Posts Tagged ‘NCAA tournament’

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NCAA Tournament – West Region Predictions

March 15, 2010

For the next several weeks, my blog is going to take a shift focus towards the NCAA tournament… my favorite event in all of sports. Today, let’s take a look at the West Region.

FIRST ROUND


#1 Syracuse vs #16 Vermont: There’s some history behind this match-up. Vermont ousted Syracuse from the 2005 NCAA tournament in the first round and look to do so again. Not going to happen. Even with Arinze Onauku likely out with an injury, the Orange are simply a much better team. Syracuse

#8 Gonzaga vs #9 Florida State: The Zags should win this game. They’ve been a Top 15 team all year long and are pretty unlucky to be seeded this low. Even with the loss to St. Marys, this seems unfair. I’d be highly upset if FSU knocks them out. Gonzaga

#5 Butler vs #12 UTEP: Probably the most interesting first round match-up in the top half of the region. Both of these teams pretty much ran through their respective conferences (Butler 18-0, UTEP 15-1 in league play) and neither had a ton of success against good teams in non-conference play. Butler did pick up a win against Ohio State, but the Buckeyes were without Evan Turner, so even that comes with an asterisk. Also, their starting line-ups boast similar talent levels. I’m going to give a slight edge Butler in this game, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see an upset. Butler

#4 Vanderbilt vs #13 Murray State: Vanderbilt went 6-2 against teams that made the field this year, with both losses coming against Kentucky. There was a point in time when I thought Vanderbilt was the best unranked team in the country, so to see them as a 4 seed here is pretty validating. Murray State is kind of a wild card. They stormed their way to 30 wins by demolishing the Ohio Valley Conference and California is really the only noteworthy team they played all year, but they only lost that game by five points. I’ve seen some people calling this upset, but I’m not going to be one of them. Vanderbilt

#6 Xavier vs #11 Minnesota: Minnesota is a hard team to predict; they are one of a very few teams that can say they beat Ohio State with Evan Turner in the line-up… but they also go destroyed by that same Buckeye team twice later in the season. They also hold wins over Purdue and Butler and went 1-2 in 3 close games against Michigan State. I haven’t really seen either of these teams play and even though Xavier is 2-7 against teams in the field, my hunch says they will out run and gun the Golden Gophers. Xavier

#3 Pittsburgh vs #14 Oakland: Pitt has been one of the more surprising teams this year. After losing a very key core of players from last season, I expected them to be a non-factor, yet here they are as a #3 seed. They went 3-1 against teams ranked in the top 5 at the time of the game. They are certainly capable of beating anyone. Regardless, I really want to call an upset here. I’ve been following Keith Benson all season and that dude can flat out play. With that said, Oakland played four games against tournament teams and lost all four of those games by an average of 27.25 points and I just can’t pull the trigger. Pittsburgh

#7 BYU vs #10 Florida: This should be the most exciting battle in the West in the first round. Florida has been a little inconsistent this year, but are capable of the upset. I really like their freshmen guard Kenny Boynton. BYU simply has more talent and should win this game though. BYU

#2 Kansas State vs #15 Northern Texas: I don’t know anything about Northern Texas except that someone on a site I post at has been saying they’ll upset someone in the first round of the tournament if they happen to get in… and here they are. Kansas State has been ridiculously strong all season long, however, and one of the more surprising teams in my opinion and I just don’t see them losing here. Kansas State

Pretty straight forward round in this region and I’m calling no upsets. The teams with the best chances of pulling off the upset are Florida and UTEP. I still haven’t completely filled out my brackets, but looking ahead, the second round is going to have some seriously tough match-ups. My top four favorites for the Elite Eight are Syracuse, Gonzaga, BYU, and Kansas State, but if the first round goes as planned, those four will be playing one another in the second round. Brutal.

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What’s Wrong with the Pac-10?

January 22, 2010

Dear lord… it seems like it’s been forever since I’ve updated this blog. My access to the internet has been extremely spotty over the past 2-3 months due to moving and the cable bill continually changing hands. I’m finally settled now and I think I’m going to be here for a while… well, at least I have my connection set up for the time being.

So on to the question: what the hell is up with the Pac-10 in college basketball this year? It’s a brutally, ugly mess. Prior to the start of the season, we all knew it was going to be a down year in the conference, but I don’t think anyone saw it being this bad; Washington and California, at least, looked like nationally relevant teams. As we near February, with the first third of the conference schedule behind us, however, there’s not a single team in the Pac-10 that looks like they’re going to make an impact in the NCAA tournament. Cal and UW have gone from being ranked in the top 15 on every preseason poll in existence to not even registering a single vote in the latest AP poll. In fact, Arizona State, a team that looked like one of the conference’s worst teams in October, is the only Pac-10 team that got any AP love: a whopping three votes total.

As it stands, someone out of this mess of a conference HAS to make the NCAA tournament. We are guaranteed an automatic bid, thankfully. Is it really going to come down to whoever wins the conference tournament? Is the Pac-10 really a one-bid conference? Here’s a look at the current standings:














Team Conf. All
Arizona State 4-2 14-5
California 4-2 12-6
Washington State 4-3 14-5
USC 3-3 11-7
Arizona 3-3 9-9
Stanford 3-3 9-9
UCLA 3-3 8-10
Washington 3-4 12-6
Oregon 2-4 10-8
Oregon State 2-4 8-10

Wow.. someone needs to hone their HTML skills. As it stands, Cal looks like the best team in the conference. They are tied for first in the conference standings, have a decent overall record, and enough talent to justify their performance. What Cal doesn’t have is a single marquee win on their resume. The best team they’ve beat this year is Washington State and they’ve lost badly to any team worth winning against (UW, Kansas, Syracuse). They did at least give Ohio State a game when OSU was ranked #15.

I still think Washington has the best chance for an at large bid, but their conference performance has been miserable. They have notable wins over Texas A&M (ranked 19th at the time) and California, killed Portland (a top 25 team at one point), and lost a brutally close game to a pretty good (at the time) Texas Tech team. On top of some good wins on their resume, the Huskies have enough talent on the team to believe they can have a strong finish to the conference schedule. Unless something horrible happens, I still think they are tournament bound.

Arizona State and USC are the question marks in the league. Neither of these teams are supposed to be very good. ASU looked considerably weak after losing James Harden and Jeff Pendergraph, yet they embarrassed a good Washington team and beat Washington State. USC was supposed to be a disaster after a controversial off-season that left the program in shambles. However, since December 8th, they’ve gone 9-3 with a huge win over #9 Tennessee and respectable victories over St. Marys, UNLV, and Arizona State. Mike Gerrity has been a difference-maker for the Trojans and they’ve certainly been a different team since he’s been eligible. I’m not really sold on either of these programs, but they’re certainly making some noise in the conference right now.

Washington State has probably been the most consistent team in the conference. They are tied for the best overall record in the conference, have a winning league record, and have one of the nation’s most valuable players in sophomore superstud Klay Thompson. The Cougars aren’t going to be an easy win for anyone and Thompson, 6th in the nation in scoring, is good enough to keep them competitive in any game. I think if any team is going to surprise and win the conference tournament, it’s the Cougars.

Arizona has some potential, but the rest of the conference is only relevant by providing the occasional thorn in the side of the better teams. UCLA is arguably sporting the worst team I’ve ever seen from them, but somehow have managed to eek out wins over Arizona State, UW, and Cal. That’s pretty much been the story in the Pac-10 this year: everyone is beating up on everyone and, so far, no one is really pulling away from the pack. I think Oregon State has solidified themselves as the worst team in the conference, but other than that, everything else is still up in the air. The parity in the league is ridiculous this season, which is exciting for the conference, but on the national level, the Pac-10 has rendered itself a non-factor.

I’ve been reading a lot lately about the Pac-10 being a two-bid conference and that’s a pretty fair assessment. Cal is probably the only current lock to make the tournament and I think UW is still on track for an at large bid, but the Huskies definitely need to step it up in conference play to stay on that pace. I think the Pac-10 will probably end up being a three bid conference with Cal and UW getting in on their resumes and someone unexpected winning the league tournament.