Friday, March 22, 2013

2013 Men's Basketball Bracket Analysis

2012 March Madness Bracket Analysis
Here is my belated analysis of the brackets. I got caught yesterday watching (of course) I know we have seen a full day's worth of games already, but I will approach this analysis with virgin eyes. Later today, I will post my review of first day action, including some tidbits from watching Belmont-Arizona and Harvard-New Mexico live at Energy Solutions Arena in Salt Lake City.



Louisville over N.C. A&T: No explanation necessary
Colorado St. over Missouri: the Rams play in the underrated Mountain West (MWC) and rebound really well
Oregon over Oklahoma St.: The Ducks should have been seeded higher. I don't put too much faith in conference tourneys, but the Ducks have played well. I'm thinking that Marcus Smart won't take over this game for the Cowboys
Saint Louis over N. Mexico St.: I love the Billikens. They've played extremely well against some top competition in the A-10. I think they have a shot to go far
St. Mary's over Memphis: I think Memphis are vulnerable due to youth and potentially bad FT shooting. And Matthew Dellavedova is a baller. Kenpom has St. Mary's ranked 19th, for what it's worth
Michigan St. over Valparaiso: Truth be told, I have no idea if Valparaiso are good. But the Spartans are
Creighton over Cincinnati: This was tough. Do I take the athleticism of Cincy, or the NBA talent in Doug McDermott and Creighton? It always scares me when the opposing team has an NBA player; regardless of the talent on the squad I think will win, a potential NBAer on the other side can always take over the game. I filled out 5 brackets and picked Creighton 3 times, including in this one
Duke over Albany: to my peril, I'm picking Duke to win the first round. I think they're good, but at some point, Quinn Cook's recklessness may bite them


Gonzaga over Southern: Number one seed…
Pitt over Wichita State: I really want to pick Wichita state. But Pitt rebounds so well and I respect the competition in the Big East. But the Shockers scare me: they lost by only three to VCU last year. To me, this is a toss-up
Wisconsin over Mississippi State: I think Bo Ryan's grind-it-out style and solid defense helps his players win what could be a minor upset
Kansas State over La Salle: I thought Boise would be here, but Kansas State are playing at home
Belmont over Arizona: Looking back, I have no idea why I picked Belmont. I just thought the Pac 12 potentially had too many teams seeded in the wrong ways, and I remember the way the Bruins played Duke a few years ago. Of course, they haven't done anything since
New Mexico over Harvard: I love the Lobos' brand of defense and execution in the post. Harvard has never won a tournament game, and Jeremy Lin isn't walking through that door (or maybe he is, but not in a Crimson uniform – or maybe it will be crimson, but say "Rockets" on the front, you know what I mean)
Iowa State over Notre Dame: 3-point shooting can be magic in the tourney
Ohio State over Iona: Ohio State are good. Where are Iona from?


Kansas over W. Kentucky: Nothing to see here, it's not the real Kentucky. Though if it was, the outcome would be about the same
North Carolina over Villanova: I like the way the Tar Heels have come on in the last little bit
VCU over Akron: VCU is one of the best teams in the tournament. Nice to see them getting respect for it, I think coach Smart keeps it from getting to their heads
Michigan over South Dakota State: I want to see a great game from Nate Wrolters and Trey Burke, but I think the Wolverines have too many pieces
Minnesota over UCLA: UCLA is banged up, and Minnesota is talented enough to win one game. The X-factor: does Shabazz Muhammad get free reign to take over the game in Jordan Adams' absence? If Shabazz has 15 by halftime, look out. This game could also easily be won be whichever coach screws up less: Ben Howland or Tubby Smith
Florida over Northwestern State: The Gators are vulnerable, but are playing in the South
San Diego State over Oklahoma: Good defense and rebounding from the MWC
Georgetown over Florida Gulf Coast: Georgetown is really good and Otto Porter is a gamer


Indiana over James Madison: If I was a reporter or paid analyst, I'd have some factoid about James Madison. But you're reading this on a blog I update in my spare time
Temple over N.C. State: Khalif Wyatt can score and N.C. State can give up lots of points. The question is: is he good enough to beat Indiana?
UNLV over California: This game isn't fair. UNLV already won at Cal, and now they have to do it again (this game is in Cal's backyard). Anthony Bennett is good though, and I'm sticking with the Rebels
Syracuse over Montana: In Boeheim I trust
Butler over Bucknell: I think Bucknell will give Butler a scare, but the Bulldogs win close tournament games
Marquette over Davidson: I haven't seen much of Marquette or any of Davidson. I just know Davidson doesn't have Steph Curry anymore – is there another pro on the roster?
Illinois over Colorado: I have no reason why I didn't pick the Buffaloes. This was a mistake that will be rectified in the round of 32
Miami over Pacific: Miami is senior-laden and toyed with the ACC. You read that last part right


Louisville over Colorado St.: This is where the Rams' run ends: the Cardinals are just too good
Saint Louis over Oregon: Same for the Ducks/Billikens. I love the Billikens' game. 6th in adjusted defense (from KenPom)? I'll take it
Michigan St. over St. Mary's: Michigan State are 8th in adjusted defense. St. Mary's may not get past the first round. Here is where good teams allow you to make up for first round mistakes
Duke over Creighton: I'm secretly terrified of either Creighton or Cincy. Both can take the Blue Devils inside, and I don't know that Duke has the bench depth to do anything about it. The way Duke's perimeter players shoot will be key to this game. I'm not confident about this game for Duke

Gonzaga over Pitt: I think the Zags are not as good as their ranking having been sucked into picking them too high too many times. But they can score and I don't know that Pitt will keep up
Kansas St. over Wisconsin: Wisconsin always flames out early, and I think their slow style hurts in the tournament, where luck can be a big factor. By limiting possessions, they are giving themselves fewer opportunities to prove their talent and give things like a fluke three pointer much greater significance. And in a 40-50 point game, a fluke 3 pointer could be the difference. Finally, the Wildcats are playing at home, where they've lost only once this season, a close game to Kansas
New Mexico over Belmont: That part about rectifying mistakes? Here's where it comes into play
Ohio St. over Iowa St.: I have a sneaky suspicion that OSU, like Duke, could be vulnerable in the second round. How well does Aaron Craft play here?

Kansas over North Carolina: Kansas has the defensive athletes to brake UNC. Releford and Withey are a joy to watch
VCU over Michigan: Can Trey Burke beat Havoc? People have thought that of other high profile teams/players before. I'm riding with the Rams
Florida over Minnesota: Billy Donovan over Tubby Smith is worth, what, five points? Ten? Fifteen?
Georgetown over San Diego St.: The Hoyas play terrific defense in a league of terrific defenses

Indiana over Temple: Indiana has too much offense at too many positions
UNLV over Syracuse: The UNLV/Cal winner will have a huge geographic advantage against a Syracuse team travelling coast to coast. In some brackets, however, I have Syracuse making it to the Final Four. Conclusion: sometimes I'm just guessing. Admit it, you do, too
Marquette over Butler: I think the Bulldogs are a bit weaker this year than in year's past, for good reason: it's hard to make deep runs year after year, but Butler will be back
Miami over Illinois: Miami's seniors know how to win


Saint Louis over Louisville: The regular season success of Rick Pitino's teams have historically precluded tournament results. One of the Cardinals' biggest weapons, their number 1 ranked adjusted defense, can be devastating in the tourney when teams have little time prepare for the press. But Saint Louis has a week to do so here. Oh, and another thing: the Billikens owned VCU this year, the same VCU team that causes havoc with its press. I have a sneaky suspicion Saint Louis may win this handily. Of course, they're now jinxed
Duke over Michigan St.: I think Michigan State is the better team. But I think Duke has one more weekend because of Seth Curry. Curry, if you don't know, has been dealing with a debilitating shin injury the whole year, one that has held him out of practice. It's especially bad when Duke plays games close together. He has a week to prepare himself for this one, and I think he carries them to the Elite Eight

Gonzaga over Kansas St.: The Wildcats aren't in Kansas anymore, and I think the Zags will score
New Mexico over Ohio St.: You know how I was worried about Ohio State? Thing is, they are also good enough to win it all. They're better than the Zags in this bracket, and I don't know that they're worse than New Mexico. But I have a feeling about this Lobos squad, how talented they are in the interior, and I've always been a fan of Steve Alford's even-keeled coaching demeanor. Whichever team wins this will advance to the Final Four

Kansas over VCU: I struggled wit this one. A lot. In most of my brackets, I have VCU in the Final Four, and even in the Final in one. I don't know that Elijah Johnson can beat the press any better than Trey Burke can. But I also think years of getting punked by mid majors will end here for Kansas (though you could easily make the point that getting punked time after time, including by the same Rams as a number 1 seed in 2011, is a trend). Overall, I think the winner of this game makes the Final Four, and I just don't think the Rams were as good as they were even last year. That said, my reasoning may be colored by a few losses to Saint Louis, who I have making the Final Four, and VCU's offense is underrated. A hot shooting night could do the Jayhawks in. To me, this is a wash
Georgetown over Florida: Florida's habit of blowing leads and losing close games can be attributed to luck. Try telling that to a good Georgetown squad that I think will have good composure. I don't think Florida makes it far this year

Indiana over UNLV: I think Indiana's weaker than their record, ratings, etc. show, but I think they're better than UNLV
Miami over Marquette: I don't believe in Marquette at all, and have little confidence they'll make it even this far. And they're a three seed? Maybe I should watch more basketball


Saint Louis over Duke: At some point, Quinn Cook is going to hurt the Devils. I know that losing Ryan Kelly was big, but Quinn has been awful in some Duke losses this year, and even in wins, you see a lot of 3-10, 3-11 shooting lines. He just doesn't take care of the rock like a Jon Scheyer or Nolan Smith and I think that comes back to haunt the Blue Devils. On the second game in a weekend, I don't think Seth Curry has the legs for it

New Mexico over Gonzaga: The Zags are weak one seed and this is the ultimate offense versus defense test. What happens when the shots don't fall?

Kansas over Georgetown: Kansas is solid 1-5 and I think they take the Hoyas down. The Jayhawks play defense at a comparable rate and are much better at scoring

Indiana over Miami: I think Miami has a good shot at the Final Four and I think Indiana is weak. The seniors on Miami make them a tantalizing team and I have picked them to win in one bracket. But in my official analysis (ok, maybe not analysis, maybe official hypothesis?), Indiana survives. The one x-factor: I love Jim Laranaga. He may be worth a win over Tom Crean's asinine substitution pattern


Saint Louis over New Mexico: Saint Louis has played good defensive teams and scored on them all. I'm riding the ghost of Rick Majerus all the way to the title game

Kansas over Indiana: Indiana will fall. Note it. Not so sure about Kansas


Kansas over Saint Louis, 57-52: I should have gone higher on the score, no way this game is in the 50's. This should be a great game, the ghosts of Jayhawks past against the ghost of Rick Majerus. And I so badly wanted to pick a mid major to go far. In the end, I think Kansas is the nation's best tournament team, and Bill Self will pick up a second title

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