I guess now is the best time to
woman man up and admit that I was dead wrong about our Mountaineers. After starting Big East play with back-to-back losses, I thought this team had no chance to make the NCAA tournament. We didn't have go-to scorer, we had seemingly forgot how to pass and were struggling on defense against quick guards that liked to penetrate. I thought we were doomed.
However, Bob Huggins, the best basketball coach in the nation, pulled this team together and got them playing great team basketball. We got over our lack of "go-to scorer" because we started passing the ball better, crashed the boards and somehow managed to neutralize many of the quick and talented back-courts in the Big East. Through all our struggles on the court and drama off the court, our guys played together and earned our #5 seed in the Big Dance.
While we were one and done in the Big East Tournament, our potential first round match-ups in the NCAA Tournament make that very unlikely to happen. Klempson is better much better than a #12 seed, but is a good match-up for WVU. After our first round game, however, our path gets mighty tough. Now that I've
bored you to death piqued your interest, I think we should look at West Virginia's path to a national championship.
sub-par stellar analysis and some random thoughts after the jump...
I want to start off by saying I am not predicting this to happen, but if we were to make a run, these are the teams I think we will face on our trip to a national title.
Round of 64: WVU v. Klempson - As I previously stated, WVU wins against either UAB or Klempson. UAB would be the tougher match-up for WVU because of quick little point guard Aaron Johnson, but I see Klempson handling UAB in the "
Worst First Four" game.
Round of 32: WVU v. Kentucky - Bob Huggins is 8 -1 when facing John Calipari. After last year's beat down at the hands of the Mountaineers, Calipari will be dying for revenge. He won't get it, in a game against this senior laden Mountaineer team. While Brandon Knight, Terrance Jones and Doron Lamb are talented players. When it comes to the NCAA Tournament, more experienced teams can easily get the young guys rattled and force them into uncharacteristic mistakes. WVU will win this game and move Huggs to 9 - 1 against Calipari.
Sweet 16: WVU v. tOSU - This is the round where things could get dicey for our Mountaineers. Not because of the "talent" of an overrated Jarrod Sullinger, but because this guy gets every call and some senior leadership. Watching the Big Ten Tournament was like watching to pigs 'rastle over an ear of corn. tOSU would isolate Sullinger and a shooter on one side and they would play hot potato until a foul was called or the opponent fell asleep. The Big Ten refs let tOSU guys do whatever the wanted and called the opponents for having stanky breath while guarding. WVU would have a hard time beating tOSU, but it can be done.
Elite 8: WVU v. UNC - Harrison Barnes would be John Flowers toughest guard of the season. Barnes has length, quickness and can shoot from outside. This would be a great game for Flowers to showcase his defensive ability for NBA scouts. While Flowers might be able to neutralize Barnes, Tyler Zeller will be an even tougher match-up for our big men. With the tempo and speed of UNC's game, this would be the toughest game of the East region for the Mountaineers. If we can handle the tempo and talent, we go to back-to-back Final Fours. It would be special.
Final Four: WVU v. San Diego St. - They have the quickness and length that has killed WVU all season. However, the Mountaineers physical style of play is not something that is often seen on the finesse West Coast. This could force the Aztecs out of it style and make them play Mountaineer basketball. If we can punch them in mouth early, maybe literally and figuratively. We can win this game.
National Championship Game: WVU v. Pitt - Pitt has the easiest road to the Final Four of any 1 seed, which is the only reason I have them in this game. Otherwise, Pitt would pull its annual choke job which it started in the Big East Tournament. Will the third time be a charm for our Mountaineers facing the Pitt Panthers? I say yes.
You know what I had not really given our room through the NCAA Tournament much thought until now. A run to a title totally seems reasonable now. I think we can win a national title. Of course, I'm usually the eternal optimist and my opinion is 100% biased.
Anywho, that was my analysis for the Mountaineers path through the bracket. Now for some random thoughts...
Last night at dinner my fiance says, "Don't you feel bad for Virginia Tech getting left out again." I looked at her and said something extremely derogatory toward Virginia Tech. I won't repeat it here because I am an adult and don't want to offend children or parents. The gist of my statement was, I couldn't care less about the Chokies getting left out of the tournament. They left the Big East and I wish them nothing, but the worst.
For as terrible as all the experts are calling this year's field of 68. We have some of the best first round match-ups I can remember. St. John's v. Gonzaga, Xavier v. Marquette and Kansas St. v. Utah St. While these are the marquee games, we know there will be a slew of close games that nobody saw coming. I love March Madness.
My first thought after the announcement of the brackets was that the selection committee could have done a better job separating Big East teams. Potential second round match-ups of Marquette v. Syracuse and UConn and Cincinnati just seemed absurd. However, after taking a more in-depth look at the brackets. The high seeds of Big East teams make it almost impossible to really separate them. I just hope the talking heads on ESPN and other places don't start denigrating the Big East's record in the tournament after the head-to-head match-ups.
Ever wish that more things worked like college brackets? That you could seed everything that way? Top 64 pre-game foods. Top 64 college players. Well, now you can do just that with your friends, with the Allstate BFF Brackets, which takes your 64 top Facebook friends (an algorithm seeds them based on interaction) and seeds them in four regions, exactly like the real tourney. Once the tourney starts, your friends advance with the corresponding seeds – till one is left standing. Check it out at http://apps.facebook.com/bffbrackets/