One thing we all love about the NCAA tournament is the excitement that comes with all of the upsets. We get the see teams we have never heard of before take national powerhouses right down to the wire, and much to our chagrin beat the teams we had down on our brackets. While there is a great deal of luck and randomness to these upsets there is one factor a lot of us who don't watch the nonpower conference forget to factor in. How well a teams style and personnel match up with that of the opposing team.
Now in college, particularly in first round games, the talent differential is usually pretty wide from say a 3 or 4 seed compared to the corresponding 13 or 14 seed, but we regularly see upsets. A good portion of these upsets come from teams who play a style or have a particular match up problem for the favorite. If you have a guy who is over 7' tall, if the opposing team doesn't have that, or they aren't used to playing against that, that very well could cause a problem. Similarly, we often see Big Ten teams struggle against teams that a very strong running a zone, because it is atypical for a Big Ten team to see that during conference play. While good team can usually adjust to these match up problem, it will lead to games being closer than we all anticipated and the result very well may be a big upset.
When we are talking about the NBA, the talent differential is much less significant. While every team does not have 3-4 All-Stars like the top playoff teams tend to have, most teams do have a lot of very talented guys that, especially in playoff basketball, all are deserving of the opportunity, and all can cause problems moving forward in marching toward the title. There are 2 contrasting styles right now in the NBA. The traditional method with a true center and other "bigs" that clog up the paint, and the new spread out style that can appear if a team has 4 or 5 guards. While neither style is particularly better or worse, which style teams runs and the personnel can have a great impact on the outcome of a game. Looking at the Pacers, this is why the Pacers tend to go the way of Roy Hibbert. While PG and David West and Lance are the go to scorers a lot of nights, its Hibberts presence that tends to make or break a game. Teams that run that spread out offense use that to clear the lane for players driving and getting easy looks at the hoop or creating opportunites for spot up shooters on the wings. With Hibbert sitting in the middle ready to contest any and all shots, the Pacers can alter another teams style of play. Likewise, Hibbert is a big dude and if you don't have a big guy to put on him, he can easily dominate on the offensive end. The problem is when Roy isn't playing well (see the last few weeks) the Pacers lose that advantage that they have. Roy sits in the lane, so if he is guarding a good shooter, that can lead to open looks or Hibbert can't cheat to the middle as much to stop the drivers. Enter Atlanta. If you look at the Pacers track record against the Heat... well its not good. The Pacers, with Hibbert on the floor don't match up real well with the Heat. Last year the Pacers beat the Hawks in 5, but it was a closer series than most expected. It is a similar story this year as the Pacers dropped game one. Factor in the fact that the Hawks are playing well right now winning 4 big games down the stretch, this series could be very interesting for the Pacers.
Thanks for reading and Go Pacers
-T.O. signing out