Jake's Take: Bracketing the Bucks - 3/20/11

March 20, 2011
Jake LeRoy [@JakesTake34]

Bucks vs Knicks

Bucks 100, Knicks 95
Box Score
  • Prospecting the Big Dance Part 2
  • Prospecting the Big Dance
  • Six Degrees of Darvin Ham
  • A Tale of Two Earls
  • The Next Level
  • Playoffs Start Now
  • A Look to the Future
  • A Cure for What Ails Ye
  • Bucks Beat Features
  • Bracketing the Bucks
    I assume athletes, like anybody else, have an extreme loyalty to their alma maters. It's an allegiance that resides in them throughout their professional careers and beyond. That devotion likely follows them into the locker room, where I again assume some healthy friendly rivalries exist between teammates.

    With that in mind, and the NCAA Tournament in full swing, I thought I'd enroll in a course of Bracketology 101. This class will seed the alma maters of the Bucks players and coaching staff, and then break down the matchups in order to determine a champion and ultimate bragging rights in the Milwaukee locker room. Take that Joe Lunardi.

    First Round
    No.1 Ohio State (Michael Redd) vs. No. 16 Pembroke State (Kelvin Sampson): Redd's Buckeyes take out Sampson's alma mater in a classic No. 1 vs. No. 16 blowout.

    No. 8 Marquette (Jim Boyland) vs. No. 9 Missouri (Keyon Dooling): I've been getting killed on the 8-9 matchups this year, but this one I'm sure of. The Golden Eagles ride Jimmy Butler's all-court game and DaJO's perimeter shooting to victory.

    No. 5 Washington (Jon Brockman) vs. No. 12 Miami (John Salmons): The Huskies ride their wave of momentum following their Pac-10 Tournament championship into the second round with a win over Miami.

    No. 4 North Carolina (Joe Wolf) vs. No. 13 Utah (Andrew Bogut): The Tar Heels' high-octane offensive attack dismisses a Utah team that has struggled all season long.

    No. 6 UCLA (Luc Richard Mbah a Moute) vs. No. 11 Memphis (Earl Barron/CDR): Joshua Smith, UCLA's behemoth down low, is too much for Memphis' undersized front line, leading the Bruins to victory.

    No. 3 Duke (Corey Maggette) vs. No. 14 Houston (Anthony Goldwire): The senior leadership of Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler lead the Blue Devils over an underachieving Houston squad.

    No. 7 Michigan State (Scott Skiles) vs. No. 10 VCU (Larry Sanders): The Spartans have failed to meet expectations this year, but head coach Tom Izzo typically has his troops prepared for the Big Dance.Michigan State's experience proves too much for VCU.

    No. 2 Kansas (Drew Gooden) vs. No. 15 Eastern Michigan (Earl Boykins): The Morris twins of Kansas lead an efficient Jayhawk offense that propels them past the Eagles and into the second round.

    Second Round
    No. 1 Ohio State (Redd) vs. No. 8 Marquette (Boylan): Ohio State's Jared Sullinger proves to be too big of a task for the perpetually undersized Marquette front line.

    No. 4 North Carolina (Wolf) vs. No. 5 Washington (Brockman): Harrison Barnes continues his late-season surge to the top of draft boards with a scintillating performance against Washington. It's too much for the Huskies to overcome.

    No. 3 Duke (Maggette) vs. No. 6 UCLA (The Prince): The return of Kyrie Irving, the leading candidate for the top overall draft pick in the NBA Draft, makes an already great Duke team even better. UCLA doesn't have the talent to keep up.

    No. 2 Kansas (Gooden) vs. No. 7 Michigan State (Skiles): Michigan State's tumultuous season comes to a screeching halt at the hands of the Jayhawks, who light up the Spartan defense.

    Final Four
    No. 1 Ohio State (Redd) vs. No. 4 North Carolina (Wolf): North Carolina's lanky frontline of John Henson and Tyler Zeller keep the stout and ground-bound Sullinger in check, sending the Buckeyes home in the process.

    No. 2 Kansas (Gooden) vs. No. 3 Duke (Maggette): The Battle of the Twins, the Morris's of Kansas and the Plumlee's of Duke, goes to the Blue Devils with a little help from the rest of the crew.

    Championship Game
    No. 3 Duke (Maggette) vs. No. 4 North Carolina (Wolf): The Blue Devils recently demolished the Tar Heels in the ACC Championship and did so without the point guard play of Irving. Add Irving to the mix and Duke runs away with it.

    In-game Musings

    • It would be hard to ask Milwaukee for a much better start than it had this afternoon. The Bucks started the quarter on a 16-4 run and finished it on a 16-5 run for a 32-9 advantage after one quarter. Carlos Delfino picked up where left off from Friday night, hitting his first three shots on his way to 10 first-quarter points. Brandon Jennings didn't put a single point on the board, but some fine passing resulted in five Milwaukee baskets and a few more free throws. On top of that, the Knicks made just 4-of-25 shots and finished the quarter with a season-low nine points.
    • I was always taught that, when playing defense, you should keep one eye on your man and the other on the ball. Apparently New York's Amare Stoudemire didn't receive that same coaching. Midway through the first quarter, Delfino drove baseline past his man and appeared to graze Stoudemire's back as he passed by. Stoudemire had no idea this was occurring. He was so concerned with face guarding his own man, that he was oblivious to Delfino's drive to the rim. Carmelo Anthony recently complained that New York's defensive schemes were too difficult. It doesn't get more basic than one eye on your man, other on the ball.
    • The law of averages dictated the Bucks probably wouldn't be able to maintain their first-quarter pace. Boy did it ever hold true. The Knicks bounced back from a horrid first quarter to trim Milwaukee's 23-point lead to six points going into halftime. New York finally started hitting shots, going 11-for-22, while the Bucks finally started missing shots, going 6-for-18. Inconsistency has plagued Milwaukee all season, and today's first half has been no different.
    • Ronny Turiaf may have supplanted former Bull and towel-waver extraordinaire Jack Haley as the most enthusiastic cheerleader in the history of the NBA. In the first half, he greeted Stoudemire at midcourt as he returned to the bench during a break in the action. In the second half, he actually celebrated a defensive three-second violation with a fist pump. He matched that fist pump with an even harder fist pump following the conversion of the subsequent free throw. The man shows a high level of delight in his profession, and I have to respect that.
    • It surprises me how much Jared Jeffries' offensive game has regressed since he came to the NBA. I remember him being a highly-touted player coming out of high school and his offensive repertoire wasn't awful at Indiana. His game has regressed so dramatically that he's now receiving the Ben Wallace treatment with Bogut playing about 10 feet off Jeffries as he roams the perimeter.

    Closing It Out
    Andrew Bogut. Brandon Jennings. John Salmons. Carlos Delfino. Luc Richard Mbah a Moute. It was those five that led the Bucks to the playoffs last year, and it was those five who led the Bucks to a win tonight. That lineup played heavy minutes this afternoon with all five players hitting the 40-minute plateau and constituting 212 of the 240 possible minutes. These five haven't had the amount of court time together that anyone would like this season, but they've showed recently how effective they can be when the opportunity presents itself.

    New York cut Milwaukee's once seemingly insurmountable lead down to one point on two occasions in the second half. The Bucks never let the Knicks clear that hurdle, though, grabbing and maintaining the lead throughout. Milwaukee's big rebounding advantage and substantial edge from the charity stripe were too much for New York to overcome. Three Bucks tallied double-figure rebounds in giving them a 50-39 advantage on the boards. Milwaukee also made 13 more free throws than the Knicks, led by a perfect 13-for-13 effort from The Prince.

    The Prince had a great all-around game, concluding the contest with 19 points, eight boards, three steals and three blocks. He also pitched in on a fine defense effort against Stoudemire, who shot just 11-of-28 and attempted just three freebies, five below his season average. Delfino put together his second consecutive solid outing, setting a career high with 30 points to go along with 11 boards and six more three-pointers.

    Jennings contributed his second straight double-double with 14 points and 11 boards, falling just one dime shy of his second career triple-double. Salmons added 22 points while Bogut tallied 13 points and a game-high 12 rebounds.

    The win pulls Milwaukee even with Charlotte at 28-41 for ninth in the Eastern Conference and brings it to within 1.5 games of Indiana for the final playoff berth. They've got Sacramento at home on Wednesday, the Knicks in New York on Friday and the Bulls for the fourth and final meeting on Saturday. This next week is a big one for the Bucks as their home-heavy slate of games comes to a halt after Saturday's tilt with Chicago. They can't let these games slip away.

    Note: These are the views of the 6th Fan Blogger. Thoughts and opinions expressed in this articles are not necessarily the views of the Milwaukee Bucks.