RTC Bracket Sweet Sixteen Results: Best Team of the Modern Era (1985-2008)Posted by rtmsf on April 2nd, 2009
We’re down to the Elite Eight of the RTC Modern Bracket.
There was some serious talent and accomplished teams on display in tonight’s games, but we’re left with three #1 seeds, three #2 seeds, a #3 seed, and (egads) a #8 seed. Cinderella is still rollin’ in the Modern Bracket.
Interestingly, we only have four national champions remaining, three runners-up and one at-large team. For the full 64-team bracket, click here. The game analyses are below the bracket.
#1 Duke 1992 def. #13 St. John’s 1985 – This one is a closer match-up than the seeding suggests (perhaps the Redmen were underseeded) as Lou Carnesecca’s squad keeps it close for the first 30 minutes, but in the end Duke’s championship mettle wins out (remember this St. John’s team never won anything). Mark Jackson gets the better of Bobby Hurley in this one, but Hurley doesn’t back down much like what happened in his 1993 match-up against Jason Kidd. This time, Hurley has a completely healthy Grant Hill who does a phenomenal job chasing Chris Mullin around the court and preventing him from lighting it up from beyond the arc (something that he has lived on in the tournament and constantly talked about how much he loves this new rule that wasn’t around when he was in college), but most importantly Hurley has Christian Laettner. Laettner has his hands full in the 1st half battling Walter Berry, but his variety of tricks ends up getting Berry in foul trouble and as a result Berry has to be more cautious on both ends of the court. Over the last 10 minutes of the game Laettner picks him apart and gets some weakside help from Brian Davis and Thomas Hill on the defensive end. Laettner isn’t quite perfect tonight, but he’s close enough to get Coach K into the Elite 8.
#2 Georgetown 1985 def. #3 UNC 1993 – In contrast to the earlier game, this one isn’t as close as the seeding would indicate. This is just a bad match-up for the George Lynch on the inside. Dean Smith’s Tar Heels don’t know what hit them and by halftime they are out of it. The Tar Heels only have one legitimate outside threat and John Thompson is able to have his guards focus on Donald Williams because the Tar Heels cannot get anything inside against the Hoyas great frontline. After the game, Smith is visibly irate at the lack of goaltending calls against Ewing who notched 11 blocks in the game. Smith’s mood finally lightens up when the North Carolina media asks him about how his team’s chances next year when they bring in Jerry Stackhouse, Rasheed Wallace, and Jeff McInnis to play with this group that only loses George Lynch.with and Reggie Williams destroying and
#1 UNLV 1990 def. #5 Duke 1991 – I know what you’re saying: Haven’t we seen this match-up before? Unfortunately for Coach K’s Blue Devils, Jerry Tarkanian got his hands on some tape of this Duke beating his team from 1991 that might have been even better. After hearing about what this Duke team did to their 1991 team in the preliminary rounds (1991 title game), the Runnin’ Rebels are furious and come out playing as if this game was in Denver like their 1990 title game was. This game is closer than the 1990 title game was thanks to the Blue Devils having a year more of experience, adding Grant Hill, and Bobby Hurley not having a bout of diarrhea. The Blue Devils hang tough for 30 minutes before the UNLV pressure gets to Hurley. Without Hill, who hasn’t developed the refined offensive game he had in 1994, back there to help him break the press ,Hurley succumbs to the pressure of Greg Anthony and Stacey Augmon. Even the great Christian Laettner can’t bail Duke out this time as he has his hands full against Larry Johnson. They play to a draw, but Coach K needed Laettner to dominate this match-up if the Blue Devils were going to have a chance against the focused UNLV team. Over the last 10 minutes, UNLV stretches it out to a double-digit lead thanks to Greg Anthony, who isn’t in foul trouble this time around, breaking down Hurley and dishing it off to a red hot Anderson Hunt who kills the Blue Devils with his 3-point shooting yet again.
#3 Duke 2001 def. #2 UCLA 1995 – In the best game on this side of the bracket so far, Coach K put his 2nd team into the Elite 8 thanks to Shane Battier’s lockdown defense on Ed O’Bannon. Midway through the 2nd half, Jim Harrick draws a technical as O’Bannon gets called for his 4th foul on a charge with Battier standing under the basket. Only the sight of John Wooden in the stands calms Harrick down and prevents him from getting tossed from the game and requiring one of his assistants (Mark Gottfried, Lorenzo Romar, and Steve Lavin) to take over. Despite the questionable officiating, the Bruins are holding onto a 3-point lead with 10 minutes to go before goes off. Harrick throws all of his guards (Tyus Edney, Cameron Dollar and ) at Williams, but nobody can stop him as they repeatedly go under the screens that Carlos Boozer sets and George Zidek is too slow switching to bother Williams. After the game, an irate Harrick goes off in the press conference complaining about the favorable officiating that Duke gets before criticizing his guards for not understanding the fundamentals of basketball and how to guard a pick and roll. On the plane ride home, Harrick’s son approaches the Chancellor at UCLA about allowing him to teach a basketball 101 class next semester to prevent this from happening in the future.
#1 Kentucky 1996 def. #5 Kansas 1997 – Angry about their loss in the preliminary rounds (S16 to Arizona) Kansas runs out to a quick double-digit lead in this one, as Paul Pierce continually slices up the Kentucky defense for midrange jumpers and forays to the hoop. Pitino’s team responds with Antoine Walker and Derek Anderson leading the charge off of the Cats’ pressure defense, which harasses Jacque Vaughn into some uncharacteristic turnovers. Roy Williams responds with attempts to get the ball into their center Raef LaFrentz, but like UK did with Tim Duncan in the prelims (E8), the quick double-teams by Walter McCarty and Mark Pope render him ineffective. A close game down the stretch turns on the superior scoring options that the Cats could throw at the Jayhawks, with Tony Delk and Ron Mercer making huge plays down the stretch. Anthony Epps hit the FTs to salt it away. Afterward, Rick Pitino was heard asking Roy Williams why his starters were still in the game when UK had an 8-pt lead with 11 seconds left.
#2 Duke 1999 def. #3 UNC 2005 – Carolina fans aren’t going to appreciate a runner-up Duke team knocking out one of their four national title teams, but there’s really not much question about this one. Duke’s offensive attack of Will Avery, Trajan Langdon, Chris Carrawell, Shane Battier, Elton Brand and Corey Maggette off the bench were way too much for the Raymond Felton/Rashad McCants/Sean May/Marvin Williams Heels to handle. An early Duke blitz of threes led by Avery and Langdon got the Devils off to a quick start, but it was Brand’s complete domination of the undersized May in the paint that ultimately led to the victory. On the defensive end, Battier and Carrawell regularly switched off on the explosive Rashad McCants, frustrating him into an awful shooting night. Duke rolls on to the Elite Eight.
#8 Oklahoma 1988 def. #5 Michigan St. 2000 – Cinderella’s slipper still fits, as the 1988 runner-up takes out another national champion by defeating the 2000 Michigan St. Spartans. The incendiary offensive power of Billy Tubbs’ team was just too much for Tom Izzo’s Spartans to handle, despite being the defensive stalwarts of their generation. Mookie Blaylock regularly carved up the MSU defense by penetrating past Mateen Cleaves into the lane for short dropoffs to Harvey Grant and Stacey King. MSU had no answer for the bigger Sooners, but they were able to stay close due to Mo Pete’s sensational shooting. Ultimately, it came down to free throws and surprisingly, Blaylock (a career 67% shooter) made just enough down the stretch to hold off the Spartans.
#2 UNLV 1991 def. #3 Florida 2007 – The Rebs are still rolling after their upset in the prelims (F4 to Duke) and quickly used their overwhelming pressure to get an early working margin on the back-to-back champion Gators. Once Taurean Green and Walter Hodge settled down against the UNLV pressure, Florida began chipping away behind the active bodies of Al Horford and Joakim Noah underneath. After a tight first half, though, Tark decided to switch Stacey Augmon over to defend Corey Brewer, and quickly the tide turned in the favor of the Runnin’ Rebs. With the slower Horford on him, LJ started putting in work in the post, while Greg Anthony and Anderson Hunt started spotting up for open threes. UNLV pulled away late to move onto the Elite Eight as the only at-large team still standing.
Tomorrow: From Elite Eight to a Final Four…