My thoughts on the final weekend of the NCAA Tournament
By Bill Smith
The Big East teams fail to make the Championship game.
North Carolina was just too deep and too talented for Villanova. NC point guard Ty Lawson and forward Tylor Hansbrough. Hansbrough came back for his senior year to try to win a Championship. He and Lawson were all that NC needed to get to the finals.
The biggest surprise of the day was the win by Michigan State over Connecticut. The defense of MSU stopped UConn’s powerful offense. Points off turnovers were the difference. UConn had the greatest margin on foul shots taken vs opponent foul shots in the country. While the Detroit fans were clearly supporting the Spartans, the officials did their best to even the odds for UConn.
Despite the failure to make the final game, the Big East had an outstanding season.
Just because the top teams failed to advance to the Championship game, don’t discount the year that the BE had. They were the top conference all season long with significant wins up and down the league standings.
The officiating was, to be kind, inconsistent.
A foul like beauty is in the eye of the of the beholder. When UConn had the ball fouls seemed to appear to the zebras much more often than when MSU had the pill. I played golf with my uncle and found out it isn’t what you shoot that makes the difference. It’s what you count and don’t count that really changes the score.
I will admit that I seem to be the only one that saw the disparity of calls between the two teams. Of course any statement even by the announcers will get them transferred to do the Alaska Shootout except they don’t play that any more. But since I had no particular interest in either team, I found it surprising that all the fouls in the first half seemed to be against the Spartans.
In football and basketball, SPEED KILLS.
And it was speed that killed the Spartans against the Tar Heels. There is a real temptation to play at the speed of NC when you play them. Combine that with the success MSU had against UConn with fastbreak points off defensive steals, the Spartans started the game running with NC. They problem was that they couldn’t hit the few open shots that running got them. They also couldn’t get many rebounds.
While Wayne Ellington was hitting 7 for 9 for NC, the Tar Heels suddenly found out how to play defense. All year long, the experts said that NC was a great offensive team that just outscored their opponents. That was not at all the case at least in the Tournament.
In the time between the loss in the ACC tournament and the first NCAA game, the Heels rededicated themselves to defense. In the first half of the Championship game alone, Lawson got 7 steals including an inbound pass that helped NC build a 10 point lead in the first few minutes. The Heels never looked back and the Spartans never looked like they belonged on the same floor as the Champs.
That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.
Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .
My email is [email protected]