Tar Heels and Jayhawks “Bring It” to the Midwest Region
The North Carolina Tar Heels held on and took the number one seed in the Midwest Region and will be going against some hot underdogs as they start the 2012 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. The Heels will play either Lamar or University of Vermont, which in most people’s minds will be an easy win due to the Tar Heels overall experience and dominance this season. The team was on a nine game winning streak until their final game of the season again Florida State, which also gave them an earlier loss in the year. Tar Heel’s Coach Roy Williams is no amateur to the tournament, winning two Championships with the Tar Heels in 2005 and 2009. North Carolina has some of the best combo players in the county in guard Kendall Marshall, forward Tyler Zeller and fellow senior forward John Henson. The Heels bash the boards and hit the lanes and have a strong bench consisting of guard P.J. Hairston and 6’9” forward James Michael McAdoo. Some of the Heels has a bit of a tough go in their last game vs. FSU, but don’t make any bets against North Carolina come tournament time, the 29-5 North Carolina team lives for the tournament and it’s almost an expectation that they do well every year. The pressure is on boys.
Kansas can almost be a direct comparison to North Carolina. That is why I really see them as a 1.B slot and not the #2 slot. Both teams had tough loses to Top 25 teams, while also having tough loses to unranked teams like Kansas’s lose to Davidson. But this Kansas team had a much harder schedule with a stellar Big 12 season. Kansas also went on a 9-0 run like the Tar Heels, but they lost in the Big Twelve Conference Tournament to the up and down Baylor Bears. Kansas was led this season by the beast Thomas Robinson who had a great finish to the season with 17.1 ppg & 11.8 rpg. The other top performers for the Jayhawks were guards Tyshawn Taylor with 17.3 ppg & 4.8 app, and Elijah Johnson with 9.6ppg & 3.8 apg, with both guys scoring over 50 3-pointers by the end of the season. Kansas is deep on the bench which is a key to give the starters a blow when possible.
Georgetown 3# and Michigan #4 seem to have ended the season with enough intensity to propel them past the first round of the Midwest region. Whether or not they can keep up the momentum into the next few rounds is up for debate. Possible Georgetown vs San Diego State, and a Michigan vs Temple matchups in the second round will be games to watch seeing how both squads play a different scheme. Georgetown would play San Diego State who has an outstanding outside shot presence. and Temple playing the zone defense better than anyone this year with what would be considered a small squad will give the Wolverines fits. The Georgetown and Michigan might have their lunch taken away from them after they coast through the first round, but remember, this is the dance, and anything can happen.
With many teams getting into the tournament for the first time in years like Creighton and St Marys, you can’t help but see them having a Cinderella first round. Most teams have been many times than they can count, but have never been able to win the big one. Such as the ever exciting Temple Owls, who are making their 31st appearance to the tournament with leading players; point guard Juan Fernandez, top scoring Ramone Moore, Khalif Wyatt, and Michael Eric. As the team that took down Duke early in the year and went on an 11 game winning streak in the 2nd half of the season, the top Philly 5 team of the year looks like a contender. Even though they have not been able to get past the 2nd round in years, this seems to be their year to blast out of the funk and show how the team can be an elite player in the Midwest region.
Look for all the top seeds to make it into the second round, due to the fact that none of the lower seeds really impress enough to be Cinderella. Unless a team like Michigan or SDSU has a drag out game against Ohio State or NC State. There should be no big surprises in the Midwest region with all the lesser known teams getting into the tournament basically because they won their league championship. Look for those teams to get overpowered by North Carolina and Kansas. It could be coin flip between those two teams to go all the way to the Final Four. There is just something about Kansas and the Big 12 this year. They have six teams in the tournament this year and along with Baylor and Missouri, The Jayhawks have what it takes to cut down the nets.