Wednesday, March 19, 2008

West ACC Pod Preview

The West region is where our own Duke Blue Devils reside. Their pod includes two high quality opponents in the 7/10 game and a 24-game winner in Belmont. But first, the odds of reaching the Sweet 16:

2nd Round Sweet 16
97.42% 67.58%
West Virginia 50.00% 16.14%
Arizona 50.00% 16.14%
Belmont 2.58% 0.15%

You'll notice that West Virginia and Arizona are essentially equal (I believe West Virgina has an ever so slight advantage that goes out somewhere past the three decimals Pomeroy puts up on his site). However, the truth of their equality depends on how much you trust Pomeroy's SOS adjustment - in raw terms, West Virginia's slightly better on offense and a whole lot better on defense. The Mountaineers are no longer the bombs-away boys of the Beilien era, although they maintain at least one of the same tendencies - they never turn the ball over. In fact, that's really the hallmark of the offense - West Virginia is a decidedly ordinary in terms of shooting, rebounding, and getting to the line. Joe Alexander primarily carries the offense, but Darris Nichols, Alex Ruoff, and Da'Sean Butler are all valuable contributors. For Arizona, its the B&B show - Bayless and Budinger are the only reliable and consistent offensive threats. Bayless is really something - I've seen him play in person, and he merits every bit of the lottery talk surrounding him. But the 'Cats supporting cast is pretty poor overall, and there's a good possibility that the team simply never bought into the Kevin O'Neill era. That's especially true on defense, where Arizona doesn't rebound well, doesn't force turnovers, and doesn't really prevent the ball from going in the basket. Arizona probably has the two best players in this game (and maybe three of the best four, if you count Jordan Hill), but they don't have the best team.

The Belmont Bruins will try to pull a Hampton-esque upset over the second-seeded Devils. About the only thing Belmont does well is shoot the ball, and their effective field goal percentage is boosted because they shoot 47.6% of their shots from beyond the arc - 7th in the nation. 5 players attempted over 100 threes, including Andy Wicke, who took 200, and Keaton Belcher, who hit triple digits in just 13 minutes/game. The Bruins are a deep team, with 10 players averaging double digit minutes. Jordan Hare, the team's only senior, is also the unequivocal leader - he takes the most shots, and is deadly at the line. On defense, though, Belmont is not very good. They're relatively easy to score on, they don't force turnovers, and they are just terrible on the glass. They're a dangerous first round opponent, because they could potentially get hot from outside and put up a big number on the scoreboard. But Duke is equally capable of putting up a big number, and will almost certainly have an easier time doing so against the Belmont defense than vice versa.

Around the ACC

Virginia Tech carried forward their quality play, handling a decent Morgan State team a 32-point defeat. The Hokies opened the second half by making their first 15 field goals, and shot 19 of 23 overall in the second frame. AD Vassallo had a terrific shooting game, and the Hokies got to go very deep into the bench and rest up their players. Next up is UAB, also at the Cassell.

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