|Has Fab Melo cost the Orange a trip to the Final Four?|
By Shane McCarthy on March 13, 2012
South Florida Bulls – 12 seed and playing in the first four game
Ceiling: Win 2 games (1 being the play-in game) – Given how the Bulls like to muck up the flow of the game by playing slow and heavy, they can cause any opponent to get frustrated and unable to find a rhythm. Both Cal and Temple depend on solid outside shooting to win games, so they may not be particularly fond of South Florida’s style of play.
Floor: Lose first game – There is no question that the Bulls are physical and play solid defense, but they have had trouble scoring all year. Cal underachieved most of the season, but they seem to be figuring it out lately and possibly making it difficult for South Florida to keep up on the scoreboard.
West Virginia Mountaineers – 10 seed
Ceiling: Elite 8 – Kevin Jones is one of the best players in the country, averaging a double-double, and will be a match-up problem for everyone they play. If Deniz Kilicli and Truck Bryant can play at a high level there is no reason why they can’t make a run to the Elite 8. I actually think they match-up well with Ohio St. and can upset them. Also, their first round game is being played less than two hours from campus, making it a virtual home game for them while Gonzaga has to travel all the way across the country.
Floor: Lose first game – Besides from Kevin Jones, Gonzaga is a more talented team than the Mountaineers. West Virginia is solid on the offensive boards, but they play suspect defense and they have had trouble closing games in the last month or two.
Connecticut Huskies – 9 seed
Ceiling: Win 1 game – Royce White of Iowa St. is a tough match-up for any team in the country, given his size and versatility. But beyond him, UConn is the much more talented team with loads of experience on the court. It’s unfortunate that the Huskies drew the 8/9 game in Kentucky’s region, because I think they could have held their own against any other team in the tournament. Could they beat Kentucky? For sure, but they have lacked any leadership or enthusiasm all season and I don’t think they’ll suddenly discover it against the best team in the country. If it was against anyone else, I would have given them a shot to make a deep run.
Floor: Lose first game – The Huskies have been so volatile (they lost to Providence two weeks ago) that no one would be surprised if they got absolutely smoked by Iowa St.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish – 7 seed
Ceiling: Win 1 game - The Irish play sound fundamental basketball and when they are hitting their shots they are difficult to beat. But the problem is – they have not been making shots for about a month now, while Xavier has been playing well. If Notre Dame finds their touch, they will beat Xavier, but they won’t be able to keep up with Duke in the game thereafter.
Floor: Lose first game – As was just stated, given their slow pace of play and lack of inside presence, it is a necessity for them to shoot well. Xavier has struggled to play up to their talent level since the brawl they were in back in November, but they have been playing better and are the more talented team compared to the Irish.
Cincinnati Bearcats – 6 seed
Ceiling: Final Four – The Bearcats have looked very good in the last month, even though they laid a dud in the Big East Championship game. As long as they run their offense through Yancy Gates in the low post, they will be a tough out. By focusing on Gates, it enables the rest of the team to get open shots and lanes to the basket. This team just beat Syracuse, the #1 seed in their region, so I think they can handle other obstacles.
Floor: Win 1 game – I believe Cincinnati will make quick work of Texas in the first round as the Longhorns are an average team across the board. But a possible second round match-up with Florida St. could prove troublesome. Not only are the Seminoles an excellent defensive team, but they are shooting the ball extremely well as of late, as displayed last week in which they beat both Duke and North Carolina.
Louisville Cardinals – 4 seed
Ceiling: Sweet Sixteen – Louisville has the coach (Rick Pitino) and the point guard (Peyton Siva) that is needed to enjoy success this time of the year; which was on display last week on their run to a Big East Championship. The Cardinals will be looking to ride that momentum for a few more weeks.
Floor: Lose first game – Louisville has struggled shooting the ball all year, and besides Marquette in the Big East Tournament, the Cardinals have not had a notable win in about two months. Davidson is not flashy, but they were good enough to beat Kansas this year. And let’s not forget Louisville’s early round struggles in recent years.
Georgetown Hoyas – 3 seed
Ceiling: Elite Eight – It is no secret that Belmont over Georgetown in the first round has become a pretty popular upset pick. It’s surely possible, but I have been of the belief that Georgetown will significantly benefit by getting out of the Big East. Their only non-conference loss was to Kansas, and their defense has vastly improved over the course of the season. They will no doubt be tested as they are in a tough region, but a meeting with North Carolina would not surprise me.
Floor: Lose first game – Not only can Belmont score, but they may have the ideal style of play to handle Georgetown’s effective defense. They will look to speed up the Hoyas and make them uncomfortable.
Marquette Golden Eagles – 3 seed
Ceiling: Final Four – Marquette plays extremely hard on both ends of the court and thrive in transition. As long as Jae Crowder and Darius Johnson-Odom stay out of foul trouble, this team can keep up with anyone. They have lost two of three, but I believe their first two match-ups are favorable draws before they will have a layoff to prepare for Missouri. Marquette vs. Missouri would be one of the most entertaining games of the tournament, and I like the fact that the Golden Eagles would be the more physical team.
Floor: Sweet Sixteen – I don’t believe there is a match-up that Marquette can’t adjust to, but Missouri’s four guard system may prove to be too much to handle for the Golden Eagles, especially if Mizzou is hitting their 3’s.
Syracuse Orange – 1 seed
Ceiling: Final Four – First off, if you are an Orange fan, you have to be absolutely livid at Fab Melo for acting so selfishly throughout the course of the season. As a student/athlete, it is your responsibility to attend class and complete whatever work/tests that are asked of you. I was never a D-1 athlete during my tenure in college, but it is my understanding that it is not very hard to attend class/study sessions a few times a month and maintain a gaudy 1.8 GPA. I understand that he has NBA aspirations, but show your respect/loyalty/commitment to the team you’re currently on.
Secondly, this team is still talented enough and is in a favorable region to make a Final Four run. Dion Waiters and Kris Joseph will probably be the best two players on the floor in their first three games. And speaking of Waiters, it seems obvious that he will be leaving college early to head to the NBA after this year. If that is the case, I can see him blowing up and singlehandedly taking the Orange to New Orleans for the benefit of his draft position.
Floor: Win 1 game – A #16 seed has never beaten a #1 seed and it is not going to happen in this game. However, if Syracuse lacks the motivation and plays flat against Kansas St. in the second round, they could be beat. Syracuse struggles in the rebounding department, while Kansas St. excels in it. Even though Syracuse’s talent should prevail, it could be an ugly game that the Wildcats sneak away with.
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