Every Single Damn Thing You Need To Know To Get The Juices Flowing For Sunday's NCAA Tournament Games
I had to work Bill Raftery in here somehow. Today's the day. Raft is college basketball. I simply don't understand how people don't like him. The man likes to have a couple drinks at night. He's one of the most prepared guys in the game. He knows what's going on and he's entertaining as hell. It's sort of bullshit he had to wait so long in his career to get to call Final Four games, but I'm glad we get to hear it. It also just makes me upset to listen to NCAA Tournament games without him now. I just want Raft on every call, not too much to ask for.
What a great line. It threw me off yesterday when he said 'dagger' after a Houston three. I'm sorry, but what the hell is wrong with the world if Raft is saying dagger and not onions? It's not right.
I low key start getting a little sad when I see how many games are left. I miss the all day action. I miss the hope. Still looks weird as shit seeing Princeton in the Sweet 16.
Those old school logos are so damn good looking.
3 Best Games Today
Baylor/Creighton, Kentucky/Kansas State, Gonzaga/TCU
5 Storylines/Game Previews
1. Trying to make history #BracketBuskers
It's not really a secret the biggest story right now is FDU. They shouldn't be in the Tournament. I'm not even being sarcastic when I say that. They lost to Merrimack. If it wasn't for a dumbass NCAA rule they wouldn't be here. But they won a First Four game then beat Purdue, so who gives a shit. Tobin Anderson has his guys flying around, they run that press and speed you up. Purdue struggled with it because they desperately needed Edey to bail them out. Now, today, we have FAU coming in. Let me plug this real quick so I do my part. I hope FAU beats the everliving shit out of them. It's a #BracketBuskers thing. I'd like a trip to Ireland as someone who picked FAU in the event. FAU shouldn't have been a 9-seed. Now here's the thing. FAU runs the 4-out, 1-in offense but they aren't' as reliant on it as Purdue. They have more consistent guard play and they've seen pressure similar to what FDU runs in conference play. Please, Owls. Hoot. Hoot. #BracketBuskers
2. Tyler Kolek's injury
Kolek suffered a thumb injury that took him out of the game for a little bit against Vermont. I bring this up because Marquette is trying to make history. KenPom had the stat that any team that was unranked in the preseason and became a 1 or 2 seed were 0-for-36 on making the Final Four. Marquette has a chance now. The bracket is open in the East. They draw Michigan State and then the winner goes to MSG with a region of UK/KSU and an Elite Eight game against Tennessee/FDU/FAU. Kolek is the Big East Player of the Year. He's arguably the best point guard in the country. He needs to be 100% to do what Marquette wants to against better teams. Yes, Kam Jones is awesome. But Kolek is the guy they give the ball to and run the offense late. He can ice it himself or be a playmaker. The other key here is the path for Marquette. You have guards - Hoggard/Walker, Wallace/Reeves, Nowell/Johnson that are awesome to get to the Elite Eight.
Simple. Run. That's what TCU and Gonzaga want to do and are going to do. That's the most entertaining game of the day for me because I love this TCU team. They have Mike Miles and Damion Baugh and everyone else. We saw they can come back - yes it's Arizona State - but there's not a 'safe' lead against them. Same goes for Gonzaga. Then you look at Creighton/Baylor. Elite guards all over the place and a real clear path to the Elite Eight - winner gets Princeton. I've talked myself into Baylor, off of Baylor and back in all over the place. That said, Baylor struggles BAD defensively. You can attack them with the no-middle defense they run by avoiding PnR and Creighton has guards to do that. On the other side, I'm curious how Kalkbrenner plays this game. JTT can step out and shoot. You have elite shooting from Baylor's guards. If Creighton runs the drop coverage and lets Kalkbrenner try to protect the lane more you become stretched on the three.
4. The Oscar dilemma
Speaking of game plans, I gotta talk about my guys. My blog, Sweet 16 on the line, deal with it. Providence didn't really attack Kentucky the way we've seen teams do it. Put Oscar in the ball screen up high, stretch the Kentucky defense out and force Oscar to make a decision. Kansas State doesn't run a ton of ball screens either but they have the guys way more capable of doing it. I'm curious if we see Tang try to attack that way or just keep ISO'ing someone like Nowell on a taller Wallace or Johnson on the wing. On the flip side, Kentucky did the right thing against Providence. You don't run the offense through Oscar. He needs to be the 4th option because you don't win that way. What Kentucky did was let Oscar operate in the post and crash the glass. He killed Providence on the offensive glass and Kansas State is a bad defensive rebounding team. Let the guards attack. Let Toppin do his 1-2 dribbles and get to the rim or in rhythm 3. No mid range. But Livingston, Oscar and Toppin should all attack the glass similar to Providence.
5. Familiar rematches
I love when we get stuff like this with the NCAA Tournament conspiracy theory. Joey Hauser vs his former team Marquette. Sean Miller vs the school he played for in Pitt. I want to see how Xavier comes out here. They came out strong against KSU but then never stepped on their throats and legit survived and advanced. Now they draw an 11 seed Pitt team who has looked fine in its first two games. But we also saw Pitt just straight up not score against Iowa State. X's defense isn't great but if it's average against Pitt that feels like it might be enough.
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103-94-3 (+13.5) on the year on Twitter, mind as well add it to the blog
11-11 (+1.25) in the NCAA Tournament
Xavier/UConn ML +128
Michigan State +3