Monday, March 16, 2009

Them Brackets

It's that time of year again for the NCAA Men's basketball tournament. Of course, the women are starting their own March Madness as well, but we all know undefeated UConn is running away with that title. So, I'll focus on the men.

As with every tournament, I submit several brackets to a friend's pool back in Ohio. I believe I placed second last year. I've won a few over the years and think I've figured a few things out. Here are the official living in misery guide to brackets or something...

Don't be a Homer. I am a life-long Ohio State fan, but I know better than to pick them to go all the way. Don't get me wrong, I usually submit one bracket that has them going one or two rounds further than they should. This worked in my favor the year they made the Final Four. I picked all four teams correctly that year. Of course, there have been other years where they lost in the first or second rounds. This year, my Buckeyes should be able to get by Siena in a virtual home game (in Dayton), but will lose to overall #1 seed Louisville.

For all you Mizzou fans, don't get too caught up in their great season. I project they'll make the Sweet 16 before losing to a talented Memphis squad. While Missouri is better than all the teams in their four-team pod, they don't match up well against über-talented and super-athletic teams like Memphis.

Pick more nine seeds than eights. In fact, pick all the nines. Over the years, the nines have won way more than the eights. This is the only bracket where the lower seed wins significantly more often than the higher seeds. So, while you're at it, pick all the one, two, and three seeds. Sure, two and three seeds have lost in the first round, but almost never. And the number one seeds have never lost in the first round. It won't happen this year.

Don't go upset crazy. I did an analysis of the past ten NCAA tournaments (Read: I checked on Wikipedia.) and what I found was that the number of upsets in the first round ranged between four and eleven with most of the results landing somewhere between seven and eight. So, this year I kept all my upset numbers in the first round right around eight. Believe it or not, the committee who seeds this tournament knows what they are doing. The higher seeds will win more than they lose.

Don't put all the number one seeds in the Final Four. Last year was the first time ever that all number ones reached the semifinals. It has never happened before and it won't happen this year. Louisville, the overall number one, was wildly inconsistent all year, has no true point guard, and only had to play Pitt and UConn once, splitting those two games. UConn seemed to fade terribly at the end of the year when their most consistent player went down. North Carolina looks pretty ordinary with their top guard limited due to injury. Pittsburgh hasn't beaten anyone as high as a four seed in 30 years and hasn't made it to the second weekend in a long time. So, the top seeds have some holes.

Don't pick a team just because they won their conference tournament. Some folks are going crazy over USC because they surprisingly won the PAC 10 tourney. Of course, the Trojans were also terribly erratic all season and only made the field because they won their tournament. Missouri played extremely well in winning the Big 12 tournament, but they didn't have to face the conference's two best teams in Oklahoma and Kansas. Consider that every 15 and 16 seed also won their conferences' tournaments. Does that mean they'll win their first games? Nope.

Don't ignore a team that finished the season poorly. Arizona was atrocious down the stretch, but they are loaded with NBA talent and have proven they can beat good teams. Plus, they have some favorable early round matchups. It only takes a couple of wins to get a team like Arizona going. Xavier was upset in their conference tournament, but I like this veteran team to get to the second weekend where they'll give Pitt fits. Wisconsin was one of the last teams to make the field, but their slow, methodical style matches up well against Florida State.

There are always some upsets that just make sense. Michigan plays a style that will cause Clemson much grief and the Wolverines have proven they can beat top-rated teams. Illinois is a terrible offensive team and will struggle against a team like Western Kentucky who can score on anyone. Utah State is experienced and shoots extremely well. Look for them to take down a Marquette team that has struggled throughout the second half of the season thanks to some untimely injuries.

I'm not the expert, but I did listen to a lot of sports talk radio today. I'm not very happy with any of my brackets as of now, but I'll get there. One of them should keep me in the running throughout. I mean, I'm submitting six this year. At least one has to do well. I figure Louisville, Memphis, North Carolina, and Pitt all have the best chances of winning. Of course, that probably means UConn, Duke, or Oklahoma will win it. Whatever happens, enjoy the Madness.

1 comment:

ATR said...

Homer AND illustrations from Bible Stories--good work!