Sunday, February 24, 2008

Walkin' in Memphis

Last night's (#1) Memphis vs. (#2) Tennessee game (won by the Vols, 66-62) had plenty of interest for the Ivy League basketball fan.

Memphis, as has been well-documented, has been running an extension of the "Princeton"-offense, called "Dribble-Drive Motion" by Coach John Calipari. DDM moves the center to the weak side, rather than to the high post, but the net effect is similar: opening up the lane for cuts (Princeton) or dribble penetration (DDM).

(Calipari earlier in the year was calling DDM "Princeton-on-steroids" although now he seems to be exclusively using the "DDM" terminology; no word on whether Calipari has attempted to trademark "DDM", as he did with "Refuse to Lose" at UMass.)

Tennessee, meanwhile, appears to incorporate some elements of the Princeton-sets into its quick strike offense (at least on those possessions where the Vols aren't fast-breaking), using guard dribble-exchanges and having the center backscreen to create opportunities for cutters. On longer possessions, Tenn sent their big men down to the low post, and resulting series of hook shots were reminiscent of Georgetown's Roy Hibbert.

But as important, last night's game featured two teams that could easily face the prospective Ivy champ, Cornell (with all due respect to Barack Obama's brother-in-law, whose Brown Bruins are 3 games behind). Sports Illustrated projects Cornell as a #14 seed, and ESPN has them as a #13; the RPI puts Cornell at #72 and KenPom rates them as #127.

But with the trip to Penn and Princeton upcoming in two weekends, Cornell has not clinched an undefeated Ivy season yet. The Penn/Princeton weekend has been traditionally difficult, and the pressure of closing out a 14-0 season will likely make both games hotly contested.

The Tournament Committee (and the RPI/KenPom computers) will punish Cornell for a late-season loss. If so, don't be surprised to see the Big Red at #15 (or worse), and playing (perhaps) Memphis or Tennessee.

1 comment:

Jon Solomon said...

If Cornell goes 13-1 in Ivy play, I still think they're going to be a 14 seed.