Thursday, March 30, 2006


Going to Indy

So much for me not travelling. One of my friends managed to get tickets, so I'll be heading up Friday. Pictures and a report will obviously follow. As for my picks...

Florida over George Mason The run ends here for the Patriots. They've played a lot of talent so far, but Michigan State, North Carolina, and UConn all had times this year where they didn't play well as teams. The Gators, however, have a ton of talent and are an unselfish team. That will be the difference.

LSU over UCLA LSU is also playing their best basketball at the right time. The Bruins guard play should make this game reasonably interesting. I'm still planning on buying the biggest Coke the RCA Dome offers right before tip.

Championship: Florida over LSU I know it's hard to beat the same team three times, so maybe this is the homer in me coming out. Noah, Richard, and Horford have done a very good job against Thomas and Davis so far this year though, and I think UF's guard play will also be an advantage. I think the potential of an LSU double ends here.

I will be back Wednesday.

Monday, March 27, 2006


Final Four week

So, how are your brackets doing? If you're like me, you've crumpled them up, burned them, and flushed the ashes down the nearest john. I can't really hide the fact that I'm ecstatic that UF is still alive. I'm not so happy that my work schedule may make it impossible for me to get up to Indy. I never thought that I would be watching two of the Final Four teams a weekend ago in Jacksonville.

What a phenomenal weekend of basketball. (Well, except for Memphis-UCLA, videotapes and DVDs of that game will soon outsell Ambien.) It wasn't quite 2005, but I think ESPN Classic's replay weekend will be something special in a couple of weeks.

The early game Saturday night will feature two teams who refuse to lose. The late game may, appropriately, put barn animals like me to sleep. I doubt UCLA-LSU will be as painful to witness as 2000's Michigan State-Wisconsin snoozefest, but it seems like each Final Four in Indy has to have a game like that. Maybe Glenn Davis will hit some threes and wake everyone up (in shock).

Picks and more commentary as the week moves on.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006


Sweet Sixteen picks

We're down to our last sixteen. One of my co-workers picked the Final Four using the old which mascot could beat which mascot test. If her predictions turn out to be correct, a week from Saturday your National Semifinals will feature Florida battling George Mason and Duke playing Bradley. Bring your own bellbottoms and platforms to the Hoosier Dome, folks.

I'm going to do things a little more scientifically...let's see if we can't get these 16 down to eight.

Thursday - Atlanta
Duke over LSU I've seen the Tigers way too much than I'd like to admit this year, and I can't say I'm terribly impressed. They were extremely lucky to beat a dreadful A&M side Saturday afternoon. A lot of people think they have a chance thanks to Glenn Davis, and if he had any post moves, I'd agree with them. However, he's best at shooting them from 5 feet out and the Blue Devils can defend that.

West Virginia over Texas
I picked this a week ago and I'm sticking to it. The Mountaineers have a lot of firepower and are a better team than the one that lost to the Longhorns early in the season in Kansas City. They'll have a lot of fan support too.

Thursday - Oakland
Memphis over Bradley The run ends for the Braves...the Tigers will have too much for them, just as they did against Oral Roberts and Bucknell.

UCLA over Gonzaga This is another pick I made a week ago that I'm sticking with. If Adam Morrison is sick, I'm feeling pretty confident in this pick.

Friday - Minneapolis
Villanova over Boston College. BC is the media's darlings while Villanova is the team that refuses to lose. I'll go with the team that won't lose. Allen Ray wasn't affected at all by that eye injury in the first two rounds, and with him at 100 percent, the Wildcats have too many weapons.

Florida over Georgetown If Ohio State was still playing, I'd change my pick to the homer one. The Gators have been one of the most impressive teams in the tournament. They've led all the way in both games, against two teams that previous Billy Donovan-coached squads would've folded against. As long as they play with passion and intent, UF will keep winning.

Friday - Washington
George Mason over Wichita State For the right to lose to UConn Sunday, the Patriots will take advantage of their virtual home court and beat the Shockers for the second time in a little more than a month. If this game is as good as the first one was, I'll be more than glad to get it going on my laptop.

UConn over Washington Washington is playing up to its potential at the right time, but it won't be enough. (Unless UConn just picks this moment to lose its collective mind, which is a definite possibility.)

Enjoy the games...Elite Eight picks Saturday.

Monday, March 20, 2006


Weekend #1 was a lot of fun

What a great four days of hoops that was...well, except for Syracuse failing badly Thursday night and the second set of games on Friday afternoon (Monmouth and Southern Illinois fighting it out to see who'd end up with the second lowest point total for the first round up to that point, after Belmont).

On Friday night in Jacksonville, I entered the only sports bar in the world where most of the crowd was cheering for favorites. There were some UConn fans, some Pitt fans, some KU fans, some UK fans...all of whom were cheering for each other's teams. Did they cheer for George Mason to beat Michigan State? Uh, no. How about the non-Husky fans...did they cheer for Albany to pull off the greatest upset in history? That'd be a negatory. It was one of the most annoying moments I've witnessed as a hoops fan. I was happy to see the Pitt fans get their comeuppance against Bradley yesterday in the now infamous hearthrob game. I wonder if the committee thought of that when they were drawing up the matchup.

Mike Slive: Hey, let's see if we can make it so Bradley and Pitt would play in round two.
Craig Littlepage: Why?
Slive: CBS would font it as the BRAD-PITT game.
Craig: That'd be hilarious!
Karl Benson: Maybe, Verne Lundquist or someone would make a joke about Jennifer Aniston or Angelina Jolie being at the game.

It was also nice to see Jim Nantz and Billy Packer offer up a mea culpa last night late in the Villanova-Arizona game. George Mason, Bradley, and Wichita State proved a lot this weekend, so did Northwestern State, Winthrop, and Albany. The day when a 16 beats a 1 is coming. One day very soon the committee will underseed some club from a one-bid league and the streak will end.

Thursday night picks coming up tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006


Bracket Picks

Here are my picks for this year.

First Round Upsets
Atlanta Bracket
UNCW over GW, only because it's in Greensboro and Pops Mensah-Bonsu may not be back (and if he is, is he going to be 100%).

Cal will survive NC State and Syracuse will do the same against Texas A&M.

Oakland Bracket
Bucknell over Arkansas. Sure, Fayetteville is far closer to Dallas than Lewisberg, PA, but did that stop the Bison last year (beating KU in Oklahoma City).

San Diego State over Indiana. Hoosiers are playing with a lot of emotion, but the Aztecs have too much size for a team whose only post presence is Marco Killingsworth.

Minneapolis Bracket
Wisconsin over Arizona. The Big Ten style will wear down an underachieving Wildcats squad.

Milwaukee over Oklahoma to set up the battle of the alma maters on Saturday. Panthers aren't as good as they were last year, but the Sooners are very inconsistent and ripe for an upset.

Northern Iowa over Georgetown. Panthers get out of their funk to beat a Hoya team that struggled to end the year.

UF will barely survive the mentor/student matchup with John Pelphrey's South Alabama Jaguars.

Nevada will beat Montana more easily than most think.

Washington Bracket
UAB over Kentucky. The Wildcats are exposed by an opponent they lost to two years ago.

Utah State over Washington. Huskies are a team who tend to play to the level of their opponents. Aggies will rough them up and knock them out. (Not bad considering they shouldn't even be in the bracket.)

Michigan State will have an easier time of it against George Mason than they would have had if only Tony Skinn not punched Loren Stokes in the groin.

Wichita State will beat a Seton Hall team that's on a downswing.

Second Round Upsets
Atlanta Bracket
West Virginia is too good for an inconsistent Iowa team.

Oakland Bracket
Pitt over a young Kansas squad, who's just not quite ready for primetime.

Washington Bracket
Wichita State over Tennessee. The Vols are running out of gas.

Regional Semi Upsets
Atlanta Bracket
West Virginia will continue another great run by knocking out a Texas team that doesn't do well in big games.

Oakland Bracket
Pitt gets Memphis. Tigers youth and lack of tough competition over the last couple of months will catch them by the tail.

Regional Finals
Minneapolis Bracket
Ohio State will pound Villanova inside to make it to Indy.

My Final Four
Three of the four teams that were in St. Petersburg seven years ago. Ohio State gets to replace their 1999 banner with a 2006 one in a matter of weeks.

Duke over UCLA.
UConn over Ohio State.

Final--Duke runs out of gas and loses to a veteran UConn squad.

Monday, March 13, 2006


My reaction to the bracket

I was pretty much in shock after watching the Selection Show Sunday for three reasons: 1) The selections themselves (two in particular), 2) the seedings, and 3) for the shabby treatment given to Selection Committee Chair Craig Littlepage by Jim Nantz and Billy Packer. While I don't agree with much of what the committee did this year, the reaction of the top announcing team wasn't very graceful. One suggestion in particular drives me batty. Packer suggested that the committee use a five-year chart to evaluate teams. To me, this can lead to only one thing...setting the number of bids per conference based on money/drawing power (bowl games) or some goofy, mathematical coefficient system (UEFA Champions League). Each season must be taken independently. This is NOT the NBA. Players only have four years to play and often transfer. You'll mix freshmen, juco transfers, and upperclassmen every year. Coaches are hired and fired. In other words, this isn't the answer. Perhaps the committee following its own rules would be a start.

To me, one of those rules was blatently violated in terms of seeding this year. Past results played entirely too much of a role in seeding teams this year, particularly from some of the one-bid leagues. My second alma mater, Milwaukee, was a beneficiary of an 11 seed, when they should've gotten a 13. This team isn't as good as they were last season. Granted, there isn't a 12 or a 13 I'd necessarily move up to an 11 (except for Bradley, who I projected as a 10). Certainly not Montana, who didn't win the Big Sky regular season title, nor Utah State, who shouldn't even be in the field. (It's kind of funny that I'm trashing these teams, considering I think two of them will win their first round games...but they got good matchups.) Pacific got a 13 seed, which was a shock, since both they and the Big West are down this year. They're another team who could fortuitously spring an upset, thanks to the committee shipping Boston College to play on a Thursday in Salt Lake City after a knock-down, drag-out run through the ACC tournament.

But that gets me into picks...which will be coming tomorrow night.

I also will argue with Tennessee as a 2. That's really the only huge argument with the top four lines. You could quibble with Kansas' 4 and Iowa's 3, but I didn't think either one of those was too outlandish. As for the Vols, while they should be ahead of UF, since they did beat the Gators twice, they haven't finished well. Therefore, UNC should really be ahead of them. Jay Bilas mentioned on ESPN's Bracketology show that he thought they had been moved up a line for bracketing purposes. Are you telling me they didn't have another way to correct an issue like that?

If you want some real insight (including how Western Kentucky, not Cincinnati or Michigan or Florida State, was the next team up), read Andy Katz's column on today. I recommend this if you have a cold and need your head to explode.

Sunday, March 12, 2006


A brief post-mortem

Here's a summary of my results...

27 seeds correct (including the two 16 seeds in the play-in game.)

2 teams completely incorrect (Creighton and Cincinnati didn't make it, while Air Force and Utah State, two teams on the Next Four Out group (!!) got in).

Of the 37 seeds I missed, 19 were off by one line. 18 were off by more than one (13 by two lines, three by three, and one by four [Southern Illinois]).

I'm very surprised that Tennessee got a 3 seed, and North Carolina got a 2. Gonzaga getting a 3 makes sense, considering that many of the high-profile games they scheduled were either losses (Memphis, Washington) or didn't pan out (Oklahoma State, Maryland).

More detailed analysis after I actually get to look at the bracket (as compared to just checking out my own results).


Final Projection

Here it is.

I had to do a little adjusting after Kansas beat Texas to win the Big XII tournament. KU is the last four, while Tennessee drops to a five. Iowa is about to beat Ohio State to win the Big Ten. I would've liked to move the Hawkeyes up a line and tweak Ohio State's location; however, the two, three, six, and seven lines are full of Big Ten teams already. I would've had to start all over. With less than half an hour until the real thing comes out, there isn't the time.

I'll have a post-mortem up later this evening. One big change, Michigan is out and Seton Hall is in. I looked at the numbers one last time, and their finish (3-7 in their last 10) and road/neutral record (5-7) are too bad to ignore. Seton Hall has its flaws (5-5 in the last ten, 5-7 in road/neutral games), but the Pirates are 5-4 against the top 50, while the Wolverines are 3-8.

Bids by Conference
Big East 9
Big Ten 6
Missouri Valley 5
Big 12 4
Pac 10 4
Colonial 2

Last Four In
George Mason
Seton Hall
Texas A&M

First Four Out
Florida State
Missouri State

Next Four Out
Air Force
Utah State

Off the Board (In --> Out)
Delaware State --> Hampton
St. Joseph's --> Xavier
Michigan --> Seton Hall

Saturday, March 11, 2006


Selection Eve

Here's my penultimate projection for this season. I'll post another during the Big Ten championship game tomorrow afternoon.

On College Gameday...Jay is joking with Digger about still having 174 teams in his bracket. I don't have that problem.

Duke is back as the number one overall seed after losses by Villanova and UConn. I keep the Wildcats as the number two overall seed. I'm not going to punish them too much for losing to Pitt while Allan Ray was unavailable for most of the second half. Thankfully his eye injury is not at all as bad as feared. If Duke loses to Wake today, the one seeds will probably be jumbled tomorrow. Pitt and UCLA move up to the three line, while Illinois and Tennessee drop to the four line after their results yesterday. BC moves onto the fourth line, replacing West Virginia.

At the bottom of the bracket, watch out for some changes on lines 15 and 16 if there are some upsets in the conference championship games today and tomorrow. Three teams with area code like RPIs are in their league finals: Vermont (America East), Arkansas-Pine Bluff (SWAC), and Hampton (MEAC). Wins by one or more of those teams could shakeup the play-in game, and cause a ripple effect on the last couple of lines.

The bubble is still in flux, especially with South Carolina still alive in the SEC, Nebraska in the Big 12, and Wake Forest in the ACC. The A-10 getting a second bid and Syracuse's run through the Big East reduced the number of remaining spots, and a Utah State win in the WAC tonight would do the same. Seton Hall and Florida State are casualties from Thursday. George Mason is probably going to be the next team to fall out. Texas A&M, Bradley, Michigan, and Creighton also can't feel too safe either.

Conference Breakdown
Big East 8
Big Ten 7
Missouri Valley 5
Big 12 4
Pac 10 4
Colonial 2
Conference USA 2

Last Four In
Missouri State
Texas A&M

First Four Out
Florida State
Seton Hall

Next Four Out
Air Force
Utah State

Out and In
Out ---> In
Fairleigh Dickinson --> Monmouth
Northern Arizona --> Montana
Manhattan --> Iona
Western Kentucky --> South Alabama
Missouri State --> Creighton
Seton Hall --> Syracuse
Florida State --> St. Joseph's

Thursday, March 09, 2006


Three days to Selection Sunday

Sorry I haven't been able to post much during Championship Week, work has been extremely busy. I did update the bracket to reflect who's won automatic bids this week. A full update will come late tomorrow night (after UF-Arkansas and the SEC quarterfinals). However, I suspect...

Syracuse will be in

Florida State, Michigan, Hofstra, George Mason, Missouri State, and Creighton will get long. long looks

George Washington will certainly not be on my top four lines.

Check back in very late tomorrow/early Saturday to see for sure.

Sunday, March 05, 2006


One week 'til Selection Sunday

We're one week from Selection Sunday, meaning this week's bracket was quite difficult to put together. There was a lot of flipping the seeds on lines 7 through 12 to avoid early intraconference matchups. There were a few significant shifts in the at-large pool as well. Five at-large teams were replaced; however, with good showings in the conference tournament, they could all return. There are going to be a lot of bubble teams cheering for Bucknell, Gonzaga, Nevada, and San Diego State to make their leagues one-bid. (Utah State and Air Force won't be among those rooting for the last two.)

I think the top four lines are becoming pretty stable. Memphis is the shakiest one seed right now, and they are very solid. Gonzaga, Ohio State, and Texas all have a case should they falter in the C-USA tournament (at home). UNC is now a two after their big win at Duke. LSU could've gone that high, but not after they struggled with Ole Miss in Baton Rouge. I think Florida and Pittsburgh are the shakiest fours. Florida's impressive win at Rupp Arena today keeps them above GW for the moment. The Gators will have a hard quarterfinal matchup and a chance to avenge a tough loss if Arkansas makes it out of the first round Thursday.

Last Four In
Florida State
Northern Iowa (I had to flip Indiana, a true 11 seed, with the Panthers.)
Texas A&M

Last Four Out
Air Force

Next Four Out
Brigham Young
Texas-El Paso
Utah State

Banana Peel List
I can officially close this year's Banana Peel List since the remaining one-bid leagues determined their regular season champs this week. Now the test will be to see if they can build on their NIT bids.

Big West: Pacific
Metro Atlantic: Manhattan
Mid-American: Kent State
Northeast Conference: Fairleigh Dickinson
Southwestern Athletic: Southern

Pennsylvania doesn't need to worry about the NIT. They won the Ivy League Friday night to become the first team to book a bid to the NCAA Tournament.

Tonight I'll be watching the CAA and MAAC semifinals on Full Court, and the WCC semis on the Deuce. Currently, I'm watching Fairleigh Dickinson battle Robert Morris in the NEC semis.

I'll be updating autobids as the week goes on. Hopefully, I'll have some time to get a bracket out on Wednesday night. (It all depends on my day job.) If not, I'll post my second to last bracket of the year on Friday night.

Enjoy Championship Week!

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