The first weekend of the NCAA tournament is about upsets, buzzer-beaters and TV cameras finding players' moms in the stands. The second weekend is about finding the true championship contenders and TV cameras finding coaches' wives in the stands. So now that we have applauded the Lehigh Engineers for performing a Krzyzewskectomy on the tournament, let's get to the top order of business: Making sure the best team doesn't win.
The best team, quite clearly, is Kentucky, and
The problem is that Kentucky looks so good, Anybody Else appears hopeless. If you saw Kentucky's win over Iowa State, you know what I mean. The game was tied in the second half, and then it was like a marathon that is down to two men, and the first guy tries to pick up the pace, and then the second guy pulls out a gun and shoots the first guy. Kentucky went on a 20-2 run, and the conversation on the Iowa State bench must have been straight out of
Every possible basketball and karmic indicator points to Kentucky winning the national title. Everybody else seems to be hurt, ineligible or not remotely good enough. But hey, there is a reason they play the games, and that reason, of course, is education. So let's assess what we have learned.
Let's separate the true contenders from the guys who are not just saying they are happy to be here, but truly are. And let's do it quickly, before this week's games confirm what last week's games seemed to prove to any reasonable observer: I am horrible at predicting college basketball.
We will go in order, from least likely to win the title to most likely.
But I will say this: Based on watching his team play exactly two games, I think we'll see a lot more of Ohio coach John Groce in the next decade. That looks like one really well-coached team.
You can reasonably argue that the Hoosiers know how to beat the Wildcats, that they match up well, that they won't be intimidated, and maybe even that they are in Kentucky's heads. I don't see it that way. The Wildcats' only real flaw is inexperience. That could mean they overlook an opponent, or that they are vulnerable against a team they haven't seen. Obviously, neither of those applies here. I don't see how Indiana wins this game, unless Anthony Davis gets hurt running headfirst into Michael Kidd-Gilchrist's knee.
The Gators went 10-6 in the SEC, just like Billy Donovan's first title team in 2005-06. They shoot 38 percent from three-point range. They don't commit many turnovers. And, since the big question here is "Who can beat Kentucky?" ... well, the Gators have played Kentucky three times. The first time they lost by 20. The next time they lost by 15. The third time they lost by three. Do you sense a trend here? I know this seems to contradict what I wrote about Indiana playing Kentucky again, but I think Florida would have a shot against the Wildcats. It's hard to beat a good team four times in one season.