Skip down to "The Brackets" if you’re looking for GOLDEN INFORMATION regarding the tourney….
I kind of went back to January and early February’s posts in order to get a feeling for the mood of Michigan hoops at that point in time. You may recall that a lot of my entries began with, “This is a MUST-WIN game situation” or “Lose this one and it’s NIT Time” or other such drivel and non-sense. I can’t seem to help myself at points like that. I need to trust the Beilein. I need to Believe in the Beilein and the process. I need to accept the fact that JB may know a little bit more about basketball, motivation, leadership, etc. than the ole MMPG. In fact, I’ll venture a guess right here and suggest that he knows “WAY MORE” than everyone reading this combined. And he also knows that it’s a simple game. And there are times that you just have to keep shooting, defending and running up and down the court in an effort to get your stuff working the way its supposed to.
You may recall that there were twitter-verse and on line torch and pitchfork trolls that were clamoring for the firing of Beilein while holding other programs up as an example of what Michigan could be. And while I had my doubts (SERIOUS DOUBTS) about this team, I saw glimpses of perfection. And real talent. And Beilein is a late-February early March kind of coach. Michigan is peaking perfectly. And as a fan, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Now. It’s the January blues that you have to watch out for.
So why am I writing this? To remind myself in future seasons that when Michigan isn’t sitting on a B1G Tourney win and poised to make a run in the NCAA’s that Beilein gets it. And eventually, his players will get it, too.
The Team(s) That Neither Team Wanted to See
In the ironic world where the Selection committee claims, “We had no idea!” the Michigan Okie match-up has become the “Must See” game of Round 1 and will probably be the poster child for what post-season hoops can look like.
Problem is, one of them has to lose. Again, Michigan or Okie state in any other bracket (well, I guess I wouldn’t want to play Witchy State, either) and you’ve got a 7 and a 10-Seed that can do some damage and score a lot of points. Regardless, Pitino already commented on the fact that, “These were definitely 2 teams I would have preferred not having to play, especially in the 2nd round.”
As always, I get a lot of feedback on my posts and this time was no different. Some of you sent me additional bitches and insights which are always good! So, in no particular order:
Did anyone notice that the suckeyes didn’t make it into the NIT? I did not notice that but thanks for pointing it out!!!
More Bracket Bitches: Based on Michigan’s B1G Tourney performance and Lunardi and Palm both having Michigan as a 6-Seed before the pairings came out on Sunday afternoon, Michigan DID GET HOSED. That were all clear on. But looking at where Michigan could have been, I don’t think it was more than about 1 seed line difference. And a 6 seed would have been nice as you’re not playing the 1-2 seeds until the following weekend. Again, beating the Gophers and the Suckeyes and Michigan probably is a 6 or a 5-Seed.
South Carolina was over-seeded as a 7-Seed playing in their own backyard (Greeneville) against bracket darling Marquette (+1.5). Lots of pundits will take the Marquette Golden Eagles in this match-up but I will take the home court advantage of the lower seed in that one.
Minnesota should not have been a 5-Seed. And if they’re the 5-Seed, how did the 2nd place runner up Wiscy Badgers fall to an 8-Seed? Great point. I can’t explain that one either, accept that Wiscy really fell flat at the end of the season, but I thought that didn’t matter (that much). Maybe the committee doesn’t look at relevant conference finishes but rather how you stack up nationally, I guess?
UCLA could get upset by Kent State (+18). If not this one, which 14-3 or 13-4 upset do you think happens? WHERE IS IT??? If that one happens, well, a lot of people are going to lose a top seed in UCLA, but that’s not one I can pick. However, I do agree that a lot of Pac12 and Big12 Teams should be on upset alert. Iowa State and Oregon both come to mind as a 5 and a 3 seed, respectively, that should be on the look-out. But Oregon losing to Iona? I dunno…the other 13-4 is Bucknell-WVU and I’m not picking that one, either. Baylor has shown that they have difficulties in the first round, but I hate to make wild picks when a point or two could come in so handy later on….Sometimes you just have to accept that upsets happen and you’re never going to be 100% right in this thing. Nobody is when the odds are in the Quintillions….
You really think Purdue can beat Iowa State and Kansas? I believe that Purdue can play with ANYONE on the National level, and that includes Iowa State and Kansas. (Assuming the get past Vermont) I know Iowa State is one of the hottest teams in the country (and is almost identical to Michigan in profile), but Purdue is not going to be an easy out. (And Painter needs some NCAA victories) And if Purdue beats ISU, well, then I think Kansas will get nervous, Purdue will have some confidence having beaten a more difficult team and, yeah, I think Purdue can beat Kansas. But Purdue will nut-up again when they see Michigan across the floor from them in the Regionals…
How far does Wichita State go? I know, that’s a tuffy, isn’t it? I’ve been looking and studying that bracket with a lot of earnest. While Kentucky is playing better basketball over the last 15 games (Calipari Affect), I still think there’s an outside chance that Wichita can Shock the world in Round 2. If they do that, Why not take them against “we play defense when we want to” UCLA, also? But that murderer’s row of Kentucky-UCLA-North Carolina is brutal and I just don’t see the Shockers (or Kentucky) getting past the Sweet 16 or the Elite 8, at best.
Which Conference should I say is the “When in doubt, pick conference X”…The ACC? I understand the question and I use this philosophy often when comparing what I think are close picks. Much like last year, I think the ACC is that conference. I think the Beast, with the exception of Nova, might be the conference you bet AGAINST this season. The B1G might be a conference you want to have a lower balance of in the 2nd weekend (maybe 2 teams?) Purdue and Michigan with an outside chance of Senior Laden Wiscy waking up and playing hoops again. I want to believe Wiscy can play with anyone, but their offense has sputtered in too many games down the stretch.
Will a First 4 Play-in winner make it to the Sweet 16? Every year one of the 11-Seed play-ins has made noise in the Tourney. But with the draws they have this season, I’m not seeing it so much. Cinci is good and SMU is supposed to be the upset darling of the East. So, I dunno. USC looked good to me early on and has the best coach (Enfield) to pull something like that off, but I’m not sure I can bet on it.
How many 1-Seeds do you think will make it to the Final 4? Based on my brackets and the way they look right now, not very many. I have a lot of them losing and my bracket is pretty much 2, 2, 7, 1. That’s Duke, Arizona, Michigan, UNC. In the “Sane” bracket I have 2, 2, 2, 1. That’s Duke, Arizona, Louisville and UNC. I simply cannot bring myself to write Kansas in on any FF bracket. I do like UCLA accept that defense with them is sometimes optional. I struggled with the Duke-Villanova pick and thought about splitting it (one bracket each way) but I do think Duke is playing together right now and is kind of the ACC team of destiny. I usually like to have two 1-Seeds, but that reasoning last year killed my bracket early, also. Let’s put it another way: The easiest 1-Seeds to bet against are Gonzaga and Kansas.
And that’s Vegas talking, too. Look at the odds…Gonzaga 10-1 and Kansas 8-1. UNC and Duke are the favorites. I’m sticking with UNC but gotta go with Duke over Nova for right now, but could easily be swayed to keep Nova around because, well, Duke has screwed me in the past, also.
The Brackets – Pencil to Ink
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!!!!
- 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…
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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….
- 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.
- 7-10 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…
The 1st round Lines (ignoring 1-16, 2-15 match-ups) My picks Bold and Underlined:
Wiscy (-4.5) vs. Va Tech
Virginia (-8.5) vs. UNC Wilmington
Florida (-10) vs. ETSU
Baylor (-12) vs. New Mexico State
South Carolina (-1.5) vs. Marquette
Okay, some final decisions have been made. I am going to take Duke over Nova, but that has to be the toughest decision in this bracket, and probably the most important for any pool you get into this season. That one decision could either put you in the money or keep you out of it altogether. Minor decision update: I’m taking SMU over Baylor in 2nd round. Also going against every pundit out there and sticking with the Gamecocks playing 45 minutes from HOME in Greenville vs. Marquette. My ETSU/Florida pick will be last minute, but right now I’m leaning Florida.
Northwestern (+1) vs Vanderbilt
Notre Dame (-6.5) vs. Princeton
WVU (-13.5) vs. Bucknell
Maryland (+1.5) vs. Xavier
FSU (-12) vs. FCGU
Saint Mary’s (-4.5) vs. VCU
Updates to this bracket also. Toying with the idea of having the Domers in the FF (sane bracket) as a 5-Seed. They’ve made two consecutive Sweet 16’s and they might be in the right bracket to get to the FF. I watched a lot of ACC hoops this season and the Domers have a lot of weapons. I don’t feel that great about my Arizona pick anymore, either, and I strongly considering taking FSU vs. the Domers in the regional. I still might. Obviously, I’m not on the WVU (BigiiX) train….Taking Vandy over Northwestern as I’m don’t know if I can trust the Wildcats. They’ll probably end up screwing me…If Gonzaga is all that, than St. Mary’s was underseeded and should win easily over VCU. If Gonzaga isn’t, VCU might destroy St. Mary’s walking away.
Arkansas (-1) vs. Seton Hall
Minnesota (-1) vs. MTSU
Butler (-11) vs. Winthrop
UCLA (-17) vs. Kent State
Dayton (+6.5) vs. Witchy State
This bracket has become a nightmare. I think there are 4 legitimate teams (UNC, Kentucky, UCLA and Witchy State) that you could argue as potential Final 4 teams. Not to mention that MTSU is capable of hanging around with UNC in the Sweet 16, assuming they get that far (which I have them beating Butler/Winthrop winner). Right now, UNC is still coming out of this one on top, but I hate the bracket. Also really looking at taking Winthrop and that super PG Johnson over Butler who I think is a little over-seeded and, hey, Beast.
Miami (-1) vs. MSU
Iowa State (-6.5) vs. Nevada
Purdue (-8.5) vs. Vermont
Oregon (-14) vs. Iona
Creighton (-1) vs. Rhode Island
Michigan (-1) vs. Okie State
Again, not a fun bracket to mess with as Kansas could hold serve and end up as the team out of the Midwest as they’re more or less playing every game at home. That’s almost too much of an advantage. In the game that could be defined as “Wheezing and coughing into the NCAA Tourney”, both Miami and Sparty have both lost 3 of their last 4. This is truly a whoever shows up with their “good” team will probably win. Take the “March Mystique of Izzo” and pray with everyone else that leans towards the green…What’s interesting is whoever wins that game has a shot at beating the Jayhawks, IMHO. I think I’m leaning towards Nevada as the other 12-5 upset pick, but I’m not entirely sure there yet. Might only go with one 12-5 this season, even though I know that’s wrong. I still like the Wolverines, but I hate the first game against Okie State. I almost feel better about the Cardinals in Round 2 as I think they’ll be easier to handle, but I could be wrong. I currently have Rhode Island going to the Sweet 16. Oregon could be that weird upset that no one sees coming vs. Iona (KP 112). And Oregon could also make it to the Sweet 16….
When you’re in a bracket that rewards picking the Semifinals (16 points each) and the final game (32 points), putting so much time into the 1st and 2nd rounds seems dumb. Playing a couple of brackets and picking two different winners seems to make more sense. So, I’m either playing 2 or 3 brackets (because I simply couldn’t live with myself if Michigan won it all and I didn’t pick them) and I really like Duke and UNC. However, it’s hard to ignore Villanova and a lot of bracket pickers will take them just because….