Friday, March 21, 2008

And so it begins....

It wasn't exactly what you'd want out of a first round NCAA tournament game. Wisconsin looked a little sloppy (Flowers throwing a ball to Landry's defender, right as Landry was cutting away), shot quite poorly from outside (3 of 16), and let Cal State Fullerton's leading scorer freak out to the tune of 31 points. Plus, the game was close throughout the first half, with the Badgers only up two at halftime. But they did a few key things that kept them ahead, and let them finally pull away-- draw fouls and not foul much in return, grab offensive rebounds for easy put backs (17 offensive boards), and play pretty good defense (CSF shot 36% from the floor). And, combined with decent free throw shooting, that was enough to pull away from the Titans.

In sum, it was a workmanlike effort. Not pretty, actually kind of messy, and bound not to impress any Kansas State Wildcats that were watching, but it got the job done. Time to recognize what can be done better (relax and be smart with the ball, hit your open shots, and aggressively attack the basket when you have a lane), and move on.

Up next, Kansas State, who "upset" USC yesterday evening. K-State was given an 11th seed, but they're clearly the most talented double-digit seed out there. Just watching bits of that game whilst making dinner, Michael Beasley is pretty scary. He grabs a rebound and you know it's his. It's really the man-playing-with-boys stereotype. Plus, he's not just a post-up player-- he'll face big guys up and drive right by them. The idea of Butch or Stiemsma trying to guard him face to face is frightening. I anticipate Landry will be on him, which could be ugly from the other end, honestly. He also fouled out Jefferson and Gibson, the two main USC guys who were guarding him. And then, you get all distracted by him and let other pretty darn good players, like Bill Walker (22 points and 5 boards and also a potential NBA early entrant) go off on you. As a Kansas fan I know told me, when K-State gets contributions from guys besides Beasley, they're pretty nasty. Which is why they're 13th in Pomeroy's ratings, despite having struggled down the back stretch of the season. It'll be a rough game come Saturday afternoon. The Badgers will need to play inspired defense and to play far more capable offense in order to pull that one out.

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