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March Madness Who's Gonna Win

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 March Madness: Who's Gonna Win -
How You Can Tell
© 1998 by Sidney Goldstein
The frenzy of March Madness presents what many think is the best basketball of the year. Enthusiasts watching the tournament often root with much hope, but without realistic expectation of the final outcome. For those who want more than the ramblings of sportscasters and sportswriters I present insights that may help you predict the final outcome of the game and the tournament. In any case you will better know how your team is doing.

1-The number one principle of basketball is that basketball is not a game of finesse: basketball is a game of brute strength, height, speed, and quickness. Finesse teams rarely do well because they depend on outside shooting. And shooting percentage readily goes south against good defenses. Physical characteristics are constant and can be depended on for important chores like rebounding and defense. Just noting the height of the players on one team, compared to the opponent, gives you a valuable clue about how well your team can do. Look for speed, agility, and strength differences as well.

2-Another factor easy to notice is from where the team shoots. A team shooting from one foot, even if they miss, will eventually do better than a team shooting from the 3-point line. Expect a team regularly shooting one-footers to either keep the lead or readily catch up to a team shooting outside shots

3-What goes on in the "blood and guts" area under the basket is a most important factor. Take your eyes off the ball for a minute to look at the battle under the boards. Notice which teams:
a. rebound well on offensive and defensive boards

b. box out and get rebounding position
c. clog up the middle on defense, preventing cutting
d. pick well in this area
e. pass and cut well into the low post
If a team controls this area, then they will probably win the game.

4-Another very important factor is team defense. Since any one offensive player can usually score on any one defensive player, all defensive players must help out ­ move to cover the ball. To do this defensive players must continuously watch the ball, a skill that is easily noticed. Good team defense makes all shots in the "blood and guts" area difficult and keeps the score low.

5-Besides defensive rebounding, the offense must be coordinated enough so that when the ball goes up offensive players go for the rebound. Effective offenses always have players in position for rebounds.

6-Here are a few obvious individual skills to look for. Are players:
a. in defensive position with the body bent at the knees, not at the waist, and feet slightly greater than shoulder width apart?
b. on defense standing flatfooted or on the balls of their feet?
c. on offense dribbling while going nowhere or continuously moving the ball?
These indications allow you to confidently predict who will win or which games will be close. Remember the general rule is that the strong survive. Big, fast, quick, athletic teams usually beat teams of lesser athleticism. The best coaches know this; now you do too.

Your comments are welcome.

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