The 14 seeds have had some success in this tournament they call “The Big Dance”. They have reached the Sweet Sixteen on two occasions. This feat was most recently accomplished by the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga, everyone’s second favorite Tennessee basketball program. The 14 seed has won about 14% percent of time, but what if Belmont landed at the 14? Who would they play? Lets take a look..
When you think of the University of Michigan, you think of Rich Rodriguez and the tremendous job he did on the gridiron, right? What you do not think about is John Beilein and the five out motion that he made famous at West Virginia. Beilien’s 2012 Wolverines are an athletic group with a 23-8 record and a 13-5 Big Ten conference record, tied for best in the conference. This team has played the best, and beat the best. The Wolverines have beat nine top 50 RPI teams including wins against Ohio State and in state rival Michigan State. This is a battle tested team that boasts one of the toughest schedules in the country.
Michigan is led by son of Tim Hardaway, Tim Hardaway, Jr. The 6’ 6” sophomore guard has started all 31 games for the Wolverines and is averaging 14.5 points per game. This guard heavy team does not start any player over 6’ 9” and depends on a large percentage of their points to come from behind the arc (37.3 percent, 10th highest in the nation), sound familiar? Michigan is sending one of their best teams in program history to the tourney hoping to erase the memory of… TIMEOUT!! TIMEOUT!! What? No more timeouts?..
Buzz Williams took over this Marquette program from one of this authors most admired coaches, Tom Crean. Buzz has won 94 games since taking over in 2008 and led them to a Sweet Sixteen last season. The Golden Eagles hail from the mighty Big East and has racked up a 14-4 record in conference and 25-6 overall, good for a top ten AP ranking. This team looks good on the floor, do they match up on paper?
The Golden Eagles thrive on forcing turnovers. They are forcing their opponents to turn the ball over on 23.7 percent of possessions while posting one of the nations top steal percentages at 12.5. On offense the Eagles are led by Big East Player of the Year candidate, Jae Crowder and senior guard Darius Johnson-Odom. They have combined to average almost 36 points a game. Marquette is not the most efficient team or the best shooting team in the country. However they are the top scoring offense in the Big East at 76.1 points per game. How is that possible? Thanks for asking. This team plays at a high pace and attacks the rim. They produce 23 percent of their scoring from the foul line. Sounds like a semi-famous Marquette alum who was handed an NBA championship..
Here is another Big East team that has some history with the Belmont Bruins. If you remember, Roy Hibbert and company easily handled a helpless Bruin front line in the first round of the 2007 NCAA tournament. John Thompson the Third’s team this season may not be littered with potential first round draft picks, but talent is never a problem for the Hoyas. They are 22-7 overall are currently sitting at #11 in the AP poll, #13 in the Kenpom ratings.
This version of the Hoyas makes their living on the defensive end of the floor, and not by forcing turnovers. This grind-it-out style of play leads to a slow-paced half court game. They are surrendering only .91 points per possession and forcing opponents to shoot a measly 43.3 percent effective from the field, seventh best in the country. This slowed paced style forces opponents to be brutally efficient. The Hoyas put up these defensive numbers against the 8th most difficult schedule in the country. This does not sound like any fun..
The Baylor Bears do not have a long and storied basketball program and are still trying to recover from the Patrick Dennehy tragedy. Baylor has only made it past the first round of the NCAA tournament once (post 1950). However, this year’s team started out the year winning its first 17 games before losing to Kansas at home. In fact, Baylor dropped both matchups against the Jayhawks as well as both matchups against the Missouri Tigers. This team runs over lesser competition, and has shown struggles with top teams.
Perry Jones is the guy to watch in this one and is a good example of why leaving for the NBA early is a good idea. Yes. NBA. Early. This Baylor team does not lack in athleticism or talent. Perry Jones leads the Baylor in scoring at just over 14 points per game. Jones, along with the rest of the crew, has put together a very efficient and dynamic offense scoring 1.10 points per possession and shooting 53 percent effective from the field. Any team that matches up with Baylor better have some offensive firepower in the bank. Because that Britney Griner is tall…
Belmont struggles playing against length and size, two characteristics that both Baylor and Georgetown possess. Marquette is a team that is able to consistently score around the rim and from the foul line, both high percentage locations. Michigan, on the other hand, depends largely on their outside game to generate offense. Don’t think Kerron Johnson, Ian Clark, and Drew Hanlen would love to face off against a guard heavy team? Think again. Michigan provides Belmont with the best matchups and in my opinion, the best chance for a win.
What team do you want to face?