Saturday, March 17, 2007

Bracket Banter

Surprise, surprise. We are through the first round of the tournament and the top 5 seeds in each region are all standing. And the only two upsets, Winthrop and VCU knocking off Notre Dame and Duke from the 11 seed, are hardly shockers. Both mid-major schools have received a ton of publicity all season, were picked by many so-called experts to win, and had many upset factors in their favor, such as veteran players, inexperienced opponent, riding a hot streak.

What does the lack of upsets mean? Well, some great matchups over the weekend and more proof the selection committee did a terrible job with the last few at large teams. I think Stanford’s stellar performance against Louisville (down 26 at the half) , Illinois ability to blow a double-digit lead to an overrated Virginia Tech, and Arkansas inability to make it close with USC all lend credence to the selection committee mishap. Given the last time the top 5 seeds all made it to round 2 back in 2000 yielded a Final Four with two 8-seeds and a 5-seed, pretty much means early success does not guarantee anything for the favorites.

Wisconsin and Memphis both received scares in the first round. I picked both of them to get knocked off in the second round, and their Day One problems support that. Wisconsin has wilted a bit down the stretch and losing Brian Butch takes away a big part of the outside game, plus UNLV has a tough team. I like Nevada over Memphis, more for how good I think Nevada is than how overrated Memphis is. Fazekas is as good as they come, and his supporting case showed their medal during a sub-par first round performance, for his standards. The only big win for Memphis in recent memory is a 1-point OT win against Gonzaga, after they lost Josh Heyfelt.

Watch that Michigan St.-UNC game. The Spartans are capable of beating anyone. They have the talent, they have the go-to guy and leader in Neitzel, and that guy Izzo is not that bad in big spots either. Besides UNLV and Nevada, the other underdog to keep an eye on in Round two is Louisville. I like A&M, but Louisville has played extremely well over the last month, and absolutely dominated Stanford. They may be peaking at just the right time. And with Gus Johnson at the mic, god I hope its a close one.

Well, off we go to Round 2. More than upsets, hopefully this round brings us more games that come down to the wire.


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