If you tuned in last week, you know there's a little experiment running its way through the offices of Big East Coast Bias. (By the way, if you'd like to come visit those offices, just head north on the nearest highway and you'll find us. Maybe. Probably not. You definitely won't). That experiment began with a question: Who would win in a one-on-one tournament of Big East players?
Last week, we set up the bracket and we gave ourselves and you out in the ether a week to let it marinate. Now its time to start picking sides, starting debates and slinging factually-backed opinions about an imaginary tournament around the internet. So let's get right down to business.
No. 1 Kris Dunn vs. No. 16 Myke Henry
The biggest upset of this whole tournament might just be the fact that DePaul got two players into the field. Meanwhile, Georgetown and Creighton only got one player apiece. But that is neither here nor there. What we're here to discuss is a matchup between last year's Big East co-Player of the Year and Myke Henry.
Why Dunn would win
Let's see. Dunn is considered by some to be the best player in the country let alone the Big East. He is slotted as a lottery pick in the upcoming NBA Draft and the accolades he has already piled up wouldn't fit on the back of several tractor trailers. Of course, trophies won't do anything in this tourney. What will matter is how well Dunn plays as a one-on-one defender. Sure, his passing stats and scoring ability are phenomenal but Dunn's work as a defender would be a key in this one. Dunn's best strategy would be to use those quick hands that have helped him lead the Big East in steals the last few seasons to keep his opponent from ever getting close to the basket.
Why Henry would win
First, Henry has the size advantage. That could be beneficial as long as he holds onto the ball. It will also help in securing rebounds, which is critical in any one-on-one game. You can play great defense, but if your foe misses his or her shot only to get another opportunity, eventually buckets are going to be made. Besides his height advantage, Henry also finishes well with the ball, as he leads the Big East in field goal percentage. Consistently getting the ball in the basket is the name of the game after all.
As much as Henry has real strengths, all Dunn has to do is keep the pressure on the ball up and Henry will have trouble getting close enough to take shots he is comfortable with. Dunn also has more range with his shot and if he is getting extra chances plus a wider array of places to shoot from, the conference's best player will not lose.
No. 8 Roosevelt Jones vs. No. 9 Billy Garrett
Quite often, the No. 8 and No. 9 seed in a tournament are two teams with many similarities. Well, these two play very different styles of basketball and are built in entirely different ways. Garrett is a rail thin guard who likes to mix it up inside. Jones is a burly magician of ball-handling and distribution who creates better than most pure point guards.
Who Jones would win
While he may not be taller than his adversary, Jones has 20 pounds on Garrett. That would be a real benefit. Jones' best strategy would be to put the ball on the floor and attack, attack and attack some more. Move Garrett backward at will, post him up and be as physical as possible. Jones is known for being able to finish through contact, so getting an elbow here or a knee there won't stop him from finding ways to put points on the board.
Why Garrett would win
Garrett isn't afraid to get physical either, as he is seventh in the Big East in free throw attempts (117). Now, free throws aren't going to happen in this matchup, but a self reffed game could get him the ball back a few times and having a fiery mentality will go a long way in winning games all by yourself. Helping things out a bit, Garrett should have a step on Jones, which could lead to some quick slashes to the basket, completely different from the bruising attacks Jones would employ.
Expect a few bloody noses and scraped knees in this one, with both players clawing and driving and doing whatever else they can to get into the lane and put the ball on the rim. Jones is a little shorter than Garrett, and that lack of length could hurt him. Plus, Garrett has the edge when it comes to range shooting, albeit a slight one. Garrett is shooting 29.5 percent from 3-point range, while Jones has attempted four 3-pointers during his entire career. Still, something tells me Jones is crafty enough to get a W.
No. 4 Henry Ellenson vs. No. 13 Kellen Dunham
Age before beauty. If that old adage is to be believed, Dunham will lock this one up without even trying. The senior guard has been playing at the college level for a few years now, while Ellenson is a new kid on the block. Of course, Ellenson is the one getting more national attention and clearly, based on his seed, is getting more respect from the BECB staff. In this classic matchup of old versus new, there is also the extra wrinkle of guard versus post player, as Dunham probably hasn't visited the painted area since 1994, while banging down low comes as naturally to Ellenson as breathing.
Why Ellenson would win
Size would play a huge role in this potential showdown. Ellenson stands at 6-foot-10, while Dunham is at 6-foot-6. Its not the largest gap in the world, but Ellenson would still be a tough player to score on for Butler's shooting guard. Ellenson blocks shots exceptionally well, so his priority should be keeping Dunham off the 3-point line. If he can do that he can certainly recover from behind to swat Dunham's driving attempts into oblivion. Meanwhile, when he has the ball, which should be a lot since he gobbles up rebounds like a Hoover, Ellenson just has to back Dunham down and finish at the rim.
Why Dunham would win.
Before it died an untimely death, Grantland did an awesome piece on the rules of pick-up basketball that argued against the 2s and 1s points model. In essence, it said that making a 3-pointer worth two points and a 2-pointer worth one made 3-point shooting exceptionally more important. In fact, it made a 3-pointer twice as valuable as a 2-pointer, instead of just 1.5 times better. Well, despite Grantland's objections, this tournament is going by the classic rules of the pick-up game. That plays right into Dunham's hands as he has knocked down at least 40 percent of his 3-point tries in each of the last two seasons. His strategy is simple, get looks from three and nail 'em.
This game comes down to one thing: Dunham's shooting. If he can get triples to fall and keep Ellenson from getting the ball too often, he could very well run away with this one. We've all played that game where one guy just doesn't miss from 3-point range. Dunham has a game like that every other week. I'd still lean Ellenson, but if Dunham heats up, well let's just say this is far from a done deal.
No. 5 Josh Hart vs. No. 12 Ryan Arcidiacono
It was bound to happen sooner or later. I guess sooner was not expected, but you get the point. We have come to our first teammate on teammate dust up. That adds a whole other element to this exercise, as familiarity certainly plays a role in how guys play each other. That's especially true if you practice together, eat meals together and share a locker room together. In that time, you had to have picked up a thing or two.
Why Hart would win
Hart was the Big East Tournament Player of the Year last season and he has carried that success into this one. He can shoot from three, get to the rim and his PER (23.8) certainly shows that he can play ball with the best of the best. Simply put, he is built for this tournament. He can create his own shot, get to any spot he wants on the floor and his defensive acumen is beyond reproach, as he has a defensive rating below 90 for the year.
Why Arcidiacono would win
We can't expect Arc to bang on the inside. He isn't the type to take his guy off the dribble and he just doesn't have the finishing skills near the rim, especially with a defender draped all over him time and time again. What he does have, is the gusto and the skill to let it rip from 3-point range at will. Like Dunham, if Arc gets cooking, then Hart will be, well cooked.
There really are no winners when brother fights brother. But, if we had to pick one here, its got to be Hart. Sure, Arc could get some triples to splash and build an early lead, but Hart would wear him down and grind out the victory.
No. 2 D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera vs. No. 15 Edmond Sumner
Another battle of the old and the new, with the old man game of DSR clashing with the youthful exuberance of freshman phenom Sumner. OK, so its not that drastic a difference, but dressing things up makes for a little more intrigue. When you cut through the flowery language this would be a matchup of two tough guards with a lot of talent.
Why DSR would win
Because he is so much better than he gets credit for.
Sure, the Hoyas have not been dominant lords of the hardwood at all times during his tenure, but DSR has always been the consistent and strong force pushing them forward. He has a PER of 21.6 and his true shooting percentage (.593) and effective field goal percentage (.541) are indicative of a player that knows when to pull the trigger and when to keep looking for a better look. Not just settling for shots is a major part of one-on-one. DSR doesn't strike me as the type of guy that will just start chucking up jumpers when the game is locked at 8-8 and his legs are burning and begging him to stop. Its just not in his DNA.
Why Sumner would win
Like Garrett, Sumner likes to get his hands dirty and get lost in the trees down low. He has attempted the eighth most free throws in the conference despite missing time due to injury. He is also among the top ten players in the league in steal percentage (2.8 percent), not to mention his defensive rating below 100. So, what you've got is a a guy that won't be afraid to push the ball when he has it and won't be afraid to put the pressure on when he doesn't. Sounds like a recipe for one-on-one success.
If you're looking for an upset, you might have just found it. That's what the masses might say. However, DSR will not continue to be undervalued, at least in this post. Sure, Sumner is the future in the Big East, but DSR has the chops and that ol' Georgetown ferocity that can't be undersold in the one-on-one arena.
No. 7 Maurice Watson vs. No. 10 Durand Johnson
You have to feel bad for Johnson. The lowest automatic seed has to go up against a guy that is currently lighting the Big East on fire. Just over a week ago, Watson put up a 32-point burger in a win over Xavier and he followed that up with 40 points combined against Marquette and Butler. If you're looking for a hot hand to get through this tournament, he might be your guy. But don't count out Johnson. For as bad as the rest of the Johnnies are, he's not a Red Storm you want to get caught in.
Why Watson would win
The kid from Philly can do most anything. He is a lethal combination of shooting and passing ability. He's netting more than 15 a game for the Bluejays and his assist to turnover ratio is a smidgen above 2:1. So he can handle the ball and score. What else do you need in a one-on-one player? His speed is another excellent attribute. He runs the fast break well and although in a half court setting that isn't as valuable, being able to get a quick first step and turn the corner are important.
Why Johnson would win
The subhead for this section really should have been "Why Watson would lose." Sure, Johnson has a knack for scoring and he puts his head down and wills his way to the basket fairly frequently, but his offensive rating is below 100 and he isn't exactly putting up great numbers in terms of efficiency (12.4 PER). However, much of that has to do with the lackluster team around him, just like Watson's success is at least partially thanks to a solid core supporting him. If you strip away Watson's ability to pass to others, he becomes a tad less dangerous, which could be all the opening Johnson needs.
As much as Watson is clearly a pass-first guy, he has shown on more than one occasion that he can create for himself. Johnson isn't the defensive dynamo that could take advantage of Watson's loss of his biggest skill, which is his ability to facilitate. Watson also clearly has the edge as a shooter and that alone should ensure his spot in the next round.
No. 3 Isaiah Whitehead vs. No. 14 Kelan Martin
This matchup pits Seton Hall’s leading scorer against Butler’s leading scorer. Both players have really blossomed as sophomores on their respective teams, but we are throwing that out the window here. For this, it comes down to who has the better overall skills in addition to, the ability to break the other player down in an isolation situation.
Why Whitehead would win
Whitehead is one of the best isolation players in the conference because of his ball handling, agility and overall athleticism. He can break you down with his crossover and then step back for a jump shot or can take you to the rim. Whitehead can do so many things well on the court, but his ability to get to the rim is one of his most impressive attributes. Do not forget about his outside shot, which has improved too. He can beat you one-on-one in so many different ways.
Why Martin would win
Martin is not nearly the same player when he has to go one-on-one compared to his teammates helping him and putting him in good positions to make plays. However, like the team as a whole, Martin is very efficient as he shoots 47.8 percent from the field on average. From three, he shoots almost 41 percent so expect him to try and make two-pointers to stay in this matchup.
Martin has been one of the best players in the Big East lately, but with the criteria that has been put in place Whitehead is the clear favorite here. His versatile offensive ability would shine in this matchup with Martin who would have trouble keeping up. The only way that Martin wins is if he can wear down Whitehead inside. I don’t see that happening. Whitehead advances without too much trouble as Stephen Curry cheers him on from the bench.
No. 6 Trevon Bluiett vs. No. 11 Ben Bentil
Might as well call this the "Sophomore Scoring" portion of the bracket. It is another matchup between two players who lead their respective teams in scoring, but what makes this one even juicer is that one of them is the conference leader in scoring.
The Big East’s leading scorer in the 11-seed in this bracket challenge. Clearly, Bentil has to prove the doubters wrong again, but it will not be easy against Trevon Bluiett. Both sophomores have really improved from their freshmen seasons on both ends of the floor. This is, arguably, the best first round matchup we have in this bracket.
Why Bluiett would win
Bluiett is 6-foot-6 and 207 pounds so he is at a height and weight disadvantage here. That is why his agility and athleticism will be important for him to win this game. Bluiett’s isolation game is good, but going in the post against Bentil is where the problem could arise for a smaller player. That is why Bluiett would have to make a few two-pointers and possibly draw a few fouls here in order to win.
Why Bentil would win
Get ahead early and post Bluiett up. It is plain and simple for Bentil. Yes, he has an outside shot that could be a factor in this matchup, but Bentil can win this easily if he takes Bluiett inside every time. Bentil’s offensive game has really developed this season and if he has his way will dominate this matchup. Bentil can win in a few ways, but if he just pounds Bluiett in the post he will win.
A chalk bracket is always considered a "bad bracket" or a bracket for people who are afraid to pick an upset. I think we can call agree on that, but even with that in mind I like Bentil to win this and advance. His posting ability coupled with an improved perimeter game allow for him to keep Bluiett on his heels. This will be close because Bluiett is a great defender, but Bentil can hold his own. The league’s leading scorer advances.
Well, we've had our say, but we'll leave it up to you at home to determine the real winners. Vote below and tune in next week to see who survives and who is left stranded on an island while a hurricane swirls around them.