I love March Madness. I really, really do. I’m also happy the long week is over, and the Heat lost, so maybe we can get some better coverage on ESPN. Awww shucks…who am I kidding? Sportscenter has made it perfectly clear that they plan to cover the NFL year round, NBA whenever something happens (so they can beat that to death too), and SEC football. Honestly, I’m a patient man, but ESPN has lost me, probably for good. And they’ll lose you too, once they start having “fantasy combines” before the combines, and “fantasy pro-days” to get all those people that can’t live without NFL football every day to watch. I’m a prognosticator, and in 2 years, ESPN will run a fantasy league about fantasy leagues. It’s coming, just you watch.
And, all this fascination with pro-football has really shown in the national media with the absolute horrible coverage of college basketball. Even when you can find an article that’s semi-relevant, it’s just gibberish these days. Go ahead, pick a site…ESPN, CBSsports, Yahoo Sports, you find it, and look up what they’ll say about the upcoming KU/Mich game…and this is how in-depth their coverage is:
“KU won’t win unless BMac is the second coming of Danny Manning, Michigan has the best player in the country, and is too hot to lose the game against a slumping KU.” (summarized)
Fill that out into 3 more paragraphs about Michigan’s backcourt, and you just wrote yourself an article about this game for the national news.
Then again, I exclude Grantland from this, because I do like a lot of what they have…except college BB. Maybe that’s because Titus is a homer (and should be), but come on….really?
Now, these are the same guys that all seem to be picking Michigan to win. Here’s why I think they’re wrong:
-They’re discounting Withey, or treating him like one of BMac’s Miracles. You’ll hear people talk about how good he is defensively, but then they act like a good offense can just overcome that by chucking up 3’s. Yes, it can, but for that to work, the 3’s had better all go in, and Michigan had better be sharp from beyond the arc for this to work. I mean, REALLY sharp. Because if not, they’re gonna get punished.
And, on top of that, am I the only one around that’s noticed that for 2 years in a row now, Withey has consistently gone insane during the Tournament? He might have, you know, set a record last year during it, and it was his play that turned the UNC game completely around. Without him, KU would be sitting at home. And yes, he’s picking up a few more fouls a game lately, but man…I honestly think he’s playing out of his mind right now.
-Our perimeter defense isn’t half bad, too. During the UNC game, after the first two possessions in the second half, I felt like it was over (and in our favor). KU was going to win, because KU can play some D. The points will come on offense, but that anchor of the D is what this team does.
-Releford would be either be Jordan or Pippen on any team in the NCAA right now, except KU. For us, he’s “just” a “glue guy”. He plays lockdown D, and in transition, honestly, you find me a better finisher. Give him the ball and space to run, and he just seems to put it in the hoop. Oh, and he can hit a few 3’s here and there too. Did I mention he’s an elite-level defender too? Yeah, if he didn’t try and game the refs on every ball that goes out of bounds, he might be my favorite player on this team.
-KU’s “X-Factor” isn’t something you can gameplan for. Who’s it gonna be? Is Releford gonna go and score 25 on 8-10 shooting? Is EJ going to light up and drop 30 on you since you decided to shut down BMac? Oh, he’s on the bench, you say? Maybe Tharpe will drain consecutive 3’s because no one is open. Man, forgot about Young…he’s just going to shoot 3 times in one possession at the rim, miss all of them (including a dunk), and then still score. Of course, then Perry Ellis can always step in when Young is struggling and have another night where he can’t miss. KU is a team with…options. BMac doesn’t have to shoot 14-20 every night for them to win…he just has to play D, take good shots, and if he gets hot, he can beat you on his own.
-Did I mention KU’s recent (2 year) history in the Tournament? This is a team that has been okay to average for long stretches, and fantastic at times. Those times being just enough to beat everyone they’ve played in the Tournament for the last two years except Kentucky.
-And the last thing I gotta say for KU is…if they’re playing well, you can’t beat them. When they are hot, they are scorching. They took a team on a roll, UNC, and took all the punches in the first half. Then…it was over. Pancake time. I’ve seen roadkill less flattened than that UNC team in the second half. You HAVE to beat KU down, and keep them down the entire game…or else risk them catching fire and just destroying you.
For Michigan, all they have to do is have fantastic games from their backcourt to force turnovers. That’s how they win. If KU doesn’t turn the ball over 14 times or more, I will take them in Vegas anytime.