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NCAA Tourney Bracket Released

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The NCAA released the field of 65 for the men’s basketball tournament today.

A few observations on the tournament field, by regional, with an admittedly blatant emphasis on ACC teams, and teams from North Carolina (my upbringing probably goes a long way towards explaining why I thought this post was appropriate under the “Culture” section, although it was a toss-up between that and “Politics.”)

– By making UNC the #1 seed in the Syracuse Regional, which most commentators believe is the toughest, the committee seems to be saying “Look – you guys have the most talent. Time to prove yourselves.” Aside from UNC, the Syracuse Regional includes a bunch of teams that have been consistently good all season, like Kansas, UCONN, Florida, and Villanova, as well as some more inconsistent wild cards who can beat just about anybody on a good night, like Charlotte and N.C. State.

After the Syracuse Regional, it is very debatable which bracket is the next toughest:

– In the Austin Regional, #1 seed Duke has to be nervous about the talented Syracuse and Kentucky teams, and also Oklahoma, a team the Devils faced earlier this season that has gotten a lot better since then. And don’t forget about #5 seed Michigan State, a program that has had quite of bit of NCAA success during the last decade.

– The Chicago Regional seems to be the one that will have the most first-round blowouts, but #1 seed Illinois has to watch out for Oklahoma State and Arizona, as well as Boston College, a team that has been in the top 10 for most of the second half of the season, and probably deserve better than a #4 seed. I’d bet on BC to beat the spread on this one. And watch out for #6 seed LSU, featuring Glen “Big Baby” Davis, an immovable inside presence who is listed at 6’9″, 310 pounds, but is thought to be closer to 350.

– Albuquerque is most the intriguing regional. After a number of major upsets during the last week, #13 Washington came out of nowhere to became a top seed. According to ESPN, the committee was very impressed with their win over Arizona. I think making them a #1 seed over Wake Forest, Kentucky, and Louisville is crazy.

Number two seed Wake Forest would almost certainly be a #1 seed if they hadn’t lost to NC State on Friday, in a game that was impacted by the one-game suspension of their point guard Chris Paul – arguably the best at his position in the country – after he punched NC State’s Julius Hodge in the crotch during their regular season closer last week. The suspension was fair, but Wake is definitely one of four best teams in the country. Is it politically incorrect to give the ACC three of the four #1 seeds?

Louisville, Gonzaga, and Bobby Knight’s Texas Tech are tough, too. Georgia Tech is the X factor. Ranked in the top 10 at the beginning of the season, the Yellow Jackets suffered a bunch of injuries, wound up with a mediocre record, and just got all of their starters back in the last couple of weeks. They beat #2-ranked Carolina yesterday, and gave #5-ranked Duke a scare in the ACC Tourney final today. The Yellow Jackets – with their swarm of skilled, athletic guards, and a skinny Australian 7-footer who, suprisingly, can hold his own against top big guys like Carolina’s Sean May and Duke’s Shelden Williams – are likely to become at lot of people’s dark horse when they start looking at the brackets.

Please give any comments on the regionals, dark horses, and intriguing potential matchups.

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  • http://www.roblogpolitics.blogspot.com RJ

    I always bet on Gonzaga and Michigan State. And don’t discount Texas Tech.

    UCF, however, will get destroyed in the opening round… :-/

  • http://www.roblogpolitics.blogspot.com RJ

    Oh, and Florida is another good bet…

    What happened to Michigan this year? Are they in the NIT?

  • http://www.outragedmoderates.org Thad Anderson

    Michigan didn’t make the NIT field:

    http://sports.espn.go.com/ncb/news/story?id=2012450

    Some pretty interesting teams in that, actually – Memphis, Maryland, Notre Dame, Arizona State, Miami.

  • http://www.roblogpolitics.blogspot.com RJ

    Thanks for the info! :)

  • http://www.roblogpolitics.blogspot.com RJ

    Damn…Western Michigan made it, but not Michigan? Sad…

  • http://www.kolehardfacts.blogspot.com Mike Kole

    Michigan didn’t even make the NIT? Oh, now that breaks my heart!

  • http://www.jethrobodine.blogspot.com Tom Jones

    13 of the last 15 Champions have been either a 1- or 2-seed.

    This year the top 8 seeds are Illinois, Oklahoma State, Washington, Wake Forest, North Carolina, UConn, Duke and Kentucky. The winner of the tournament should be one of these teams.

    Inside the numbers:

    Illinois had the best points for-points against average (17.3)
    Illinois has the fewest turnovers per game (<11)
    Illinois, Oklahoma State, North Carolina, and Wake Forest shot over 40% of threes
    Illinois, North Carolina, Duke, and Wake Forest had most wins against top 30 ranked
    Oklahoma State made over 50% of their field goals
    Illinois, Oklahoma State and Duke made over 72% of their free throws

    NCAA Champion: Illinois

  • http://gratefuldread.net Natalie Davis

    I am looking at my empty bracket in a state of paralysis. No Maryland??? I have gotten so used to seeing my alma mater in the 65. And Michigan, for that matter, couldn’t even make the NIT? My head is spinning. Just have to man up and get it done, but the NCAAs just won’t be as much fun for me this year.

    Put down another for the Illni.

  • http://www.outragedmoderates.org Thad Anderson

    Tom, thanks for the great stats.

    That said, college basketball may be the one sport where the stats go out the window during the last 3:00 of a game . . . so I’m betting that one team that is a 4th seed or lower will make the Final Four.

    Maryland just had an inconsistent year. They will reload.

  • Cecil Harris

    What do you guys think about Kentucky lossing to Cincinnati in the 2nd round Austin Bracket! If Kentucky played the same way they played against EKU. They will be the first 2 seed gone on Sat. Cincy is 2 physical down low & everyone can bang the boards. 4 of the 5 starters are 6’7. Kentucky is going down they R just to soft to play with a team like Cincy.

  • Glen Hines

    I agree with most people that the last teams standing will mostly by #1,#2 seeds but NC ST. will make it to the final four where they will lose to UNC and UNC will beat whoever they face in the championship game.

  • Glen Hines

    Illinois is the most overrated team in college basketball.Sure they have terrific players and a 33-1 record, but have any have you bothered looking at the teams they played.DELAWARE ST,OAKLAND,FLORIDA A&M,CHICAGO.ST,VALPARAISO,LONGWOOD,NORTHWESTERN ST.,OHIO ST,PENN ST,MICHIGAN ST,etc… Wow thats a tough schedule.This team is based on one thing… there MINOR LEAGUE SCHEDULE. Victors: UNC

  • Glen Hines

    This goes out to Tom Jones.You have all those states about how Illinos has the fewest tournovers a game, well they have not faced a team yet that knows the meaning of the words press and trap.Put Illinois in the ACC and see how long they would last there.

  • Glen Hines

    check my first statement NC ST. will make it to the Elite Eight not the Final Four where they will still lose to UNC.

  • Glen Hines

    maryland will not reload for another 10 years they will not give out good scholarships they will invest in semigood athletes this is a team that will not win a championship anytime in the near future.

  • beast

    michigan did make the nit

  • Chris Auvenshiner

    I think Kentucky has some real power behind them. Althugh I doubt they will make it to to final four or even the elite eight, I think that they could make it to the sweet sixteen. They have some good players and Billy really seems to know what he’s talking about.

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