Defense wins championships, or so we’re advised. Not certain how far again it goes, however I do know protection shouldn’t be talked about particularly in John Wooden’s pyramid of success.
However, we are able to all agree that it’s a must to play SOME protection should you’re going to be a crew able to profitable the lads’s basketball nationwide championship.
Which brings us to the Tennessee Volunteers. Man, do the Vols play protection. Statistically, the most effective within the nation. Scoring protection (56.3), third within the nation; subject aim share protection (35.5), second; scoring margin (15.0), third; 3-point share protection (24.7), first.
Championship statistics? Maybe. But there are doubts born of current outcomes, though I’d argue the 2 losses final week to Vanderbilt and Missouri may very well be considerably attributed to unhealthy luck within the closing seconds. It didn’t reduce coach Rick Barnes’ optimism. He thinks his crew goes to be OK and that was verified with the Vols’ victory over top-ranked Alabama on Wednesday evening. They ought to worry no crew.
Still, the sudden loss to Vanderbilt; an unsightly, shut win over Auburn; a loss to the final word underachievers, Kentucky; a loss at Florida, all of those video games could be traced to poor offensive efficiency. The Vols shot a mixed 34% in these video games.
OPINION:Tennessee basketball nonetheless has what it takes to cease anybody, even No. 1 Alabama | Estes
So, what’s it going to be for the Vols? In the NCAA Tournament, one evening just like a type of 4 video games would imply elimination. They’ve been extremely ranked, excessive sufficient to be thought of worthy of a possible nationwide champion. Will they play like that for six consecutive video games in March?
It’s a key query and possibly reserve guard Tyreke Key is likely to be an answer to the offensive issues. With Wednesday evening’s victory as the latest proof, I believe it’s a must to contemplate Tennessee to be one of many few groups able to profitable the NCAA Tournament. In just a few weeks, 68 groups will probably be positioned within the bracket, however only some have the flexibility to win all of it. Right now, it’s a must to contemplate the Vols amongst these groups. For Vols followers, right here’s hoping Barnes solves his crew’s offensive issues to allow them to make a protracted, postseason run.
Realistically, these are the opposite groups that are able to profitable the NCAA Tournament (in alphabetical order).
The Crimson Tide is the alternative of Tennessee, an amazing, typically spectacular offensive crew that may simply overwhelm opponents. The Tide can be a wonderful defensive crew, and it has the very best freshman within the nation in ahead Brandon Miller, who has the look of the following Kevin Durant. Their steadfast reliance on the 3-point shot may harm them in the event that they out of the blue have an terrible capturing recreation.
The Wildcats are additionally an amazing offensive crew, averaging 83 factors per recreation, however they’re led by a giant man, 6-foot-11 Azuolas Tubelis. The one draw back is the Wildcats are typically careless with the basketball.
The Cougars power opponents into their defensive vise and simply maintain turning the deal with. Teams just about quit after some time, which is why their margin of victory is likely one of the greatest within the nation. They usually are not a pretty offensive crew however make up for it with relentless offensive rebounding. You may apply the identical negatives to the Cougars that you’d to Tennessee. If these groups ever met, the primary to 40 would win.
The Hoosiers underachieved for a part of the season however then two issues occurred. First, coach Mike Woodson determined to power feed Trayce Jackson-Davis and the large man has been one of many prime gamers within the nation, unstoppable within the low publish. Secondly, freshman guard Jalen Hood-Schifino matured right into a top-notch participant. So, this can be a totally different crew than it was in December.
The Jayhawks gained final season’s event however have had some slumps this season. Forget that. This is a championship roster with nice inside/out choices in large man Jalen Wilson and guards Dajuan Harris. Plus, freshman Gradey Dick has develop into a key participant.
In the NIL period, that is the very best crew cash should buy (OK, that’s a joke however google Miami and NIL for particulars). All that apart, the Hurricanes have steadiness and play with excessive depth, particularly guard Isaiah Wong. The Hurricanes usually are not large, which may harm them, however they’ll be ignored in most individuals’s brackets.
The former No. 1 crew within the nation with the most probably nationwide participant of the yr in 7-4 Zach Edey. He’s been a revelation, affecting the sport at each ends of the court docket. What’s key for the Boilermakers is their freshmen backcourt, Braden Smith and Fletcher Loyer. They’ve performed with the poise of sixth-year seniors with two further Covid seasons, and that has to proceed.
The Bruins are a veteran crew that has performed a difficult schedule and some of the gamers had been members of the 2021 Final Four crew, most notably level guard Tyger Campbell and ahead Jaime Jaquez Jr. They know what it takes. David Singleton, who was not a giant a part of that crew, has emerged as a steadying affect.
Cheating didn’t assist get coach Sean Miller to the Final Four when he was at Arizona. It could be superb if he did it in his first season again in Cincinnati. What’s vital in that effort could be the return of massive man Zach Freemantle for an harm. Without him, they’re not getting there.
Who’s lacking (and why)
Texas (don’t suppose the elements match collectively appropriately); Duke (too younger, too inconsistent); North Carolina (final underachievers, possibly locker room issues); Connecticut (coach’s lack of poise will sabotage them); Gonzaga (overrated all season).
Joe Sullivan could be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeSullivan.
This article initially appeared on Nashville Tennessean: NCAA Tournament will boil down to those 10 groups, together with Tennessee