Bacon Bits: Five things to watch for in the Sweet Sixteen

Posted: March 22, 2011 by Bacon in Kentucky Basketball, Outside the Ville

It starts with 68, 65, 64, whatever now. In the blink of an eye it is 32 and now we are just a few short weeks away from the 2011 college basketball season to be over. I will give you a few minute to tie your noose and find a strong enough beam.

There are just sixteen teams remaining and the field could still be wide open.  Yes the three pre-tournament favorites are still alive in Kansas, Ohio State, and Duke. As we have seen upsets occur so far though (most it seems happening to the Big East) anything can happen.

So as you get your pizza ordered. Fridge stocked with beer (Mt. Dew in my case) and any other vice you might enjoy while sitting on your couch ready to watch sixteen team go to eight. Here are five points to keep an eye on….

5. Butler is back, again.

After Butler lost their star player Gordon Heywood to the NBA many people thought the Bulldogs would still be good. That was until Louisville back-handed Butler in the opening of the Yum! center and from that point on everyone outside Indianapolis, Indiana forgot about Brad Steven’s team again. That is the way he likes it.

Butler has been involved in two of the most exciting games in  this tournament already. Center Matt Howard is staying out of foul trouble and when he does that I promise you this team can make the final four.

4. Duke and UConn both need to win

I can’t stand Duke. Never root for Duke. If they lose to Arizona I will not be upset. If they win though (Think they will) I really hope UConn wins to cause I can’t wait to see a Nolan Smith versus Kemba Walker match-up with the final four on the line. No one in the nation (other than the Jimmer I suppose) has carried their team to wins with so many great last second shots than Walker. He led the Huskies to 5 wins in 5 days through the Big East and is 2 for 2 so far in this tournament. Smith on the other hand is the National Player of the Year and was just plain awesome carrying Duke to a win over Michigan in the second round. The two best all-around guards in the nation going head to head with a final four on the line….does March get any better than that?

3. Florida versus the Jimmer

A lot of people were upset when Florida got the #2 seed in the Southeast but they were very impressive in the first round and showed great pose in their win over a young talented UCLA team. Nothing has been easy for BYU either though. They are the only school in America who loses their leading rebounder for getting laid. These two teams met in the first round as a #7 vs #10 that ended in an exciting double-overtime 99-92 win for BYU. This have changed since then. Suspended leading rebounder Brandon Davies may be gone but he was somewhat ineffective last year ( 0 points, 6 rebounds in 19 minutes).

Another big piece missing from that Cougars team is back up guard Michael Floyd JR. The Sophomore guard scored 26 points off the bench in last years game but has since been asked to leave the team for under age drinking and possession. The Jimmer had 37 points in that win and will need a repeat performance for another Cougar win.

2. Will Kansas choke??

The term “choker” seem to thrown around to loosely now a days. Much like the “guarantee win” it seems all someone has to do is lose once to a lesser team and you a labeled a “choker”. Is Bill Self a choker? He has a national championship, shouldn’t that remove the label? Of course he also has first round losses to Bucknell in 2005 as a #3 seed and a first round exit in 2006 to Bradley as a #4 seed. Not to mention last season’s loss in the second round to #9 seeded Northern Iowa. Self has also taken the Jayhawks to a couple of regional finals as well.

If Kansas is going to suffer another choke move in this tournament to a lower seeded team this game might be the one. Richmond is good. Plain and simple. The Spiders are led by an extremely talented point guard in Senior Kevin Anderson and a Senior center in Justin Harper. Both player will be drafted more than likely by the NBA after the season. Richmond is well coached and runs that slowdown Princeton offense that can give more talented trams like Kansas major headaches. Throw in the fact that the Spiders have just 7  turnovers combined in their first 2 games, Richmond can be a serious threat to remind people why Bill Self and Kansas have that choker label to begin with.

1. Final Four match-up in the Sweet-Sixteen

Kentucky was upset when they received a #4-seed in this tournament but if anyone should be mad it should be Ohio State. The Buckeyes were considered the top overall seed in the tournament and even have their AD as the chairman of the selection committee but still Ohio State got a raw deal landing a UK team that could easily be a #2 seed in their bracket. Ohio State is the most complete team in this tournament. The have depth, several outside shooters, a great big man, and solid defenders at the wing positions.  Going into this tournament I felt their were only three teams who really had a chance to beat the Buckeyes.

Two of them are #1 seeds (Duke and Kansas), the other is Kentucky. While UK is lacking the amount of talent and depth of Ohio State, their six players they do use are good enough. Kentucky will need a few thing to go right though of course.

A) Terrence Jones and Brandon Knight both have to have a solid game. It has been rare this year that both the star Freshman have had good games at the same time. It’s usually been just one or the other. A UK win is not possible without both of them.

B) Darius Miller in the SEC tournament has to show up…no exceptions. Miller has shown flashes all season but he has to be at SEC tournament level for this upset to happen.

C ) Ohio State has to struggle from three and UK doesn’t. If the Buckeyes are hitting their three’s anyone playing them that night only has a slim prayer to win. The Wildcats will need to get in the Buckeye shooters face and give them no open looks. UK on the other hand needs to be able to knock down a good percentage of their three’s.

Now I know everyone is saying UK big man Josh ‘Jorts” Harrelleson is the key to this game. I disagree. Sullinger will get his, Sullinger will get whoever guards him in foul trouble. It doesn’t matter who he is facing. It is the old Bulls and Jordan strategies. Let Jordan get his (as if anyone really had a choice at stopping him) and shut the rest of the team down.


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