Monday, March 19, 2018

The Sweet 16

Here are the remaining 16 teams as they sit in KenPom. Numbers are KenPom overall ranking and then the teams offensive and defensive rankings. Italics indicate teams I believe can win it all.

1. Villanova (1, 1, 19)
2. Duke (3, 3, 8)
3. Purdue (4, 2, 32)
4. Gonzaga (7, 12, 14)
5. Kansas (9, 5, 46)
6. Michigan (10, 36, 3)
7. West Virginia (11, 11, 39)
8. Texas Tech (13, 47, 4)
9. Clemson (14, 42, 7)
10. Kentucky (16, 20, 24)
11. Nevada (23, 6, 110)
12. Texas A&M (25, 65, 10)
13. Florida State (30, 32, 55)
14. Loyola (36, 63, 27)
15. Kansas State (39, 74, 20)
16. Syracuse (44, 139, 5)

Is this the worst Sweet 16 ever? Probably not but it is pretty weak. There are 10 teams from KenPom top 16. Part of the issue is, we had a historically weak 1-seed in Xavier and the Virginia loss. Michigan State, Cincinnati and UNC bowing out early hurt as well. Cincinnati’s loss was especially bad given how the bracket had broken for them. It’s possible Mick Cronin can replicate what Bob Huggins did and keep Cincinnati in the upper echelon of college hoops. If he can’t, they might be kicking themselves. Ask Marquette fans about having these opportunities to get back to a Final 4 in ‘12 and ‘13. Chances as good as the one Cincinnati had do not come around that often.

From a fan’s standpoint, it’ll be an enjoyable Sweet 16. Other than Syracuse, I don’t have a particular grudge against any squad nor huge rooting interest. Nova, Zags, Duke and Michigan probably would be the teams I’ll pull for. Could be a wild weekend 

Saturday, March 17, 2018

It’s Happening

That’s what I texted Brian when it was 21-21 at halftime last night of the Virginia-UMBC game. I didn’t really believe it but everything I had said about why Virginia is so vulnerable in March was exposed in that putrid half of basketball.

I started believing when UMBC went up 27-21. I assumed UVA would come out and start the half on something like a 15-5 run and UMBC would get rattled and we’d move on to Sunday and hoping Kansas State could somehow beat them. The Retrievers were having none of it.

Earlier this week on The Athletic, Nicole Auerbach wrote about how “true” basketball fans should embrace and love Virginia. Local Wisconsin sports jackals told Badger fans to adopt Tony Bennett, beloved son of Wisconsin and Virginia because among other things, it’s a beautiful style of basketball and they do it the right way. When you have to tell someone to love a style of play or team and that the haters are wrong, you’ve already lost the argument.

Tony Bennett’s system works. You don’t have the success Virginia has had in the ACC and say it doesn’t. It’s also incredibly tedious to watch and prone to offensive basketball that can’t handle aggressive and confident basketball teams. That’s what makes them walk the razor’s edge in March. 

Someday, they will breakthrough to a Final 4. Everyone will tell you “I told you, so” but you know what? We were right, too. And in March, we’ve been right a lot more often than we’ve been wrong about his basketball system.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

The South Part 1.5

This bracket isn't finished yet.  I cant decide between Texas and Nevada and that's big cause I'm picking them to beat Cincinnati and Tennessee before losing to Arizona...

The West Part 2

Upset:  Houston to the Sweet 16

Pick I want to make but won't: Providence over North Carolina or Missouri/FSU over Xavier

Actual pick to make the Final Four: Gonzaga over North Carolina

The Midwest Part 2

Upset:  New Mexico State to the Sweet 16

Pick I want to make but won't: Bucknell over Michigan State

Actual pick to make the Final Four: Duke over Kansas

The East Part 2

Upset:  St. Bonavanture to the Sweet 16

Pick I want to make but won't: Butler over Purdue in the Round of 32

Actual pick to make the Final Four: Villanova over Purdue

Monday, March 12, 2018

The South

1. Virginia (1)
2. Cincinnati (4)
3. Tennessee (11)
4. Kentucky (18)
5. Arizona (21)
6. Nevada (24)
7. Creighton (27)
8. Miami (FLA) (36)
9. Texas (39)
10. Loyola (41)
11. Davidson (43)
12. Kansas State (44)

Criminally Underseeded: This bracket is fairly spot-on. 

Criminally Overseeded: Kansas State- Miami is a choice here, too. Miami is basically 3 spots too high but two spots in this bracket while KState is 3 spots too high for the region. I think both lose in the opening round.

Random Observations: This is the weirdest of the regions. I bet Virginia is chosen in something like 95% of the brackets filled out and will undoubtedly be the choice of the “experts”. And rightfully so. If they don’t make it to the Final 4 from this region, I question whether they ever do. This is also a great opportunity for Cincinnati to make their first Final 4 since 1992. I’ll still be picking against them. The big ol’ question for me is, do Arizona or Kentucky make a run. Kentucky has steadily improved but I’m still leery. Same with Arizona. Either way, I’d love to see Arizona go deep and beat Virginia along the way just too see the uproar over the do-it-the-right-wayers (which is basically every journo in Wisconsin telling us we have to adopt Tony Bennett’s team). Gross. FWIW, Peyton Aldridge will be the best player on the floor when Davidson plays Kentucky, just not the most talented. Ok, Kevin Knox is probably better but I expect Aldridge to have a huge game

The Winner: Arizona over Nevada