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Archive for March, 2011

NCAA Tournament picks

Posted by mizzou1028 on March 17, 2011

I don’t usually do well in these things.  I’ll say that right up front, but then again no one does well in these things.  There is a reason why the secretary who doesn’t know the basketball is round usually wins.  The NCAA tournament is the most unpredictable event in sports, and that’s what makes it must see theater every year.

Before we get started, I think the committee did their worst job in years this go around.  In my opinion Clemson, Georgia (as a 10 seed!), UAB and VCU all were at best questionable inclusions and at worst horrible crimes.  I think Colorado, Virginia Tech, Alabama, Saint Mary’s and Boston College ALL had better resumes than the above mentioned four teams, in particular UAB and VCU.  UAB proved Tuesday night why they don’t belong after getting run off the floor by Clemson, and VCU finished fourth in the Colonial.  I know VCU beat USC tonight, but I am still at a loss for why they are in.  I think for Colorado to not get in with six top-50 wins is ridiculous.  To be fair their non-conference schedule was probably the reason, but even with that they are clearly a better team than UAB or VCU.  You think UAB goes 9-7 in the Big 12?  I don’t either.

Now, on to the picks, just don’t trust them.  (Click here for my full bracket)

East Region:

I’ve got pretty much chalk here, with no first round upsets in this region.  I actually think this is the deepest region, which is somewhat unfair to Ohio State, the top overall seed in the tournament.  The only real upset potential here is Marquette as an 11-seed, but I really like Xavier in that matchup.  I think Clemson has no chance against West Virginia in the 12-5 game after the quick turnaround from the Dayton trip.  I also really don’t like Villanova coming off five straight losses going against a hot George Mason team.  In the second round, I have the higher seeds winning with one exception: I have Washington upsetting North Carolina in the second round.  I just don’t like the way the Tar Heels played in the ACC tournament, falling behind big in every game.  I also think Washington has momentum after winning the Pac-10 tournament, and I think their guards, especially Isiah Thomas, can run with North Carolina.  I think they’ll trip up after that tough, as I don’t like the way they match up with a more physical Syracuse team.  In the sweet 16, I have Ohio State and Syracuse advancing, with the Buckeyes advancing to the Final Four.  Tough region or not, Ohio State is very good and they are built to not give games away.

West Region:

I have three lower seeds winning in the first round here.  First, I have Tennessee beating Michigan in the 8-9 game, which of course doesn’t qualify as much of an upset.  I also have Penn State winning as a 10 seed against Temple.  I have really liked the Nittany Lions all year and I think they’ll win one game in Tucson.  I also have Missouri winning as an 11-seed against Cincinnati.  I know the Tigers have stunk on the road this season, but I think this is a really good matchup for them.  I think Marcus Denmon will be the difference.  I also think Cincinnati should be seeded much lower than six and would be if they weren’t in the Big East.  I thought about picking Memphis to upset Arizona, but I think the Wildcats are too talented for the young Tigers.  In the second round, I have the top four seeds advancing to the sweet 16.  I think Arizona-Texas will be the best second round matchup, but I am choosing to think we’ll see the Texas from a month ago and not the one that lost at Nebraska.  In fact I like the Longhorns to upset Duke in the sweet 16 in Anaheim.  I think Duke was at the top of a very mediocre ACC this season, and while Kyrie Irving is coming back there is no way he’ll be 100 percent.  I think the Longhorns are more than talented enough to take them out.  I also have UConn beating San Diego State in a mini-upset.  The Aztecs are a very good team, but after UConn ran through the Big East tournament, they’ve shown they can beat anyone.  Besides, Kemba Walker is a game changer.  I also like the Huskies to get past Texas and make it to the Final Four because of Walker.

Southeast Region:

This is the weakest of the four regions in my opinion.  Hence why I have four upsets in round one.  I have Old Dominion winning the 8-9 game against Butler in what actually shapes up to be one of the best games in the first round.  Old Dominion is actually a deserving at large from the Colonial, hence the pick.  I also have Gonzaga beating St. John’s in the 6-11 matchup.   Steve Lavin’s club has only been good at Madison Square Garden, and this game is in Denver at altitude.  My two biggest shockers though are Kansas State losing to Utah State in the 5-12 game (I think the Aggies are the best non-BCS team in the field and the Wildcats have been too streaky) and Belmont taking out Wisconsin in the 4-13 game.  I think the Badgers play a slower style that has the potential to allow an athletic team to run on them.  Belmont is a team that no one knows about but they have some players.  I think the get Wisconsin.  In the second round, I like the trend of upsets to continue, with Gonzaga stunning BYU.  I know Jimmer Fredette is really good, but he’s one player.  I like the Bulldogs to keep going on a hunch.  I also like Utah State to get past Belmont in a 12-13 game.  After that I go chalk, with Pitt and Florida meeting in the Elite Eight.  Florida mainly gets there mainly because the other teams they will play are favorable matchups for them.  I think the Panthers have some flaws, but I think they are the best team in this region mainly because they’re battle tested from the Big East.  I think they get past the Gators and move to the Final Four.

West Region:

Only one first round upset here, but it’s a doozy.  I have Richmond beating Vanderbilt in the 5-12 game.  I think the Commodores are talented, but Richmond has some great 3-point shooters and I think they will be able to run in this game.  A hunch says the Spiders win.  I believe the upset potential with Richmond doesn’t end there.  I also think they’ll stun Louisville in the second round.  I really like Rick Pitino’s team, and I know the made the final of the Big East tournament, but they have a tendency to fall behind big in games and they have many times been able to come back.  I think that will burn them in this tournament and it could be early.  I do have the top three seeds advancing to the sweet 16, with the top two, Kansas and Notre Dame, meeting in the Elite Eight.  I think the Jayhawks are very talented and deep, especially with the Morris twins, but I think the Irish run their offense better than any team in the country, and if they are hot from three as they often are, I think they’ll get enough treys to upset KU and move to the Final Four.

Final Four:

I have three Big East teams here, and I think that makes sense since it was far and away the best conference this season.  For many Big East teams, the competition here is not as good as what they just saw in the Big East tournament.  I think a Notre Dame-Pitt national semifinal has the potential to be very physical, but again I think the Irish will get free for threes thanks to Pitt’s tendency to slack on perimeter defense.  I like Notre Dame to win that matchup.  In the other game, while UConn’s run has been amazing, I think it will come to an end against Ohio State.  I think the Buckeyes are the best team in the country, and they will play like it when it matters most.  They have the inside game with Jared Sullinger and they also have the guard play.  In the title game, I think Ohio State will be too much for any opponent that they end up seeing.  I like the Buckeyes to win the national championship because they don’t crack under pressure, and they will not panic in a tournament setting.  Besides, they are the best team, it makes sense.

Just don’t be surprised if these picks are all wrong.  They almost always are.

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Random Thoughts

Posted by mizzou1028 on March 10, 2011

Obviously I’ve been a delinquent when it comes to posting new content lately.  Here goes with an attempt to catch up quickly:

– I really think the NFL and the players union don’t realize the bomb that they are sitting on.  The NFL is unquestionably the best sports league in America by a country mile, yet the owners and players are dangerously close to killing the golden goose.  In an economy where people can’t afford to pay season tickets, the two sides are fighting over a $9 billion pie.  Not exactly a good way to engender goodwill with the fans.

– The NHL has still not recovered from its lockout that erased the 2004-05 season.  It took Major League Baseball three years to erase the damage done by the 1994 players strike, and at that it was only the McGwire-Sosa home run chase that did that.  The NFL and the players are assuming that the fans will come back as soon as a deal is struck, even if games or an entire season are lost.  That may be, but there is no law that says the NFL must remain uber-popular.  If the two sides aren’t careful they may see themselves looking up at some of the other professional sports leagues.

– It is doubly disappointing that the Broncos finally seem to be headed in a very positive direction under John Elway and John Fox, but it may be long time before we see any of these efforts on the field.  Ultimately my money is on football being played in September, but if this thing gets dragged through the courts that is no guarantee and it will get really ugly to boot.

– Congratulations are in order for the Northern Colorado Bears on the first ever NCAA tournament appearance.  Two years ago this team won four games.  That’s a turnaround that’s certainly worthy of a mention.

– It’s awesome to see that there is some good college basketball being played in this state.  The CU Buffs are showing that they might be very dangerous in the NCAA tournament thanks to the play of Alec Burks and Cory Higgins.  This team should easily be in the top half of the new Pac-12 next season, especially if Burks returns for another season.

– Of course I will always watch as much college basketball as I can in March, but my hopes aren’t as high for my alma matter.  Missouri has enough talent to be a contender, but for whatever reason they haven’t been able to get it together and have fallen from top 10 team to a club that is very likely to get bounced out of the NCAA tournament in the first round.  At least they’re going to get in, so I shouldn’t complain too much.  Plus this team only has one senior so next year could be very bright.

– While I will always watch college over the NBA, I have found myself to be more interested in the Nuggets now than at any other time this season.  I have found this team to be very refreshing after they chucked out the player who shall not be named.  There is actual effort on defense and much more team play.  The Nuggets are 6-2 since the trade, and might have enough in them to win a playoff series.  The Knicks have lost twice to the Cavaliers.  Just saying.

– As for the Avalanche, it’s hard to find anything positive to say.  The team has won once in the past month.  They traded their best goalie, Craig Anderson, who is now playing much better in Ottawa than he did here.  They also inexplicably traded young star Chris Stewart to St. Louis.  They have been clobbered twice by Edmonton, the worst team in the league, during the past two weeks.  I am one who doesn’t think the NHL doesn’t get enough coverage, but with the Avs there isn’t much to say except the negative right now.

– I am very excited about the Rockies’ prospects this season, provided they can avoid the slow starts that have plagued them in recent seasons.  If they can come out of the gates fast I think winning the NL West is very doable thanks to a solid rotation (yes it is possible in Colorado), and in my opinion the best lineup top to bottom in the division.  Of course nationally no one will give them any credit and ESPN won’t show any of their games.  If Carlos Gonzalez played in New York he would be front and center nationally.  I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say he could be a legitimate triple crown threat one of these years.

Coming next week: My NCAA tournament picks.  Use with peril when it comes to your office pool.

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