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NCAA: Scouting Potential 1 and 2 seeds
Posted By Yannis Koutroupis On February 9, 2013 @ 5:00 am In All,NCAA | No Comments
If the 2013 NCAA Tournament is going to be anything like the regular season, being a number one or two seed could be one of the worst positions to be in. Although being seeded that high is a reward for having one of the best resumes in the country, we’ve learned this season that no team, especially those in the top 10, is unbeatable. This year’s tournament could be as wide open as any in recent history and as we inch closer to the big dance we’ll be taking a look some of the locks, starting with the potential one and two seeds.
Indiana Hoosiers (20-3, 8-2)
The Hoosiers saw their five-game winning streak that included wins over nationally-ranked Michigan State and Michigan shockingly come to an end this week at the hands of the Illinois Fighting Illini. They struggled to contain them on the perimeter defensively, but the Hoosiers are still in the driver’s seat for a top-two seed. They have three wins against the RPI top 25 and five more games against ranked teams remaining along with the Big 10 tournament. That’s more than enough chances to make up for their slip up against the Fighting Illini and still be in the mix for the top overall seed.
The Hoosiers have one of the nation’s top inside-outside duos in Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo. They lead the way for a Hoosiers team that scores 83 points a contest, second only to Northwestern State. To beat them you either have to have a physical and stingy defense like Wisconsin or be able to beat them in a shootout like Illinois and Butler did.
Florida Gators (18-3, 8-1)
The Florida Gators are also coming off of their first defeat in conference play, falling at the hands of BJ Young and the Arkansas Razorbacks. The Gators are still atop of the SEC, though, and boast a sixth-ranked RPI and ninth-ranked strength of schedule. Senior shooting guard Kenny Boynton is averaging a career-low in points at 13.2, but is grabbing 3.3 boards and 3.3 assists a game, both career-bests. Between Boynton, Erik Murphy, Mike Rosario and Patric Young, the Gators have four players who could lead them in scoring on any given night and work very well together.
Like you would expect from a team coached by Billy Donovan, the Gators are tough on the defensive end. They only give up 52 points a game, good for fourth in the country, on an average of 36 percent shooting from the field and 31 percent from distance. An efficient offensive attack is a necessity against the Gators.
Michigan Wolverines (21-2, 8-2)
Ohio State and Indiana, two top teams, are the only teams to have beaten one of the most talented squads Michigan has had in quite a while. Running the show for them is one of the nation’s best point guards in Trey Burke. He has potent offensive weapons around him in Tim Hardaway Jr., Nik Stauskas and Glenn Robinson III. They shoot a remarkable 50 percent from the field as a team and put up 77 points a night overall. They have an intriguing test Saturday against the heralded defense of the Wisconsin Badgers.
The Wolverines take very good care of the basketball, thanks largely in part to steady Burke, giving it up just 9.4 times a contest. They play a sound brand of defense that is based more off of being sound and contesting everything than gambling for steals or blocking a lot of shots. Freshman big man Mitch McGary has the potential to be a difference maker for them if he plays his best during tournament time.
Duke Blue Devils (20-2, 7-2)
Since suffering a 27-point beating at the hands of Miami on Jan. 23, the Blue Devils have won four straight. During that stretch, they recorded double-digit victories against Florida State and North Carolina State. A one seed is the Blue Devils to lose. They currently have the highest RPI and have played the nation’s second-toughest schedule.
The Blue Devils are not without faults, though. They are not one of Coach K’s best defensive teams to say the least, giving up 64 points a night. Where the Blue Devils really struggle is against teams with good size up front. While Mason Plumlee is one of the best big men in the game, he doesn’t get the kind of help he needs in the trenches night in and night out.
This is the kind of Blue Devils team that will outscore you before they beat you with their defense. They have some really quality shooters in Seth Curry, Ryan Kelly, Quinn Cook and Rasheed Sulaimon. Taking away the three and taking advantage of them on the boards are two most important things you have to do to beat Duke.
Kansas Jayhawks (19-3, 7-2)
Tyshawn Taylor and Thomas Robinson’s departure to the NBA left the leadership roles vacant for the Jayhawks and Ben McLemore and Jeff Withey have stepped in and filled them well. There may not be a more talented shooting guard in the country than McLemore, who is averaging 16.3 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.9 assists a game. Withey, meanwhile, has been a menace patrolling the paint, blocking 4.2 shots a night and nearly averaging a double-double with 13 points and eight rebounds a night.
The Jayhawks are coming off of the biggest upset of the season recently, falling to TCU 62-55. They are definitely prone to offensive droughts when teams force them to shoot the three. That is not a strength of theirs this year, as they make just 5.8 a game at a 35 percent clip. Turnover issues have also haunted the Jayhawks at times, but when McLemore and Withey are on along with a third guy, whoever it may be, this team is tough to beat.
Gonzaga Bulldogs (22-2, 9-0)
Over the years, Bulldogs head coach Mark Few has put together some extremely talented teams, but this year’s group may be the most capable of competing for the national crown. They are certainly one of his better offensive teams, currently pouring in 78 points a night.
With Kelly Olynyck and Elias Harris on the frontline, the Bulldogs can hang with any team in the country in the interior. They do a good job of drawing a lot of attention and are complemented well by Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell, Jr. out on the perimeter. The Bulldogs cannot afford to have a let up throughout the rest of conference play and in the postseason tournament if they want to stay in the mix for a top two seed because their strength of schedule (56) is already an issue as is.
Arizona Wildcats (20-2, 8-2)
Led by two of the nation’s best seniors in guard Mark Lyons and forward Solomon Hill, the Wildcats have established themselves as a top four team in the RPI while playing the 11th-toughest schedule in the country. As a team, they score 74 a night and give up 61.
The three-point shot is a major part of the Wildcats’ attack. They’re at their best when they are hitting from deep. They do a really good job of rebounding as a team, averaging 7.5 more rebounds than their opposition on the season. A common theme in their two losses this season is that their opponents were able to hang with them in the rebounding department.
Miami Hurricanes (18-3, 9-0)
The Hurricanes closed 2012 out with losses to Arizona and Indiana State, a major upset that came in overtime. Since the start of the new year, though, they have been a completely new team. They have not lost a game yet in 2013 and currently sit atop of the ACC with an unblemished record in conference play.
Durand Scott, Kenny Kadji and Shane Larkin form one of the most respective trios in the country. The three of them make every game winnable for the Hurricanes. Big man Reggie Johnson, who has had issues with injuries over the last two season, is the guy who has to play well for them to compete at the highest level.
Where the Hurricanes can get in trouble is when they don’t share the ball enough and leave too many points at the free throw line. Those are two areas they’re really going to have to focus on come tournament time.
Also In Consideration: Syracuse, Ohio State, Louisville and Michigan State
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