T.O.'s Most Overrated Tournament Teams
by Trevor Whenham - 03/19/2008
When I am not writing for this Doc's Sports I spend all of my time reading the other stuff on this site. What else would I do? Robert weighed in with his most overrated teams in the tournament the other day. I agreed with some of his list but not others, so I thought that I would weigh in with a list of my own. Mostly, I just like being nasty to the teams that I hate. Here, then, are the five teams that are getting way too much credit in my eyes:
5. Connecticut - It's an oversimplification, but the reason I don't like this team is that they couldn't beat Providence. The Friars just aren't very good. They can't play anything resembling defense, and their offense is underwhelming. Providence shouldn't be beating any legitimate teams, yet they somehow managed to beat Connecticut. Twice. I can accept that a team can get caught off guard and lose to a lesser team. I just don't get a good feeling when the better team can't adjust and win the second time. The other problem I have is with Hasheem Thabeet. The guy is huge, and when he's good he is really good, but he's wildly inconsistent. He didn't show up particularly well in the team's conference tournament loss, and I don't trust to him to come through in the NCAA Tournament. We'll hear a lot about how great he is, but I'm not convinced yet. If he's off then the team could struggle.
4. Texas - I admit that I am a big Memphis guy, and I am sick to death of hearing about how Texas is virtually a lock to beat the Tigers. Texas is a nice team, and D.J. Augustin is very good, but it's not like he is the next Steve Nash. Not yet, anyway. It's not that Texas can't play well when it matters - they beat UCLA and Tennessee on the road. Those wins were a while ago, though. More recently, this is the team that lost to Michigan State and Wisconsin back-to-back, lost two conference games to non-tournament teams, and didn't put up much of a fight against Kansas with the Big 12 title on the line. Could Texas beat Memphis? Absolutely. I just think that it's still worth playing the game before we crown Texas kings.
3. Tennessee - I agree completely with Robert on this one. They don't play defense as well as they should, and they could certainly shoot free throws better. I am also not convinced that they can go all the way without a better inside presence. I really don't like how they responded to beating Memphis, or how they have played since, and I don't like how their entire strategy when they get in trouble seems to be to wait for Chris Lofton to save them. That has worked well so far, but it is a dangerous thing to keep relying on that to happen. Bruce Pearl is a very likable guy and a heck of a coach, but his presence and his orange jacket aren't reason enough to buy into the argument that Tennessee was cheated by their seeding.
2. Vanderbilt - I guess I can't argue too much about the Commodores being a No. 4 seed, but I don't think for a second that they are a good No. 4, or that they are going to meet or exceed expectations. Shan Foster is a great scorer, but the Commodores won't be playing in their home gym, and that's a real problem. They are a very good home team, but they are significantly worse away from home. They were just 2-6 away from home in conference play. Home-biased teams don't generally do well in the tournament, and I expect almost nothing from the Commodores this year.
1. Duke - Duke would be on the top of this list pretty much every year, but they really deserve it this year. There are three No. 2 seeds on this list, but Duke is the worst of the three by far. Just look at the record - they lost four of their last nine games, and they covered three times in their last 11. Worse yet, their two recent losses to Clemson and North Carolina showed that Duke may be a good team, but they just aren't good enough. The problem with this team is that they can't change it up. If their four-guard shooting frenzy is working then they are dangerous, but if a team is able to challenge them they can't adjust and try something different because they don't have anything different to try. Teams in this tournament are good enough to figure that out.