Gopher

March Madness Thread

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I haven't had as much time to do the annual writeup that I have done the past couple of years, but I'm still paying pretty close attention to what's happened over the past few months, and particularly the past few weeks. Here is my predicted field:

 

1-seeds: Kentucky, Syracuse, North Carolina, Missouri

2 - Kansas, Ohio State, Michigan State, Duke

3 - Florida State, Louisvile, Vanderbilt, Michigan

4 - Wisconsin, Marquette, Cincinnati, Baylor

5 - Notre Dame, Florida, Georgetown,Murray State

6 - Indiana, St. Mary's, Temple, New Mexico,

7 - Purdue, Iowa State, Memphis, Creighton

8 - Virginia, Kansas State, Gonzaga, St. Bonaventure

9 - South Florida, Wichita State, San Diego State, Colorado

10 - NC State, St. Louis, Southern Miss, UNLV

11 - UConn, West Virginia, Texas, VCU

12 - Drexel, Colorado State, Xavier, Washington, Alabama, BYU,

13 - Harvard, Detroit, New Mexico State, South Dakota State

14 - Long Beach State, Belmont, Montana, Ohio

15 - Lehigh, Davidson, Long Island, Loyola (Md)

16 - UNC-Asheville, Lamar, Vermont, Norfolk State, Western Kentucky, Mississippi Valley State

Edited by Gopher

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Sorry, but there just isn't that much of a difference between the top conferences and the likes of the A-10, Missouri Valley, Mountain West, etc. I'd rather see a team who dominated their conference (and has proven that they can win games) in the tournament, rather than a mediocre team with a losing record in their conference. Not saying that somebody like Northwestern or Seton Hall couldn't win a game or two in the Big Dance, but both of those teams had several chances to win more games this year, and they simply didn't close the deal. Give me Drexel and Wichita State, both of which won 27 games and lost only twice in conference (but didn't win their tournament titles), over teams that went 8-10 in conference play, no matter what conference they played in. That's the risk you take, by joining an elite conference, IMO.

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Having said that, I filled out my projected field, and found that I was one team short. So, I guess UConn is my "last team in," as they contradict what I just said (above). I think they have much more talent (and a better shot at making some noise) than a team like Northwestern does, which is why I included them.

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Hard to keep MSU and OSU both out of the one-seeds, but given how tightly they've played each other, it's hard to say which one would deserve it. Plus, Missouri has been extremely impressive this year, and IMO, they deserve it, after winning the B-12 and nearly sweeping Kansas. 'Cuse and UK are locks for #1's, and I think UNC is deserving as well, considering they were missing Henson for their final two games, and will likely have him back.

 

One thing is for sure... There are a bunch of solid teams, in the top 10-20 in the country. Should be a very exciting next three weeks, as usual.

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If anyone is looking for an upset special, look at Kansas. I would not be shocked if they lost in the first round. I can almost guarantee they don't make it to the Sweet 16. They WAY overachieved this year, and Taylor and Robinson have some worn out legs. They've been playing a ton of minutes.

 

On the other side, Missouri got screwed in the bracket. They should be going through St. Louis. This snub may be all the motivation they need to win the whole thing. Their 4 guard lineup will cause fits for people. They are really, really good.

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Not a ton of surprises. I had Drexel, but the committee took Iona instead. Certainly makes sense, I guess, when you consider their out-of-conference SOS. The only other team I missed was from the Pac-12... I had Washington (who won their regular season title), but the committee took Cal instead. Not too far off. What I was more surprised by, than anything, was where some of the teams fell, in terms of seedings, particularly when comparing teams from the same conference... Creighton/Wichita State and Temple/Xavier/St. Bonaventure, to name a couple.

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I like Forida State for my non-top seed. Also, one rule of thumb for me has been to always pick one Big East team to make the final four.

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The only other team I missed was from the Pac-12... I had Washington (who won their regular season title), but the committee took Cal instead. Not too far off. .

 

 

I understand why Washington didn't make it, but it sure is odd to win the conference outright in the regular season and then watch Cal get the at large.

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I like Forida State for my non-top seed. Also, one rule of thumb for me has been to always pick one Big East team to make the final four.

 

FSU is solid... They beat both Duke and UNC twice (each) this year. The problem I see, though, in picking them to go very far, is that teams who surprise by winning their conference tournament (as somewhat of an underdog) usually don't fare all that well in the big tourney, with UConn last year being one of the few exceptions. Not sure why that is... In some cases, I would guess it's just hard to regenerate that same level of energy/intensity/focus that it took to win the conference tournament.

I understand why Washington didn't make it, but it sure is odd to win the conference outright in the regular season and then watch Cal get the at large.

 

Yeah, that is odd, for sure. The Pac-10/12 has been better than advertised the past couple of seasons. In other words, they were significantly "down" in 2010, but still managed to win three games (with only two teams getting in), including 11-seed Washington reaching the Sweet 16 (as one of the last teams in). Last year, other than USC losing to VCU, everybody (Arizona, UCLA, Washington) won at least one game, and 'Zona nearly made the Final Four. This year, they're down again, but who knows... It wouldn't surprise me to see Colorado win a game or two. Seems weird not to have Washington, UCLA, or Arizona in the field, though.

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FSU is solid... They beat both Duke and UNC twice (each) this year. The problem I see, though, in picking them to go very far, is that teams who surprise by winning their conference tournament (as somewhat of an underdog) usually don't fare all that well in the big tourney, with UConn last year being one of the few exceptions. Not sure why that is... In some cases, I would guess it's just hard to regenerate that same level of energy/intensity/focus that it took to win the conference tournament.

 

Normally I would agree with you, however, with the case of FSU, they have a few things going for them that I think would allow them to break from that theory. They are a senior-laden team, have depth that runs 10 deep, and have been in several tight games against top 50 teams over the past two seasons and have learned how to win the close ones. JMHO

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I think the voters final decision came down to the fact that Cal beat UW in Seattle. No round robin schedule so UW didn't have the opportunity to get the win @ Cal. If the Huskies wouldn't have laid an egg at Staples against Oregon State and makes it to, at least, the Semi's I think they're in. But, they didn't deserve it as they didn't have the resume.

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I'm loving how, every time a talking head goes chalk with the final four, picking all the #1s, they're quick to remind you that they're going out on a limb because all four have only made it once since they expanded to 64 teams. Um, exactly how many times has any other specific permutation of seeds made it? And remember, 1,2,4,7 is not the same as 1,4,2,7.

 

I'm going to guess that there have been more #1 seeds who have made it to the final four than any other single seed, so taking all four to make it is still the safest pick. After all, if you don't pick all four 1s because it's only happened once, you're still probably less likely to get the final four correct than someone who does. Because you have to, not only guess which 1s aren't going to make it, but which team is going to make it in their stead.

 

I mean, sure, if you think one of them has a bad match-up along the way or doesn't deserve the seed, or you think the 2 or 3 is poised for a great run, that's one thing, but not taking all four because "it almost never happens" is stupid.

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Normally I would agree with you, however, with the case of FSU, they have a few things going for them that I think would allow them to break from that theory. They are a senior-laden team, have depth that runs 10 deep, and have been in several tight games against top 50 teams over the past two seasons and have learned how to win the close ones. JMHO

 

Don't get me wrong... I'm not saying FSU won't make it very far. It's just something that is in the back of my mind, any time I consider picking a conference tournament winner to go very far, when filling out my brackets... particularly a conference tournament winner who wasn't one of the top 1 or 2 seeds. Like I said, there have been a few exceptions, and FSU could certainly be one of those exceptions. Maybe not to win it all, but they could definitely win 2-3 games, or possibly even more. They have the talent, experience, and everything else needed. The question, a lot of times (like I said above), is whether or not they can stay focused, with the same amount of intensity it took to beat their conference foes (in this case Duke and UNC). More often than not, it seems, there is a letdown, for whatever reason, and the conference winner goes home from the big dance earlier than later.

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Don't get me wrong... I'm not saying FSU won't make it very far. It's just something that is in the back of my mind, any time I consider picking a conference tournament winner to go very far, when filling out my brackets... particularly a conference tournament winner who wasn't one of the top 1 or 2 seeds. Like I said, there have been a few exceptions, and FSU could certainly be one of those exceptions. Maybe not to win it all, but they could definitely win 2-3 games, or possibly even more. They have the talent, experience, and everything else needed. The question, a lot of times (like I said above), is whether or not they can stay focused, with the same amount of intensity it took to beat their conference foes (in this case Duke and UNC). More often than not, it seems, there is a letdown, for whatever reason, and the conference winner goes home from the big dance earlier than later.

 

Well, it's not like they came out of nowhere. They were the 3 seed, were 2-1 (now 4-1) against the 1 and 2 seed going into the tourney. In other words, there's not a soul in ACC country who was remotely surprised to see them cut down the nets in Atlanta. I mean, I get your point. Had, say NC State gone all the way or something and won it, you might be concerned, becuase that could have been it for them. The perfect storm happened this past weekend and wasn't going to happen again next. But, like millerx said, this was not some crazy run. They were one of the three teams that had a great chance to win the thing and they did.

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Well, it's not like they came out of nowhere. They were the 3 seed, were 2-1 (now 4-1) against the 1 and 2 seed going into the tourney. In other words, there's not a soul in ACC country who was remotely surprised to see them cut down the nets in Atlanta. I mean, I get your point. Had, say NC State gone all the way or something and won it, you might be concerned, becuase that could have been it for them. The perfect storm happened this past weekend and wasn't going to happen again next. But, like millerx said, this was not some crazy run. They were one of the three teams that had a great chance to win the thing and they did.

 

I understand all of that. Florida State is a very good team, and without having spent too much time looking at the brackets (other than briefly last night), I can say that I give them about as good of a shot to make the Final Four as I do Duke or UNC. I think UNC is the most talented of the three, but that team has some flaws that have showed themselves at various times this season... I'm not 100% sold on them. Duke, to me, is just a bit too perimeter-oriented... a bad shooting game, and they're done.

 

My hesitation has less to do with FSU being a surprise (or not a surprise), and more to do with the fact that they won their conference tournament. Historically speaking, more often than not, teams that win their conference tournaments don't fare well in the NCAA tournament. There are exceptions (UCONN last year, for example). And, obviously, if a team is top-five in the country, and they win their conference tournament, I'm not going to be terribly concerned. All I'm saying is that it's tough for teams to get back up to the top of that emotional roller coaster, after winning a tough tournament like the ACC, Big East, etc.

 

Here's a bit of an analogy... You're climbing a mountain that is 10,000 feet above sea level. You reach a certain point in the climb, and feel a sense of elation for having accomplished that feat. But, it's taken literally everything out of you, to get to that point. Then, you realize that you're only at 3,500 feet. It's tough to regroup, at that point, and get it together, knowing that what you're about to attempt is literally going to be ten times as hard as the first accomplishment.

 

You think Syracuse is disappointed for not winning the Big East tourney this year? In his press conference, Boeheim might as well have said that they were happy to lose. I think he understands that an extra couple of days rest, as well as avoiding that emotional roller coaster, might be more valuable than having won it. Obviously, every team is different. Winning the ACC might be just what FSU needed, to prove to themselves that they can beat anybody, in a tournament setting. They're over the hump. All I'm saying is that winning your conference tournament can SOMETIMES be cause for a letdown a week later.

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Well, it's not like they came out of nowhere. They were the 3 seed, were 2-1 (now 4-1) against the 1 and 2 seed going into the tourney. In other words, there's not a soul in ACC country who was remotely surprised to see them cut down the nets in Atlanta. I mean, I get your point. Had, say NC State gone all the way or something and won it, you might be concerned, becuase that could have been it for them. The perfect storm happened this past weekend and wasn't going to happen again next. But, like millerx said, this was not some crazy run. They were one of the three teams that had a great chance to win the thing and they did.

 

Yeah, picking the 1's is still usually the safest play, although there have been times where I would give one of the 2's a better shot than the one, in a particular region.

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I understand all of that. Florida State is a very good team, and without having spent too much time looking at the brackets (other than briefly last night), I can say that I give them about as good of a shot to make the Final Four as I do Duke or UNC. I think UNC is the most talented of the three, but that team has some flaws that have showed themselves at various times this season... I'm not 100% sold on them.

 

Funny, you hear people say that about UNC, but it's not a very fair statement. The worst team UNC lost to this season is a 6 seed in the tourney, UNLV (in Las Vegas which looked a whole lot worse at the time when nobody realized that UNLV was actually a pretty good team). The others? A 1 pt loss @ overall 1 seed Kentucky, a 1 pt, last-second loss to arch rival Duke, the game this last Sunday where they were playing without an 1st teram all-ACC player (who likely could have suited up if he had to and, by all rights should be fine by the time they need him, which I'm assuming won't be until the 2nd round) and, of course, the abortion @ FSU earlier in the season. That's it, they've had one "horrible" game but at least that horrible game was against a really, really good team. Meanwhile, they've beaten a 1 seed (MSU, which was a game they actually took crap for not winning by more at the time because nobody realized how good MSU was), a 2 seed (handing Duke their worst home loss since 89), a 4 seed (Wisky), and a 10 and 11 seed a couple times each (Virginia and NC St.)

 

I think people were expecting them to house everyone they played, but they did lose their #5 and #6 guys in the rotation (one of whom was their starting 2/back up point, the other being the other guy who both plays and guards the other team's 2) right at the beginning of the season. Yet they're still pretty stacked. They're just not as insanely good as they should have been and everyone seems to be considering them a let-down despite the resume shown above.

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I'm not saying that they didn't have a great season... They did, and if Henson plays yesterday, they probably beat FSU. All I'm saying is that I'm not 100% sold that they're a lock for the Final Four. Every team is flawed... even Kentucky and Syracuse. Certainly, teams like Kansas, Michigan State, and Missouri are as well. The question is which teams compensate for their flaws better than the others.

 

I can say one thing for UNC... Hopefully, they learned from yesterday, and the next time they're in a one-possession game with seconds on the clock, don't settle for an ill-advised three-point attempt by Marshall. :doh:

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I'm not saying that they didn't have a great season... They did, and if Henson plays yesterday, they probably beat FSU. All I'm saying is that I'm not 100% sold that they're a lock for the Final Four. Every team is flawed... even Kentucky and Syracuse. Certainly, teams like Kansas, Michigan State, and Missouri are as well. The question is which teams compensate for their flaws better than the others.

 

I can say one thing for UNC... Hopefully, they learned from yesterday, and the next time they're in a one-possession game with seconds on the clock, don't settle for an ill-advised three-point attempt by Marshall. :doh:

 

It dawned on me after I wrote what I did, that you were hardly making a bold statement. You're right, is there any team that we should be 100% sold on? This isn't, say the 2009 UNC squad whom, anything less than cutting down the nets would essentially be thought of as coming up short. And, had they not lost their only two real #2s, you might be have been able to say that about this squad. It sure as hell would have helped the two things they do the worse, shoot from and defend the perimeter.

 

I guess I wrote what I did because it amazes me how much crap UNC actually takes around here like they've somehow limped through the season. There's actually very little swagger to the fan base despite the fact that they've really proven that they're as good a team as anyone in the nation.

 

But, yes, you're right about the shot selection. Not to mention they didn't need the freaking 3! Marshall, drive the lane and dish it to Zeller! In fairness, he was wide open. It's not like he forced a contested shot. It was not a bad look, and he did just make a clutch 3 under far more diress a minute earlier. But, still, I agree.

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Looks like Syracuse big man Fab Melo did not travel with the team to Pittsburgh, and will miss the tournament, due to "eligibility issues."

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In spite of all the dumb mistakes Melo makes, Cuse is not the same team without him. We have rebounding issues when he is playing...

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Syracuse looks very pedestrian in this game. I think ultimately they will pull it out, but this does not bode well for them next round

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Syracuse looks very pedestrian in this game. I think ultimately they will pull it out, but this does not bode well for them next round

 

 

UNC-Asheville should have had two points on a blantant goal-tending call that the officials missed, and then Syracuse misses the front end of a one-and-one with 1:30 left in a close game, and the ref calls a totally bogus lane violation. The shooter gets a second chance and drains both free throws.

 

And as I type this, the ball hits Syracuse and goes out of bounds, and the ref gives the ball to Syracuse. Unbelievable. UNC-Asheville got totally hosed.

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UNC-Asheville should have had two points on a blantant goal-tending call that the officials missed, and then Syracuse misses the front end of a one-and-one with 1:30 left in a close game, and the ref calls a totally bogus lane violation. The shooter gets a second chance and drains both free throws.

 

And as I type this, the ball hits Syracuse and goes out of bounds, and the ref gives the ball to Syracuse. Unbelievable. UNC-Asheville got totally hosed.

 

 

UNCA getting a complete screwgiee in this game. I saw all three plays described above, and the calls weren't even close - the refs are making it up as they go. Completely and unabashedly shameful. The outcome of the game was stolen.

Edited by Bronco Billy

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