I have been watching the “Big Dance” my whole life. While watching I have noticed the type of teams that win have certain attributes and skills. Here is my opinion on who can win the whole thing. Please do not bet money on my opinions and then come back and get angry with me. Also, I’m giving you 4 teams to choose from. So obviously there is some wiggle room I have given myself. Mind you, I did not pick UConn to win it last year or Butler to make it to the Championship game two years in a row. If I’m wrong, sorry. This is a little long. There are pictures and videos for those of you that can’t take this much content without it being broken up by media.
Here are the factors a team needs to win the championship. Enjoy.
1) Defense & Rebounding: The team that wins needs to have a lock down perimeter defender and a low post athletic defender, not necessarily a shot blocker, but that is a plus. Down the stretch of a close tournament games, championship teams must be able to get stops. I prefer a solid man-to-man team but it looks like a long and athletic zone can do it as well. There are nights where the shots will not fall and you are bad offensively, but you can never be off defensively. That is an effort thing. (See Florida’s 2 Championships in 06-07)
2)Paint Scoring: The teams that consistently go far in the tournament have some sort of low-post threat. Some teams get by without this if they can make 3’s or get hot from the outside. Also, teams that cause a lot of turnovers can score enough to off-set their lack of a low-post scorer. VCU did this last year during their run. Butler could not score down low against UConn last because their big guy was terrible and essentially lost the game for them. Again, sometimes this can be off-set by a kid like Kemba Walker just carrying his team. A jump shooting team is bound to have an off game, or half, or 5 minutes, which is enough to lose a game and send them fishing. If you can get to the rim and to the FT line, you can still win without a typical low post-scorer. But, you must get into the paint. (See Every Championship Team Ever)
3)Take care of the Basketball: Teams that limit their turnovers are likely to get more shots. If you get more shots than your opponent, you have a better chance to score more. To win a basketball game, you must score more than your opponent. Any questions? A solid PG or structured offense helps. If you play an uptempo offense you must still get shots. You can’t give easy buckets to your opponent by turning the ball over. (See Michigan State ’00 , UConn ’11, Kansas ’08, UNC ’05, ’09) Great point guards and structured offenses. Butler ’10, 11, I know they didn’t win it but were they more talented than most of the teams they beat? No. Structured offense and discipline helps.
4)Coaching: I know, I know. Having 3 lottery picks helps but, coaching is important. They personally need to stay poised, keep their players focused, and understand how to beat each team they play. If you can’t get stops in your man-to-man defense, change it up. If they are doubling your stud big guy and you are not making the 3’s on the kick-out, you need to get your big guy in some moving sets (ball screens/cross screens/etc.). Little things get your team an advantage. The best coaches know how to manage the talent and make the correct decisions. (See how many of the names repeat for Final 4 coaches) I know that recruiting and talent plays a huge part of this repetition, but these guys are good. (See Illinois during the Bruce Weber era for proof that talent does not mean success)
5) Momentum: Now I am going to contradict everything I just typed. Sometimes your team is just playing well. Players are playing with confidence. Hitting shots. Playing together. All of these things put together for 5 games can propel a team that lacks some of the 4 factors I just mentioned to a championship. If you look back at the last 10 champs, UConn from last year is the only team that just got hot like that after not having a great year. They had 9 loses. That has only happened twice in the last 20 years (UConn last year was 32-9 and Arizona in 1997 was 25-9). Arizona is the only team to beat 3 #1 seeds in the tournament. Interesting fact. Sure teams will make runs like Butler or VCU or George Mason but, I’m talking about championships here. Doesn’t happen often, but there is a chance.
Here is Bibby, but I know what everyone is thinking, what happened to Miles Simon?
Here is the moment you have read this entire piece for…who will win?! Well, I’ll tell you. Get to it already you long winded ass! Here. Take them. Do what you will with these picks.
But first watch this… The best clip from the best sports commentator ever.
OK HERE THEY ARE:
Kentucky: (#1 pick)
Defensively great. So much talent on one team. Anthony Davis is going to be the #1 pick/player of the year/freshman of the year. He is just an super athlete. Kidd-Gilchrist is the motor of this team. He does so much for them. The key is Teague who needs to take care of the ball and create. Limit his turnovers. If that happens and John Calipari can keep them prepared and not over coach, they will win it all.
Syracuse: (#2 pick)
Long, athletic, talented. I would argue that their scoring might be something to prevent them from winning it all. Does they have a go to guy when it is needed. Fab Melo is a difference maker on the defensive end. He just stops teams from getting anything easy. They will be tough to beat.
Michigan State: (#3 pick)
Just watched them absolutely take Ohio State out of their offense. They are good enough offensively to score enough. I love their bigs defensively and love Draymond Green. He is exactly what a leader should be for his team. No star takes more charges than Green. If they can continue to shoot well, they are dangerous to win it.
Missouri: (#4 pick)
Can they defend enough? They are the fastest team I think I have ever seen. For the amount that they push the ball, they do take care of the ball. I am unsure whether they can sustain their style to win 5 games in a row. However, they can score from everywhere and cause so many problems for the opponent. I like how they are playing right now. They just beat Baylor handily. I think they fall into the momentum category.
These are my picks. Like I said, please don’t bet money on one of these teams, unless I can get a cut. This is free information. Maybe the teams I have picked will not win the tournament this year, but I think my keys to winning are sound. If you disagree with my picks, let me know. I would love to here suggestions and opinions.
Here is a link of the Men’s NCAA Basketball Tournament Champion History.