Initial Bracket Thoughts

The bracket was revealed Sunday afternoon and as usual the bitching and moaning (loudest from Syracuse, NY) ensues.

Thoughts:

– The fact is, the bubble was so weak this year that any team that was left on the outside looking in had no one to blame but themselves.

– Per usual, Jim Boeheim leads the whining from the peanut gallery as Syracuse is let out of the tournament. Syracuse did not play one non-conference game outside of the state of New York and their “neutral” contests took place at Madison Square Garden.

– Yes, the Orange had quality wins against UVA, Florida State, and Duke, but they also had atrocious losses to Boston College, UConn, Georgetown, and St. John’s. Their loss to the Johnnies was by 33 points at home – that should be an automatic disqualification for any potential tournament team.

– A lot has been made about the Orange’s 2-11 mark on the road, but if they just win one or two of those home games against some of the worst power conference teams in the country, that road record is irrelevant.

– The whole bubble argument always flummoxes me. People debate who the worst at-large teams are and they generally are one and done in the tournament. It’s like debating who’s the tallest midget. Don’t want to be on the bubble? Win more games.

– Some folks are initially talking about Florida Gulf Coast upsetting Florida State in the first round. Maybe they are thinking of the 2013 Dunk City run too much, but I don’t see the Eagles pulling this off. The Seminoles have as much length and size as any team in the country and those FGCU players aren’t used to driving to the rim and finishing against that type of size.

– Wichita State’s 10-seed maybe the most puzzling development in the bracket. I know the Missouri Valley was down this year, but the Shockers have built up enough of a reputation where the committee should treat them Gonzaga – regardless of their conference’s ranking, those programs are consistently great year in and year out.

– Some analytical metrics have Wichita State as a top ten team. While I don’t agree with that, they should be a five or six seed. As of now, they are a 6.5 favorite over seven-seeded Dayton.

– While that seeding is unfair to Wichita State, it’s also unfair to the teams in their region. If they beat Dayton in the first round, Kentucky has a helluva matchup in the round of 32. Could be some payback from 2014 when Kentucky was under-seeded and defeated the undefeated and top-seeded Shockers in the second round

– Wisconsin is another incredibly under-seeded team. The Badgers struggled in February, but righted the ship and was able to advance to the Big Ten Championship game.

– The Badgers should take care of Va Tech in the first round. This is the Hokies first appearance since 2007 and they will be frustrated by Wisconsin’s slow tempo. If that is to happen, it would set up an intriguing round of 32 matchup with Villanova.

– I would say their seeding is an indication of the committee’s opinion of the Big Ten, but Minnesota’s No. 5 seed was extremely friendly.

– After losing in the Big Ten semifinals, the Gophers were actually ranked higher than Big XII Tournament Champion Iowa State and ACC runner-up Notre Dame…figure that one out for me.

– The only logical explanation is Rick Pitino has passed his slimy ways on to his son.

– While looking for upsets in the first round, my initial inklings were Bucknell over West Virginia, Middle Tennessee over Minnesota, Rhode Island over Creighton, and East Tennessee State over Florida.

– Another attractive potential second round game is Kansas-Michigan State. If the Spartans can get by Miami in the first round, they can matchup with Kansas athletically. This is not a typical Michigan State team, but never doubt Tom Izzo in March.

– I wish the at-large spectrum would alter the criteria to find room for teams like Belmont and Monmouth. A lot of the high-major teams are scared to play these teams even at home, so their non-conference slate is hampered and they are screwed if the don’t win their conference tournament. Both of those teams are relegated to the NIT despite winning a combined 49 games this season.

– The AAC was not highly thought of from the committee as Cincinnati and SMU earned six seeds despite winning 29 and 30 games respectively.

– I think the Mustangs are primed for a run to the Sweet 16 or maybe Elite Eight. They aren’t deep, but they are one of the hottest teams in the country and I like how they could matchup with Baylor and Duke in their region.

– Really like Wake Forest to get by Kansas State in the First Four game and then beat Cincinnati in the first round. The Demon Deacons were one of the best teams in the ACC down the stretch and John Collins is the best big man in the country and cannot be stopped if he gets the ball on the block.

– There are teams like Baylor, Iowa State, and Florida State that have as much talent as anybody and have the potential to reach the Final Four, but have just as good of a chance of laying an egg and losing in the first round.

– The committee relies too much on geography as opposed to simply seeding teams purely on aptitude. Their intention is to minimize travel and missed class time, but instead it unnecessarily alters seeding.

– When in doubt, don’t trust a team who is in the tournament for the first time in a while (South Carolina, Virginia Tech, Northwestern). Most of the time, these teams look at just getting to the tournament as a victory. Sometimes they come out too fired up and force too many things or they don’t adapt to the tournament atmosphere or routine.

– The 12 over five upset is always popular, but the only one I feel confident in is Middle Tennessee over Minnesota. The Blue Raiders defeated Michigan State as a 15-seed last year and with most of those players still on the team, they have nothing but confidence as they take on another Big Ten squad.

– Everyone is on the Michigan bandwagon and think they could make some noise in the tournament after winning the Bg Ten Tournament Sunday….not happening. Oklahoma State will take care of the Wolverines in the first round. The Cowboys boast Jawun Evans, the best player you haven’t heard of and they will give Louisville all they can handle in the second round.

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