Covering University of Colorado sports, mostly basketball, since 2010

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Bracket Bullshit

Now that I've finally begun calming down after the initial waves of shock and rage filtered through my system, I can start to take a look at the national bracket and fill in my pool sheets.  Painful rebuke of my beloved Colorado Basketball team notwithstanding, I still love brackets.  Nothing will ever change this.  I still feel the NCAA Tournament, with all of it's selection warts, is the second purest expression of competition in the world (second only to the FA cup in England; no selection, and amateur teams have the potential to play, and beat, world-class squads like Man U.). 

Statistically, and I'm taking a risk by trusting Wikipedia on this, there are 147.57 quintillion bracket possibilities in the 68 team field.  Since no one is going to try and pick the first round games this year, the real number is 9.2 quintillion for a 64 team field.  You have a better chance of winning the lottery twice this year than randomly picking a perfect bracket.  Luckily, with a little knowledge, you can make things easier on yourself.  

To be sure, everyone has their own method of selecting teams, but here are a few things I see when looking at this year's field.

  • Two teams, Ohio State and Kansas, jump out at me.  They're not only quality basketball teams, faring well in all statistical measures, but they've also avoided random losses throughout the season.  They seem to be a step above the rest of the field and like '05, when Illinois played UNC, and '08, when Kansas played Memphis, they seemed primed to roll through the Tournament.  In all of my brackets I've placed Kansas and Ohio State in the final.
  • The rest of my Final Four is up in the air.  I think the Southeast will be a disaster this year, and upsets will be frequent.  Pitt couldn't even win one game in the Big East tourney, so I'm going to look elsewhere. Florida is regionally protected, so, even though I think their team is crap, I'll go with them. That only leaves the West.  The defending National Champions Duke get shuttled all the way out to Anaheim for the sweet-sixteen and elite eight rounds.  Should SDSU make it there, that could make things difficult for the Dukies.  My wild card pick in this region is, however, UCONN.  Kemba Walker is incredible, and, as long as he's not too tired from winning 5 games in 5 days in the Big East Tournament, the Huskies could go far.  I actually ended up picking them to reach the Final Four.
  • For "second-round" upsets I've targeted Richmond over Vandy, Utah St over KSU, Belmont over Wisconsin, and Gonzaga over St John's.  For "Cinderellas" (low seeded teams who make the sweet sixteen) I could see a team like Xavier or Utah St slipping past higher-seeded teams.
  • High seeds I would avoid advancing too far are Texas, BYU and Louisville.  I think teams have begun to figure out Texas, as they've gone 4-4 over their last 8. Louisville isn't necessarily weak, but I really like Richmond, and if they play in the "third round," the Spiders could push them.
It hurts not being able to slide CU past a BYU or Syracuse into the sweet sixteen, but by Thursday morning I'll be fully enthralled by brackets in all of their majesty.  If you've got your own picks, sleeper or otherwise, I'd love to hear them.  Just don't tell me you picked St Peter's because you think the Peacock mascot is "different."


Rico said...

Well obviously a Boilermaker will stomp a peacock...But I would take a peacock over a spider anyday...

aaron.jordan said...

Belmont over Wisconsin? C'mon man, they have no major wins that I can see, I just don't think they will keep up.

Also I am curious about how you think Texas matches up against Duke, and how Syracuse matches up against North Carolina?

I have Texas and Syracuse winning both those games, mostly because I tend to play favorites in my brackets, and I won't change my picks, but I am curious if I have a chance?

RumblinBuff said...

Dude, but what if it's one of those giant spiders from Arachnophobia? What's a Peacock gonna do, shake its feathers at it?

Duke can beat Texas, if only because they have the depth to defend UT's scoring threats. If Syracuse can get past Xavier then they're golden against UNC. The problem is Xavier is playing essentially a home game, and I think Xavier has a good shot of pulling the upset.