Elite Eight - 2005 vs. 2020
Yes, I think we all know where this is headed. So now that the 16 team breakdowns are written, this should go quickly. I'm not going to break down the teams again (I'll link back to those posts), so these posts will simply talk about the matchups. Trent guarding Luther. Augie trying to guard Kofi. The fun stuff. The Elite Eight will be today and tomorrow, the Final Four on Wednesday, and then we'll get to the matchup we've been waiting for (or maybe not?) on Thursday.
If the top seeds hold, I think the main matchup I'm curious about is 2001 vs. 1989. From the reactions I've gotten on Twitter, there is a very strong "yeah, sure, 2005 and 1989, but 2001 was one group of officials manipulated by Lute Olson away from possibly winning it all" contingent. So maybe it won't be the matchup we've been waiting for?
That made me pause to think about Elite Eight games for the three #1 seeds (1989, 2001, 2005) we've had in the last 40 years. One play here or there and we might feel differently about those teams. Yes, there's the "what if we don't come back from 15 down with 3:57 left" in 2005, but also, what about the Elite Eight game against Syracuse in 1989? Marcus Liberty is shooting a 1-and-1 with Illinois leading by one and 22 seconds left. His misses the front end and Kendall Gill out-jumps the entire Syracuse team to get his hand on the rebound and pass it to Kenny Battle. Battle is fouled, makes both free throws, and the Illini go to the Final Four. Biggest offensive rebound in Illini history.
So say that doesn't happen. Say Syracuse gets the rebound, goes down to the other end, scores, and wins the game. Now how do we feel about the 1989 vs 2001 matchup? What if Deron misses the three? Now how do we feel about 2005? What if Danny Miller simply shoots his career average and the 2003 team makes a run to the Elite Eight or the Final Four?
My point: so much of how we view these teams comes from Tournament success. That was my point when I wrote all of those words about 1987. Yes, Austin Peay, but honestly, beat Austin Peay by one instead of lose to Austin Peay by one and with that region (the 6-seed won it), I truly believe 1987 could have been a Final Four team. Nobody remembers how great that team was because of one (very bad) NCAA Tournament matchup (much like 2003).
I'm rambling now. I should just get to this matchup. How would 2005 match up with 2020?
2005 breakdown was found in this post.
2020 breakdown was found in this post.
This isn't just 2005 worship (although it will come off like that), but every way I look at this, 2005 shuts 2020 down. I promise to not make these breakdowns "here's my opinion on what would have happened", but it's hard not to with this matchup. Kofi would really be the only problem for this team, and that's only if the officials allowed him to Sean May in the paint.
I love 2020, and will forever stick by my tweet at halftime of the Iowa game ("we're going to go 1-4 in the next five games... and then we're going to the Sweet 16"), but 2005 is an impossible matchup for this 2020 team. It feels like what we saw in the first half of the Miami game would be what we would see in this matchup. Just replace Chris Lykes with Dee (and then surround him with four other great players).
2005 would have the speed to keep up with Ayo on the break, they'd double Kofi with Rog and take him out of the game, and it would be up to the other guards to get hot from outside. With the way this 2020 team shot this year, it would be a really tall task.
I should probably stop talking. I'm apparently not able to talk about this matchup without giving my opinion. Let's just skip to the voting and I'll go write the next one (which is a matchup I believe comes down to the final seconds - see, there I go again).
2005 vs. 2020. Go vote here.