Sunday, March 13, 2011

Breaking down the NCAA bracket

SNUBBED

1. Virginia Tech: The NCAA tournament selection committee had so little respect for the ACC that it took more teams out of the SEC. It took a third team out of the CAA (Virginia Commonwealth) over a fifth team from the ACC (the Hokies) that beat Duke and Florida State.

2. St. Mary's: An annual fixture in this space, the Gaels just can't buy a break from the committee. Of course, they could take care of this themselves by winning the WCC tournament.

3. Colorado: The Buffaloes thought they locked down a bid with a win over Kansas State on Thursday. In a head-to-head comparison, their resume appeared substantially better than Southern California's.

DARK HORSES

1. Texas (West regional, No. 4): The Longhorns are 3-4 in their past seven games but get to start close to home in Tulsa and would potentially face Duke in Anaheim, Calif. after a cross-country trip for the Blue Devils. Don't count out Texas quite yet.

2. Purdue (Southwest regional, No. 3): Even without Robbie Hummel (again), the Boilermakers have two individual stars in JaJuan Johnson and E'Twaun Moore. They score, they defend and their road starts close to home in Chicago.

3. Belmont (Southeast regional, No. 13): The Atlantic Sun champions lost to Vanderbilt once and to Tennessee twice, and their best nonconference win is over Middle Tennessee State. But stat wonks love their statistical profile, which is Final Four-caliber.

OVERRATED

1. St. John's (Southwest regional 6): The Red Storm could win the NCAA tournament ... if all six games were played in Madison Square Garden and officiated by Big East referees. A great home-court team (including that win over Duke), but that's about it.

2. Butler (Southeast regional, No. 8): Don't pick a team a year late. Just don't do it. The Bulldogs have a great young coach and return a handful of key players, but they had to win the Horizon League tournament to get in and drew a tough opening opponent in Old Dominion.

3. Southern California (Southwest regional, No. 11 play-in game): A classic NIT team that somehow found its way into the field. The Trojans' RPI was worse than College of Charleston and Iona's. Was O.J. Mayo on the committee?

EASIEST PATH

1. Kansas (Southwest regional, No. 1): The Jayhawks get cushy subregional and regional sites in Tulsa and San Antonio, with a bunch of underachieving big names. And the No. 2 seed, Notre Dame, faces a devilishly tough game against either Texas A&M or Florida State.

2. San Diego State (West regional, No. 2): After an opening against Northern Colorado, they could face a bunch of East Coast teams in Tucson, Ariz., and Anaheim, Calif. Only two other teams from the Pacific and Mountain time zones were placed in the entire West bracket.

3. Florida (Southeast regional, No. 2): I'm not sure what exactly the Gators did to earn this kind of treatment, but they play in Tampa and New Orleans and are paired with a No. 3 seed in BYU that would surely lose four more players to honor-code violations in the Big Easy.

NO FAVORS

1. Washington (East regional, No. 7): The Huskies on the Pac-10 tournament on an amazing shot, and the committee rewarded the Huskies with a cross-country flight to play North Carolina in a virtual road game.

2. Ohio State (East regional, No. 1): The tournament's top overall seed has to play, potentially, Kentucky, Syracuse and North Carolina. Those are three pretty good coaches on the other side of the court.

3. Temple (West regional, No. 7) and Penn State (West regional, No. 10): Two Pennsylvania teams have to fly to Arizona to play each other. Wasn't the pod system supposed to prevent this kind of needless travel?

EARLY UPSETS (SPECIAL SOUTHEAST REGION EDITION)

1. Utah State (Southeast regional, No. 12): No one sees the Aggies, because the WAC is on late-night TV more often than infomercials for exercise gadgets. But they face an erratic Kansas State team that had two players quit in midseason.

2. Gonzaga (Southeast regional, No. 11): The Zags aren't the Zags that the Zags used to be, but they are relatively close to home (Denver) facing a No. 6 St. John's team that lost road games to Fordham and St. Mary's.

3. Michigan State (Southeast 10): The Spartans draw No. 7 UCLA after a cross-country trip, and Kalin Lucas is finally rounding into health, which changes the way Michigan State plays completely. No one prepares better during the tournament than Tom Izzo.

ODDITIES

1. The Denver subregional has only two semi-local teams in it (Brigham Young and Gonzaga), along with six teams from the Eastern time zone. This could turn out like Tampa in 2008, when a bunch of out-of-area teams produced four first-round upsets.

2. In terms of geography, Kansas and Texas have the easiest runs to the title: Tulsa, San Antonio, Houston.

3. The Carolinas and Virginia provided 10 of the 68 teams: Duke, North
Carolina, George Mason, Old Dominion, Virginia Commonwealth, Clemson, Richmond, Wofford, Hampton and UNC-Asheville. And that's without Virginia Tech.

-- Luke DeCock

7 comments:

Chris said...

You complain that the ACC didn't get a fifth team into the tournament, but let's face it, they only deserved three. Clemson may have been worse than Virginia Tech, especially as they lack a signature win (geez, my alma mater UVa had as many signature wins as both VT and Clemson combined). VT wasn't a snub, it was a deserved omission; 20 wins alone is not enough to get in.

Steve said...

You say San Diego State has an easy path, but let me inform you that they are 0-6 all-time in the NCAA Tournament and their conference (the Mountain West Conference) is 10-26 all-time). I see the Aztecs being upset in the second round.

Anonymous said...

Was VCU better than UVa or VaTechthis year.......just askin'

MichaelProcton said...

Tech? Not so much. Virginia? Absolutely.

Anonymous said...

Also notice how UAB and Alabama State got in but not 12-4 SEC ALABAMA?

J said...

Anon 2:21 AM - Alabama St won their conference tournament, so they're in regardless.

I see only 3 errors in the teams selected - Clempson, VCU and Georgia out, Colorado, Harvard and Alabama in. UAB didn't beat anybody, but at least they won their conference's regular season title.

I am also drinking the Belmont Kool-Aid. I expect them to run circles around those plowing farm boys of Wisconsin. And since at least one 5 seed gets beat every year, Utah St over Kansas St is the most likely one this year.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone really think vcu or uab could win 11 game in acc including win over #1 duke. Go Hokies spring football game just a few weeks away.