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NCAA 2018 Tournament: Early Thoughts

A lot of people are very impressed with A-10 champs Davidson and forecast an upset vs. Kentucky.

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Atlantic 10 Basketball Tournament - Championship
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 11: Nathan Ekwu #1 of the Davidson Wildcats celebrates with the trophy after defeating the Rhode Island Rams in the Championship of the Atlantic 10 Basketball Tournament at Capital One Arena on March 11, 2018 in Washington, DC.
Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Early thoughts and reactions to the NCAA field: The PAC-12 and the Big 10 got just seven schools in between them and two of the PAC-12’s are starting in Dayton while the third remains under FBI investigation.

Chief among the snubbed: USC, where former Duke starter Derryck Thornton went for a fresh start. He didn't really get it: his minutes have fallen considerably, scoring is down, rebounding is down, assists are down, steals are a wash and despite playing less minutes, his turnovers are basically the same.

Like Oklahoma State and Louisville, also snubbed, USC is under federal investigation. Coach Andy Enfield is not happy about being left out.

For the Big Ten, it’s Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State and Purdue. All four of those teams are well coached and could make a deep run. Notably, Wisconsin failed.

A lot of people are picking Davidson to upset Kentucky and there’s a point there. Davidson has no one-and-dones and as we’ve argued for a long time, experience is a real advantage, as is extended team chemistry. Those guys have really gotten to know each other over several years and they’ve taken some serious beatings. They know what to do and when to panic (and not). It could be a smart pick.

This whole talk about this bracket is tougher than that one is a load of hooey. First, it’s all matchups. And second, half of the bracket is gone after the first two games anyway. It’s not like Duke is going to play Kansas and Auburn. It might not even play Michigan State and frankly, it might be easier to play Michigan State than Bobby Hurley’s Arizona State. Who knows?

The best teams will advance, period.

THere’s some early muttering about how Virginia can’t handle Arizona’s De’Andre Ayton, but that’s stupid. Virginia’s goal, assuming they meet, is to keep the ball out of his hands entirely - and they can do that.

More interesting in that potential matchup is that Arizona runs a variant of the Packline defense too. No one seems to have mentioned that.

You have to feel a bit bad for Iona’s TK Edogi, who says his mom doesn’t know much about Iona but somehow knows all about Duke, Iona’s opener.

Iona likes to run more than most schools. They’ll have to run to score against Duke but it won’t be easy defending the Blue Devils when they run. Grayson Allen, Trevon Duval, Marvin Bagley, Javin DeLaurier, Gary Trent and Alex O’ Connell will be happy to run and the other guys are not slouches.

Guarding Bagley on a break is nearly impossible.

Virginia was supposed to get the easiest bracket as #1 but CBS’s Reid Forgrave thinks they got hosed. Again, there are 16 teams. Virginia can only play four. Kentucky is young, Arizona is erratic and Cincinnati struggles on offense.

And at any rate, as we said earlier, no matter whether it’s first or last, you have to beat the best teams standing to advance and win. Virginia, like everyone else, will focus strictly on who is in front of them.

The better advice would be to focus on Virginia frankly. We don’t think they much care who they play at this point. One final thought: they might rather play non-ACC teams from here on out. The teams that know them best also know how to deal with their system best. Think Villanova-Georgetown for precedent.

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