Welcome to the second annual ‘Ballsy Tournament Predictions’. We’ve finally made it to the Final Four. It has been a strange trip to get to this point. You see, I don’t begin this project with a planned Final Four and then work my way to it. Instead, I literally take it day-by-day. I do round one, without thinking at all about round two. I try (my best) to just focus on each game. The irony is, by the time I get to Thursday and see my own Final Four, I’m usually left shaking my head.
Do I really think the Sooners, who only play seven players, can survive to final four? I have a Midwest bracket with Louisville, Wake Forest and Michigan State, yet I have West Virginia advancing? I don’t even remember how I accomplished that one. Do I really believe Ty Lawson’s toe is that bad and if so, will it really affect this talent Tar Heels team? I really don’t know. In fact, there are plenty of examples where I will look over my post the next day and wish I could go back and take the prediction back. I have to be nuts to think Syracuse will lose in the first round. Think about it, I have Pittsburgh losing to OSU, I have Duke beating Villanova and to be honest, if Gonzaga does beat North Carolina, they’re not really going to fold against the Sooners.
Anyhow, it is all besides the point now. We don’t go back and change predictions. This is the Final Four pick we made, and we’re going to finish this bad boy. Like I say over and over and over again, don’t listen to my predictions. Having said that, let’s move on to our Ballsy Sweet 16 & Elite 8 Predictions.
#2 Duke Blue Devils over #2 Oklahoma Sooners
Here it is, student vs. pupil (technically Jeff Capel isn’t pupil of Coach K. He was never an assistant). Having said that, it is certainly a great match up between two contrasting styles. In one corner, the motion offense, run basically by four small forwards/shooting guards, going against size, Blake Griffin. While the Sooners are by no means a one-man band, everything flows through him. The Sooners aren’t deep, only playing about seven players, but luckily for them, this isn’t a run-n-gun Duke team with the safe and conservative Scheyer running the floor. Duke will have no answers for Blake, so look for Coach K to swarm three players at Griffin every time he touches the ball. If the Sooners are going to beat Duke, they’ll need to beat them with other players. While Griffin is a solid defender, he’s not a shot blocker, which can give Duke trouble. Look for the Devils to spread it out and force Griffin to have to move on double teams.
#2 Memphis Tigers over #6 West Virginia Mountaineers
There’s a lot of talk recently about the Tigers and Coach Calipari’s one-and-done strategy, like Tyreke Evans, but while the freshman stud may run the show for the Tigers, the heart and soul of this bunch is the four other starters, all upperclassmen (two juniors and two seniors). The two seniors have been to two elite eights and a title game, If they make it to another title game, that would be 20 post-season games in a career (for the record, Duke’s class of ’92 played in 23 post-season games). While I believe Huggins can bottle up Evans, in fact Ebanks (the West Virginia freshman) will have the bigger game, Memphis’ tournament experience will pay off in the end.
#2 Memphis Tigers over Duke Blue Devils
I love my Blue Devils and I hate the Memphis Tigers, but let’s be honest, if Duke’s going to actually make it this far (which is a stretch to say the least), they’re going to need a lot of luck (in my pool, they benefit from both Pittsburgh and North Carolina going down earlier). The Devils’ luck will run out, simply because Memphis is back at this again. After two Elite Eights and a heartbreaking title game defeat last season, the Tigers will make it over the hump in 2009.
CHAMPION: Memphis Tigers
Let’s hope I’m right about everything, except this last prediction.