Sunday, March 13, 2011

Tudor's Take: UNC draws a tough path, Duke rewarded

North Carolina's loss to Duke in the ACC championship game this afternoon turned out to be a big problem in the NCAA pairings.

As the No. 2 seed in the East, the Tar Heels do get to start in Charlotte.

But if the top four seeds advance to the regional semifinals in Newark, N.J. (March 25 and 27), the chalk pairings would be UNC vs. Syracuse (3) and Ohio State (1) against Kentucky (4).

Talk about a tough ticket to find.

By contrast, Duke got rewarded for the most part by winning the ACC.

The Blue Devils, as No. 1 in the West, will have to travel to Anaheim, Calif., for the regional semis. On the other hand, the Blue Devils get to open in Charlotte and drew the easiest regional field.

No. 2 San Diego State has virtually no NCAA experience, and No. 3 Connecticut is the most likely team in the entire field to suffer an early letdown after having won five Big East tournament games in five days.

The region with the biggest upset potential is the Southeast, where No. 1 Pittsburgh is certain to have a difficult second game against either Butler (8) or Old Dominion (9), which will have a lot of fans on hand in Washington, D.C.

In the Southwest, Kansas (1) faces a potential monster third game if No. 4 Louisville can make it to the regional semifinals in San Antonio.

ACC teams' concerns going into the NCAA tournament:

Duke: Free throws and Kyle Singler's perimeter shooting. But the Blue Devil defense, as usual, was near perfect in the three ACC Tournament games.

Duke could really catch a break if Texas and Arizona, the fourth and fifth seeds, respectively in their regional, fail to make the semifinals. That's a distinct possibility given the way both have played of late.

UNC: Tournament experience. It takes a special passion and mindset to go deep in the NCAA tournament. The Tar Heels were overwhelmed by Duke's intensity this afternoon and were almost knocked out of the ACC tournament a day earlier by Clemson.

UNC should win two in Charlotte over Long Island in its opener and either Georgia or Washington in the next game. Then, the heavy lifting really gets underway, especially if Syracuse reaches Newark with its zone defense and fan base.

Clemson: The Tigers generally lack NCAA exposure, as well. Another issue will be early foul trouble for Jerai Grant and Devin Booker.

The selection committee had no respect whatsoever for the ACC, which is understandable. The Tigers have to survive a play-in game (vs. a decent Alabama-Birmingham team), and Virginia Tech was snubbed again. Should they win, the Tigs then would be a 12-seed in the tough East and would have to play No. 5 West Virginia.

Florida State: Without Chris Singleton, the Seminoles -- the 10th seed in the Southwest regional -- are leaderless. They will need a lot of luck to defeat No. 5 seed Texas A&M in their opener in Chicago whether the junior forward returns from his injury or not.

-- Caulton Tudor


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

^ Thank you for your insightful, original comment.

Anonymous said...

Don't give me that "Duke has the easiest bracket" crap. Every expert agrees that honor goest to Pitt...Florida a 2 seed?

Texas, UConn, SDSU all have 2 seed resumes and are all in Duke's region.

Anonymous said...

You realize that playing in Charlotte is not a "reward" to Duke. Having 20,000 baby blue holes rooting against you regardless of opposition doesn't make Duke's first weekend any more "rewarding".

Anonymous said...

Maybe next year they could request to play in New Jersey

Anonymous said...

New Jersey, New York, Chicago, LA, Atlanta would all be better crowds for Duke. Let's face it, Charlotte is a hardcore, Wal-mart UNC town.