I'm starting to look toward the NCAA a bit (I've got a fever!) and wanted to start glancing at likely 1st-round opponents and who may give us a tougher game. Right now the projected 12/13/14 seeds (Bracket Matrix) are:
12 - Virginia Tech, Butler, Michigan, Boston College, Clemson, Missouri State
13 - Belmont, Harvard, Oakland, College of Charleston
14 - Iona, Indiana State, Bucknell, Kent State
(keep in mind there are 6 12's because of the play-in games)
In my opinion, nothing beyond good 3-pt defense and good offensive rebounding are glaring concerns for us in an opening-round game. Cincinnati and West Virginia are two of the Top 10 in offensive rebounding (per kenpom.com), highlighting why we were so owned in those two games. Kentucky, surprisingly, is only 80th (must be some selfish mother-f**kers when they don't play us).
So who hits the glass with success?
Va Tech - 165
Butler - 175
Michigan - 327
Boston College - 225
Clemson - 126
Missouri State - 163
Belmont - 13
Harvard - 209
Oakland - 42
College of Charleston - 112
Iona - 107
Indiana State - 232
Bucknell - 322
Kent State - 77
So two of the Top 50 in offensive rebounding are on that 4/13 line. Yuck. It is interesting to note, however, that Belmont was OWNED on the glass in two of its three big OOC games. Playing Tennessee twice and Vandy once, they only managed to outrebound UT in the second game (40-35). They do go 6-9 and 6-10 on the front line, so that could be a problem for us.
Oakland has a big kid in the middle who leads the team in scoring and rebounding (17.7ppg, 10.0rpg). Came up big against Michigan State (1-point loss), UT (in an upset win), Purdue (blowout), and West Virginia (blowout). Only lost the rebounding battle to WVU by 1, beat Purdue on the glass (by 5), lost the glass to the Spartans by 6, and won the glass 34-33 against UT.
Oakland, it seems, is the team we don't want to see. In addition to Keith Benson (the 6-11 center), they have a 6-9 forward who is averaging 7 boards to go with his 12.6ppg. Having those big guys along with a big-scoring little guard (5-11 junior named Reggie Hamilton runs the point and averages 17.0ppg and 5.3apg), they seem equipped to win the glass and manage our tempo OK. They average 85.0ppg, indicating to me that they have no problem running up and down the floor. They aren't great at defending the 3, though, so that could help us.
Everyone else, I say bring it on. Knowing the NCAA, we'll see Oakland in our bracket and Pitino will repeat everything I've just written above with his hyperbolic flair.