A LOOK AT PITT’S SIDE OF THE BRACKET
Despite earning a No. 1 seed in the Southeast Region and the third overall seed in the NCAA Tournament, the same question marks surround the Pittsburgh Panthers (27-5) as in years past.
Those question marks center around Pitt not having an elite player like a Kemba Walker who can take over a game and Pitt being vulnerable to teams with good guard play who possess the ability execute in the transition game and push the tempo.
Why the concern? Pitt is 1-7 vs 5th seeds or better and have lost 4 times to teams in the 2nd round seeded 4 or better.
For the Panthers, this is the year where it’s Final Four or bust. With a wide open field, have things shaken up favorable for the Panthers in the Southeast Region?.
On Pitt’s side of the bracket, the consensus in the college basketball industry is that No. 9 Old Dominion (27-6) matches up very well with Pittsburgh and could cause the Panthers serious problems in a potential 1-9 matchup.
Old Dominion is a team that has really good size and is an excellent offensive rebounding team and truly a dominant rebounding team. ODU is a grind it out kind of offensive team but they are so good defensively (rank 4th in the nation), teams don’t get the ability to consistently push the tempo against them.
ODU is a team that’s been there before, knocking off Notre Dame last year in the first round. Considered a true threat to Pitt getting to the sweet 16.
In No. 8 Butler (23-9), they are team where there’s not much buzz about, despite advancing to the National Championship game last year.
Butler is a sleeper that in fact could cause more problems for Pitt than ODU. Butler plays a UConn like offensive game and play the type of style that is made for the NCAA Tournament.
They beat teams in the transition game, an area Pitt has been vulnerable at times. Butler doesn’t defend as well as last year which has many experts down on them. They have a good one-two punch in Matt Howard (16.7 ppg) and Shelvin Mack (15.2 ppg).
Elsewhere on Pitt’s side of the bracket, No. 5 Kansas State (22-10) plays No. 12 Utah State (30-3) and No. 4 Wisconsin (23-8) plays No. 13 Belmont (30-4).
Utah State is considered a tough draw for Kansas State but KSU is an extremely dangerous team, especially when it comes to a potential Sweet 16 matchup with Pitt.
Kansas State has a player in Jacob Pullen who can take over a game at any time and their guard play could make them more of a matchup problem for Pitt than Wisconsin.
Kansas State pushes the tempo offensively and spread teams out but they also have the ability to post up and score with the likes of Jamar Samuels and Chris Kelly as Pullen opens up space for both of them.
In No. 4 Wisconsin, they are a tremendous well-rounded team under head coach Bo Ryan. Wisconsin has a strong one-two punch in first-team Big Ten guard Jordan Taylor (18.2 ppg) and power forward Joe Leuer (18.9 ppg).
Both players are NBA prospects, most notably Leuer but what makes Wisconsin such a tough out, is how well they defend (59.1 ppg), excellent free throw shooting team and they limit their turnovers.
No. 13 Belmont is a dynamic defensive team and are considered one of the true sleepers in the tournament. They can also score, averaging over 80 ppg and have a shot at knocking off Wisconsin in a typical No. 4 – No. 13 upset, if they establish the tempo and defend Taylor well.
On the other side of the bracket, a lot of buzz centers around Florida being over seeded in the tournament.
The No. 2 Florida Gators open up the tournament against No. 15 UC-Santa Barbara, while No. 7 UCLA returns faces No. 10 Michigan State. No. 3 Brigham Young plays – No. 14 Wofford, while No. 11 Gonzaga plays No. 6 St. John’s.