Has a team ever been less talked about after winning the ACC outright and winning the ACC Tournament? To put it bluntly, they dominated the ACC, which contains legendary programs like Duke, Syracuse, and North Carolina, and receive no love from the ESPN media market. It’s time to take a quick peek at this great team, and the 1 seed in Michigan State’s East Region.
Virginia is coached by Tony Bennett, the lady’s love Tony…he’s gorgeous. Anyway, Bennett’s father was former Wisconsin coach, and Tony coached at Wisconsin under both his father and Bo Ryan. Bennett also coached at Washington State before leaving for Virginia.
Virginia received a 1 seed in the East Region this year in the NCAA Tournament. They are 26-6 on the season and 16-2 in the ACC. They are a definite force to be reckoned with. Similar to Wisconsin, they are a well rounded team. They are led by Malcolm Brogdon at 12.6 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 2.6 assists per game. They have a solid point guard, London Perrantes, who has a 3.4 turnover:assist ratio.
But how do they get it done? They are ranked 294th nationally in points per game, so it’s not on the offensive end. They do it on the defensive end, they rank 1 in scoring defense, only allowing 55 points per game to their opponents, and yes, that’s in the high offensive powered ACC conference. They rank 9 in the country in opponent’s field-goal percentage, holding opponents to 38% FG. Playing defense like Virginia does means they will be in every game they play, someone may have a bad shooting night, but there is no reason to have a bad defensive night.
If you haven’t seen Creighton play, do yourself a favor and watch them in the tournament. They are led by 3 times All-American Doug McDermott who is the probable Naismith Award Winner this season. He is leading the nation in scoring with 26.9 points per game. He also leads his team in rebounding at 7 a game. He is an unbelievable talent, and a joy to watch move without the ball. He has NBA range, and is a knock down shooter like he already is in the league.
Creighton has shooters at all 5 positions and rank 4 nationally in FG percentage at 50% as a team. They also are 2 nationally in assists at 17.7 per game. Their high powered offense has led them to a 3 seed in the West Region. They finished the year 26-7 and 14-4 in the Big East, second behind Villanova. Despite finishing behind Villanova in the standings, they swept their season series against them by a total of 49 points. If you haven’t seen Doug play in his historic career, don’t be the person who misses out on him, watch him play this weekend!
Of course, Wichita State has to be on the list. They went to the final four last season and are undefeated this season. I laugh when people say they don’t deserve a 1 seed, why not? They went undefeated, they’ve proven themselves before in the tournament, and they deserve the 1.
They are coached by Gregg Marshall. Marshall has been very successful as a head coach; he started his head coaching career at Winthrop for 9 seasons. He made the tournament 7 of those 9 years at Winthrop. He took over at Wichita State in 2007, when they finished 9 in conference. In his third year as coach they finished 2 in conference and have never finished higher than 2 since. Marshall has led Wichita to the tournament the last 3 seasons (including this yr), and they have advanced past the first round the previous 2 seasons, including a final four appearance last year.
These Shockers won’t be shocking anybody; they have a chance to be the first team to go undefeated since the 1976 Indiana Hoosiers won the National Championship at 32-0. The Shockers are led by Cleanthony Early who scores 15.8 points and 5.9 rebounds per game. Like every good team, they have a great point guard, sophomore Fred Van Vleet who is scoring 12 points and dishing 5.3 assists per game. Also of interest, Andrew Wiggins lesser known older brother plays for the Shockers. I hope the Shockers and Kentucky advance to face each other in the second round; I’d love to see the match up of all blue chip recruits verse a very great mid-major team.
San Diego State
San Diego State Aztecs are a team to watch if you haven’t had a chance to see them yet this season. They are coached by Steve Fisher; yes the Steve Fisher who also coached the Fab 5. Despite what you may think of him, or if he should be allowed to coach again, similar to Calipari, you can’t deny his coaching ability. Fisher has now been at San Diego State for 15 years, they went 0-14 in conference his first year. By year 3, they were in the NCAA Tournament, now that’s a quick coaching turnaround. This is San Diego State’s 7 tournament appearance under Fisher, and is currently on a 5 year streak of making the tournament.
This season San Diego State lost their second game of the year to Arizona in a highly contested battle. After that loss they rallied off 20 straight wins, including a victories over Creighton, Marquette, and Kansas. Later in the year they also beat New Mexico, and won the Mountain West Conference. They received a 4 seed in the tournament and are led by senior guard Xavier Thames who scores 16.8 points and 3.2 assists per game. Sophomore Winston Shepard has been a monster contributor, averaging 12 points and 5 rebounds per game. Josh Davis adds size and toughness to the team, averaging 7.7 points and 9.7 rebounds per contest.