Best call(s): It’s hard to beat my chest about picking the first and last teams correctly, especially when the entire universe predicted UNC to be the league champ and BC to be the league dumpster fire. However, I was incredibly on-point with just how bad BC would be, specifically highlighting the “value” Eli Carter would bring. Though I predicted he’d go 150/450 from 3 (33%), he was impressively less efficient than I foresaw, finishing the year 62/224 (28%) from beyond the arc. Not one player on BC had on O-Rating of over 100, which helped solidify their 331st ranked offense. The top of the conference was, again, relatively predictable, with the 5-6 teams being clear cut favorites to compete for the league title. Injuries have hampered Duke all year, and will continue to limit the Devils heading into the big Dance, as Amile Jefferson is officially done for the year. Coack K may consider holding open tryouts this week, as he now has only 7 scholarship players at his disposal. Chase Jeter, I hope you're ready big guy.
I was also ALL OVER the Orange having a pedestrian year. This year's roster simply didn't feature the elite talent Boeheim generally brings in, specifically on the inside. Defensive rebounding is tougher to control when playing as much zone as Cuse does, but they were uncharacteristically gashed on the boards this year, ranking 337th in defensive rebounding rate. While DaJuan Coleman and Tyler Roberson's rebounding numbers look good initially, they were both heavily skewed toward the offensive glass.
Worst call(s): Buzz Williams is starting to shut all of us up, after we all questioned the rhyme or reason of for his "lateral" move from Marquette to Blacksburg, VA. While many will quickly point to the addition of Seth Allen as a major reason for this year's improvement, Allen actually had a relatively inefficient year shooting the ball (45% from 2, 27% from 3), and was turnover prone in his lead role. However, where he and the rest of the Hokies thrived, was getting to the charity stripe. Va Tech led the nation in free-throw attempts, led by Allen and arguably the most improved player in the league in Zach LeDay. The South Florida transfer was the Hokies most important player on both ends of the floor, and gave Buzz Williams a high-usage scorer who also took care of the ball. What surprised me even more than the emergence of LeDay is the backseat role Justin Bibbs took to both Allen & LeDay this year. I assumed Bibbs would be the alpha dog this year, especially after the departure of Adam Smith to Georgia Tech. However, he thrived in his new role as more of a pure spot shooter, draining 47% of his 169 threes on the year, good for 10th in the country.
Who I want to win: It is impossible for me to fill-in this section without bias. Please refer to this article.
Who I think will win: I was AGAIN correct in my prediction of the Irish's offensive upside, which has been ranked in the nation's top 3 for almost the entire year. However, the defensive questions have officially become defensive concerns for Mike Brey, as they currently rank 189th nationally in defensive efficiency. While you could argue they've gotten a bit unlucky with teams shooting it well from 3 against them (321st in 3-point % defense), the Irish have gotten beat up on the defensive glass against the bigger and longer ACC frontlines. Matchups are especially important for this squad, but they got just what the doctor ordered with an undersized and undermanned Duke team in their opening game (most likely), and then the consistently inconsistent Tar Heels in the semis. The Irish have already beat UNC once this year, and actually outrebounded them 40-31 in that game. A lot of this was due to foul trouble, so the whistle will have big impact in the re-match. If the Irish can get a couple of cheap fouls on Brice Johnson, and keep his activity on the offensive glass to a minimum, there's a good chance Mike Brey will have his boys playing in the title game on Saturday.
Chance to make a run: Leonard Hamilton managed to truly waste two outstanding years from his two freshman studs, Malik Beasley and Dwayne Bacon. With two blue-chip prospects each scoring 15 a game (and doing so efficiently), Xavier Rathan-Mayes in his 2nd full-year at point guard, Devon Bookert providing senior stability and consistent shooting on the perimeter, and an army of 7'0+ bigs swallowing up every shot, there is no reason why the 'Noles should've been a sub-500 team in this conference. Their talent upside is at high as any team in the country, and even the numbers say the 'Noles are better than their record indicates (currently ranked 40th in Kenpom.com). With all those pieces playing with nothing to lose this week, picking the 'Noles as a sleeper to make some noise in DC feels all too obvious. They even got an outstanding draw in the bracket, and will absolutely be favored against Va Tech in round 2, after of course they stomp B.C. However, the reality is that winning 5 games in 5 straight days is almost unheard of, unless you have Kemba Walker on your roster.