Wednesday, March 16, 2005

A Note on the NCAA Tournament

The last several years my family has hosted a March Madness competition with the winner getting bragging rights for the rest of the year. This usually wouldn't be a big deal in most households, but my father is a former basketball coach, so in our family it is a gigantic big deal. That being said, I have never won the competition and I am almost certain that I have finished dead last more that once. It is a humiliating situation. However, last year, my family did not hold an official competition so I entered my work's March Madness pool and I won.

So..., now that I am a qualified legitimate college basketball soothsayer, I feel justified in giving the following advice.

In working one's way through the brackets, one should remember the following five rules:

1. One #12 seed will upset a #5 seed. This is always much talked about by the announcers on the first weekend of the tourney, so it is almost cliche to mention it here, but for some reason it is almost always true. Look for a New Mexico upset against Villanova. Danny Granger is a one-man wrecking crew, but he has some help with David Chiotti and Alfred Neale. New Mexico lost only 3 games with Granger in the lineup. Sure, their schedule is weak, but they can play.

2. The winner of the Dance will have a standout player that can carry the load in a game when the other players are only so-so. Carmelo Anthony in 2003 and Emeka Okafor in 2004 are the most recent players to carry their teams to the title. Players like Hakim Warrick, John Lucas, Francisco Garcia, and Salim Stoudamire seem to fit the build this year.

3. A low seed from a mid-major conference will make the Sweet 16. It happens every year. This year I like Wisconsin-Milwaukee from the Horizon Conference. It might be a stretch to call the Horizon a mid-major but this team can shoot themselves to a couple of victories.

4. The NIT exposes some conferences both good and bad. This year, Holy Cross went out and won their first round NIT game and did it in dominant fashion. I don't expect Kansas to have a whole lot of trouble with Bucknell, but the Crusader win in the NIT should raise some eyebrows for fans in the Corn Belt. Beware the ambush. Speaking of Kansas....

5. It is hard to determine this last rule, but either Kansas or a Roy Williams-coached team will underperform in the tournament. My brother is a diehard Kansas fan and he picks them to win every year and every year they totally disappoint him. I don't know who gets off the shnide this year, but be careful putting Kansas or North Carolina in the final box.

As for me, I will call my shot now. I have Syracuse edging out Oklahoma State in the final 78-74 with Gerry McNamara scoring 24 points on 6 of 8 three point shooting. Here are some other tidbits and things to watch.

Best Stylistic Matchup--Arizona vs. Utah State--one of the best offenses against one of the best defenses.
Funnest First Round Game--Pacific vs. Pittsburgh--the passing in this one should be exciting.
Most Interesting Matchup--Utah vs. UTEP--old WAC foes meet up with big man Bogut facing little man Rivera.
Biggest Blowout--Duke vs. Delaware State--it will get out of control early and Duke can score in big bunches.
Conference to Watch--West Coast Conference--not only did Gonzaga and Saint Mary's field strong teams, but so did nearly everyone in that conference. They will be battle-tested.

Good luck and good television viewing.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did you call UW-Milwauke right, yes you did........good call.....Utah lucked out. Pacific is a good bet. I have Geo. Tech going all the way. I think it is going to be fun. I wish you would let me in your family tournament. Oh I will go to San Jose to enter my picks in some tournament there. I will continue to observe how you do.

4:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did you call UW-Milwauke right, yes you did........good call.....Utah lucked out. Pacific is a good bet. I have Geo. Tech going all the way. I think it is going to be fun. I wish you would let me in your family tournament. Oh I will go to San Jose to enter my picks in some tournament there. I will continue to observe how you do.

4:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did you call UW-Milwauke right, yes you did........good call.....Utah lucked out. Pacific is a good bet. I have Geo. Tech going all the way. I think it is going to be fun. I wish you would let me in your family tournament. Oh I will go to San Jose to enter my picks in some tournament there. I will continue to observe how you do.

4:39 PM  
Blogger Indigo said...

As someone who graduated from UW-Milwaukee, let me just say that I no idea we even had a basketball team. Seriously, no idea.

9:05 AM  

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