22 March 2007

First Weekend Recap

This is going to be a short post. I was offered a job during the first set of games on Thursday, and my head's been spinning ever since. I would say the first two rounds were disappointing, but I would just be repeating everyone else who follows college basketball. The good thing about the lack of upsets and excitement is that there weren't random upsets and excitement. That was good for my picks.

Round 1: 22-10 (20-12 last year)
Round 2: 12-4 (11-5 last year)

OK, so that's not a huge improvement, but my Elite Eight is intact. So, I naturally am not making any changes to my picks for the regional rounds.

Here's to 8-0 on Thursday and Friday!

13 March 2007

Pick Time

Since Wednesday night is trivia night and it's probably not a good idea to make picks when buzzed or outright drunk, my picks are ready in time for the play-in game.

However, before we take a look at 2007, let's take a look back at 2006.

First round: 20-12 (.625 - bleh)
Second round: 11-5 (.688 - better)
Regional Semis: 2-6 (.250 - huh? UCLA and UConn were the only two right.)
Regional Finals: 1-3 (.250 - terrible. I only had UCLA in the Final Four)
Rest of the way: 0-3 (.000 - "bizarrely dreadful" to quote Simon Cowell. I drank the UConn-Duke Kool-Aid. Two teams I'm not fond of. That'll teach me.)
Total tournament: 34-29 (.540 - not good at all)

Considering my picks usaully stack up in the 66 to 70 percent range, I'm hoping last year was an abberation. Perhaps I do need to drink when making these after all!

So (gulp) here we go with 2007.

Round One
Florida (of course)
Purdue over 'Zona, since the Wildcats are one of the worst defensive teams I've seen in 25 years of watching basketball.
Butler over ODU in a close one.
Maryland over Davidson, also in a close one.
Notre Dame over a feisty Winthrop (This one could be a game for the ages. If you like good shooting, get to a bar for it if it's not on locally.)
Georgia Tech over UNLV since I think the Jackets can make a run.

An aside - There are two Pacific time zone sites this year, that means there are two 5 p.m. games that will have limited distribution because of local news. On Thursday at about 5:10 in Sacramento, GW will play Vanderbilt. On Friday at around 5:05 in Spokane, Notre Dame will play Winthrop. Now, I am a geography whiz (so you'll have to trust me on this if you're not), but I noticed none of those teams are Western. In the first games of those doubleheaders, Washington State will play Oral Roberts and Oregon will play Miami University. (Gee, Chris, I just looked at a map and noticed that two of those teams definitely qualify as Western.) Last year, the 5:00 game in San Diego (granted it was delayed by an overzealous bomb-sniffing dog) was UCLA-Belmont. What was CBS thinking?!

Round Two
Florida again
Maryland will get a real test from Butler, but will advance.
Oregon over Notre Dame in another lights out shooting exhibition.
Georgia Tech over Wisconsin, as the Badgers get exposed.

Regional Semifinals
Florida over Maryland
Oregon over Georgia Tech, as Aaron Brooks's experience will be too much.

Regional Final
over Oregon, as the Gators overall experience will be too much.

Round One
Villanova over a lackluster Kentucky team.
Illinois, who maybe shouldn't be in the field, over an unpredicatable Virginia Tech team.
Southern Illinois over Holy Cross in a defensive battle.
Virginia Commonwealth will squeak by Duke.
Pitt will get a battle from Wright State, but will survive.
Gonzaga over Indiana in a matchup I struggled with. It will be the second straight tourney win over the Hoosiers for the Zags.

Round Two
Southern Illinois will win the Bruce Weber Bowl.
Pitt survives the Rams.
UCLA gets a second weekend in California with a win over Gonzaga for the second straight year.

Regional Semifinals
Kansas over SIU
UCLA over Pitt in the Ben Howland Bowl.

Regional Final
over Kansas, as the Bruins benefit from the semi-home advantage in San Jose.

Round One
North Carolina
Marquette over Michigan State, in one of the many student-pupil matchups we have or could have this year.
Arkansas shocks an overseeded USC.
Texas over New Mexico State.
George Washington over a Vandy team that can't win away from Memorial Gym. (They're playing in Sacramento for crying out loud!)
Washington State
Texas Tech over BC in a knock-down, drag-out fight.

Round Two
North Carolina
Texas wins the old school SWC battle.
Washington State beats GW.

Regional Semifinals
North Carolina over Texas, especially if no one other than Kevin Durant shows up for the Longhorns.
Georgetown over Wazzu in a surprisingly good game.

Regional Final
pulls it together to beat UNC.

Round One
Ohio State
Xavier over BYU.
Tennessee over an overseeded Long Beach State team.
Virginia may lose to Albany, but that's not my pick.
Louisville will get beat up on the inside by Stanford, but pull it out because of an unfair semi-home court advantage.
Texas A&M
Creighton over Nevada in a game that truly could go either way.

Round Two
Ohio State in the Thad Matta Bowl.
Tennessee ends Virginia's season.
Texas A&M survives the Cards, probably because of some strategically placed UK fans.
Memphis barely gets by Creighton.

Regional Semifinals
Ohio State gets by Tennessee
Texas A&M uses the homecourt advantage of playing in San Antonio to beat Memphis.

Regional Final
Texas A&M
gets to the Final Four by winning in their own backyard, much like a certain 3 seed in 2003 who I'm quite fond of.

National Semifinals
Florida over UCLA in a game similar to last year's final.
Georgetown over Texas A&M. Too much size.

National Final
Florida over Georgetown because of their experience.

I'll check in on Sunday or Monday night with an early round recap.

E-mail me.

11 March 2007

Still Steaming over Syracuse

This season gave the NCAA Men's Basketball Committee a selection and seeding process that involved more challenges than ever before. Unbalanced scheduling in the major conferences produced convoluted conference races and logjams everywhere. With that being said, I can't really fault them for most of their selections and seeding decisions. There were a few that surprised me, so I'm now going to take some time to review the bracket and nitpick.

1 seeds: Florida, Kansas, North Carolina, Ohio State I was shocked to see the defending champs as the #1 overall seed, especially after the way they sleptwalked through the last couple of weeks of the regular season. I put UCLA on the top line over Kansas, based on the entire season, but the Committee must have liked the way the Jayhawks finished. I can't really fault them for that, especially since the Bruins and Jayhawks would meet in the regional final (if they both get that far).
My picks: Florida, North Carolina, Ohio State, UCLA

2 seeds: Georgetown, Memphis, UCLA, Wisconsin No qualms with these four teams. Aside from the Bruins, these are the four teams I thought would be here.
My picks: Georgetown, Kansas, Memphis, Wisconsin

3 seeds: Oregon,
Pittsburgh, Texas A&M, Washington State, I dropped Washington State down to the four line, primarily based on how they finished compared to Texas. The South region is very interesting in terms of some of the geographical decisions. A&M will play in San Antonio, if they get to the Regionals. That puts Ohio State and Memphis at a disadvantage. Why do I say "if"? Well, the Aggies are at a disadvantage in the sub-regional, as they may have to play Louisville in round 2, in Lexington. So much for being a protected seed.
My picks: Oregon, Pittsburgh, Texas, Texas A&M

4 seeds:
Maryland, Southern Illinois, Texas, Virginia I have no real arguments here, considering I had everyone here within a seed line. I thought that Virginia's troubles at the end of the regular season and losing in the ACC quarterfinal cost them a spot as a protected seed. They do have a difficult sub-regional, however, with a gutsy Albany team and a potential round two matchup with Tennessee.
My picks: Maryland, Notre Dame, Southern Illinois, Washington State

5 seeds: Butler, Tennessee,
USC, Virginia Tech This is where I started to have issues with the seeding part of our program. I think Butler, Tennessee, and USC are all overseeded. I felt the Bulldogs really dropped the ball at the end of the regular season, instead they end up with the seed they would've gotten had the season ended a month ago. USC was good, but nothing special, and certainly not special enough to be four places at the most from a protected seed. Tennessee is very inconsistent, but had a good schedule, which must have helped. Chris Lofton's healthy status must also have helped. I had Virginia Tech a line lower based on NC State's sweep of them and their tendency to take games off.
My picks: Louisville, Nevada, UNLV, Virginia

6 seeds: Notre Dame, Vanderbilt, Louisville, Duke I had two of these teams higher (Notre Dame and Louisville) and two lower (Duke and Vandy). I can understand Louisville as a 6 based on how they played early in the season. (They still should have to play outside of their home state.) I felt that Notre Dame was far too consistent and dangerous to be this low. Duke's schedule put them here, but their actual results should put them slightly lower. I can understand Vanderbilt's placement on this line, since they do own wins over a 1 seed (Florida) and a 2 (Georgetown).
My picks: BYU, Creighton, Marquette, Virginia Tech

7 seeds: Boston College, Indiana, Nevada, UNLV Indiana and Boston College are just about spot on here. Nevada's lack of schedule strength probably put them here. (I should've known better.) UNLV's schedule is a little better, so I expected them to be a couple of lines higher.
My picks: Boston College, Tennessee, USC, Vanderbilt

8 seeds: Arizona, BYU, Kentucky, Marquette Arizona and Kentucky have been disappointing this year, UK more so than their Western brethren. I expected Kentucky to be far lower based on their lack of quality wins. I had Arizona here because they've had their moments. I expected Marquette to be a bit higher because of their wins in and out of conference. BYU should've been higher because of how they've played lately. However, the committee probably didn't care much for their schedule strength.
My picks: Duke, Indiana, Michigan State, Xavier

9 seeds: Michigan State, Purdue, Villanova, Xavier These were all right on the button or on the 8 line, which is pretty much a distinction without a difference.
My picks: Arizona, Butler, Purdue, Villanova

10 seeds: Creighton, Georgia Tech, Gonzaga, Texas Tech I had Georgia Tech here and can understand why Texas Tech is here. (I had them as an 11.) However, Creighton should've been higher, probably not as high as the 6 line where I had them, but at least in an 8/9 game. Gonzaga should've been lower simply because they're not the team they were last year or even earlier this season, especially without Josh Heytvelt.
My picks: Georgia Tech, Syracuse, Virginia Commonwealth, Syracuse

11 seeds: George Washington, Stanford, Virginia Commonwealth, Winthrop I had all of these teams within one line, so I can't really argue with the Committee here.
My picks: Drexel, Kentucky, Illinois, Texas Tech

12 seeds: Arkansas, Illinois, Long Beach State, Old Dominion I had Syracuse and Drexel in instead of Arkansas and Old Dominion. I can understand why the Committee took ODU over the Dragons, since Drexel did lose to the Monarchs twice. However, Drexel's amazing road record should've gotten them in. (Granted losing to Rider and Bill and Mary didn't help their case.) Syracuse has better (read: top 25) wins though, even if the Razorbacks made it further in their conference tournament. Of this group, I think Illinois could've been higher, since their profile isn't terrible. I also think Long Beach State could've been lower, since I wasn't too impressed with them or the Big West this year.
My picks: Davidson, George Washington, Gonzaga, Stanford

13 seeds: Albany, Davidson, Holy Cross, New Mexico State If I would've kept Davidson here today, I would've been 3 for 4. Albany did a great job as a 16, and I had Vermont slotted here if they won the America East. The Committee must be expecting a good effort from the Great Danes this weekend.
My picks: Holy Cross, New Mexico State, Pennsylvania, Holy Cross

14 seeds: Miami University, Oral Roberts, Pennsylvania, Wright State I though the Quakers and Raiders deserved better here. Wright State beat a 5 seed twice! The Eagles and Redhawks are exactly where I thought they'd be.
My picks: Long Beach State, Miami University, Oral Roberts, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi

15 seeds: Belmont, North Texas, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, Weber State I had North Texas lower based on their relatively low finish in the Sun Belt, Corpus Christi higher because of their decent schedule, and Weber lower because of their weak schedule.
My picks: Albany, Belmont, Eastern Kentucky, Niagara

16 seeds: Central Connecticut State, Eastern Kentucky, Florida A&M, Jackson State, Niagara I had Florida in the play-in game before Kansas was a 1. Now that the Jayhawks are up and playing on Friday, the potential of a Florida-Florida A&M rematch is avoided. I had both the Colonels and Purple Eagles higher because of their schedules.
My picks: Central Connecticut State, Florida A&M, Jackson State, North Texas, Weber State

I'll post more tomorrow and post my picks on Tuesday.

Quick Post-Mortem

Here's the simple statistical breakdown for the year and a comparison to last year.

32 of 34 at-larges correct, same as last year (ODU and Arkansas get in over Syracuse (sigh) and Drexel)

23 seeds correct (28 last year)
25 off by 1 line (19 last year)
12 off by 2 lines (13 last year)
1 off by 3 lines (3 last year)
1 off by 4 lines (same as last year)

I'll post more after I study the bracket more.

Final Projected Bracket

Well, it all comes down to this, the final bracket. In a half hour, we'll all see how close I got this year. I made quite a few changes to the top four lines based on today's action and quiet introspection.

Top seeds - Ohio State, UCLA, Florida, North Carolina This decision is based on the whole body of work for the season. I thought about keeping Kansas up top, but decided against that after Carolina won the ACC tourney and the Jayhawks got into a battle with Texas. Kansas's slightly weaker schedule, particularly in conference, also costs them.

2 seeds - Kansas, Georgetown, Wisconsin, Memphis The only teams here with a really great case for a 1 are Kansas and Georgetown. The Badgers lost two of three to Ohio State and Memphis's conference schedule eliminate them.

3 seeds - Texas A&M, Pitt, Oregon, Texas The Longhorns trade places with Washington State based on a stronger finish.

4 seeds - Washington State, Notre Dame, Maryland, Southern Illinois Notre Dame and Maryland move up and replace Louisville and UNLV based on their overall performance for the season.

At the other end of the bracket, I made one change to the at-large pool. I dropped Arkansas after their second half collapse in Atlanta and replaced them with Drexel.

Last Four In
Texas Tech

Last Four Out
Air Force
Missouri State
West Virginia

Next Four Out
Florida State
Kansas State
Old Dominion

Breakdown by Conference
ACC: 7 (North Carolina, Maryland, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Boston College, Duke, Georgia Tech)
Big East: 7 (Georgetown, Pittsburgh, Notre Dame, Louisville, Marquette, Villanova, Syracuse)
Pac-10: 6 (UCLA, Oregon, Washington State, USC, Arizona, Stanford)
Big 12: 4 (Kansas, Texas A&M, Texas, Texas Tech)
SEC: 4 (Florida, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Kentucky)

Atlantic 10: 2 (Xavier, George Washington)
Colonial: 2 (VCU, Drexel)
Horizon: 2 (Butler, Wright State)
Missouri Valley: 2 (Southern Illinois, Creighton)
Mountain West: 2 (UNLV, BYU)
Western Athletic: 2 (Nevada, New Mexico State)

Post-mortem around 7:30

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