I don't know about you, but I do know about me, and I am looking at these presumptive number one seeds heading into Selection Sunday, and there isn't a single one that I'm even 85% sure will be in the Final Four. (Just for the sake of mentioning--we'll be liveblogging our reactions to the bracket unveiling Sunday afternoon)
The presumptives, for those not paying attention are Kansas, Kentucky, Syracuse and Duke. Classic teams, always favorites to win the whole thing (though Syracuse only wins the whole thing when they are not favorites, but that's neither here nor there.) There was some speculation that if Ohio State just rocked the Big 10 tournament, they could sneak into #1 consideration. But for that to happen, they needed to not win on a 37 footer from Evan Turner, and they needed to play real competition in the final, and Minnesota knocked off Purdue. So no impressive final win coming for Ohio State; they'll have to live with a #2 seed.
Getting back to our likely #1's--they all have obvious warts, despite the fact that between them, they averaged about 2 losses in 30 games per team this year. That's pretty damn good. Not Lady Husky good, but pretty damn good.
Kansas is probably the most complete team, but they lack some speed in the front court. To be frank, they look at times a bit boring. But they are effective, if Collins is playing at his best. Maybe that's where they are lacking--Xavier Henry was supposed to be one of the most heralded players in the country, and while he has shown flashes, he's been overshadowed by 3/5th's of the Kentucky starting five, who are all freshman. Xavier has got to be bad-ass, consistently, for the Jayhawks to make it to the Final.
Speaking of Kentucky's youth--they are super young, and at times, unable to play slow half-court basketball. John Wall is impossible to stop in transition; Bledsoe hits big shots; Cousins is a monster at 6' 11" and that doesn't even mention upperclassman front court badass Patrick Patterson. So why do I think this team can be upset in Round 2? It takes a team with patience, coaching and a gameplan, but I've seen Kentucky rattled before by just such a thing. Of course, one of the teams that managed to do that was the team that Kentucky just blew out today--Tennessee.
Let me be clear--I don't think anyone is likely to frustrate Kentucky. I just think it is doable.
In my mind, the most at risk presumptive #1's are Syracuse and Duke. It all depends on match-ups (a fairly obvious caveat, but one that needs to be said) but there are teams out there that would be absolute nightmares for these teams to deal with.
Syracuse is obviously in trouble if Onuaku can't go, but even if he does, there's a central fact that no one has really talked about--the Orange are lacking a point guard that they really trust. Sccop Jardine and Brandon Triche aren't really running that team--Andy Rautins is. When your best shooter is responsible for getting everyone else involved, that's potential trouble. They are also incredibly shallow--you are looking a seven man rotation, and any team that puts some stress on their front court via fouls is going to be rewarded.
Duke also isn't incredibly deep, and they have a liability--it's called their front court. You'll watch games, and the commentators will praise Zoubek and the Plumlee brothers simply for rebounding and not getting in the way of Singler, Scheyer, and Nolan Smith. A deep with an actual skilled front court and good defensive guards could pose problems for Duke. Duke would probably beat Northern Iowa, say, 8 out of 10 times. But they only play the game once, ya dig?
Here's my fearless prediction: The Final Four will have no more than 2 #1 seeds in it. How's that for a bold, exciting prediction? Dig on that, bitches!
Don't forget one key aspect of UK's game that I've mentioned before on here - their jump shooting is ATROCIOUS. Wall can get hot. As can Bledsoe. But if they're not hot? They are cold. No lukewarm here. That's their biggest weakness - if they get in a game with a big that can bother Cousins and the shots don't start falling for Wall and (more so) for Bledsoe, look out upset!
Also, saying that Zoubek is merely competent for Duke is ignoring his play. He won't be an offensive power, but the man is a FORCE on the offensive glass. He keeps possessions alive too frequently. The Plumlees? Nothing special. They're big, they don't hustle, they occasionally have a nice dunk, but that's it.
I think Zoubek is a force in an undersized ACC that didn't gameplan for him.
I think a team that prepares, or simply has some bigs of their own won't be all that worried. They'll be worried about the fastest Zombie on the court and the whiniest 2-guard since Danny Ainge, and Nolan Smith (who doesn't even deserve a bitchy nickname).
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