Basketball Magazine

TLN’s March Madness Preview: Round 1 (Number One Seeds)

By Addisoncocoli @addisoncocoli

TLN’s March Madness Preview and Food For Thought

Looking at the college basketball landscape this year, it seems clear that there is not a team to beat. As I have mention in other posts, there is a power vacuum at the top of the rankings that seems to paralyze top teams from performing well. The rankings haven’t made much sense to me, I guess Indiana staying atop the Top 25 is acceptable despite their gaff of a loss at Illinois due to overall lack of appeal from other teams. Duke, however, remaining ahead of Miami, for as long as they did was as laughable as Lance Armstrong denying PED use the way he did.

Let’s take a look at the four potential number 1 seeds as it stands right now.

(Potential #1 Seeds)

Miami: The Hurricanes cut it close this weekend by having a pretty awful showing up at Clemson. Before the game my brother asked me if I thought it would be a good game and I clearly indicated that this was a trap game for the Canes’. We always see it, a highly ranked team versus a team on the other end of the spectrum that should be an easy “W”. The fact that Miami came back and was able to pull that game up will definitely be a plus come tournament time, winning close games is a necessity. A win is a win, and they shouldn’t be penalized, getting “W”s in  a power conference is no tough task. Miami is a clear number one seed, the most entertaining team in the country, they possess a certain swagger (it was not there on Saturday night), and they play like a team. Their 12 game winning streak in the ACC is remarkable for a program that does not have a strong national reputation, and is simply impressive no matter what team it is. Coach Jim Larranaga has the Canes’ playing like true national title contenders, and at this point, I would consider them the overall number 1 seed in the tournament. Despite bad losses to Florida Gulf Coast and Indiana St, Miami has not lost since Christmas Day (almost 2 months). This is a team that beat Duke and North Carolina by 25+ points in the same season, albeit these are not the classic Blue Devil and Tar Heel teams. The Hurricanes are the best team in the ACC and when they get out in transition and can hit the 3-pointer, they are almost impossible to beat due to their smothering defense and athleticism all over the court. Many will still consider the Hoosiers to be the overall number 1 seed, and I see where you all are coming from. All I know that Miami versus Indiana in the title game would be a sight for sore eyes, a true dog fight, and a most likely, an instant classic.

Indiana/Michigan State: In honor of their impending matchup, I give both of these two teams a shared analysis. I see them both as number one seeds, and have been shocked that the Spartans weren’t give serious consideration until recently. The Hoosiers could most likely change my mind about not being the overall number 1 seed with a solid showing at East Lansing versus the Spartans tonight (a Kona 6-pack, some buffalo wings, and the flat screen are in my future). Indiana has no real bad losses thus far, and a loss at Michigan State won’t take their number one seed away, it just might give the Spartans a shot at a top seed. I don’t think there is much argument that Indiana is a top seed. They have probably the most complete team in the nation, and if not for the last minute blunder at Illinois, they would be a consensus overall number one. The Spartans however, are far more interesting, their last loss was at Assembly Hall versus these same Hoosiers 3 and a half weeks ago. They blew out Michigan completely and have no bad losses. Losing on the road to Miami, Minnesota (eh, questionable), and Indiana aren’t bad whatsoever. Miami and Indiana are 2 number one seeds, and Minnesota is a solid team that lost its way (what happened Tubby?!). Sold wins versus Kansas, Ohio State, at Wisconsin (a very difficult feat), and a drudging of Michigan give the Spartans-deserve-a-number-one seed claim a fair amount of credence. Beating Indiana tonight, in my mind, gives the Spartans this number one seed wrapped up in a Wonka Factory Golden Ticket on a silver platter. It won’t be easy, Indiana has the best starting five in the nation with two legitimate POY candidates in Zeller and Oladipo. Time will tell, but I think tonight’s showing can only solidify Michigan State’s potential number one seed. A loss wont terribly hurt either team, and a win can only boost Indiana higher into the conversation for the top, overall seed. Essentially we have two top teams, going at it in the biggest Big 10 matchup of the season (since last week)

Florida: Florida is the final number one seed in my mind because they have a strong RPI, a well-rounded team, and sensational guard play. Losing to Arizona and Kansas State a couple of months ago are not bad losses by any stretch, while Arkansas is pretty rough on the eyes. They can blow out teams and are 11-1 in their last 12. Since losing at Arkansas on February 5th, they have won their games by an average of 24.6 points per game including a 17-point beat down of Kentucky (thoughts and prayers out to the Nerlens and his family). Kenny Boynton is the floor general and sets the pace for the rest of the team, and I am a huge Patric Young fan. Young brings a level of tenacity and toughness to the Gators that makes me believe that they have the ability to win the entire thing. Mike Rosario and Erik Murphy give an extra 10-12 points per game while providing the same type of toughness that a Billy Donovan coached team prides itself on. Going back to Patric Young for a second, its clear that this guy has NBA potential. He scores 10.5 points a game while grabbing nearly 7 rebounds, he also adds a steal and a block per contest. He is 6-9, weighing 250 lbs, and he is built like a freight train. His stats are solid, but his play on the court is what makes him stand out. He is the X-factor for this Gators squad. If he can come up in clutch time during the tournament, the Gators may very well be the team cutting down the nets in Atlanta.

Food For Thought 

Duke is not a number one team, you don’t lose by 27 to an then unranked team. Yes, Miami is a very good team, but 27 points? Yes it was the biggest rout I had ever seen and yes it is in the past. But they struggled against an average Boston College team, and lost to a Terrapin squad with an RPI of 63. With the way the four teams up top have been playing, I cannot with a clear mind give the Blue Devils a number one seed, luckily for them, I do not possess a vote.

Maryland should get into the tournament with their showing on Saturday night. At 18-7, and 6-6 in the ACC they are definitely on the bubble. Perhaps Maryland can put a little streak together and finish the conference schedule out strong before the ACC tournament. The win versus Duke has given this team new life, and hopefully their big man, Alex Len who had been slumping their previous 5 games. They still have a shot against North Carolina, but they cannot afford losses at Boston College and Virginia. If they want to play in the tournament, they have to pick up these should win games.

Steve Lavin is one of the toughest guys in college basketball hands down, and one of the most genuine guys in the game. My prayers are with you and your family.

Kentucky is reeling after the loss of Nerlens Noel. For this reason, they are not a tournament team. That might be hard to hear, John, but the fact is that you just got destroyed by the Volunteers by 30 points. 30 point losses while being on the bubble this late in the season surely aren’t helping your case. Tell your freshmen to stay a couple more years and develop, this one and done routine is getting pretty old. What if Draymond Green had left early? He stayed and developed into one of the best players to ever don a Spartan uniform, better yet he developed into a man and now has a solid NBA career going. Guys like Archie Goodwin, Alex Poythress, and Willie Cauley-Stein would get demolished in the NBA today, the only reason Noel would be able to make an impact is because of his length and shot-blocking ability. He is still raw offensively, and needs a new haircut, he is no Anthony Davis.

Speaking of Anthony Davis, remember when Larry Brown said whatever team drafted Anthony Davis would be a 50 win team? Really? The hornets got Davis and Austin Rivers and haven’t cracked 20 wins at the All-Star Break. Come on Larry, I respect you as a coach and that you are a hall of famer, but that had to be the most ignorant comment I have heard in a long time.

Cal coach Mike Montgomery needs a reality check. So do Allen Crabbe’s teammates. Crabbe got pushed, probably said some not so nice things to the out of line coach, and they started pushing him to “calm him down”. You don’t put your hands on a player ever, as a coach, you are trusted with a certain level of authority over players, physical abuse is not one of them. I don’t care what the intent was, its simply unacceptable. His lack of suspension, however, shows a clear lack of caring for the safety of players, maybe if Crabbe’s father was an employee at ESPN, then this action would bear an appropriate reaction.

Indiana Vs. Michigan State Prediction (7:05 PM): Michigan State 65 Indiana 63.

Thanks for reading, as always, send feedback to [email protected] or tweet me: AddisonCocoli. Take it easy, all.

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