NCAA First Round Free Pick with Write Up

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by - 3/19/2009 2:28 PM Share
Sport: College Basketball
Game: Michigan Wolverines vs. Clemson Tigers
Date/Time: 3/19/2009 7:10PM EST
Pick: Michigan Wolverines
Reason: Clemson started the season 16-0 and expectations grew once again only to see the Tigers tumble again. They went 7-8 in their last 15 games including a first round loss in the ACC Tournament against lowly Georgia Tech. This is nothing new. Last season, Clemson started the season 10-0 and 12-1 only to finish 12-9 in their final 21 games including a first round NCAA tournament exit against Villanova. Two years ago, Clemson started the season 17-0 only to finish 4-9 in its final 13 regular season games then lost in the first round of the ACC Tournament and had to settle for an NIT invitation. Want more history? Three years ago, it was an 11-0 start and a 7-11 finish along with a first round ACC Tournament loss and another NIT bid. This tells us two things. First, the non-conference schedules have been a joke and those cupcake wins do nothing in preparation for the ACC. This year's non-conference schedule was ranked 260th in the nation. Second, the coaching is a real issue. Oliver Purnell has put a good resume together in his six years at Clemson but he has yet to get the Tigers over the hump. Last year was a classic example as he led them to their first NCAA Tournament in nine years only for them to bow out after one game. With the athletes this team has, they should be a lot better. Michigan built a very good resume in the non-conference season as it defeated UCLA and Duke. A 3-1 start in the Big Ten turned some heads but a 2-7 run ensued and it looked as though the 11-year NCAA Tournament drought would continue. The Wolverines finished strong however as they went 4-2 in their final six regular season games before splitting in the Big Ten Tournament. Michigan's success or lack thereof comes down to making shots. If the shots are falling, the Wolverines can beat anyone but if they are not going down, winning becomes more difficult. As with any John Beilein coached team, Michigan takes care of the ball as it has a 1.38 assist/turnover ratio which is ninth best in the nation. It is also shooting 75.5 percent from the charity stripe which is 14th in the country. Those are two of the bigger statistical categories to look at come tournament time and the Wolverines have advantages in both in this matchup. They also have an edge in overall efficiency and that is pretty big considering they are the underdog. Back to the coaching, Beilein is spectacular. He is the 7th head coach all-time to bring four different teams into the NCAA Tournament. I will take him over Purnell with four days to prepare any day of the week. If the perimeter shots are falling at just an average clip, the Wolverines have a great shot at the upset. 3* Michigan Wolverines

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