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Blog Entry

Can your team make the Final Four? Sure, why not?

Posted on: January 1, 2009 1:40 pm
Edited on: January 1, 2009 1:42 pm
 

I was on a radio station in Arkansas yesterday talking about the Hogs' win over Oklahoma when the conversation turned to postseason aspirations. I commented that Arkansas looked as much like an NCAA tournament team as anybody at this point, and that if the goal was a Sweet Sixteen then that seemed possible to me, if only because any tournament team from a power conference will usually be one of the top 12 seeds in a region, and as long as you're not an eight-seed or nine-seed it's reasonable to hope to advance past the first weekend because all you have to do is win what is typically a winnable first game, then hope the bracket breaks in your favor like it did for Western Kentucky last March, when the Hilltoppers beat Drake and San Diego to advance.

So anyway, that was my main point -- not that Arkansas is necessarily one of the best 16 teams in the country, but that a tournament team from a power league almost always has a chance to advance to the second weekend, and now I'm ready to take it a step farther in light of what we've seen this week and suggest that any so-called top 30 team can reasonably hope for a trip to the Final Four because it's clear multiple flawed teams will get there given that there is only one truly elite squad: North Carolina.

Just this week, No. 2 Connecticut, No. 4 Oklahoma and No. 9 Purdue have all gone down while preseason top 10 teams Gonzaga and Louisville took their fourth and third losses, and when you compare what's happening this season to what happened last season it really puts things into perspective. Consider that last season it was easy to identify four elite teams pretty much from the start, specifically Kansas, Memphis, North Carolina and UCLA. Those schools were ranked first, second, third and fourth in the preseason poll, and on New Year's Day they were a combined 49-1 with the lone loss of the bunch belonging to UCLA, which had fallen only by two points to No. 8 Texas.

This season, the top four teams in the preseason poll were North Carolina, Connecticut, Louisville and UCLA, and on New Year's Day they have a combined record of 42-6. North Carolina is great, obviously, but Connecticut lost its Big East opener at home, Louisville has no good wins and three losses to unranked opponents, and UCLA has no good wins to go with its two defeats. Consequently, I submit -- and I've said this before, but now I have the stats to back it up -- that UNC is better than any team from last season, but that nobody else is even close to as good as Kansas, Memphis, UNC or UCLA was last season, meaning that if you combined all the teams from last season and this season your top five would look like this:

1. North Carolina (2008-2009)
2. Kansas (2007-2008)
3. Memphis (2007-2008)
4. North Carolina (2007-2008)
5. UCLA (2007-2008)

Bottom line, dream big Clemson!

And you too, West Virginia!

And you too, Baylor!

Sure, on the surface, none of you look like Final Four teams in the traditional sense. But the thing about the Final Four is that four schools have to be there, and any combination featuring North Carolina and three other teams seems possible this season because there aren't four teams clearly better than the next 30, and that fact has been on display all week, every night.

Comments

Since: Oct 2, 2007
Posted on: January 1, 2009 10:56 pm
 

Can your team make the Final Four? Sure, why not?

OK, no one is saying that UNC is unbeatable.  The analysts are saying that an undefeated season is most definitely achievable, which is very true.  North Carolina has been the hunted for over half a century, as a matter of fact, last years team was the "hunted".  This team is battle-tested and experienced.  The moment anyone puts on that Tarheel Blue, they immediately become the "hunted". You can keep talking about an "off night" all you want to, but until that happens no team will beat UNC.  There have been games this season where they haven't played their absolute best, but they still pounded their opponent. The important thing is that, UNC can have an off night, but their opponent still must have the best game of their lives to have any chance at taking down the Heels!



Since: Nov 10, 2008
Posted on: January 1, 2009 9:18 pm
 

Can your team make the Final Four? Sure, why not?

Go Vols



Since: Nov 10, 2008
Posted on: January 1, 2009 9:17 pm
 

Can your team make the Final Four? Sure, why not?

Go Vols



Since: Sep 4, 2006
Posted on: January 1, 2009 9:00 pm
 

Can your team make the Final Four? Sure, why not?

Good point,however Ginyard has been out all year until this past week.Maybe he can add a spark to erase them slow starts.


WoodleyOwnsAFC
Since: Nov 20, 2008
Posted on: January 1, 2009 8:58 pm
This comment has been removed.

Post Deleted by Administrator




Since: Feb 6, 2008
Posted on: January 1, 2009 8:54 pm
 

Can your team make the Final Four? Sure, why not?

You can't say for sure that any team will definitely be in the hunt come tournament time....that's what makes the tourney so great.  Not even North Carolina is safe.



Since: Mar 24, 2008
Posted on: January 1, 2009 7:44 pm
 

Can your team make the Final Four? Sure, why not?

You are very smart man, but I don't know Gary. I think that last year was the first time in NCAA Tournament history that each of the number 1 seeds have ever reach the Final Four in the same year, that wont happen again for a long time. Just because a team loses a game, Uconn and Oklahoma specifically, I can't discount them as not being an elite team.

In addition, some of the conferences, like the Big Ten and Big East, has gotten progressively better from a season ago. Purdue and Connecticut are victims of it, but for Connecticut I don't see them going backwards. Them Pittsburgh, and Georgetown will be  neck and neck with each other.

As for Louisville and  Gonzaga, I don't have an explanation there, these are two clearly multi-talented teams that are just at a crossroads that is making them fall fast. I don't know if the hype is getting to them but, Mark few and Rick Pitino need to rally the troops quick.

I believe that UCLA's mental toughness and defense will keep them in the hunt for a fourth consecutive Final Four, and having a senior point guard in Darren Collison does not hurt. In addition, college hoops fans outside of Winston-Salem sleep on Wake Forest. I believe that they will shock some people when ACC play gets going and in the NCAA tournament, their that good.

Finally, North Carolina is great, maybe even historically great, I get it. But let them go through the rigors of ACC play and of the NCAA Tournament first. They are a talented group, but even the best gets trumped from every once in a while. That all the fun of college basketball!
1LUV



Since: Mar 24, 2008
Posted on: January 1, 2009 7:17 pm
 

UNC in Durham

Yeah, it will be interesting to see Carolina playing Duke in Cameron.  The Heels sure haven't been getting any experience winning close ones this year, which takes a special kind of mindset.  They may have to rely on their memories of last year, when they had to gut it out at the end a couple of times.



Since: Jan 16, 2007
Posted on: January 1, 2009 7:01 pm
 

Can your team make the Final Four? Sure, why not?

Parish thank you for the encouragment. While it does appear to be turning into a one team race so far I hope UNC starts to believe that more than they should. I have been a Hog my entire life and so has my sister. She went away to UNC for college and switched her alligence immediately. I went to CU Boulder and of course did not. Last year in the second round of the tourney UNC spanked the Hogs who were made up of a bunch of seniors that had overstayed their welcome at the UofA in my opinion. So that is sort of why I hope they begin to think over confidently because I would love these young Hogs to run into UNC in the tourney again.

Side Note and actually what I really wanted to post about. You got to come to AR and see this young team and of course you get to look at all the programs around the country and get alot of inside info. You may have already read about it but the young hogs rang in the new year together watching video and practicing last night from 11 to 1:15 am. I wanted to know what you think about the focus and maturity of such a young group of players and if there are other teams that rang in the new year this way that you are aware of?




Since: Jan 25, 2008
Posted on: January 1, 2009 6:49 pm
 

Can your team make the Final Four? Sure, why not?

Doesnt matter. Nobody can even come close to beating UNC. When they play at Duke will be only time that they dont win by double digits. They are that good. They can just give them the trophy now!


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