Monday, March 16, 2009

Bracket Time


Although my first and most enduring sporting love is baseball, there's no event that is more fun than the NCAA men's college basketball tournament. I don't really have time to an in-depth analysis of the field and since there are thousands of such analyses available all over the Internet, there's no reason for me to do so. But I do have a few thoughts on teams that I follow.


My childhood team was the Marquette Warriors of Al McGuire. Those teams were the most colorful road show in college basketball, with their nationwide roster and garish uniforms (gotta love the shiny gold lame shorts they wore in their run in 1977), but the thing that was interesting about them was that they were really a defensive-minded club. They didn't really blow too many teams out, but they would win games by 8-12 points, whether the opponent was Stetson or Notre Dame. After Al left MU went through a long, steady decline in the 1980s and 1990s, but lately they've been better. They made the Final Four in 2003 with Dwayne Wade and this year's squad was deep and talented. Then they lost a key player, guard Dominic James, and they lost a bunch of games down the stretch in the brutal Big East. There's no shame in losing to UConn, Pitt, Syracuse, Louisville and Villanova -- that was the gantelet that MU ran. They get Utah State first, a tough but winnable game. After that it gets harder.


The Badgers weren't really very good this year. They started out well, had a horrid stretch in the middle of the Big 10 season, then righted the ship and played pretty well. Still, they were a bubble team and deservedly so. They are in as a 12 seed against a deep and talented Florida State team. They will have a chance in that game but it won't be easy and I suspect they are one and done.


The Gophers are a year away, I think. They did very well this year because they have young talent and Tubby Smith is an excellent coach. Next year they get a major talent infusion and it would not surprise me at all if they win the Big 10 and have a deep tourney run. As for this year, Texas is a tough draw, but I think the Gophers have a pretty good chance to win. If Lawrence Westbrook gets hot, the Gophers are tough to beat.


For other views, see fellow hoopheads Brad and Stinger.

11 comments:

Night Writer said...

Yes, but if Marquette wins its first game it gets my alma mater, Mizzou, next. Missouri's coach is a Nolan Richardson disciple, bringing the "40 minutes of hell" press and run game - and 28 wins this year. Not bad after Quinn Snyder and Rickie Clemons nearly killed the program a few years ago.

Mark Heuring said...

I suspect Mizzou would handle MU if they meet. I saw Mizzou on ESPN a few times and they look like a pretty good outfit.

Quinn Snyder was a punk - you guys should be happy to be rid of him.

Night Writer said...

Nice hair, though.

Mark Heuring said...

Nice hair, though.

Especially compared to Norm Stewart.

Anonymous said...

How did Missouri do against Marquette in 2003? Wasn't that the game Steve Novak went off in OT? MU can beat Missouri, but it won't be easy. Still, playing the likes of UConn, Pitt, Louisville, Syracuse and Nova in recent weeks, MU is nothing if not battle tested.

Mike said...

Marquette will not have any easy time against Missouri, but here's the problem for Mizzou: their "40 minutes of hell" doesn't always travel well, at least it didn't in Big 12 play. They lost at Nebraska and at K-State (and got killed at Kansas). Also keep in mind that they did not have to play either Kansas or Oklahoma in the Big 12 tournament. But, they do have a couple of good scoring options. But, I think Mizzou can be figured out.

Night Writer said...

True, 3 of Mizzou's 4 losses were on the road, but all 3 within the very tough Big 12 (6 teams in the tournament and 2 with 20+ wins that didn't make it). One of those losses was at Kansas, but they returned the favor on their home court and also beat Oklahoma, swept Oklahoma State and won at Texas. Get up early on them and you've got a chance; fall behind and their "starting 10" will choke you to death.

Oh, and what was wrong with Uncle Norm's hair?

prailbird said...

I am so glad that Snyder is no longer there anymore. I will take Marquette if they end up facing the Tigers, and I think that they will. I also take the Badgers over Free Shoes University. I could have sworn that they were a football school. I think that Tubby is the reason that the Horns will have to go back to Texas on Thursday.

Mark Heuring said...

Nothing wrong with Norm Stewart's hair, NW. The 10-12 strands he had left by the end were lush and well-organized. And at least he didn't wear a ridiculous rug like his friend across the river, Lou "Shingle Head" Henson of Illinois.

Anonymous said...

Warning to all fans. One of the biggest mistakes that can be made in the tournament to to look past your first round opponent. Marquetee should win their first game and advance, but they need to win their first game. As a reminder, the seed they play is a level where at large teams also wind up.

Anonymous said...

Too bad the school wussed out to political correctness and dropped the Warriors name. The Warriors of '77 were a helluva team with really cool uniforms and a healthy we will kick ass attitude.