Monday, April 08, 2013

04/08 (Michigan-Louisville) Quickie

Regardless of who wins, my NCAA Tournament bracket will be as accurate as it has been in years, a long stretch in the bracket-picking wilderness that I am excited to recover from. That said, there is still a very good chance that the "National Bracket" will out-perform me -- if not, then it will outperform 85% (maybe even 90%) of the country. That's pretty good.

As for the game itself, I expect Louisville to roll, but - then again - I expected UL to thrash Wichita State. The best thing about the game is that it is the country's best defense versus its best offense -- you can't ask for much more than that. The big difference? Louisville's offense is still pretty good, while Michigan's offense remains just OK -- although way better since Mitch McGary became a force in the lane.

I'm facinated by McGary's ascension, which -- if you really consider it -- has been all of four games, and yet he is the leading candidate to be Most Outstanding Player of the tournament. I'd give him that through five games, to be sure.

He takes his place alongside a small handful of the most memorable freshmen in the history of the NCAA Tournament -- Carmelo obviously. Ewing. Ellison. Anthony Davis. Webber. Michael Jordan had a memorable shot (and a memorable title game in 1982 overall), but the rest of his tournament was just OK. Chris Webber was tremendous (as was the entire Fab Five -- but if you had to pick one, it would be Webber).

In today's USA TODAY Sports column, I ranked McGary sixth among NCAA Tourney frosh phenoms -- with the main qualifier being that the player had to get to at least the title game (Ewing, Webber) if not lead the team to a title outright (Carmelo, Ellison, Davis). If Michigan wins and McGary plays like he has the past four games, I would have no problem putting him in the Top 5 (if, as a hedge, tied with Webber for 5th). Unlike Davis or Ewing or Melo, McGary's contribution has almost entirely been in the tournament itself -- that alone makes him fascinating.)

Please give it a look -- and enjoy the end of the college basketball season tonight.

-- D.S.

No comments: