Monday, February 22, 2010

My Team (Of This Current, Very Present Moment)

We're all guilty of trying to find a too little hyped team that we think can do great things in March. At least, I know I am. It's the same tendency that would lead someone (again me) to not pick North Carolina as national champs last year. Because no matter how cut and dry something appears, we like to think we know better. This year things look pretty cut and dry. I don't think there is any arguing that Kansas, Kentucky, Syracuse and Purdue are the four best teams and the four likely Final Four candidates. Unless something mind-bending happens in the next 3 weeks, and some team drastically alters the perception, you would do well to have one of those four winning your bracket.

But what fun is that? Let the guy who just started watching hoops last week after tuning in from a fresh curling match on MSNBC pick Kansas to win it all. The bragging rights will be all the sweeter for you when your team that no one was thinking about, because no one should be, wins it all. My team is West Virginia. Not as crazy a pic as it could be, and I certainly contemplated crazier *cough*Gonzaga*cough* But, Kansas they are not.

If you have a moment, allow me to convince you why West Virginia is going to win it all. They have size. Bob Huggins has been starting 4 forwards, and his starting lineup averages 6'6 in height. In an age where most teams start 3 guards, the look West Virginia gives can be difficult to gameplan for, especially on offense. It doesn't hurt that two of those starters are the tremendous duo of Da'Sean Butler and Devin Ebanks.

They have a great come from behind win against Ohio State, and they don't have any truly bad losses to speak of. Notre Dame is a bit of a guffaw, but their other four losses were against teams in the top 10 of the RPI. They're own RPI ranking is 5th in the country. And, according to, they are the number 3 tempo free team in the country right now.* So what's not to love about the Mountaineers?

You know, other than the fact that they don't have any truly big wins to speak of. And that they play so many forwards because they're kind of the inverse of Villanova: lot of really good forwards, not so many guards and not a true point to speak of. They also play a little like Michigan State this season, where sometimes they decide the first half doesn't matter. Oh, and while four of their losses were to teams in the top 10 of the RPI rankings, they were also to teams like Syracuse and Purdue, teams that have made their own cases for why they should get Final Four love. In fact, Purdue made them look pretty silly. But what did playing it safe ever get anyone? Other than the 200 bucks in the office pool.

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