SportsProf

(Hopefully) good sports essays and observations for good sports by a guy who tries (and can sometimes fail) to be a good sport.

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Thursday, March 18, 2010

NCAA Tournament Observations

1. Forget the hype about Cornell. There's just way too much of it. Yes, they are a good team. Yes, they did place 3 players on the Ivies' first team. Yes, they almost took Kansas in Lawrence. All valid points. They are good. But, so is Temple. And Temple is better. The Owls play very stingy defense, particularly on the perimeter, and they don't turn the ball over. Sure, Jeff Foote of Cornell is good and got a lot of hype, but Lavoy Allen of Temple is better. Great basketball IQ, outstanding rebounder, good scorer and passer. Cornell is one of those trendy picks, but they would have been better off playing an up-tempo team they could stun instead of a buzz-saw, grind-it-out team like Temple. Cornell barely beat Princeton twice this year, edging the Tigers both times by about 3 points per contest in low-scoring games. Princeton had a good year but with a weak RPI. I just can't see that same Cornell team going a full 40 minutes with Temple and winning; they might go a good 30 minutes, but in the end I see it as Temple 56 Cornell 43.

2. The college hoops gods smiled upon Duke when they created the brackets. What was that all about? Not only did Duke get a #1 seed, they were rated as the third-best #1 seed. Sorry, but they probably shouldn't have been a #1 -- that spot should have gone to West Virginia (as the fourth #1 seed, with Syracuse being the third). Duke has this Dallas Cowboys-like aura -- a bunch of fans around the country, but if you don't root for them they're probably the first team you root against, because you dislike the hype and the sometimes self-righteousness that surrounds the program. Ask any fan of a team in the NFC East, and they'll tell you that they like to beat all of their rivals within the division, but they like to beat Dallas the most. So it goes with Duke. I admire what the program has accomplished -- it's hard not to respect them -- but I think that the Dookies got a big gift in the post-season, especially when you look at the road Kansas will have to get to the final game. Still, somehow, I'm not sure that Duke gets past Cal in the second round or Villanova or Baylor later.

3. My Final Four -- Kansas, Syracuse, West Virginia and Villanova, with Kansas winning it all, beating West Virginia in the final game. Of course, I'll be totally wrong about this.

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