NCAA Tournament 2013: Breaking Down Biggest Flaws of Projected No. 1 Seeds
Perhaps no other college basketball season has ever exemplified the following two words more.
Or as Pam Beesly Halpert would say, "pobody's nerfect."
As we inch closer to the NCAA tournament, the uninitiated will soon learn what every diehard college hoops fan already knows.
Which projected No. 1 seed will be eliminated first?
This year, it's not just March that will be Madness. November was madness. December was madness. January was madness. February was—you guessed it—madness.
For the past four months, top-ranked teams have fallen quicker than Rome, upsets have become common, almost expected occurrences and the use of the word parity has never been more appropriate. This season has been—Christopher Walken voice—crazy.
There is no Kentucky this year. No nearly-perfect team. No juggernaut. There are about 10 different squads that could unsurprisingly cut down the nets at the Georgia Dome, and another 20 that could make it there.
That being said, let's take a look at what's holding back each of the current top four seeds (according to ESPN's Joe Lunardi).
The Hoosiers can score no matter the tempo—as evidenced by their nation-leading 1.174 points per possession—but they are far better when the pace quickens.
As it turns out, that tends to happen when you have athletic freaks like Victor Oladipo and gazelle-like big men like Cody Zeller.
Just take a look at Indiana's Big Ten losses this year. Against Wisconsin, the Hoosiers, who average 69.1 possessions per game, got just 61 possessions and scored 0.967 points per possession—their second-lowest output of the season. Against Illinois, just 63 possessions. Against Minnesota, just 65.
Even against 13-16 Northwestern, the Hoosiers got just 53 possessions and as a result, won by just eight. When the pace slows and the game gets more physical, this offense has proved to be far less efficient than normal.
Tom Crean's club can also be hurt by poor ball control—the Hoosiers rank 233rd in the nation in turnover percentage at 18.9.
On the surface, Gonzaga's defense is far from a problem. The Zags rank 26th in America and first in the WCC in points per possession allowed.
But don't let that completely blind you.
Back on December 8, Brandon Paul had his way with Gonzaga's guards, getting into the lane with ease on nearly every possession en route to 35 points on just 16 shots.
The Zags have obviously improved defensively since then, but Kevin Pangos, Gary Bell and David Stockton can be beaten off the dribble by quick guards, Kelly Olynyk and Elias Harris aren't elite rim protectors and as a team, Gonzaga tends to give up too many open looks from long range.
Point-guard play is always crucial in March, but the Jayhawks are far from having a consistent floor general.
Elijah Johnson has caught absolute fire in the last three games (58 points, 29 assists, nine turnovers), and if he continues to play like he has, this won't be such a problem.
But the talented senior is more suited at the 2, and he showcased how ugly his bad side can be in late January and then early February when Kansas was struggling.
Naadir Tharpe is much more of a true point guard. While he has the ability to create and distribute with ease, however, you have to take the good (true point guard) with the bad (takes bad shots).
The Jayhawks have the necessary pieces in the backcourt, but it's a relative unknown how Tharpe and Johnson will perform on the biggest stage.
For a team that has so much size and length, it's a bit of a conundrum as to why the Hoyas struggle to rebound.
Yet they continue to get beaten on the boards.
John Thompson III's squad isn't terrible on the defensive glass—152nd in America in defensive rebounding percentage—but getting stops has never been the Hoyas' problem.
Instead, this team lacks offensive consistency (110th in offensive efficiency) after Otto Porter and Markel Starks, and if it starts missing shots, it can't really create second-chance opportunities. The Hoyas are a meager 251st in the nation in offensive rebounding percentage.
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