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March Madness Preview: Tigers, Wolverines and Huskies

Chris Fravel
Staff Writer
cfravel@lhup.edu

February 27, 2014

Selection Sunday is March 16th and that means people are tirelessly preparing to fill out brackets.

Memphis: The Memphis Tigers are next on the list for our Selection Sunday countdown. The Tigers share the ball better than most teams in the nation, combine that fluid offense with an aggressive defense and you’ve got a formidable team. Memphis is ranked in the top-50 in all of the major stat categories, averaging 79.7 points per game, 38.2 rebounds per game, 17.8 assists per game and they are shooting 48.3% from the field. Defensively, the Tigers play a chancy game. While they average 9.1 steals per game and 4.7 blocks per game they sacrifice a lot to put up those numbers. Memphis allows their opponents an averages of 69.8 points per game and only grabs 25 defensive rebounds per game, not a great showing for a team ranked in the top-25.

Over the past few years Memphis has been a dark-horse during March with varying rates of success. If the stars come into line and the Tiger defense finds success in its aggressiveness throughout the tournament, they could make a deep run. If not, expect the Tigers to make a first or second round exit.

Michigan: We recognize another Big Ten team during our journey to Selection Sunday with the Michigan Wolverines. Michigan combines accurate shooting with a brick wall defense to put them in the AP rankings. Offensively, the Wolverines are averaging 75 points per game, 14.4 assists per game and are shooting 47.9% from the field . Defensively, Michigan is allowing opponents just 64.8 points per game, but no other major defensive stat is in the top-100. This is a true testament to the honest style of defense the Wolverines play.  What should be concerning to the Wolverines is their ability to rebound the ball. On both the offensive and defensive glass, Michigan has not cracked the top-100 for rebounds per game. Despite these major weak points, the Wolverines currently sit at 18-7 overall with a 10-3 record in Big Ten play.

While they do have some ugly losses on their record this season, they have shown streaks of brilliance more often. I have this Wolverines squad as a dark-horse for the tournament. I think Michigan will cause havoc for teams seeded higher and while they’re not my favorite to win the NCAA title, I will say this: they have a good chance to prove me wrong.

Connecticut: This is a team who is relatively balanced between their defense and their offense however it is their defense which keeps them afloat.  They rank in the top 60 in four major categories on the defensive side of the ball.  They give up 64.1 points per game, they grab 25.8 defensive rebounds per game, have an impressive 6.4 blocks per game, and 7.4 steals per game.  Although not as strong on the offensive side of the ball, they still rank mediocre in points per game, 76.0 and field goal percentage, 46.2%.  They have trouble on the offensive boards only grabbing 36.5 offensive rebounds per game and they do not spread the ball around much only getting 13.1 assists per game.

A team who is historically good at basketball, I expect to see Connecticut anywhere from the middle of the pack to a 4 or 5 seed.  It concerns me that this team has one main playmaker in many categories on the offensive and defensive side of the ball.  Depending on where they are seeded, I can’t see them getting anywhere past the Sweet Sixteen due to their lack of depth.

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