Commentary

Building a tournament champion

Updated: March 15, 2012, 10:31 AM ET
By Dick Vitale | ESPN.com

I think there are a number of factors in finding success in the NCAA tournament.

When I break down the top teams, I feel there are reasons why the Goliaths are going to fair very well this year.

You have to have talent to win, plus a coach who can mold that group into something special. A good coach will get the most out of his players, utilizing their strengths and weaknesses in a positive way.

I really feel the game has changed, so it is important to have good perimeter play. Good guard play is essential because winning teams in the tournament cut down on their turnovers. You cannot allow an opponent to have added opportunities at fast-break baskets.

The importance of perimeter play is crucial because you want to execute on offense and defense. The three-point shot has become so important in the game, so having good shooters who can get you back from a deficit also helps on the perimeter.

[+] EnlargeAnthony Davis
Mark Zerof/US PresswireThe shot-blocking ability of Anthony Davis will help Kentucky go far in the tournament.

It is so important to play well defensively as a unit. It is great when you have a shot-blocker in the lane to protect the rim, which has been a key for Kentucky with Anthony Davis. I feel he is worth 15 points before a game starts thanks to his intimidation in the paint. He not only blocks shots, he changes shots and forces teams to shoot from long range.

The Kentucky defense is suffocating and a key to getting to the winner's circle.

Syracuse's 2-3 defense is not one opponents see very often. The Orange roster has so many good athletes and a productive and deep bench is helpful in the tournament. Some teams don't have to worry as much about the bench because of longer timeouts in the tourney. It is nice to have a Dion Waiters and James Southerland to put into a game.

Finally, it is crucial to have a player who can make the big play in late-game situations, what I like to call, winning time! Free throw shooting is vital and in helps when have someone to give you an edge on foul line to put a game away.

The creme de la creme in this tournament have the majority of these elements in their favor. That is why I have a pair of number one seeds (Kentucky and North Carolina) in my national championship game. The Tar Heels can defend on the perimeter and have the talent to beat anybody.

Dick Vitale

College Basketball analyst
Dick Vitale, college basketball's top analyst and ambassador, joined ESPN during the 1979-80 season. His thorough knowledge of the game is brought forth in an enthusiastic, passionate style. Vitale also contributes columns to ESPN.com.