Wednesday, April 8, 2009

2009 NCAA Tournament - Most Dominant Performances

Individual: Cole Aldrich vs. Dayton - This was easy. Not only was this far and away the most dominating individual performance on the tournament, it might have been the most dominant performance of the entire season. For those with a short memory, Aldrich posted a triple double against Dayton with 13 points, 20 boards, and 10 blocks. Yes, 20 boards and 10 blocks. Aldrich absolutely controlled the paint, especially on the defensive end.

Dayton's star forward Chris Wright, who had gone for 27 points and 10 boards against West Virginia in the first round, was just 4-16 from the floor against Kansas. As a team, Dayton shot just 22.2% from the floor. Why? The Flyers were not the greatest perimeter shooting team in the world, instead relying on their athleticism to score in the paint, either off of penetration or an offensive board. It was Aldrich's presence inside that was the main reason Dayton struggled so much.

Cole Aldrich blocked 10 shots against Dayton.
(photo credit: John Biever/

The other impressive part about this performance is that it single-handedly boosted Aldrich's NBA Draft stock. Here me out. People want Hasheem Thabeet because he is a game-changer on the defensive end. But the biggest worry about him is that he is incredibly raw offensively. Against Dayton, Aldrich put on display just how good he can be on the defensive end (he is 6'11" with a huge wing span). Given that he is already leaps and bounds more advanced offensively that Thabeet is (and he still is far from developed), this defensive performance makes him a much more intriguing prospect for teams that need interior defense but won't get Thabeet.

Team: North Carolina - Again, this one was easy. It wasn't any particular game, either. During the entire tournament, there was 32 minutes of basketball where UNC was not in complete control. With 8 minutes left in the second half against LSU in the second round, the Tigers got a three from Marcus Thornton to tie the game at 63. The Heels scored the next 11 points, taking control and eventually beating the Tigers by 14.

In each of the other five tournament game, UNC jumped out to big first half leads: 53-34 against Radford, 53-42 against Gonzaga, 32-23 against Oklahoma, 49-40 against Villanova, and, lastly, 55-34 in the finals against Michigan State. The Heels won all six games in the tournament by double figures, averaging a 20.2 point margin of victory.

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