There’s a perfect storm brewing in the tempo-free world. UNC, one of the 10 fastest teams in the land may well have the best defense in the game, and Georgetown one of the 10 slowest, might have the best offense in the country.
I’ve talked about the Tar Heels enough, but how about Georgetown? They provide a deadly combination of shooting (ranking 3rd) and offensive rebounding (10th). It’s Princeton on steroids. Georgetown’s offensive rebounding won’t get the pub it deserves (except for the Friday a while back where they outrebounded Seton Hall 17-7 on the Hoyas’ offensive end.) because they don’t miss many shots and don’t take as many as most teams. Offensive rebounding opportunities are probably rarer for Georgetown than any other team in the land, but they are a significant factor in their success. They can turn the ball over regularly (and do!) and still pummel opponents with points. Seriously, look at them.
A few notes on other teams…
Texas A&M. Don’t they have to be considered a legitimate title contender now? The secret sub-plot here is that their offense is nearly as good as their defense. In fact in conference play, it’s been better. Only once in conference play have they not scored a point per possession. And if you want to know how important Acie Law is, check this out: In the last two games, the Aggies have made 54 shots while Law has been on the court. Law has made 16 of those himself and assisted on 22 of the other 38.
NC State. For five consecutive halves they looked like the best team in the ACC. It can be a challenge to distinguish between an anomaly and a trend. But I’m going to put this one in the anomaly category and say that Engin Atsur cannot possibly mean that much to a team.
Wichita State. If the Shockers get an at-large bid, I’m pretty sure you would see the spontaneous combustion of Jay Bilas. And for good reason. No other team in the nation will get to sell wins at LSU or Syracuse, both seemingly NIT-bound, as reasons for their admission.
Mississippi State. If you want a sleeper team in ‘08, these guys have all the earmarks of it. Horribly unlucky, with another last-second loss last night, and young. Book it now – the 2008 season will be the Year of Jamont Gordon.
Arizona/Oregon. These two teams meet in Eugene on Saturday in the kenpom.com game of the weekend. I may be the only one that hasn’t given up on Arizona, yet. I know they have internal issues, lack of depth, etc., and it would have been easy to pile on after the UNC debacle, but this is still a potentially dangerous team. With five of their last seven on the road, they have let the easier part of the conference schedule get away from them. But they do have an opportunity for payback against the Ducks.
While Arizona’s defense is laughable at times, I have news for you: Oregon’s is just as bad. Even at 18-1, it was hard to believe the Ducks could be considered a Final Four threat. People doing that were weighting three Aaron Brooks’ shots more than hundreds of other plays that say this team needs to improve markedly over the final weeks to consider a deep tournament run. They’ve allowed all but one conference foe to reach a point per possession. Oregon is a nice story. They’ve improved from last season and also seen a total reversal of their fortune over the final possession or two of a game (correlated gaussian says a net difference of six wins based on this alone).
This game could have a lot of points. I’m not sure which I prefer when it comes to defensive passiveness, the Budinger matador-style or the Radenovic Statue of Liberty. Budinger was easily a team-worst -11 in the first matchup, a 79-77 Oregon win. But Oregon sports a 2-point percentage defense ranking 249th against an offensive schedule strength ranking just 81st. It’s hard to figure which side’s cheese is more Swiss.
There should be lay-ups and dunks on both ends. Let’s try this again – it will be the most entertaining game of the weekend!