’s game between Pittsburgh and Butler had everyone on their heels.  We all saw last year what Butler and coach Brad Stevens did for the mid major teams.  Not too many people thought Stevens and the Bulldogs could bring their magic from last year into this year.  Well guess what, they once again find themselves surviving into the 2nd weekend of the tournament after defeating the number 1 seed.  Yes, the referee’s calls towards the end of the game were controversial, but the calls were not one sided.  So that’s the end of that and we move forward.
The only real surprise in the West region was that Texas lost a nail-biter to Arizona, a team nobody thought could make it to the Sweet 16.  Rick Barnes has proven once again that he has all the talent in the world, but yet can’t get them over the hump.  Maybe it is time for a coaching change in Austin.  This doesn’t take away from the performance of Arizona’s Derrick Williams who was quite impressive in leading the wildcats to victory.  Duke got back Kyrie Irving, but he saw limited minutes in both games.  After almost blowing a 15 point lead to Michigan, Irving sealed the deal with a crucial basket that put the Devils back in the lead with only seconds remaining.  It will be very interesting to see how many more minutes Irving gets in the game against Arizona. 
In the East, We saw more referee controversy the following day in a great game between North Carolina and Washington.  The non – call on the goal tending at the end wouldn’t have mattered anyways because it was a two point shot.  How much time should have been on the clock?  Well, I don’t really know but maybe Washington shouldn’t have thrown it up from half court to put them in that situation in the first place, but it was a great victory for a young North Carolina team. Ohio St looked like the overall number one seed with a impressive performance in 1st round and a blowout against George Mason in the 2nd round.  A lot of dramatic games overall for the entire 1st weekend and I can promise it’s only going to get better as action kicks off tonight.  My bracket predictions have already been busted so I am going to start from a clean state and go through each region and give my picks once again. 
Ohio St over Kentucky
North Carolina over Marquette
REGIONAL WINNER – North Carolina

Duke over Arizona
Connecticut over San Diego St

Kansas over Richmond
Florida St over VCU

Butler over Wisconsin
BYU over Florida

Duke v. North Carolina – Wow, the two teams have never met in the NCAA tournament but I think this is finally going to be the year that it happens.  Many fans do not want to see this happen, but as a die-hard North Carolina fan, I would love it.  The loss could be devastating for either club if they were to go on and win a national championship.  Coach K would be going for the all time wins record over Bobby Knight.  Wouldn’t that be great for Heels fan if they were the ones who made him wait an entire off season for that to happen. 


Kansas v. BYU – A lot of people are assuming that Kansas would be a lock for the national championship game.  Well, they are going to have to get by a BYU team, who has an unbelievable player in Jimmer Fredette.  I do think the absence of Brandon Davis will be too much for them to handle.


North Carolina v Kansas – Roy Williams will face his former team once again in the national spotlight.  They met in the 2008 national semifinal and Kansas handled the Tarheels, eventually cutting down the nets that year in a great win against Memphis.  These two powerhouse programs will play for it all, but will the young North Carolina team have what it takes especially after the semifinal game against their arch – rivals?  Well, I believe this team has something magical going for them.  They have been a different team ever since Kendall Marshall has taken over the point guard position.  A year ago this team didn’t even make the NCAA tournament, a huge disappointment to all the coaches, players, and fans.  Well………..order is going to be restored and they will be partying all night long on Franklin Street baby!!!!!!

Patrick Warco
Guest Columnist

No comments: