sports: March 2005 Archives


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For all you budding bracketologistas out there, some of my personal rules of thumb when it comes to the NCAA Tournament:

Rule #1: Love your #10 seeds

Makes it easy for me. Iowa is the #10 in the Austin quadrant. But keep an eye on NC State, Creighton, and St. Mary's. 10 seeds are often either the best of the mid-majors, or middle of the pack sleepers from the major conferences. This year, there are two of each. Can you guess who I'll be picking? Iowa beat Texas, Texas Tech, Louisville, and Michigan State on neutral floors this year, and they took Illinois to overtime, and played the Illini tougher than any team but Ohio State. They lost their top scorer (Pierce) mid-season, but have had plenty of time to learn to play without him. They've got a couple of good shooters, a workhorse power forward, and a young center, all of whom can play.

Oh, and I forgot to mention: for the past 9 years in a row (9 years!), at least one #10 has made it to the Sweet 16. Last year, it was Nevada.

Rule #2: Keep your eye on the #12 seeds.

Since the field expanded to 64 (65), there have only been two years where a #12 seed did not upset a #5 seed.

Last year, it was Providence losing to Pacific, and Florida losing to Manhattan. This year's crop of #12's includes Wisconsin-Milwaukee, George Washington, Old Dominion, and New Mexico, facing Alabama, Georgia Tech, Michigan State, and Villanova respectively. Much as it pains me to say--because I think 'Nova's a Sweet 16 team--I think Georgia Tech is the only lock of the bunch. UWM, ODU, and UNM are all coming off tournament wins in their home conferences, and all 4 of these teams come from the "major" mid-major conferences, ones with a good history of upsets.

Rule #3: Watch for end of season trends

Last year, Xavier upset undefeated St. Joe's in the A-10 tourney, and then ripped through the tournament. As a #7 seed, they beat Louisville (#10), MississipI St. (#2), Texas (#3), and lost to #1 seed Duke by 3 points. They were 3 points away from the Final 4 last year.

Georgia Tech is low as a #5 (thanks to mid-season injuries) and Louisville is low as a #4 (thanks to ???? on the part of the selection committee)--either of those teams could easily go to St. Louis out of that region. But they meet in Round 2--that's a game that could make or break a bracket.

Syracuse played better defense in the Big East tournament than they've played all season, which is why they've trended up in the seedings. If they play Duke in Austin, that's another game that could make that entire bracket. Either team could beat Kentucky or Oklahoma.

Kansas lost 5 of their last 8, and somehow still managed to get consideration as a top seed, which is bizarre to me, I'll have to admit. With a #3 seed, I'm sorely tempted to pick Wisconsin as a #6 against them, but if I don't, I can't imagine that they'd get through Connecticut.

Rule #4: At least one thing that appears OBVIOUS to me will prove to be entirely incorrect.

Last year, I thought Providence was ripe for a 3 or 4-round tear. Silly me.

This year, the Chicago regional looks like an absolute breeze for Illinois and Oklahoma State. That probably means at least one of them will lose.

Let the bracketologisticalitizing begin. That is all.

The magic #12

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Championship Week on ESPN is actually two weeks or so, and we're smack dab in the middle of the best part of it. All of the smaller conferences have their championships right now, and for most of these teams, as the cliché goes, this is their national championship.

So props to the boys down at my old neck of the woods. Tonight, Old Dominion won the Colonial Athletic Association championship and secured a bid to the Tournament. For those of you who are looking for those possible upsets, look no further, especially if ODU manages to get a 12 seed (5 seeds have a lower winning percentage by about 10 points than 6 seeds, since the field moved to 64). Consider:

  • They have the CAA player of the year, Alex Loughton, a power forward who's a 20-10 threat every night
  • They have the CAA leader in assist-turnover ratio, and led the CAA in turnover margin
  • Over the past ten years, the CAA rep in the Tournament has more wins than double-digit losses

Last year, Wake Forest beat VCU (ODU's opponent tonight) by one point in the first round. So, if ODU gets an 11, 12, or 13, and goes up against a team that coasted in, they might not be a bad upset special. They've got a good inside game, and play a 3-guard offense that places ball control at a premium. And they're only graduating one player, which means that next year at this time, I'll be telling you about them again most likely, only I'll be able to say how everyone on the team has tournament experience....

That is all.



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This page is a archive of entries in the sports category from March 2005.

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