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My thoughts on the final weekend of the NCAA Tournament

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Fryingpan Sports

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]

Technorati Tags: NCAA Tournament,Big Dance,North Carolina,Michigan State,Villanova,Connecticut,UConn,Tar Heels,Spartans,Big East

My thoughts on the second week of the NCAA Tournament.

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Fryingpan Sports

My thoughts on the second week of the NCAA Tournament.

By Bill Smith

Lots and lots and lots of chalk. The top 3 seeds dominated the play in the second week of the NCAA. Over all, the committee was right about the top dozen teams.

In the tournament, quality depth is critical.

As I said in My thoughts on betting the NCAA Tournament—For entertainment purposes only depth is critical for surviving and moving on. North Carolina’s depth was a major factor in both of their wins. In the critical minutes at the end of games their opponents had their hands on hips searching for a breath of oxygen while the NC starters were rested.

Don’t worry about top seed teams that lost early in their conference tournament. NC moved on while Duke failed to make the final 4.

After the first weekend, beware of the one man team. As good as Blake Griffin is, it is far too easy to stop a single player. Griffin will be the first choice in the NBA draft if he comes out (which he will). Even though he scored 23, NC found ways to keep him down when it counted.

Live by the 3 point shot, die by a cold shooting night. A number of teams that depended on 3 point shots were drummed out the door by a cold night. Ohio State failed to make the second round due to a cold night. Duke, Louisville, and Missouri all use the 3 point shot as a major part of their O and all lost.

Offense comes and goes but Defense is more reliable. Michigan State showed how important D is in winning a tough game. They ground out a win in typical Big 10 style. Despite a 38% shooting day, the Louisville D almost got them into the final 2 rounds. The problem was that MS’s D was better than Louisville’s. The best game on the road to Detroit was Villanova vs. Pitt. Two D focused teams battled it out until the final shot.

Bet on the point guard over the center. Kemba Walker for UConn and Ty Lawson for NC showed how valuable guard play is in the big dance. Both provided the fuel to get their teams to the final 4.

Listen to the experts. The top seeds moved on. Again, I don’t consider a 3 over a 1 as an upset. The top 12 teams made it to the final 16. Most experts don’t want to look stupid and are conservative with their picks. The cream rose to the top and we have 3 traditional powers in the final 4.

I hope my thoughts helped you win your pool—for entertainment purposes only of course.

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]

Technorati Tags: Griffin,NCAA,North Carolina,Duke,Louisviiie,Villanova,Pitt,Walker,UConn,Tournament,guards,defense,Oklahoma,Michigan State

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