Sunday, March 26, 2006

Final Four

For the first time since 2003 the ACC did not have a team advance past the Sweet Sixteen as Duke was upset by LSU and Boston College lost in an overtime thriller to Villanova. It caps a fairly unimpressive year for ACC basketball in what was clearly a down year for the conference. The Big Ten and Big East didn't fair much better as most of their teams flamed out early and neither number 1 seed from the Big East made the Final Four. A look at the four teams left reveals two from the SEC, a Pac-10 team and a mid-major school. It certainly doesn't validate the feelings of some ACC and Big East aficionados who feel that their conferences are clearly superior.

As for the games:

Duke's loss to LSU wasn't all that surprising. As I wrote earlier the Blue Devils were entirely too dependent on JJ Redick's scoring and the rest of the backcourt for Duke wasn't able to produce much of anything. Sean Dockery, Lee Melchionni and DeMarcus Nelson combined to score 4 points in the loss. No one will cry much for Duke but the officiating was fairly poor for much of the game as they allowed the interior play to turn into a Kung Fu match.

Boston College gave Villanova all they could handle before finally falling on a goal tending call by Sean Williams in the waning seconds. The lack of any dynamic backcourt players hampered BC all year and required them to play in many close games during the season.

The quality of the basketball in this years tournament is some of the worst in recent memory. The 50-45 win by UCLA over Memphis and the 62-54 win by LSU over Duke were poorly played monstrosities. In both those games no team shot better than 39% from the floor. It is true that UCLA, Duke and LSU are fairly good defensive teams, but Duke and Memphis were both top 30 offenses in efficiency in the nation. It was just atrocious basketball. Each team degenerated into a futile series of one-on-one NBA clearouts for their scorers. Only the large number of offensive rebounds in both games kept the score from looking like something from the pre shot clock era. The games may be exciting but let's hope the Final Four can showcase some good fundamental basketball.

UCLA and Florida are the two best teams among the Final Four and a title game between these two should be entertaining.


P-Man said...

It is notable the poor quality of some of the games, but the George Mason-UConn thriller was entertaining and well-played basketball.

Scratch said...

How about the fact that all five of Mason's starters are from the state of Maryland, and not one was recruited by the Terps? Or better yet, the fact that they're all exactly the type of overlooked player that Gary Williams used to build with, but has seemingly forsaken in recent years in favor of more-hyped prospects. I'd like to see a post comparing Maryland and George Mason this year.

Anonymous said...

I think every Terps fan was wondering that exact thing Scratch. If Jai Lewis isn't Lonny Baxter Part 2 I don't know who is (though LB was even better).

Esquire said...

I realize it is very tempting to compare the underachieving and disappointing Maryland squads of the last two years with this Mason team, but I'm not sure there will be any greater lesson from the effort. Jai Lewis and Tony Skinn were at Mason for a reason, not because someone at Maryland dropped the ball in recruiting. If you'd like to compare the teams you can look up the boxscore for the 24 point blowout Mason suffered last season to Maryland. This is the same Mason team that lost to Wake Forest and Mississippi State who went a combined 8-24 in their conferences this season. It may be hard to accept but sometimes a team just benefits from getting on a roll at the right time against the right opponents. Villanova wasn't the best team in college basketball in 1985, but they still won the national title. That is the nature of the tournament and the reason why so many fans love it.

Irtwin Robinson said...

Maryland went thru a season without their highly recruited and super (for two yea rs) point guard; then when they started to adjust as much as possible to having no point guard they lost their best scorer and defensive player. Face it with a stable Gilchrist and McCrae Maryland was a different team. Once Gil. started to break down all was lost. Expecting more was wishfull thinking. Now its time to start over with a fine young point guard and the addition of some added firepower. It may take two years but there is a chance the improvement will come sooner.