Road to the Final Four at Ford Field: 10 High Strung Teams

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Road to the Final Four at Ford Field: 10 High Strung Teams

Who needs the 35 second shot clock? These ten teams have made a habit out of flying up and down the court looking to score as quickly as possible. All ten teams do it differently looking for the open court three, a thunderous dunk in transition, or a quick stop and pop.

 

10. Memphis

Coach John Calipari calls his offense the "Princeton Offense on Steroids." It's a pretty appropriate name for an offense that scored at will last year and will do so again in 2009.

The Tigers will back cut opponents to death to create easy scoring opportunities. Memphis's ability to create turnovers and score at will in transition makes the Tigers lethal in the half court and the open court.

 

9. UTEP

The Miners like to get up and down at the tune of 73 possessions per game, 17th best in the country. If they could shoot better than last year's 43.3-percent, 211th in the country, UTEP would be unstoppable.

The Miners are first in the country in preventing steals and seventh in the country in not getting their shots blocked. The Miners also return Conference USA's top scorer, senior Stefon Jackson.

 

8. Cal State Fullerton

Senior guard Josh Akognon shoots the lights out. The front-runner for Big West Player of the Year hit 116 three-points a year ago. The Titans lost five productive seniors from a team that ranked 13th in the country in tempo.

CSU-Fullerton has ranked near the top of the country in tempo the last three seasons and should move the ball freely behind Akognon's three-point shooting prowess.

 

7. Tennessee

Freshman phenom Scotty Hopson won't make Volunteer fans forget about graduated seniors Chris Lofton and the Smiths--JaJuan and Ramar-- but Hopson will continue Tennessee's up-tempo pace.

The most notable example of UT's high strung nature from 2008 is its win over then number one Memphis where a frenetic pace forced the Tigers into numerous bad shots and decisions.

 

6. Baylor

The Big 12's best offense returns five of its top six scorers including four players who hit at least 40 three-pointers in 2008. Coach Scott Drew has quickly turned around a Baylor program sunk by tragedy and violations into a high scoring machine.

Drew employs a three guard offense using upperclassmen Tweety Carter, Henry Dugat, and Curtis Jerrells to perfection, but his best player might be the Big 12's Best sixth man sophomore LaceDarius Dunn.

 

5. Duke

With a surge of young players, Coach Mike Krzyzewski had his team pick up the tempo causing the Blue Devils to jump from 200th to 16th in pace of play in just one year. Duke will likely continue to push the ball and try to force turnovers on the defensive end in order to create easy points in transition.

The Blue Devils return everyone except guard DeMarcus Nelson, which means fellow ACC teams better be ready to run.

 

4. Syracuse

The 2008 Orange sometimes played with too much reckless abandon while running teams around in circles. Despite SU playing with sometimes only six scholarship players, it still managed to play the 27th fastest basketball in the country.

With a deep bench, and one of the nation's best point guards Jonny Flynn, the 'Cuse will once again look run teams out of the gym.

 

3. VMI

The Keydets aren't very good, there's no denying that, but they've finished either first or second in tempo the past two seasons. In fact, VMI averaged 14 more possessions per game than any other school in 2007.

The Keydets have slowed a bit and will continue to slow with the graduation of the nation's scoring leader Reggie Williams, but don't expect them to stop pushing the ball as much as possible.

 

2. UMASS

Massachusetts beat Syracuse twice in the Carrier Dome in 2008 by running them at a pace not even the high strung Orange could handle. The Minutmen lose several key players from that '08 team, but current wiry guards Ricky Harris and Chris Lowe will pick up the slack. They should make an easy transition to new coach Derek Kellogg's dribble-drive fast-paced motion offense.

 

1. North Carolina

The nation's best team is also its highest strung. In 2008, the Tar Heels played the eighth fastest basketball, but also the most efficient. Roy Williams returns all of his key players including Player of the Year Tyler Hansbrough.

With point guard Ty Lawson back the helm, UNC will be running at full throttle. The Tar Heels hit the 90 point mark 20 times in 2008.

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