NCAA Bracket Released

Well, the greatest hour of television all year is behind us now and the many voices of ESPN are still analyzing, the printer has done its job and we have the Tournament brackets.  A few semi-random thoughts:

1) Lets not spend too much time debating how Duke got the 3rd overall seed over Syracuse.  Both are #1 seeds and it was a given that the Orange were going to have to play outside their Region because you cannot play home games in the Tournament.  It only really matters if they meet in the Championship Game Duke will get to wear home whites.  It especially doesn’t matter given point #2 . . .

2) There is clearly no S-curve in this year’s bracket.  A quick look at the #2 seeds shows us that.  The Committee Chair told CBS that they specifically strongly considered West Virginia for a #1 seed, which means they were the strongest #2.  Ohio St was likely the 2nd #2 and Villanova I have to think the weakest.  But what the Committee chose to do was to line the #2’s for the most part geographically.  Ohio St stays in the Midwest with the #1 overall Kansas.  West Virginia stays in the East with #2 overall Kentucky.  Its Kansas St and Villanova that get the relatively weaker Duke and Syracuse Regions.

3) I was not aware of it, but the NCAA apparently got rid of the rule that said teams from the same conference couldn’t meet until the Regional Final, as both Marquette and West Virginia are in the bottom half of the East and Notre Dame and Villanova the bottom half of the South.

4) The Midwest is obviously the strongest Region this year.  Kansas is the overall #1.  Ohio St won the Big Ten regular and postseason.  Georgetown came within a whisker of the Big East tourney title.  Maryland was ACC regular season co-champs.  Michigan St was Big Ten regular season co-champs.  On the other hand, the middle seeds of this Region is perhaps a tad weaker than in some of the others, so I would look for a lot of chalk the first weekend followed by a St. Louis battle.

5) Syracuse might be the “worst” #1 according to the Committee but this isn’t a bad draw.  Seeds 10-11-12 are 3 of the last bubble teams to get in as opposed to being under-valued mid-major teams.  Of course Gonzaga perhaps in the 2nd round is no bargain.  Vanderbilt’s pod is a 4/5/12/13 that could honestly go in any direction.  The bottom half is a very intriguing tournament with Xavier, Pittsburgh, BYU, and Kansas St.

6) Does Kentucky have a free pass to the Elite 8?  I look at this list of teams and think that maybe the Temple/Cornell winner could beat them in the Sweet 16 but that is about it.  How did Wisconsin get a pod seed ahead of Michigan St?  In general this Region doesn’t impress me but its not uncommon for the Committee to err on the side of draining the East because they don’t like to leave too many teams that didn’t win their conference close to home.  A Kentucky v WVU Regional Final is the obvious thing to predict here.

7) Duke has a harder 2nd round game with Louisville than they would in the Sweet 16 against the winner of that Texas A&M/Utah St/Purdue/Siena pod.  The Boilermakers got a #4 seed as a balance between the #2 they were before Hummel got hurt and the 8/9 game type team they are without him.  Bottom half is wide open.

8) Gotta love it when the Committee uses 1st round games to rub mid-majors against each other.  UNLV/N. Iowa, Butler/UTEP, Temple/Cornell, Richmond/St. Mary’s being this year’s examples.

9) Arkansas Pine-Bluff is this year’s HBCU in the play-in game participant, and Winthrop is this year’s non-HBCU play-in game participant.

10) It seems that this season’s bubble burst controversy is Virginia Tech.  Horrendous non-conference RPI is why but they did finish 10-6 in the ACC and ahead of several teams that did Dance from that conference.  Illinois probably got left out in favor of Minnesota when the Gophers made the Big Ten Tourney final.  But I think the Committee did a reasonably solid job and I don’t see anyone in this field that I have a serious problem with being included.

11) Who is the team that would have been out if Mississippi St hadn’t over-thought things and fouled up 3 at the end of the SEC title game?  I guess we’ll never know.

12) Let the Games begin! 7:30pm Tuesday for the play-in game, then in earnest 12:15pm Thursday.

One Response to “NCAA Bracket Released”

  1. Nick Says:

    I’m fairly convinced the single most important statistic when it comes to NCAA bracketing is wins against the Top 50 of the RPI. Wisconsin has six, Sparty only three.

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