Saturday, February 21, 2009

Answers from the Editor - Bracket Style

Yesterday, Clement posed a baker's half dozen worth of NCAA Tournament-related questions. Today, I will answer them. We are a logical bunch at PHSports.

Q: "The Other Tyler in Chapel Hill"
What does Tyler Zeller's return mean to North Carolina's rotation? Will he become a major factor or perhaps hinder the minutes of contributors off the bench? Is 5 regular season games and the ACC Tournament enough time for him to be prepared for major minutes come March Madness?
A: Immediately, Zeller's return gives Carolina its second big off of the bench and gives Roy Williams more options when crafting his lineups. Perhaps, he may hinder the minutes of other contributors off of the bench (e.g. Bobby Frasor, who has been excellent), but he plays a position of need. In two games before the injury, Zeller averaged 22.5 minutes; even if he is effective, expect him to play no more than 15-18 minutes when he has reached true game fitness.

Q: "Cinderella Arrives at MSG"
Which Big East "letdown" do you see more capable of making a legitimate run at MSG: Georgetown or Notre Dame?
A: Georgetown. They are the only team currently on the outside looking in who have adjusted offensive and defensive efficiency numbers in the top 25. However, they are wildly inconsistent and lack poise in the final four minutes of games. I can also see their legs turn into jello if they get to play a third game in as many days. Detractors may say that Notre Dame has a better chance because they have the best player, can score, have a deeper bench and have stronger play at the point. One minor point: playing defense is optional at Notre Dame. Everyone saw the result against Louisville. We also saw result at Cincinnati and West Virginia.

Q: "Judgment Day"
Oklahoma may be the #1 team in the country next week. What else should we know about this besides "The Terminator" Blake Griffin?
A: Despite my unquestioned love for one Blake Griffin dating back to last winter, I am not as wild about this Oklahoma team as the pollsters are. The reason being that they eke out results against inferior competition when they should be throttling them. The key element in getting this team from a mid-grade Big XII team to a national contender has been the presence of freshman guard, who averages more than 14 points per game and shoots nearly 50% from the field. Senior point guard Austin Johnson has improved his play every year, and this is a testament to head coach Jeff Capel.

Q: "Hokie Hotline"
Is there anyone in college basketball who has a more murderous road ahead than "bubbly" Virginia Tech (home and away w/ Florida State, Duke, UNC, and @Clemson)?
A: No. They are in serious trouble. Even without Jeff Allen, there is no excuse for losing to UVa. Urgency requires results. They need one to two players excluding their big three to make steady scoring contributions on a regular basis if they want to win two of these games.

Q: "Bracketbusters Galore"
Should Stephen Curry play in the bracketbuster game? Is it worth it to risk further injury with such a crucial matchup against Butler?
A: If he is good to go, then yes, he should play. It's not worth it to risk injury, which would say bye-bye to their at-large hopes even with a victory. This win would not even be Davidson's best win, because they won a neutral court against West Virginia.

Q: "Revenge of 2008???"
Which team is a more dangerous matchup come March Madness: Memphis or Kansas?
A: Very tough question (because both teams have a go-to guy), but I'll go with Memphis. Both are excellent defensive teams, but Memphis is the best nationally, and the team has undergone a metamorphosis since Tyreke Evans moved to the point. Kansas may be more well-rounded as a team.

***Bonus Question***
Let's be geeks for a moment. If you could have any starting 5 (plus a 6th man) in the country - without the following 5 - who would it be? You might consider matching up against this squad.
C - Hasheem Thabeet [Connecticut]
PF - Tyler Hansbrough [North Carolina]
SF - Blake Griffin [Oklahoma] (we know it's a stretch, but Blake will excel at any forward spot)
SG - Stephen Curry [G, Davidson]
PG - Ty Lawson [North Carolina]
6th Man: James Harden [SG, Arizona State]

A: No matter who I choose, my team will be undersized. Therefore, I am going with talent, versatility and defense (sorry, no 'Gody). We also want to make this a full-court game.

C - DeJaun Blair [Pittsburgh]
PF - Dante Cunningham [Villanova] (I really badly wanted to go with Sam Young, but he's only 215 pounds)
SF - Terrence Williams [Louisville]
SG - Jodie Meeks [Kentucky]
PG - Darren Collison [UCLA]
6th Man: Jerel McNeal [SG, Marquette]

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