Posts Tagged ‘ncaa men’s basketball tournament’

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March Madness – Round One Wrap Up

March 21, 2009

After a solid first day of predictions, I had a miserable second day, missing six more games and losing an Elite 8 team.

First Round: 23 of 32 correct
Sweet 16 Deaths: 3 (Wake Forest, Boston College, Portland State)
Elite 8 Deaths: 1 (Boston College)

Honestly, I had a really hard time filling out the bracket this year. I’ve watched more college basketball this season than I probably have in the rest of my life combined and I’ve been tracking box scores, leaderboards, conference standings, and weekly rankings since day one. In 80% of these games, I could make a strong case for either team winning and it only gets harder as the rounds advance.

My biggest problem area was in the bottom half of the Midwest Region, where I had Boston College advancing to the Elite 8… a team I’ve never even considered a top 25 team all season long, even when they earned that ranking by beating a then #1 UNC earlier this year. So how on earth did they find their way into my top 8 teams? Well, for starters, I didn’t think USC was a tournament team this year. However, they did win the Pac-10 tournament, beating a few teams I think are clearly better than them. Secondly, if BC had beaten USC, they’d be matched up with Michigan State in the 2nd round and MSU has been the most overrated team in all of college basketball this season. I’ve been saying that all season long, so how could I not pick them to lose to BC? In the Sweet 16, I would’ve had a BC-Kansas match-up and I was really close to taking North Dakota State over Kansas in the first round… so could I really take to the Elite 8 after nearly giving them a first round exit? I think what it comes down to… is I don’t think there’s a team in the bottom half of the Midwest Region that is a top 8 team in the nation. MSU is overrated and plays in one of the weaker big 6 conferences and Kansas, while defending champs, are too young and inexperienced; that they even played their way to a 3 seed this year is remarkable to me.

I suppose I get minor kudos for picking two #12 teams correctly (Arizona and Western Kentucky). In most years, those would be considered big upsets… but I’m not surprised by either of them. Arizona has the longest active streak of consecutive tournament appearances, so despite the low ranking this year, they are about as seasoned a program as there is. Not only is the school storied in the tournament, but they got a solid nucleus of talent with Jordan Hill, Chase Budinger, and Nic Wise… those guys are good enough to contend with just about anyone when they are firing on all cylinders, and let’s face it, Utah isn’t exactly a powerhouse organization.

Western Kentucky beating Illinois wasn’t a big shocker either. Only a year ago, they went to Sweet 16 as a #12 seed, so it’s not like this is a news flash. Also, Illinois isn’t blowing anyone’s mind with their talent level. Which brings me to….

Biggest Upset Of Round One: Cleveland State over Wake Forest – This should be the biggest bracket buster across the nation. Wake Forest has been inconsistent enough this year for this to seem possible, but they also have the talent of a team that can win a national championship. In my eyes, this loss would be on par with any of the #2 seeds losing in the first round. I’ve seen Wake play a couple of times this year and when they are on, they look like a top 5 team. For all the problems I had in the bottom half of the Midwest bracket, I would’ve taken Wake Forest to the Elite 8 over any of those teams (Kansas, USC, MSU, BC, West Virginia, Dayton). I’m sad to see such a talented team ousted so early. With that said, Cleveland State deserves some credit…. while they have earned the Cinderella moniker for the tournament, they did beat a then undefeated Syracuse team earlier this year… a team that is now in the top 12 nationally. Cleveland State certainly has it in them to advance to the Sweet 16 as Arizona should be an easier fight than Wake Forest.

Game To Watch: Washington vs Purdue – I think even outside of Washington this has to be seen as the most interesting match-up tomorrow. I hate Big Ten basketball this year and I’d love to see the Huskies pound the Boilermakers, but it’s hard to call. Personally, I think UW is easily the better team.

Runner-Up: Maryland vs Memphis – While I didn’t predict this upset, I do think the Terps can give Memphis a run for its money tomorrow, especially with how tough a time the Tigers had with CSU Northridge on Thursday. Memphis is one of the harder teams to judge this year. It wouldn’t be outlandish to say they have mediocre results against good teams this year; they lost games to Georgetown, Syracuse, and Xavier. They only have one win over a solid team and that was a decisive win against Gonzaga. Watch out now….