As Butler and UConn reminded us all (often painfully) last March, a tough defense is a prerequisite for a run at the national championship. The intensity of postseason play cuts down on the effectiveness of run-and-gun offenses and puts a premium on teams that can keep the other guys off the scoreboard.
That being the case, a key question in predicting who will cut down the nets in 2012 is where the nation’s top defensive teams can be found this season.
As usual, the Big Ten is loaded with outstanding defenses, including—no surprise—Tom Izzo’s squad at Michigan State. The same intimidating frontcourt that’s led the Spartans to an impressive 39.6 rebounds per game is also at the heart of a defense that allows opponents to shoot a mere 37.3 percent from the field (tied for third in the nation).
Even so, Michigan State just misses the cut when it comes to the absolute top tier of defenses in 2011-12. Have a look at this collection of teams that make life even tougher for opposing scorers.
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