Thursday, February 18, 2010

Mocking the NCAA Tournament


On February 12th a group of media members assembled to “draft” the ncaa tournament field as things stood at that time.  These media members included Jay Bilas, Andy Katz, Seth Davis and other on-air talent from various media outlets that are involved with college basketball. 

I love everything to do with the college basketball tournament and take every chance I can to fill out a bracket.  With this in mind I am going to fill out my bracket based on the media members’ projections, name some teams that drew a solid line/region, name teams that I like to surprise at this point in time and some teams I like to disappoint.

If you have any comments on my picks feel free to fire away in the comments.  Also, you can get your copy of the bracket here if you want to follow along.

I’m going to list any seed upsets (lower seed beating a higher seed) and starting with the Sweet 16 I’ll list each matchup and my projected winner.

MID WEST REGIONAL

UPSETS

9 Florida State defeats 8 Northern Iowa – This is definitely a homer pick.  UNI reminds me of the Wisconsin team that bounced FSU in the first round last year.  They’ve got 3 shooters to spread the floor and a 7-footer that can negate Solomon Alabi’s height.  I wouldn’t be surprised if this went the other way.

10 Missouri defeats 7 RichmondMissouri shoots really well as a team from three-point range (38.4%) and has 6 players averaging over a steal per game in that hectic press they run.  Richmond’s leading scorer/assist man Kevin Anderson is a good shooter but has only a 1/1 AST/TO ratio with 2.5 TO’s a game.  I like Mizzou to revenge their loss to Richmond from early in the season.

BEST GAME

Sweet 16 – 3 Wisconsin vs. 2 West Virginia – The irresistible force vs. the immovable object: West Virginia’s defense vs. Wisconsin’s shooting and offensive efficiency.  Senior leadership and playmakers on both sides and clutch players with tournament experience as well.  I’m going with defense and WVU to pull out the win.

SURPRISE TEAM

Pittsburgh – It’s been an up-and-down year for the Panthers but they’ve got about 3 guys who can really shoot it and a couple of talented ball handlers.  I’ve got them knocking off Vandy before getting bounced by Kansas in the Sweet 16.

DISAPPOINTMENT TEAM
Richmond21-6 Overall, 10-2 in A-10:  The Atlantic 10 conference has made a lot of noise (A-10 has Temple ranked in the top 20 and at last reporting Joe Lunardi had six A-10 schools in his 64).  Richmond’s done well with wins over Florida, Mississippi St., Old Dominion, Temple, and the aforementioned Mizzou win.  It would be a disappointment for this team to get bounced in the 1st round.

SWEET 16:

1 Kansas vs. 5 Pittsburgh
2 West Virginia vs. 3 Wisconsin

ELITE 8:

1 Kansas vs. 2 West Virginia

FINAL FOUR TEAM:

Kansas



WEST REGIONAL

UPSETS

5 Wake Forest defeats 4 New Mexico – This would be an upset in seed only. I like what Steve Alford has done at New Mexico but they wouldn’t beat Wake.  Wake has one of the best PG’s in the country in Ishmael Smith as well as super-sophomore Al-Farouq Aminu.  I like the Deacs to make it to the Sweet 16 before falling to Nova.

10 Maryland defeats 7 Rhode Island – I like Maryland to roll Rhode Island in this matchup.  Maryland shoots better and rebounds better.  They also have two guards in Grievous Vazquez and Eric Hayes that can really shoot, pass and handle the ball.  Tough break for Rhode Island with this draw

BEST GAME

2nd Round – 10 Maryland vs. 2 Purdue – Purdue is really good, but Maryland’s guards will keep them in any game.  Both squads are well coached, have some shooters, and are littered with upperclassmen leading the way.  I like Purdue’s defense to help them get the win but it would be a classic I’m sure.

SURPRISE TEAM

Butler – Although not surprising in name since they’ve been around for a while now, did you know their two best players are sophomores?  I like the duo of Gordon Hayward and Shelvin Mack to lead them to the Sweet 16, upsetting K-State along the way.


DISAPPOINTMENT TEAM

Kansas State – Bill Self’s team has been ranked in the top 10 all year it seems and boasts wins over Texas and Xavier.  However the rest of their resume is a tad hollow.  They still have a chance to solidify that however with games against Missouri and Kansas, both of whom they’ve already lost to, still on the schedule.

SWEET 16:

1 Villanova vs. 5 Wake Forest
6 Butler vs. 2 Purdue

ELITE 8:

1 Villanova vs. 2 Purdue

FINAL FOUR TEAM:

Villanova



SOUTH REGIONAL
UPSETS

 13 Sam Houston State defeats 4 Texas – I really like Sam Houston State to make some noise in this tournament as you can tell.  I’ve got SHS making it to the sweet 16 before getting knocked off by SyracuseTexas’s struggles have been well documented and most of it goes back to PG play as J’covan Brown, Valez Ward and Douglas Balbay all have problems shooting the basketball.  Damian James is a special talent but I think he’s bounced in the first round

13 Sam Houston State defeats 5 Gonzaga – This is a candidate for best game as these squads are almost mirror images of each other as both can shoot it and have great guard play.  The problem is Gonzaga only really has Matt Bouldin while SHS can roll out 4 guys that shoot 38% or better from the 3PT line, including 3 that are higher than 40%.  Gonzaga exits early once again.

11 South Florida defeats 6 Tennessee – Plain and simple, Tennessee just can’t shoot.  This is evidenced by the fact that their 2nd best 3PT shooter on their team is also their best post player: Wayne Chism.  I don’t see him being able to do both, especially with the dearth of guard play on UT (I mean, they’re STILL trying to make JP Prince a PG!).  Remember this name, because he’ll be a star in the tournament: Dominique Jones from South Florida.  He’s averaging 20/6/4 and is one of the best shooters in the tournament.  This is a bad draw for UT as Jones should have a field day against UT’s backcourt.

3 Michigan State defeats 2 Duke – Looking at the stats once thing really rises to the top, Michigan State is really well coached.  This will be a slugfest as both teams are well coached and have some great guards (Kalin Lucas for MSU and Jon Scheyer for Duke).  I really think this is only an upset in seed only; these are two closely matched teams.

3 Michigan State defeats 1 Syracuse – I love the Cuse, but Michigan State just grinds you down so well.  They’ve shown they can dissect a solid zone in their win over Michigan, and I expect they’d be able to do the same to the Cuse.  In the end the difference will be Kalin Lucas vs. The Orange’s PG duo of Brandon Triche/Scoop Jardine: this is a matchup that MSU wins hands down.  Couple that with MSU being about the only team in NCAA with enough length to offset Syracuse’s length and I like the Spartans to advance past the ‘Cuse. 

BEST GAME

3 Michigan State defeats 2 Duke – Possibly the one guy playing the PG position the best is Jon Scheyer for Duke, however Kalin Lucas can be every bit his equal.  When looking at the stats the one thing that really jumped out at me is Michigan State’s Point Per Possession of it’s players.  For two teams that really thrive on ball control and grinding out a win I think Michigan State does it just a tad better and with better athletes.  Either way this should be a great matchup since the teams are so similar.

SURPRISE TEAM

13 Sam Houston State – SHS is 11-0 in their conference, one of the last few unbeaten teams in their conference.  They also boast out-of-conference wins over Oral Roberts (Tournament team) and @ Auburn; they also played Kentucky in Lexington and only lost by 10.  They are a terrific shooting team that starts 5 upperclassmen and 3 Guards this team has the guard play to attack teams with weak guards (Texas) and teams with limited depth at the guard spots (Gonzaga).  As we know, guard play is the biggest factor in NCAA Tournament success, I expect the Bearkats to do well. 

DISAPPOINTMENT TEAM

Texas – a season of disappointment continues for the Longhorns.  But their troubles have really risen to the top over the last 9 games (3-6 in that span) and I don’t expect it to subside by then.  Get a PG Rick Barnes, maybe Avery Bradley will morph into that role next year.

SWEET 16:

1 Syracuse vs. 13 Sam Houston State
2 Duke vs. 3 Michigan State

ELITE 8:

1 Syracuse vs. 3 Michigan State

FINAL FOUR TEAM:

Michigan State



EAST REGIONAL
UPSETS

11 Cornell defeats 6 Georgia Tech – Georgia Tech is just one shooter short for this matchup.  Big Red’s 7-footer Jeff Foote will help negate Lawal/Favors inside while there are 4 guys that have taken at least 70+ threes on the season that are making them at a 40%+ clip.  I like the Andrew “The Nard Dog” Bernard’s alma mater to pull off the upset.

10 Xavier defeats 7 Texas A&M – Xavier has tournament and big game experience.  They’ve beaten Cincinnati and Florida and lost to Wake, Temple and Butler by a combined 10 points.  TAMU on the other hand takes terrible shots, commits more TO’s than assists and doesn’t shoot particularly well.  Also their best senior, Brian Davis, is a hoops retard if you judge his basketball IQ; it’s somewhere around 13 – he loves lamp.

3 Ohio State defeats 2 Georgetown – Both teams can really shoot the basketball with both at 38%+ as a team from 3pt land and 49%+ as a team overall.  Georgetown is a little more careless with the ball but they play better defense. This would be such a great game I’ll give more analysis in the Best Game section because it deserves it.

BEST GAME

3 Ohio State defeats 2 Georgetown – I honestly have no idea which way this game would go, both teams can really shoot it, have solid guard play, upperclassmen with experience all over the roster, and special players in Evan Turner and Greg Monroe for OSU and GT Respectively.  I only chose OSU because Evan Turner is the best player in college basketball and there’s going to be one tough game where he throws up a triple double and wins it by himself.  I’ll project that to this game and give it to the buckeyes.

SURPRISE TEAM

BYU - People are going to be surprised by how good BYU is.  I have them losing to Kentucky in the Sweet 16 but they’ve got about 4 white guys that can really fill it up.  If they get going from the outside I could definitely see them derailing the Wildcats Final Four bid.

DISAPPOINTMENT TEAM

Georgia Tech – They landed the #1 overall recruit in Derrick Favors and had Gani Lawal withdraw his name from the NBA Draft (Late first round pick) to come back to school to tutor him.  Iman Shumpert is a great wing but they just don’t have enough guard play to make it in the tournament.  The fact that they’d lose to an Ivy league school wraps up their disappointing status.

SWEET 16:

1 Kentucky vs 5 BYU
2 Georgetown vs. 3 Ohio State

ELITE 8:

1 Kentucky vs. 3 Ohio State

FINAL FOUR TEAM:

Kentucky


CAPTAIN’S PROJECTED FINAL FOUR

Midwest: 1 Kansas

West: 1 Villanova

South: 3 Michigan State

East: 1 Kentucky

Toughest road to the Final Four: South Regionalevidenced by the fact that I have their three-seed making it out.  This region is just loaded and I guarantee when the real bracket is made there will be some shuffling of these teams.  I could see anywhere from the one-seed Syracuse to the five-seed Gonzaga coming out of this bracket.  Throw in Mississippi, Arizona, Sam Houston State and South Florida and there are some lower seeds with a really good chance to make some noise in the tourney as well.

Easiest road to the Final Four: West Regional – Other than their 1-2 (Nova-Purdue) I think every team from 3-9 is a tad overseeded.  New Mexico a 4? Oklahoma State a 9?  There will definitely be some teams moving down from these lofty seeds in the real bracket once all is said and done.

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