Western Powers Unimpressive
Unimpressive Weekend for Western Powers
By Wayne Root:
Even though the three most hyped powers in Western college basketball went 2-1 in their games this weekend, Gonzaga, Arizona, and Utah had such ugly stretches that it became hard to take them seriously as national championship threats. And, that's even though Gonzaga is likely to be a #1 seed...Arizona will probably be a #2 seed...and Utah will be seeded to reach the Sweet 16.
Let's take a look...
*GONZAGA trailed almost the whole game late Saturday night vs. St. Mary's. They did rally late to win...and get a miracle cover because St. Mary's had one of the epic collapses of all time. But, that was more about horrible coaching, poor offensive decision-making, and the fact that St. Mary's isn't Big Dance caliber. Gonzaga is not going to receive a gift like that in the NCAA Tournament because they'll mostly be facing teams who are a lot better than St. Mary's.
Hey, Gonzaga is a nice team. They are clearly the class of their conference. If you stuck them in the Big 12 or ACC, would anyone be talking about their collection of talent as #1 seed worthy? If they fell behind like that at Baylor, Iowa State, or Kansas...they wouldn't be handed a victory. It's best to think of Gonzaga as a team that has to stay hot to be a spoiler in the Dance...rather than one of the favorites.
*ARIZONA had a horrible start to both halves against UCLA, and found themselves life-and-death in the second half as 14-point favorites over what is probably a non-Dance team. This was supposed to be a statement game in prime time on ESPN's GameDay. Instead, it was a reminder that Arizona blows so hot and cold that you can't trust them to "avoid cold" over a series of big games. As was the case with Gonzaga, they needed their opponent to collapse down the stretch to get any sort of scoreboard distance.
It is a credit to the Western powers that they know how to execute late in close games. That's an edge that disappears in the Dance because they run into other teams that can do the same thing! Western basketball is another lull unfortunately in terms of consistency and late game poise. This is creating illusions about both Gonzaga and Arizona in the polls and computers.
*UTAH seemed like the inferior team all day Sunday at Oregon. That's bad because they were favored by 4-5 points! The Utes are having troubles away from home vs. decent teams. They lost in similar fashion at UCLA not long ago. They were routed at Arizona. Sorry, but the Big Dance isn't played on your home court! It's scary to think what would be happening to Utah in their road games if they were playing in a better conference. If you can't compete at Oregon or UCLA, are you going to get any ACC road wins at Duke, Virginia, North Carolina, or Louisville?
Of course, as home favorites, you can still give the Utes some thought. They really do take advantage of their home circumstances very well. Media types calling them a Final Four sleeper just aren't paying enough attention.
WAYNE ALLYN ROOT is THE KING OF UPSETS. So, you can tell I'm already mapping out possible upset calls for March with the teams we're discussing today. I'll have to wait for the Dance with Gonzaga most likely because their conference is so weak. St. Mary's is second best...was playing at home...and yet still performed ineptly in the final minutes. With Arizona and Utah, I'll be thinking of the Pac 12 tournament (played here in Las Vegas again this year) and the Dance. Every time YOU watch a game from this point forward, you should be thinking about the tournament. What you learn about these teams NOW will pay off in very dramatic fashion once seasons are on the line.
Of course, it's not all about scouting right now. You should be winning money while you scout! You can purchase my daily BASKETBALL BEST BETS right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions about which of my long term programs best suits your individual needs, please talk to my representative in the office at 1-877-ROOT-WINS. You can call any day this week during normal business hours. The sooner you call, the sooner you start winning!
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