Friday, March 24, 2017

The Journey Ends...


Still a Great Read….


I wasn’t ready, as I’m sure you’re not, to write about the “Last Game of the 2017 Season” for the Michigan Men’s Hoops Team

Nope, nope, nope….

Wasn’t going to happen.  Wasn’t supposed to end this way.  Michigan was the feel good favorite that everyone in the country was pulling for and even had non-basketball fans intrigued by their scrappiness and the storyline behind what could be a magical finish to an ordinary season.

Unfortunately, Michigan came out a little flat, a little tight (perhaps?) and statistically played their worst game in their last 12 attempts.  And they were still within 1 point of winning…But the Basketball Gods that decide such things simply said, “Not Tonight, Wolverines.  We’re going to bless someone else in this tourney

In the movie, that shot will go in and Michigan will move on…  In the movie, the Northwestern Miracle is avenged…In the Movie, Trey Burke’s Miracle against Kansas is shown in a dream sequence right before Walton’s shot drops…
Unfortunately…This isn’t the movies.  While many can and will consider this a successful season, I’ll always be left wondering what could have been….

IF Wagner would have hit anything last night
IF Walton would have had more of his shot last night….
IF MAAR would have just let those GD pink shoes take him to the hole a couple of times last night…
IF Wilson would have grabbed one more rebound or made that bunny Lay-up that HE SHOULD HAVE DUNKED
IF Irvin would have taken a step backwards about 3 times and launched for 3 instead of the 2’s he was hitting from just inside the arc…
IF anyone wearing Maize and Blue pulls down that rebound..
IF Walton didn’t hesitate ever so slightly on the last shot…

Yeah, I’ll be wondering a lot.  There were just too many “IFS”…

Still, I enjoyed this season as much as any season I can remember and I’m going to miss these guys.  I have a feeling that everyone who can come back will come back and the NBA will have to wait (for Wagner and Wilson). 

At least we can remember it being close and we can dream that it might have all been different with the exception of a couple of things. 

Perfection was in their grasp.  No one can argue that.

Unlike Purdue

I believed that Purdue had a better than average chance to beat KU last night based on a couple of things:  1.  I thought Purdue would neutralize the KU bigs.  2.  I thought KU was way over rated.  This team lost to TCU in the Big iiX Tourney fergodsakes!!!  And 3.  Sparty didn’t do anything to slow KU down and I felt they simply made KU look good as this is not a classic Izzo team. 

I was extremely wrong on all 3 of those reasons.  If you have Kansas in your bracket winning it all, right now, you have to be a very, EXTREMELY happy person.  I’m not sure what stops that team.  And when it turned into a “Fun Fest Playground Let’s Humiliate Them” Game, well, that’s when I realized I had underestimated Kansas. 

Is this what the dance is turning into?  Ignore what the truly great teams do in their conference tourneys or at the end of the season and just go with what you know from mid season?  Kansas has turned it up a notch.  For sure.  If good teams can start doing this…Look out.

I told you about Xavier

Early in February, I watched Xavier play someone and I commented about “Teams to think about taking deep into the NCAA bracket”.  Xavier was one of those teams.  But when they lost their PG and went 7-8 over their last 15 games, well, I wasn’t as impressed anymore.  Nobody was.  The Pre-Season Top 10 team wasn’t the same team. Until last night.  Then Xavier came into their own and the Wildcats of Arizona didn’t know what hit them…

I liked WVU and Huggy Bear…


But the Zags are also proving to be more resilient that previously thought.  Can they take down Xavier?  Time will tell.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Journey Continues...


Okay – The celebration of becoming one of the last 16 is over and it’s time to get back to business.  In a few short hours, the Madness renews itself with the road to the Elite 8 and the subsequently, the March to the Final Four.  Like you need any reminding of that hereMichigan is a 1 point favorite over Oregon, but after watching Oregon and Rhode Island go at each other, I’m not so sure.  As a fan, I think I’m nervous about either one of those teams, but Michigan got the Ducks and Dorsey, the 2017 NCAA Tourney best player through the first two games…

Game Time:        7:09 PM EDT
Line:                   Michigan by 1

My guess is that Oregon is going to have problems with Michigan’s versatility on the offensive side of the ball.  But, a lot like Okie State, Oregon simply won’t give a shit and they’ll be putting it up early and often in an effort to outscore the Wolverines.  So far, that strategy hasn’t worked by anyone willing to try it.  Try to slow the game down and you play right into the Wolverines hands.  I’m really not sure how you game plan for the Wolverines.  Pitino decided that, If the Cardinals were going to lose, it was the “bigs” that were going to beat him.,..and they did.  Walton was covered and more or less taken out of the offense, but it didn’t matter. “Mo Baskets” just kept doing what he does best.  Again, if you’re Oregon, what do you do?  God knows I don’t have an answer for Michigan’s versatility and I’ve been watching them all year.  Oregon coaches should be pulling their hair out about now. 
Managing Oregon defensively will be a task, however.  Granted, there are times when this team will fall asleep (go back to an earlier blog where the ducks only scored 16 – 16!!! – in the 1st half against Oregon State and came back and scored 52 in the 2nd half to win by 1!!!  Yep – this team can score and when they’re on, they’re on.  But they also fall asleep from time to time.
But I have faith in the Beilein….and the Donlon

Re-Seeding NONSENSE!!!

The latest talk, for the last couple of years, is re-seeding the bracket in the Sweet 16 after the early “sins” of the committee have been revealed.  This is stupid, asinine and just plain impossible with respect to how millions of fans would manage their brackets after that re-seeding (tongue slightly in cheek here).  Pools would shut down because pool – coordinators would go nuts, unless they were managing them on line.  But still, I don’t want to re-seed for a couple of other reasons.
1.    Teams that have the resources and opportunity to look ahead at who their 3rd and 4th round match-up might be have already done so (probably the Monday or Tuesday after the brackets come out.)  That gives those teams a little extra edge and time to prepare.
2.    Whatever mistakes the committee made early should be the penance or the reward for those teams that are paying for that error or reaping the rewards of it.  Right now, if you were to re-seed based on Sagarin, KenPom and the other dynamic metrics (updated through the 2nd round of the NCAA Tourney), you’d have, in this order:
a.    Kansas
b.    UNC
c.    Wisconsin
d.    Gonzaga
e.    Michigan
f.     Arizona
g.    UCLA
h.    Florida
i.      WVU
j.      Kentucky
k.    South Carolina
l.      Oregon
m.   Butler
n.    Xavier
o.    Purdue
p.    Baylor

I color coded the current regions to make this easier, but suffice it to say, you want to be HIGH RANKED with more of YOUR color lower on the seeding.  Right now, according to metrics, Purdue and Oregon are the first two teams to show up in any region.  Meaning Kansas and Michigan got lucky.  But I still think Purdue is better than their stats and will give Kansas fits not to mention that Kansas shot way up with its first and 2nd round opponents basically sucking (Thanks Sparty)….If it was re-seeded:  Meaning Michigan would be a 2-Seed in the Kansas Bracket along with WVU as the 3-Seed and Butler as the 4-Seed.  I’m not saying it’s a bad idea, I’m just saying let’s leave it as what did we really change besides making certain, higher seeds roads easier or harder than they are now?
3.    How on earth would you ever make travel plans?  Granted, there’s a boatload of Louisville and Duke fans cancelling reservations, but at least they could make them!
The Biggest Gain:  Teams that endured a difficult first two games as a lower seed that prevailed may be the beneficiary of a better seed draw after the re-seed, and vice versa.  But I say:  Leave it alone….

More Refereeing Idiocy
According to reports, there was an NCAA apology issued for the Gonzaga vs. Northwestern Goal Tend that wasn’t by the NCAA head of officials.  And I have to ask, “Why?”  Why apologize for something after we all know what happened?  Why not instead state, “Hey, this is a problem and we’re looking at a rule change to address the problem.”  Like instant replay on really stupid or non-calls.  I don’t know where you draw the line, but there were way too many games (with Yahoo Sports website listing the worst ones – which didn’t even include some of the garbage Michigan endured!) where the refereeing definitely impacted the game.  That should not happen.  In this day and age, there’s gotta be a better way.  Plays included in the Top 5 were the Gonzaga – NWU, UNC Charge and the Seton Hall flagrant that wasn’t, all of which I witnessed. 
I know that refs are human and referees will make mistakes and that’s just part of the game.  But this level of incompetence should get somebody over at the NCAA off their dead ass and figure out what can be done.  Generate a list of lessons learned and figure out if adding a 4th ref helps things?  I dunno….but fergodsakes, do something.

A Guilty Pleasure
I have to admit, I enjoy reading about the Wolverines locally now as I don’t have to suffer through an article by the now deceased Drew Sharp (RIP), who probably would have written a headline after Sunday’s upset that would have read something like,
“Overachieving Wolverine Squad Wins Again, But It Can’t Last” or
“Wolverine’s Win, But Another Crash Possible!”
“Beilein’s Job Saving Run Continues!!!”, or even,
“Michigan Getting Everything Out of Their Rag-Tag Squad and Catching the Real Elites Off Guard!”
Yep – There’s some guys I don’t miss…And he’s one of ‘em. 

The Best Coach in the State of Michigan?
On Tuesday, there was a great debate on Sirius Channel 84 between Rick Pizzo (BTN announcer), Dan Dakich and one of the clueless tools on Sirius who I was going to leave nameless (Childers) who stated that, you could “Almost” make an argument that Beilein was the better coach in the State of Michigan.  Both Pizzo (who I have a lot of respect for) and Dakich jumped all over Childers with a litany of reasons that they both believed that Beilein could be argued as not only the best coach in the B1G, but maybe even the country!  Part of the reasoning being, “How do you want to measure the success of a coach?”  
The reasons stated:
1.    Michigan rarely gets the “Super AAU Level” top recruits.  Beilein recruits kids like that from time to time, but he generally gets “kids” that can play pretty well and they can also shoot.  A lot of those kids end up making it into the NBA. Michigan actually has just as many players still playing in the NBA as Michigan State over the last 5 seasons.
2.    Measuring a coach by his “success” of National Titles is only one way to measure them.  Nobody expects Michigan to do anything year in and year out with the recruits it gets and Beilein improves players on his watch every single season.  Not only that, but how many times has Michigan started outside the Pre-Season Top 25 and finished inside the Top 25?
3.    If you’re a player that’s looking to play in a system that will develop all your skills and give you the best chance to play at the next level, you would want to play for Beilein.
4.    Pizzo also stated he thought Beilein’s offense was one of the better ones in the country and he would put it up against anyone’s offense.  Michigan’s ability to change from a perimeter to an inside game and still be effective is unique.  They’re going to get you one way or another.  And now with Donlon on board, they’re defense, will probably continue to rank highly in Kenpom and Sagarin for seasons to come.
5.    Dakich stated that if you’re a “big guy” in the Izzo system, for example, you’re going to be relegated to playing a very specific role that won’t give you a chance to develop all your skills. 
Childers made some lame arguments that Izzo was getting just as many players to the NBA, and he had a National Title, but both Pizzo and Dakich fell back on, what criteria do you want to use?  And both stated that a National Title could easily be in Beilein’s future!!!  And if he wins one, well than who IS The Best in the State of Michigan?

Loved every minute of it!!!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Who's Doing It Right?

I know most of you have lives and don’t stay glued to either ESPN or the BTN in the wee hours of the night.  However, you have me for that and I can give you my insights into what’s been happening recently. 

Groce and Crean, in that order, got canned as the head basketball coaches from Illinois and Indiana, respectively.  While I kind of get why each school did what they did – Groce’s on court performance just wasn’t cutting it.  He hadn’t sniffed a conference title or an NCAA bid in his time and Illinois and Crean was simply NOT an Indiana (insert “Bobby Knight” here) Man, even though he’d won the B1G twice, been to the Dance several times and also went to a Sweet 16 and an Elite 8.  This season started promising for IU, with wins over Kansas and UNC, but injury to 3 key players (imagine Wilson, Wagner and Walton all going down for Michigan – oh wait, that kind of happened last season!) and you have the inevitable B1G result playing freshmen and not ready for B1G Basketball underclassmen.  Some fan bases would respect the injuries and keep a gut they liked around.  IU cut bait.  In other words, what have you done for me lately and do I like the way you sound in your press conference matters.

But, here’s where things get very different:  Illinois fires their head coach right after the B1G Tourney and tells the assistant to coach the NIT.  Then, RIGHT AFTER OKIE STATE loses to Michigan, the Illini AD (Josh Whitman) gets directly on the phone with Okie State 1-Year coach Underwood (Previous stop Stephen F Austin where he took three teams to the Dance and won a 1st and 2nd round game) and says, “Let’s make a deal.”  Next thing you know, Underwood is at the NIT game that Illinois was playing on Sunday as their next head coach, 2 days after losing to Michigan. 

Now, that’s an extraordinary hire and transition time.  Granted, Underwood was not happy with Okie State’s CYA move of, “We’re gonna hire you at less than comparable Big iiX money, but if you perform, we’ll give you more after your first season.”  Underwood lived up to his part of the bargain getting the Cowboys to the Dance for the first time in a decade, but the Okie Stated AD decided that wasn’t enough and that he couldn’t pay Underwood what he deserved.  Motivation was there and opportunity, in the form of the Illini, knocked.

Indiana, sort of in parallel I thought, pulled an unusual move by firing Crean on the first day of the NCAA Tourney, literally 10 minutes before the first game started!!!  Staying in the Basketball news and letting coaches in the Tourney know that IU was looking.  And by doing that, they owed Crean an additional $3M instead of waiting until July 1st when the buyout would have dropped to $1 (instead of $4M total).  The MMPG looked at that deal and thought:  Well, maybe these two discussed it and Crean said, “I’ll take a little less than what’s owed me and that will give me a chance to land a decent job and Indiana can start talking to their “Ideal Candidates” immediately after they exit the Tourney (just like Illinois) and if their target guy becomes available early (Hot Rumors:  Assistant Sparty Coach Dan Fife who played for IU or Steve Alford, head Coach at UCLA) they can talk to him.  And pretty much everyone is behind those to candidates because they’re former IU players that get how its done in Indiana. 

All Makes Sense…Right???

But THEN Indiana announces they’re hiring a SEARCH FIRM to “Find the Right Guy”. 

 Whiskey – Tango – Foxtrot….

Basketball and the decisions around off season basketball moves fast.  Sometimes the right hire is very apparent and you don’t need a committee to know what the right move and next step is.  If Alford’s your guy and Fife is your next guy, so be it.  Talk to Alford (who’s relationship as UCLA is a little rocky and his son is in his last season) and do the deal.  If that doesn’t happen, then go get Fife.
Indiana shouldn’t need to hire and pay for a search firm to tell them what they already AND SHOULD know if they’re one of the premier Blue Bloods in the land….This reeks and smells a lot like something that would have happened in the “Anti-Christ Period” under BranDictator... 

I dunno.  Sometimes I think people are in charge of stuff just cause someone has to be in charge of stuff.    

Of course, the hubris of serious Indiana fans (who I SWEAR TO GOD are Domer Fans that hang up their Green and Gold and put on Candy Stripes once the Domers are out of it for football season) is amazing, and they believe that IU is still the basketball “Valhalla” for all coaches.  Inside The Hall (blog) has the following list of “potential candidates” and why some would be good and others not so hot….

1 .    Steve Alford – UCLA
2.    Dane Fife – Sparty Assistant
3.    Archie Miller - Dayton
4.    Mike White – Florida
5.    Chris Collins – Northwestern
6.    Rick Pitino – Minnesota
7.    Gregg Marshall – Wichita State
8.    Chris Holtman – Butler
9.    Chris Mack  - Xavier
1. Etc

I think you get the idea.  What do all these coaches have in common?  They all made the Dance this season and some are still coaching into the 2nd weekend.  Sure, it’d be nice to snag any of those guys….

IU thinks it can pluck ANYONE IT DESIRES and they’ll gladly drop what they’re doing where they’re at and pick up the sacred whistle at IU and do their bidding…

It’s gonna be fun to watch…

Monday, March 20, 2017

March Madness IS HERE!!!




How “Mad” exactly is March Madness at this point?  Well, SuperSoakers bearing the “M” logo go on sale at all Michigan locations starting on Tuesday!!!










“Say Hello To My Little Friend!!!”



And Consider:

  1. The “weakest” conference in the tourney (per all the pundits that make these statements based on December Non-Conference results) stated that the B1G was WAY DOWN this season and would be lucky to get a team out of the first weekend.  The B1G sits tied with 3 Teams in the Sweet 16.  And if not for an egregious no call on what was clearly basket interference or goal tending (which ever), Northwestern potentially has a shot at shocking the world and making the Sweet 16 in its first appearance in the Dance…
  2. The Pac 12, which only got 4 teams into the dance, was 1 close loss away from having all 4 of those teams in the Sweet 16.  On top of that, Enfield’s USC team WON 2 Games and almost beat Baylor in what would have been another play-in seed reaching the Sweet 16…
  3. The SEC which was supposed to be Kentucky and everybody else, has 3 teams moving on to the Sweet 16 in Kentucky, Florida, and South Carolina, who, in the SEC tournament lost to the worst Alabama team in history and somehow found a way to beat the mighty Duke Blue Devils in Greeneville, essentially a home game for the dookie faithful.
  4. How bad was the officiating?  If you’ve been paying attention, it was pretty bad.  In the games I watched (pretty much all of them), officiating may have played an outcome in up to THREE GAMES down the stretch.  That’s a lot….
  5. Two (2) 7-Seeds defeated over rated ACC 2-Seeds to reach the Sweet 16:  Michigan and South Carolina.  JB stated earlier in the week that he believed South Carolina was the physically “Toughest” team Michigan had faced all season.
  6. Coach Rick Pitino, ever so gracious, commented that Louisville “Beat Themselves” in the final minutes in the loss to Michigan.  Well, Ricky, as someone that’s watched your team all season, it seems to this observer that you “Beat Yourselves” a lot.  And your guys often checked out of games for minutes at a time.  I frankly believed that Louisville didn’t deserve the 2-Seed in the first place.  Perhaps if you were seeded lower you could have beaten someone else???  Maybe next season…
  7. The Seeding in general has proven to be a mess.  Virginia lost in the 2nd round in the most Virginia way possible (only scored 39 points!!!) and Florida State, a team that many considered “Built for the NCAA Tourney” lost by 30+ in the 2nd round.  This again is the mighty ACC.  Okie State would have been a Sweet 16 team if they hadn’t drawn the “Team of Destiny” Wolverines.  I’m not sure what the committee can do based on data, but clearly, even when one conference is having a “down year”, there needs to be a better distribution of higher and lower seeding for all conferences. 
  8. Perhaps the ACC overachieved all season and is simply under-achieving now or does this conference really suck and are we all just being duped in the regular season?  Probably a little of both?  I need to remember that which is why I’m writing all of this down!!!!
  9. The Big Least only has two teams left:  Xavier and Butler, both teams a lot of people thought would be gone by now.  Will this be another season where 1 Beast team survives the remaining 15 and cuts down the nets?

 

Emotions get pretty jacked up in the tourney and I know certain coaches say things after a loss.  Pitino, Izzo and Wright all had some rather “Rude” things to say in their post game interviews.  To that I say:  coaches should take a little extra time to calm down before making themselves look like asses….

As a Michigan Fan, I didn’t get nearly enough Louisville tears yesterday as Michigan defeated the Cardinals.  I got a few, but would have enjoyed a whole lot more.  We got a lot of nice shots of Duke tears, which, however you pick your bracket, is always nice.

Speaking of Brackets:  It would seem that the more you know, the more you’re cursed in picking brackets.  Had I just picked a bracket where the teams I hate come up against “tough competition”, I might be looking a lot better right now.  Domers, Dookies, Louisville, and others all lost.  Yeah, I might have one or two teams losing that are still in there, but this was a bad season to go with the ACC. 

Let’s dissect each one with some reasoning and reflection on what we possibly could have done better. 

EAST – Chaos…..If you got all 4 teams in the East Bracket correct, you’re either 1.  Extremely talented in reading between the lines and ignoring all the pundit BS that’s out there.  2.  You’re EXTREMELY talented in ignoring recent games and statistics and like to “ignore the odds” or 3.  You’re just picking teams because you like pretty colors.  Wiscy over Nova should have been a pick I considered much more strongly than I did.  Lots of seniors and extreme discipline.  Wiscy as an 8-Seed in any other region (especially Kansas and Gonzaga) and they’re in my Sweet 16.  South Carolina, however, requires you to be a crystal ball gazer…OR you just won’t pick Duke out of the first weekend.  And based on a majority of Coach K’s results, this is quickly becoming a decent strategy….

WEST – Minor chaos with an “extremely weak end of season” Xavier turning their game up a notch to beat FSU.  After reviewing Xavier, I didn’t even have them beating Maryland…..

MIDWEST – Some are claiming that Michigan’s inexplicable win over Louisville (who, BTW, was 12-0 as a 2-Seed all time), was the upset of the day.   Little did they know about what was about to happen in the East, but clearly, over-seeded Louisville didn’t live up to expectations and played 30-35 minutes of good basketball.  Then they did what Louisville does…Fell into a coma and tried to compensate for that lack of offense with full-court pressure and close to fouling defense that is more or less the Pitino Signature, “Well, I can’t beat these guys so I’ll try to smother them….”  With respect to Purdue beating Iowa State (not a popular pick), Swanigan again showed that the POY in the B1G can accomplish a lot.  But Painter is going to need more than Caleb going up against Kansas or it’s Sparty disaster all over again.

South – UNC was nearly an upset victim, but this is the chalkiest bracket left.  If you were going to give me a chance to re-pick what’s left, I think I’d leave everything just about the way it is. 

However, after everything is said and done, I will say that everyone that made the Sweet 16 is pretty deserving and earned it on the court.  Louisville didn’t “Lose”; Michigan earned it.  As did the Gamecocks and everyone else who’s still dancing.  Winning two in March means a lot more than winning 10 in a row in the regular season. 

More on Michigan:  If you’ve been reading me all along, you know there’s things I like in Tourney teams:  Point Guard Play, Low fouls, OFFENSE that is adjustable and will take whatever the other guy is giving, and an ability to Play Defense, but defense ain’t everything.   Michigan has all of that and they are peaking at the right time.  Anyone who says Michigan’s Beilein shouldn’t or can’t be uttered in the same breath as Izzo (hell, I’ll even say Williams, Krzyzewski, and Calipari in that sentence), you’re nuts.  He gets more out of less and gets way more out of them at the end of the season than anybody. And isn’t “building your way towards March” the way good coaches make good things happen this time of year?  Letting teams find themselves…losing tough games in order to regroup and come together with a focused goal in mind?  I’ll take Beilein any day…

When I look at who’s left, right now, there’s only about 4 teams that scare me:  Kansas, and I’m Sorry, Sparty, but you guys made Kansas look REALLY GOOD.  You have to play defense at some point.  Arizona should manage business in the West.  UCLA, just cause I know they can play crappy for a half and suddenly light you up for 5-7 minutes and leave you standing around scratching your nutsack wondering, “Wha’ happn’d??”  And maybe, just maybe, Wiscy.  I think they have what it takes to get by South Carolina.   But at this point, every Sweet 16 team is thinking, why not us?  Even Vegas has the Wolverines (now) in the middle of the pack (18-1) with the current odds to win the Title.

 

And this guy was smart enough to throw some serious scratch down on Michigan to win the entire thing!!!




Regardless, I can’t remember (well, okay, 2013) when I’ve had this much fun watching Michigan Hoops!  Enjoy the ride cause it can end any time!!!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

More GOLD and Ink to Stone!




INTERESTING FACT!!!

For the UPSET LOVERS, tomorrows first three scheduled games are:

Notre Dame – Princeton               12:15

Virginia – UNCW                             12:40

Butler – Winthrop                           1:30

Could we have 3 HUGE UPSETS in the first 3 Games of the day????

COULD BE!!!!


FEEDBACK
So, once again, lots of good feedback and some things I need to reconsider:

Virginia Sucks…and UNCW was THIS CLOSE to beating Duke last year...Well, yeah, I kind of know that Virginia sucks and I knew it about a month ago (go back and read the blog entry for what I thought about a team only averaging 0.85 points per possession!!!).  But they’re a little better on Offense now.  Not a lot, just better. (how could you get any worse, right?)  I know they were on a 5 game skid and limped into the conference tourney and got beat by the undersized over-achieving Domers….I know all that.  But do I THINK that UNC Wilmington is good enough to beat them?  That’s the question.  UNCW returns all the starters that almost beat Duke….I guarantee that Virginia KNOWS that UNCW almost beat Duke last year and they are preparing for this game with that knowledge.  You can’t take every upset that looks good on paper.  SOME of them DON’T happen and the higher seeded team actually wins!  That’s why I was thinking the trendy pick would be UNCW and the not so trendy and larger separator from the field is the Nevada over Iowa State (I don’t necessarily trust the Big iiX in basketball, hence the pick).  So I think I’m leaning towards a hot Nevada team and shying away from UNCW.  Put it another way:  EVERYONE is picking UNCW.  If I take Virginia, (or you) you might separate yourself more from the field if the chalk holds.  If you take NEVADA, nobody is picking that one and I think there’s just as good a chance to see that upset….Just saying. 

Florida is not good right now.  This too, I know.  Which is why ETSU was thrown out there as a potential 13-4 upset.  But again, sometimes the higher seeds win.  And Florida did lose a bunch of games to Vandy – inexplicably – and I’m questioning the SEC as a whole.  I suppose I could be talked out of my Winthrop pick over Baylor, but I don’t want to flood my bracket with upsets…Again, which chalk line do you think is going to win?

Xavier is riding in on Fumes….Looked at the Maryland-Xavier match-up again.  Thank you for that tip and you’re right.  I really hadn’t looked at Xavier, but now see that they lost quite a few of their last games (and have an injury) leading up to the NCAA’s and Maryland should be able to beat these guys….Interesting.

I think you like Wichita State too much….Maybe.  I know I have a bit of a blind spot when it comes to Greg Marshall and the Shockers.  I think they’re a good team but I didn’t see them play a game this season, but I know Gregg’s style and it seems like the Shockers will be motivated and playing with their hair on fire.  Dayton is actually a pretty good team in their own right and have some quality wins under their belt…Still, the Shockers I think are better than that.  But Kentucky might be too much for them.

Winthrop?  Seriously?  Well, yeah.  Look – I like point guard play and they have a great one.  I think.  No, I haven’t seen them play.  Either way, my thinking is Butler still loses to MTSU.  Why not ride an early upset?

2015 Didn’t Have ANY 12-5 upsets.   Yes.  Thanks for reminding me.  Some years, the 12-5’s are obvious.  Other years, you’re searching for them.  I may just take one this year and focus on the 13-4 problems I see….

Oregon - Rhode Island is kind of an important decision, isn’t it?  Yeah, it really is.  AS is the Michigan/Okie state vs. Louisville.  Any of those 3 could make it past RI or Oregon and make it to the FF.  I really don’t like Louisville that much and there are times when they just check out.  In all the games I saw this season, I saw them check-out, but I know they won some big games. 

The Brackets –Ink to Stone

The General Guidelines for your 2017 Bracket picks.  This is the GOLD…The INFORMATION that may make or break that bracket…Stuff you might have to pay other people and experts for the MMPG is giving away for FREE!!!!

  1. Never, EVER pick a 16 over a 1 or a 15 over a 2-Seed.  Just doesn’t happen that often.  But South Dakota State (+22.5) might give the Zags match-up problems in the 1st round as they have a Super Point Guard (Mike Caum) that averages over 25 points per game!!!  Lest we forget, Sparty was a 15 point favorite last year vs. MTSU…Just saying…
  2. 14 Seeds have had some success over the years.  ONE 14-Seed upset pick may be okay for your bracket, but you’re giving up a 3-Seed for the rest of the tourney. 
  3. Better to ride an 11-Seed against a 3-Seed in the 2nd round if you do not like that particular 3-Seed.  This Seasons best 11-Seeds to take:  Rhode Island and Xavier.
  4. 13-Seeds have also enjoyed some recent success.  This season’s 13-Seeds (listed in order by Kenpom Strength):  Vermont (KP 63), ETSU (KP 64), Bucknell (KP 80), and Winthrop (KP 112).  Meaning that if you want the BEST 13-4 upset, take Vermont over Purdue.  However, the 13-4 upsets of the past have not been the best Kenpom ranked team.  Vermont and Bucknell are more team oriented (put it this way – lots of white guys) and spread the ball around to a lot of players that score.  I like point guards in March in the Dance.  (Think of that kid Steph Curry that played for Davidson that made a run that one year).  Winthrop has a great point guard (Keon Johnson) that averages 22.5/game.  He is going to give Butler fits.  I think that might be the 13-4 to focus on….ETSU is the next on my list with another guard (T. J. Cromer) that’s averaging 19.1 points a game and might be a lot for Florida to handle. 
  5.  You have to have TWO 12-5 Picks.  Over the last 10 years, the 12-Seed is 20-20 against the 5-Seeds.  Exactly 50% win rate!!  Some seasons you get three 12-5 Upsets, others only 1, but you more or less have to pick two. When in doubt, always go with a low point spread and a team with a better than their KenPom rank Adjusted Offensive Efficiency (AOE).  And look at the Point Guards!!! This Season, MTSU (KP48 AOE 55)  vs. Minnesota and Nevada (KP 55  AOE 34) vs. red hot Iowa State seem to be the lowest point spreads.  Nevada has a super PG in Marcus Marshall averaging 19 and change a game, which is another reason to like Nevada.  The other 12-Seeds Princeton (KP 59 OAE – 84, yuck) and UNC Wilmington (KP 60, AOE 18) are very tempting, but be careful.  UNCW is playing the number 1 ranked DEFENSE of Virginia and Princeton is playing the Domers….
  6. We’ve already talked about the 11 Seeds with Rhode Island and Xavier.  The only 11 Seed I’m taking to the Sweet 16 is pre-Season top 25 ranked Rhode Island. 
  7. 7-10 Seeds, kind of like 12-5 Seeds, are a coin flip.  Take who you like and keep your fingers crossed.  9-Seeds hold a slight edge over 8-Seeds for the last 10 years if that helps.  Again, can’t make a decision?  Look at individual stats and go with anyone that has good guard play… 
  8. Most OVERSEEDED Teams by Computer Rank in this Year’s Tourney – when compared to final Kenpom and Sagarin Stats and where they would have been seeded straight up (HT to mgoblog.com):
    1. #6 Maryland – should have been a 10-Seed.  MMPG – Agree.  Avoid Maryland going too deep….
    2. #2 Arizona – should have been a 6-Seed.  MMPG – I dunno…Wait, I DISAGREE!!!  This is a little misleading.  The AZ PG (Trier) that had to sit out half the season is back and is on fire.  So, half the season stats for AZ are skewed…  I like Arizona still to win that bracket. 
    3. #5-Seed Minnesota – Should have been a 9-Seed.  MMPG – Agree…or even lower based on how they finished the season?
    4. #4 Butler – Should have been a 7-Seed.  Hence the reason for me liking Winthrop so much…Or at least riding MTSU to the Sweet 16.  The MTSU to the Sweet 16 is kind of a no-brainer for me at this point.  MTSU was one of the more UNDERSEEDED teams (should have been 10)
    5. #7 Seed Dayton – Should have been a 10-Seed.  MMPG – Agree.  Even more reason to take Witchy State.  Actually, probably just flip the seeds on those two and everything’s fine!
    6. #9 Seed Seton Hall – Should have been 11-Seed.  This is tricky because I thought Arkansas was way-overseeded, but they appear (stats only) to be seeded correctly.  Seton Hall still a slight dog to Arkansas (-1) so flip your coin….
    7. #3 Seed FSU – Should have been a 5-Seed.  MMPG – Agree.  The way FSU finished the season and losing 6 of their last 13 was not a good look after starting out 18-2.  I thought they were a better team, but the ACC has proven that not to necessarily be the case.  I still think they’re good enough to beat FGCU, but if you want that upset based on this evidence…by all means pick it.  Looking at the West bracket, you have three of the most over-seeded teams (FSU, Arizona and Maryland) coming out of the same bracket.  Again, I think AZ is a little misleading, but Gonzaga got a pretty easy road to a FF, assuming they make it to the regional final.  Still, I think I’m going AZ in the FF.
  9. MOST UNDERSEEDED Teams by Computer Rank:  take the same analysis and flip it to figure out who might surprise as a lower seeded team. 
    1. #10 Wichita State  - Should be a 3-Seed.  MMPG:  Maybe NOT QUITE a 3-Seed, but they should be higher….I’m still debating about the Witchy State Kentucky pick…But leaning towards Kentucky right now.
    2. #11 Seed K-State – The Wake/K-State Winner should be a 9-Seed.  MMPG:  Eh.  Whatever.  I think Cinci has the firepower to handle K-State and did not come away from last night’s game that impressed with K-State.
    3. #10-Seed Okie State – Should be a 7-Seed.  MMPG:  Haven’t I kind of been saying this all along?  Michigan and Okie state will be in a dog fight…. FYI:  Michigan, by computer, should have only been on the 6-Seed line, for what it’s worth
    4. #4-Seed WVU and #10-Seed Marquette (tie).   Should have each been 2 seeds higher.  WVU 2-Seed and Marquette 8-Seed.  MMPG:  Sort of, kind of agree?  But again, I DON’T TRUST THE Big iiX nor do I trust the BEAST.  Careful how you used this information…

Okay…I’m done.  Spent…I can’t process any more information and my brain is full.  Time to start watching games and drowning sorrows for picks gone wrong….

Here’s the bracket.  The crazy MMPG one with Michigan winning the whole thing!!!!  The Sane Bracket I will post upon request (assuming it actually wins any money….)

The EAST


The WEST


The SOUTH


The MIDWEST


Final Four

Arizona prevails over a feisty Duke and Michigan hangs on against UNC for an Arizona Michigan Final that nobody sees coming….Michigan pulls off the final piece of the miracle season and cuts down the nets in Phoenix.