Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Big Dance Tuesday - Brackets Re-Visited

First, in an effort to get the post out on Monday amid work issues and other pressing matters, I didn’t have the time to do as deep a dive into the Mid-West region and the other regions as I would have liked.  Upon 2nd review and after having filled in the Mid-West Bracket about as many different ways as you can, it kind of dawned on me why I was having such a hard time.

It’s a loaded bracket.  From the number 1 all the way down to the 14 seed.  Yes, I’m even struggling with Mercer vs. Duke.  Mercer is in the Atlantic Sun and that is the conference that produced FGC - Florida Gulf Coast last season, and the Mercer Bears actually BEAT FGC in the tournament to get here….It’s the big upset that will get somebody - Maybe dook???  And Mercer has 4, FOUR kids shooting 40% from the 3 point line.  Yeah, everybody knows Duke has a “Jabari Parker”, but will Duke be caught looking ahead?  It will be fun to see Wichita State tested, but the committee did a disservice to all the teams in this region making it so much stronger than the other three. The Midwest Region features four current top 10 teams (dook, Witchy State, Louisville, and Michigan), a former top 10 team, the Saint Louis Bilikens and preseason No. 1 Kentucky. No other region has more than two teams in the top 10.  Which kind of goes without saying. 

So, does any of that make sense and why does Michigan always seem to get this draw?  WHO THE F!@#%^ is on the Committee from Sparty-land and ohio?  And are they the same people that hate dook, Kentucky, Louisville and NC State?

I wanna’ know now, dammit!  I want some answers!

Okay – enough with the rant.  But I’m telling you that the Mid-West region is where you will make your money this year in the office pool.  Get it right (or close) and you’ll be fine heading into the F4 weekend.  Screw it up and you could be looking at nothing but blanks and empty points on Sunday night of this weekend - yes...the 1st weekend.

South – Something I overlooked but have since corrected on my sheet is the New Mexico seed #7.  I put Stanford in initially because 3rd place Pac12 and they had some nicer wins…not great, nice.  But New Mexico beat Fisher’s SDSU team twice and is a pretty good offensive team.  Don’t be surprised to see them in the Sweet 16 after an upset win over number 2 Seed Kansas without Embiid.  Which means that they will probably roll and beat the Orange as well….which would be nice.   Something else that has been REALLY BUGGING ME is what to do with Shaka Smart’s VCU defense against UCLA’s Steve Alford’s offense….I wanna’ believe in Shaka, but I cannot doubt the Alford.  It’s getting close to coin flip time on THAT one…Of course, all that is assuming that Shaka’s Commodores can get by the $6 Million Dollar Man…Steve Austin hasn’t lost in 2014 and is on a roll.  Point Spread would suggest a tight game….Interesting. I hate riding the Gators to the F4…But I’ma havin’ a little trouble seeing anyone else emerge from this bracket….

West – I’ve reviewed last year’s bracket and something I did right that a lot of other people did wrong was to pick Oregon all the way to the Sweet16. Oregon is slightly under-seeded and is probably a lot more like a 5 seed than a 7.  They are a quiet team that just wins, and they were on a roll up to the quarter-finals of the Pac12 Tourney.  Do yourself a favor – Beware the Ducks, their offense and their 3 point capability and remember that Bucky Badger kind of sucks at getting to the Sweet 16 and F4 in seasons when they are really good and SUPPOSED to do great things.  Taking Creighton to the Elite 8, assuming they manage the seed line offsets that a little with Bucky….I hate Wiscy.  The NDSU Bison could be that 12 seed like Florida Gulf Coast last year.  44% from the 3 point line and number 1 overall in FG shooting makes them the an interesting team in this tourney…That’s impressive and just the kind of thing that better teams get frustrated with and end up tanking against.  If they weren’t playing Fisher in the very next round, I’d be tempted.  Fisher’s Aztecs have DEFENSE but have been upset by teams that can score – New Mexico (2X) and I think everyone knows that I think defense without offense is over-rated…especially in Hoops.  I might switch and take the Bison to the Sweet 16, but right now…no.  However it’s interesting.  And if there is one thing I will believe in, it’s the DE (defensive efficiency) of the Wildcats matched with their offense getting them to the F4. 

East – This should be a fineable offense in the NCAA when regions are put together that have an RPI that’s collectively as low (High) as this one.  Why bother with the RPI thing anyway if you’re going to do this?  I pretty much have the chalk in this bracket at this point.  I’ve got GW over a sick and ailing Memphis as a 9-8 upset (actually 9 is the favorite pick historically as the 9 seeds are running about 51%) and I’m sticking with Harvard in the 12-5 upset, and Iowa State to upset #2 Seed Villanova.  I know that one’s a gamble, but the Big12 needs to show up in this tournament.  And I’m simply not buying the Villanova hype…However, Something that’s eating at me a little is the potential…POTENTIAL for North Carolina – Sparty Elite 8 Matchup….That’s interesting and could prove to be the mental road block that gets Sparty in trouble.  For obvious reasons, I guess I’m having a hard time jumping on the Sparty bandwagon, but one of my brackets will have them going deep.

As far as the Elite 8 and F4 go?  It’s still very much up in the air for the MMPG.  I’ve had it going multiple ways, but right now, I will say that I have one too many #1 Seeds in the F4…I think this is going to be a mixed seed F4 and I think you should only have one 1Seed in it….Florida.  After that, I think you need to look close….

Is there a Florida Gulf Coast out there lurking at a 12 or higher?  Wow….Harvard fits the bill, but they play Sparty in the 2nd round.   The NCState-Xavier winner could easily upset the fading 5 Seed Bilikens in the Mid-West. The Hawkeyes or Tennessee as an 11 seed could wreak havoc in the Mid-West and beat Duke and then Michigan.  I think both those teams were under seeded.  Eastern Kentucky upsetting a 2 Seed Kansas in the South?  I am really liking the Bison more and more…but I’ve never seen them play!  Anything’s possible and if you want the Billion, you have to figure it out!

More tomorrow as the plot thickens…..And hopefully we will get some better ideas after NCState and Xavier play tonight. 
And the 11 Seeds present an interesting challenge. 
As I was comparing the stats of the 6-11 seeds, for the most part, they looked awfully even

Favorite listed first…

Baylor vs. Nebraksa  (+3.5 – and closing…opened at 4)

ohio vs. Dayton (+6)– Don’t kid yourself and this is a spread I would jump on if in Vegas.  The Flyers are for real and the suckeyes won’t schedule them in the pre-season.  Dayton WANTS this game…

Iowa/Tenn vs. UMass – Umass slid sideways into a way over-seeded 6 spot and has the lowest RPI as a 6 seed. No line on this one as the play-in game is tonight…

UNC vs. Providence (+4 and tightening) – I thought a no brainer, but Vegas has this as a 4 point spread and its dropping.  I’m not buying it and this must be some sort of anomaly….Providence beat people in their conference, but OE and DE are both in the 100’s….

Why all the pain and difficulty with the 11-6 matchups?  I went to Bracket Science and sure enough, Pete made everything clear and helped me understand what I THOUGHT I was seeing!
The big surprise comes with two and three seeds. They are both weaker than their historical counterparts—and significantly worse than last year. This could spell more upsets in the second round, particularly for two seeds. They’re much worse than 2013, not to mention the 2003-13 average. Meanwhile, this group of seven seeds is stronger than average, though weaker than last year.
The seed position that really sticks out is the four seed. I thought last year’s group—with Syracuse and Michigan—was imposing. This year’s bunch, led by Louisville and Michigan State, but also including dangerous UCLA and San Diego State squads, is significantly better. Their average Pythag is just .0004 lower than that of the two seed group and solidly ahead of the two seeds.

As for the 5v12 and 6v11 upset match-ups, the numbers indicate that five seeds are more vulnerable than average or last year, but 12 seeds are weaker. Meanwhile six seeds, while slightly better than the 2013 class, are still below average. And 11 seeds are well above average. Is this the year when 11 seeds take over the mantle of Cinderella from 12 seeds?

As the 150 year old knight in "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" told Indy,  "Choose Wisely...." or...well, you remember what happens....

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