When it comes to the NCAA Tournament, matchups are almost as important as a team’s makeup. Coaches look ahead at brackets and potential opponents to size up their chances for an extended March run.
Former Maryland coach Gary Williams looks at the road ahead for Georgetown, and he likes what he sees.
“Georgetown is in a good situation,” Williams said of the Hoyas bracket.
Georgetown last played in a loss to Syracuse in the Big East Tournament, but still secured a No. 2 seed in the South Region of the NCAAs. Williams believes the Hoyas are a better team than the No. 1 seed in their bracket, Kansas.
“I think Georgetown is in a good spot,” he explained. “They’re an outstanding team anyway. They’ve got a chance.”
Williams acknowledged that much of the tournament is unpredictable, and a hot-shooting team can derail almost any favorite. Beyond Kansas, the Hoyas must deal with other strong teams like Florida, Michigan and VCU in the South Region.
A potential third round game between VCU and Michigan would be something to watch for, Williams said.
“VCU is certainly capable of beating Michigan if that works out,” the coach said. “The thing with VCU, they let their defense do the talking.”
Ferocious full-court pressure from VCU can rattle many opponents, but Michigan’s guards could respond to the challenge. Williams also advised that the Wolverines could face a tough test in their first game against South Dakota State and their star guard Nate Wolters.
“For one game, a kid like that can carry a team past a team that’s probably better than they are,” Williams said of the Michigan-SDSU matchup.
Other upsets that Williams could see would be Davidson beating Marquette and Colorado taking down Illinois. Of Davidson, Williams thinks that their deliberate pace will frustrate Marquette.
While Williams thought Georgetown had a plausible path to the Final Four, he expressed some surprise at how difficult the field in the Midwest Region was. Louisville, the overall No. 1 seed in the tournament, hardly got any favors in a bracket that includes Duke, Michigan State and Saint Louis.
“The Midwest got loaded up. When you look at the teams that are in there, that’s a very tough region.”
With the expansion of the tournament field from 64 to 68, four new play-in games have been created. Fans seem to be lukewarm about the early games, and there seems to be push back in particular on the NCAA’s decision to call the new games the “first round” of the tournament.
Williams provided insight on why the NCAA might make such a decision, and who it should really matter for.
“I like the addition of these games because it gets more teams a chance to get in there,” the coach explained.
In more than three decades as a coach, Williams won 29 NCAA Tournament games, including two trips to the Final Four and a national title. Despite his success, what Williams understands about the expanded NCAA field is that more kids get to live out the dream of playing in the tournament.
“When all this stuff started, it was for the players,” he said. “This gives them a chance when they're 50-years-old, they can say they played in an NCAA tournament.”