Archive | March, 2013

SATURDAY ROUND OF 32 BREAKDOWN

23 Mar

Michigan vs VCU

The highest turnover rate defensively vs the lowest turnover rate offensively. Michigan has faced two pressure defenses this season in Arkansas and Bradley, and fared OK against them. Of course, the Braves and Razorbacks pale in comparison to what VCU does. Ultimately, I think Burke will be able to handle the pressure, so I think the real issue is how the Rams score in the halfcourt. They’re at .91 ppp when forced to play in halfcourt, which actually isn’t bad. However, UM has looked much better defensively with McGary in the starting lineup. McGary has a high motor and is a much better athlete than people realize. Could be a huge difference in this game. I think Michigan wins, but it will be interesting.

Michigan St vs Memphis

Only chance Memphis has is if Jackson, Johnson, and Crawford force Michigan St guards into poor decisions, which has certainly been an issue for the Spartans at time this season. Michigan St bigs aren’t going to let Memphis work inside out, so I don’t expect a good shooting game from the Tigers. Spartans should win, but Memphis’ ability to get in transition gives you some pause.

Louisville vs. Colorado St

This game could get really interesting. Colorado St’s defense relies on basically daring teams to shoot. They go under screens, they sag off, and they want you to take that jumper, because they know they’re going to get the rebound and get a quick outlet to one of their many ball handlers. This defensive approach is why so many MWC shooters had careers games against the Rams. Can Smith and Siva knock down the jumpers today? I think that’s what this game is going to boil down to, because the Rams will be able to handle Louisville’s pressure. If the Rams get past the initial wave of pressure, they have shooters with Green, Eikmeier, Bejarano who could exploit the Cards, especially if they’re dropping back into a zone.

Arizona vs Harvard

Harvard has no depth, and they’re on a quick turnaround playing in altitude for the first time all year. Arizona’s size will be bothersome, but I said that about New Mexico. Arizona has been poor against the 3 this season, but looked great defensively against one of the better 3 point shooting teams in the country in the first round. I expect Arizona to go inside early, and try to get Kenyatta Smith in foul trouble. Smith is a game changer down low for the Crimson, but he is prone to fouling. Without him, the Crimson have no chance of stopping the much bigger Wildcats. However, if Rivard and Webster shoot like they did against the Lobos, they can certainly stay in this game.

St. Louis vs. Oregon

The Ducks haven’t looked good when they’re not able to utilize the speed of Artis and their athletic wings. SLU, while playing much more and better in transition than they have in years past (thank Jordair Jett), will force Oregon to operate in half court. The Ducks struggled in those types of games, ie UTEP, Cincy, Colorado, Utah. SLU also won’t be vulnerable to the traps Altman loves to employ. The matchup favors SLU, but some of the intangibles favor Oregon. The west coast locale means SLU is out of their normal rhythm, and the crown will be behind Oregon.

Marquette vs Butler

I still can’t believe Marquette beat Davidson. But that has been Marquette’s M.O. all season, so moving on. This is a rematch from the thriller in Hawaii where Rotnei Clarke drained an improbable deep 3 while falling down to win it for Butler at the buzzer. Butler’s interior defense has been at their March best, and Marquette scores almost exclusively inside…except when they’re draining contested 3’s that they haven’t hit all year in wild comebacks. Ok, maybe I haven’t moved on. Butler can be prone to the mid range jump shot (see Joe Willman), but does Marquette have someone who can hit that shot or be willing to take it consistently?

Gonzaga vs Wichita St

Gonzaga’s two losses this year game when a team got hot from 3 (Illinois) and when a team pushed around their guards and were physical with Olynyk and Harris (Butler). Wichita St can play the Butler role, but they can’t play the Illinois role. The Shockers are physical, but they have no shooters. That being said, it’s not impossible for Armstead to get hot, or Early to take Dower/Harris outside for a few big triples. It should be noted how good Wichita St looks in altitude. They’re a team that’s in tremendous physical shape. I think this one is going to be close, and I think the Shockers are going to pull it out.

 

Syracuse vs Cal

I don’t think Monty can go man to man given the height advantage Syracuse’s guards have. I expect he’ll stick with the 3-2 zone to limit MCW penetration, and hope that Cuse just doesn’t get hot from deep (Southerland!). Offensively, Cal has to protect the ball against the aggressive 2-3 zone. They can’t let Cuse get in transition. In the halfcourt, they have to attack the zone, but they won’t get all the way to the rim. Fortunately, Cobbs and Crabbe both have excellent mid range games. Again, Cal will have a distinct home court advantage, and I think they can pull this off, but the player I would fear most if I were Cal is CJ Fair. Fair can get behind the zone and explode quickly. Cal bigs did a tremendous job against Moser and Bennett, but Fair has a different type of quickness.

 

 

 

 

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BRACKET BREAKDOWN

21 Mar

EAST

1 Indiana vs 16 James Madison

The Dukes got into transition with LIU, and it paid off. It won’t against the Hoosiers. The Dukes don’t turn it over much, which is good against IU, but Zeller and Watford should eat them alive inside.

8 NC State vs 9 Temple

Neither team plays defense. NC State is more well rounded offensively than Temple, who often relies on Wyatt getting hot. NC St is a top 20 offense in 2p% and 3p% per KenPom. Temple does have Lee back to help combat Leslie and Howell, but I think NC St escapes a shoot out. There’s also the history of Dunphy teams just not being good in the first round of the tournament. Minor note, Temple is familiar with the arena in Dayton at least, but didn’t shoot entirely well from 3 there, and had 1.06 ppp in a one point win over the Flyers this year.

5 UNLV vs 12 California

An unjustifiable match up created by the committee here. One, it’s regular season rematch, two, Cal is playing in San Jose as the 12 seed. UNLV won that first meeting thanks to a Quintrell Thomas buzzer beating putback on Dec 9. The putback was fitting given the way UNLV dominated the offensive glass that game. That’s also the game Moser dislocated his elbow, and the country really got a good look at just how big of a monster Anthony Bennett is. We can also go back the meeting between these two last year, because a lot of the same issues still exist. They were dominated on the offensive glass in that game as well. Cal will have to regain the focus they had defensively during their seven game winning streak. They lost that edge in back to back losses to Stanford and Utah. While Monty can coach circles around Rice, I think UNLV is too much around the rim for Cal. Crabbe very well could have a Dellavedova type game and carry them to a win, but UNLV guard play defensively has been pretty good lately.

4 Syracuse vs 13 Montana

Syracuse just isn’t that good, but I don’t think Montana will beat them. Montana can shoot the 3, but they don’t grab offensive rebounds, and they don’t turn people over to create those extra possessions needed for an upset. Will Cherry is still hobbled a bit, and they don’t have Mathias Ward. The Orange are traveling across the country, and crossing the Mississippi for just the second time all season (the first was way back on Nov 11 on the aircraft carrier vs SDSU). With Montana not being able to stop the Orange on the glass, MCW will likely get Cuse in trans off Montana 3 point misses. Game could be close for a while, but I think Cuse gets their bearings, and gets past the Grizzlies.

6 Butler vs 11 Bucknell

Very intriguing match up. I talked about this game quite a bit on Twitter, and the more I think about it, the more I like Butler. Bucknell is obviously centered around do everything big man Mike Muscala, and he is a legitimate stud. But Butler’s interior defense is stout, and they have a few bigs to throw at Muscala, a luxury Patriot League teams didn’t have. But the biggest reason I like Butler is that Bucknell doesn’t pressure at all defensively. They simply don’t gamble. They’re next to last in defensive turnover % and steal %. You beat Butler by exposing the fact that they don’t have a point guard, not by letting them run their stuff in the halfcourt. Muscala is going to have to get the foul prone Butler bigs in trouble early, and Johnson and Ayers are going to have to knock down some 3’s, which they are capable of, for Bucknell to win this game in my opinion.

3 Marquette vs 14 Davidson

Everybody’s upset pick is Davidson over Marquette, and rightfully so. I don’t see what’s not to like about Davidson here. They don’t have to travel far, they’re experienced and they’ve been here before, they’re solid defensively, particularly in the interior, and they force you to beat them with 3’s. Marquette  can’t shoot the 3 period. Offensively, Davidson can work inside out or outside in, and they get to the line a line, and they don’t miss once they get there. Marquette’s best road win was over Pitt, who lost Woodall 4 minutes into the game, and it still took the Eagles OT to win. They’ve been a very lucky team all year long, and they only reason I can see Davidson losing this game is if the refs saddle Brooks or Cohen with some cheap fouls early.

7 Illinois vs 10 Colorado

I like this match up for Colorado. Illinois is entirely reliant on the 3, and I think Roberson will shut Paul down like he did Crabbe and Hill. The Buffs are the more physical team, the better defensive team, and the superior rebounding team. I think they get some easy transition points off of long rebounds on Illinois perimeter misses. What the Buffs have to avoid is getting into a shootout with the Illini. Boyle needs to make sure Dinwiddie and Booker know what the plan of attack is, because those two are prone to jacking up the ill advised three. Again, I like this matchup for Colorado, but if Illinois gets hot from 3, they can beat anyone in the country.

2 Miami vs 15 Pacific

It’s been a pleasure staying up late and watching a Bob Thomason coached offense dominate and execute in the half court on a Big West stream with often times no announcers and no scoreboard or clock graphics. I’m being dead serious. I love to watch Pacific on offense. I think Pacific keeps it close in a grind for a while, but eventually the height and athleticism of Miami, plus a Pacific defense that can be picked apart, does the Tigers in.

PREDICTIONS

Indiana over NC St

UNLV over Syracuse

Butler over Davidson

Miami over Colorado

SWEET 16

Indiana over UNLV

Miami over Butler

REGIONAL FINAL

Indiana over Miami

 

BRACKET BREAKDOWN

21 Mar

SOUTH

1 Kansas vs. 16 Western Kentucky

WKU really took off when they finally got Price and Crook together and healthy. They’ll turn the ball over a lot, but ultimately what’s going to make this the biggest one seed over 16 seed blowout is the fact that KU won’t allow Crook into the lane, and WKU isn’t going to be able to generate any sort of open look from anywhere on the court. Not to mention the game is in Kansas City.

8 UNC vs 9 Villanova

Lots has been about how revitalized UNC is since going “small” with four guards, but McAdoo has also been more consistent offensively. He can still go AWOL on the glass though. Villanova has to take care of the ball and not allow transition 3’s. They also have to be aggressive and continue to get to the foul line. They’ve scored more of their points from the stripe than anyone in the country. Big match up is Bullock vs Pinkston. Pinkston is old school, likes to get on the block and play with his back to the basket. Bullock is rangy bomber. Essentially, their match up is a microcosm of the game.

5 VCU vs 12 Akron

Quick and easy analysis of this one is that Abreu is out for Akron, and that leaves the Zips with a frequently cramping, tiny inexperienced point guard in Betancourt against Havoc. It’s the kind of factoid your boss would throw out at you to impress everyone, so my natural inclination is to rebel against it, so I hope I’m not forcing something that isn’t there.  But for some reason, I have a feeling this won’t be as open and shut as we all think it will be. Akron faced Havoc last year, and VCU did force 20 turnovers, but Dambrot is a smart coach. I expect him to use Akron’s tremendous size to help break the press. Harney might see a lot of the ball handling duties, but I question his stamina, and he commits a lot of dumb fouls. Bringing big Zeke Marshall up and having him beat the big secondary swarm around half court with his size is also an option. Once the Zips get into the half court, just getting a shot off could result in points because of VCU’s inability to rebound. Marshall and Treadwell could have a field day cleaning up misses. This game could get very interesting.

4 Michigan vs 13 South Dakota State

Great point guard match up of course with Burke and Wolters. If you’re a Michigan fan, you have to be concerned about SDSU’s ability to shoot the 3 with 4 different guys. Teams that move the ball around quickly really seem to cause great discord among the Michigan defense. They have to switch everything, and when Wolters puts it on the floor, you have to stay in front of him. If Wolters is getting to the rim with ease or kicking to open shooters (Chad White should be playing by the way), things could get ugly. Can Burke do that? He’ll have to, and if Wolters gets  him in foul trouble, you might see LeVert get some serious run. There’s a lot to be concerned about if you’re a Michigan fan, especially with memories of DJ Cooper still fresh in their heads. Interesting stat, Michigan and South Dakota St just don’t foul people. They’re 1 and 4 in the country, respectively, in FTA/FGA per KenPom. Leads me to believe driving lanes will be there for both teams. If Hardaway and Burke avoid the hero ball and get to the rim early, they should avoid the upset. But that defense….Helps that the game is in Auburn Hills of course.

6 UCLA vs 11 Minnesota

Minnesota is so frustrating. Who knows which Gopher team is going to show up. The one that bullied IU, or the one that lost to Purdue, Nebraska, and Northwestern. With Jordan Adams out, the Minnesota rebounding advantage becomes even more distinct, especially on the offensive end, where they are the best in the country. But why do I have any reason to  believe that Minnesota can win a game away from the Barn? If Shabazz puts up a double double, something he’s done just 3 times, I think UCLA will win this game. I just can’t trust Minnesota.

3 Florida vs 14 Northwestern St

Definitely potential for an upset here. NW St plays at the fastest pace in the country, and they beat a great defensive team in SFA twice this season. In the SLC championship game, they were able to get PG Bateman in foul trouble early. Plus they have a healthy Hicks back. What makes Florida such a darling of the computers is their defense, and their ability to beat you in a variety of ways. Their margin of victory helps too, as every win has been in double digits, which leads to the “they can’t close out a close one” nonsense. This game is either a tight one, or Florida adapts quickly to the tempo and beats Northwestern St down. I’m leaning toward it being close. NW St nearly knocked off LSU, TAMU, and Oklahoma, all in a 3 game stretch, and then still had the legs to beat Louisiana Tech.

7 San Diego St vs 10 Oklahoma

I don’t really know what to make of either of these teams. I like OU offensively, but don’t trust their defense. I like the Aztecs’ defense, but don’t trust them offensively. Oklahoma is coming in having lost back to back games, including an ugly one at TCU. They haven’t won a game in over two weeks. Fisher and Kruger know each other very well and are good friends. This one is a coin flip for me. The game is in Philly,and Oklahoma has at least crossed the Mississippi for a game, winning at West Virginia. I’ll go with the Sooners.

2 Georgetown vs 15 FGCU

This is the most likely major big time mega upset of the tournament. FGCU plays a zone that really extends out past the three point line, and they’ll also throw in pressure. The Hoyas aren’t the worst in terms of ball handling, also not the best. They’re also not the worst and not the best against a zone, but they did lose to an awful USF team, who primarily used zone. We’re familiar with Georgetown’s struggles early in the tournament, and it’s not a fluke. They like to control the ball and work it offensively until they get something late in the shot clock, but it often comes back to bite them in March. Offensively, FGCU will turn it over, particularly Comer, but led by Sherwood Brown, they have five guys who can shoot the 3, and Brown is adept at getting to the basket as well. Throw in the fact that FGCU has beat Miami, played Duke, VCU, Iowa St, and St. John’s, and I think they can certainly give the Hoyas a game, if not win outright in the shocker of the tournament. Ultimately though, I think the Hoyas defense ends up winning a close one for them.

PREDICTIONS

Kansas over UNC

Michigan over VCU

Florida over UCLA

Georgetown over Oklahoma

SWEET 16

Kansas over Michigan

Florida over Georgetown

REGIONAL FINAL

Florida over Kansas

 

 

 

BRACKET BREAKDOWN

21 Mar

WEST

1 Gonzaga vs. 16 Southern 

Southern’s defense is actually pretty good, inside and out. They apply pressure and have lengthy athletic guys like Beltran and Miller doing it. The Jags probably should have been in the play-in game, but I think the committee is going to avoid putting both HBCU schools in the play-in games, plus they did beat Texas A&M. They also played a full roster Wyoming and Tulane close. They held SWAC opponents to under 5o points 8 times this season, but again, those are SWAC offenses. Eventually the height of the Zags will overwhelm them, but I do think the Jags will hold Pangos and Bell in check. This game is going to be a lot tighter than you think.

8 Pitt vs. 9 Wichita St

I seem to be the only person who thinks Wichita can beat Pitt. The Panthers rely a lot on their ridiculous offensive rebound %. However, the Shockers are one of the better defensive rebounding % teams in the country, clocking in at 6th best according to KenPom. Take away a lot those second chance points, and where is Pitt going to get consistent scoring from? I guess the same question applies to Wichita St. Something else to note, Wichita St won at Air Force, a high altitude location. Pitt hasn’t experienced a high altitude game this season. These two are in the Salt Lake City pod. In a game between two evenly matched teams, it could make a difference. For what it’s worth, the robots love Pitt to win this one, and a lot like the Panthers to  beat the Zags, so there’s that.

5 Wisconsin vs. 12 Ole Miss

I always have a hard time believing in Wisconsin in the tournament, and this year is no exception. They tend to be whistled more often for their physicality in the tournament, and the reliance on the 3 comes back to hurt them. Henderson can singlehandedly win this game for Ole Miss, but I think Wisconsin will throw multiple guys at him to keep him off balance, and I expect some patented Wisconsin body checking to keep him frustrated. Offensively, the Badgers have to get Dekker involved early. He’s a match up problem for the Rebels. The Badgers also have to be aggressive on the glass against Buckner and Holloway. When Wisconsin is rebounding defensively, limiting 3 point looks, and hitting a decent amount of their own 3’s, they can beat anyone, and they have. When teams are getting second chance points, and Wisconsin isn’t hitting 3’s, they can lose to anyone.

4 Kansas St vs 13 La Salle

LaSalle looked impressive tonight against Boise St, but that was an ideal match up for them. Kansas State is not. I’ve talked before about how Weber likes to use  his bigs in non traditional ways, asking them to hit medium range jumpers and not necessarily be a big time post presence. They’ve done a pretty good job of adjusting to that basically on the fly in Weber’s first season. With Zack out, the Explorers have been basically a four guard team, and even a five guard team when Wright takes a breather. LaSalle can certainly get hot from 3 and beat KSU (see Iowa St game), but Wildcats will be beat by either penetration (see Michigan and Oklahoma St losses) or a dominant big (see Gonzaga and 2 out of 3 Kansas losses).

6 Arizona vs 11 Belmont

Every year Belmont is an upset darling, and every year they have a poor offensive performance, due in large because they have to a play a major conference team with legitimate height (see G’Town last year). I fear the same fate for the Bruins again. Arizona is the 13th tallest team in the country, and I don’t think Noack, Mann, or Jenkins will have their normally efficient games around the hoop, and that will allow Arizona to key in on Clark. The game will be close for most of the way, and there’s always the “Lyons factor”. It can be either largely positive, or he can shoot you right out of a ball game. Throw in the altitude factor, and I think it’s ultimately going to take an extraordinary effort from Clark hitting multiple contested 3’s for the Bruins to win this game.

3 New Mexico vs. 14 Harvard

Harvard hasn’t played since March 9th, and the altitude of Salt Lake City could play a huge role, especially against the Lobos who are used to it. Harvard won’t find getting interior buckets like they did in Ivy play as easy against the brutalizing New Mexico defense. Kenyatta Smith is going to have play like he did in mid February on both ends to help out Saunders, Chambers, and Rivard. Potential is here for an upset because UNM can forget to score, but given location, layoff, and inconsistency of Crimson D, I don’t see it happening.

7 Notre Dame vs. 10 Iowa St

The old burn offense should be in full effect against Iowa St. Brey will work the clock down, and I can see Cooley and the recently thawed Sherman and Knight getting a ton of good looks against a bad Iowa St interior defense. This will result in quick frustration 3’s from Iowa St on offense, and the cycle becomes brutal. Defensively, the most 3’s the Irish gave up in a loss was 8 at PC. The Friars were 8-20 from deep that game. Again, popular opinion seems to be that Iowa St is going to shoot the lights out, but I don’t see it happening.

2 Ohio St vs. 15 Iona

This game is in the Dayton pod so OSU fans will be in full throttle, so little chance for an upset. Ohio St has been ridiculous defensively since loss at Wisconsin in mid February. Combine that with a rusty Iona team and the Gaels’ notoriously soft zone, and you’ll have a blowout. Armand and Jones will have to go ballistic from 3 for the Gaels’ to even have a shooters chance.

PREDICTIONS

Gonzaga over Wichita St

Wisconsin over Kansas St

Arizona over New Mexico

Ohio State over Notre Dame

SWEET 16

Wisconsin over Gonzaga

Ohio State over Arizona

REGIONAL FINAL

Ohio State over Wisconsin

BRACKET BREAKDOWN

21 Mar

MIDWEST

Went over a lot of the MW on Twitter, but here we go…

1 Louisville vs. 16 NC A&T

Gonna be ugly

8 Colorado St vs 9 Missouri

The Rams dominate on the boards, and tend to go under screens, daring teams to take the jump shot because they know they’ll grab the rebound. That philosophy has led to some HUGE outbursts from guys like Kendall Williams, Derrick Marks, Michael Lyons, Katin Reinhardt, etc in MWC play. Missouri has some capable shooters in Brown and Ross. This is going to be a great game, but if Oriakhi and Bowers can have a modicum of success at least slowing down the Rams on the glass, the Tigers should win. Dorian Green’s ankle is still a cause for concern with Rams.

5 Oklahoma St vs 12 Oregon

Oregon relies on speed with Artis and Loyd at the top and spearheading Altman’s various traps defensively. However, they struggle with physical teams, and that can be the Cowboys. Marcus Smart has struggled with quicker PGs (see Pierre Jackson) and Dotson and Emory are nearly as athletic as Nash and Brown, but I see Oklahoma St winning a close one. Tony Woods is the only player on either team that has playing in an NCAA tournament game, and that was when he was a freshman at Wake Forest.

4 St. Louis vs. 13 New Mexico St

I’m in the minority here, but I think NMSU can beat SLU. SLU doesn’t go west often, but when they have, it hasn’t been fruitful . I also think they can struggle with height (see Xavier) and the Aggies are the biggest team in the tournament (it helps when you have a 7’5 monster in the middle). The Aggies get to the line frequently, but they’re not the best at converting. I think the physical SLU defense could lead to some cheap fouls early, and could set the tone for the game if the refs are calling it tight. Ultimately, I’ll probably back away from the upset because of the Aggies’ issues with turnovers, and the fact that Tyrone Watson is doubtful doesn’t help. SLU is the sexy Final Four pick, but I have a feeling that NMSU gives them a game.

6 Memphis vs. 11 St. Mary’s

The easy breakdown of Memphis is that they can beat anyone with their athleticism, but they don’t play the smartest game sometimes. While that’s true at times, my main cause for concern is that I have no idea how their offense will look against a solid offensive unit like SMC, since the CUSA was so down this season. I don’t know who will win this game, but I’ll pick SMC, based almost solely on Dellavedova. Also, Page supposedly might play, but not sure how much impact he could possibly have.

3 Michigan St vs 14 Valparaiso 

Valpo is a very good team. They have nearly every piece. A legit post in Van Wijk, a terrific stretch four in Broekhoff, shooters in Kenney, and a guy who can get to the rim in Dority. Unfortunately, Michigan State, playing in Auburn Hills, is not a good matchup. Valpo struggles with physical teams. They lost to Nebraska, got punished by SLU and New Mexico, lost at home to Loyola Chicago, and struggled all 3 times with Wright State. Again, Crusaders are a very good team, but don’t see them getting past Michigan State.

7 Creighton vs 10 Cincinnati 

Cincy has just regressed massively on the offensive end as the season has gone on. Some of it has to do with Cash Wright not being the same after his knee injury, some of it has to do with the lack of a legit post presence, some of it has to do with settling for too many 3’s and not getting to the free throw line. One of Cincy’s redeeming factors on offense is that they get a lot of second chance points. Unfortunately, the Blue Jays are a very good defensive rebounding team. I think Cincy can keep it close with their physical defense for awhile, but they’ll eventually the Creighton offense will start to get open looks, and Creighton will win by 8-10.

2 Duke vs 15 Albany

Before the AmEast tourney, I talked about how the insertion of Rowley and Hooley into the Danes’ starting lineup (a bold move considering the two underclassmen replaced seniors) altered the trajectory of their season. Well, even though they’re much improved defensively, they don’t stand a chance against Duke unless Iati just goes ballistic from deep and Duke has a first Miami meeting type of shooting game.

PREDICTIONS

Louisville over Missouri

St. Louis over Oklahoma St

Michigan St over SMC

Duke over Creighton

Sweet 16

Louisville over St. Louis

Duke over Michigan St

Regional Finals

Duke over Louisville

In all honesty, the top 3 seeds in this region could end up in the Final Four. I’m not nearly as high on SLU as a lot of people are, but I could definitely be dead wrong. If they get out of San Jose, judging by the way they handled VCU, they could most certainly beat Louisville. Michigan St and Duke seems like a sure thing, but a tossup in its own right.

BRACKET PROJECTION

17 Mar

EAST (Washington DC)

Dayton

1 Indiana

16 Liberty vs. LIU

8 Missouri

9 Cincinnati

Austin 

5 Oklahoma St

12 Belmont

4 St. Louis

13 Akron

Auburn Hills

6 Notre Dame

11 Temple

3 Michigan

14 NMSU

Lexington

7 Memphis

10 Cal

2 Miami

15 Albany

 

SOUTH

Philly

1 Duke

16 Southern

8 Colorado

9 Illinois

San Jose

5 VCU

12 Bucknell

4 Marquette

13 Valparaiso

K.C.

6 Oregon

11 San Diego St

3 Florida

14 Iona

Salt Lake City

7 Creighton

10 Oklahoma

2 New Mexico

15 Pacific

 

MIDWEST

Lexington

1 Louisville

16 NC AT vs. James Madison

8 UNC

9 Minnesota

Auburn Hills

5 Wisconsin

12 Villanova vs MTSU

4 Kansas St

13 Davidson

Philly

6 Butler

11 Wichita St

3 Georgetown

14 Harvard

Dayton

7 Pitt

10 Ole Miss

2 Ohio St

15 FGCU

 

WEST

K.C.

1 Kansas

16 WKU

8 Colorado St

9 NC St

San Jose

5 Arizona

12 Boise St vs. LaSalle

4 Syracuse

13 South Dakota St

Austin

6 UNLV

11 St. Mary’s

3 Michigan St

14 Montana

Salt Lake City

7 UCLA

10 Iowa St

2 Gonzaga

15 Northwestern St

 

First Four Out:

1. Tennessee

2. Virginia

3. Maryland

4. Kentucky

MAAC TOURNAMENT PREVIEW

9 Mar

The MAAC Tournament is being held from 3/8-11 in Springfield, MA.

Bracket

With Marist and St. Peter’s losing in the play-in games, a little fat has been trimmed, but now all remaining teams (minus Siena) are capable of winning this tournament. Seriously. They all are. Let’s just break down the strengths and weaknesses of each team…

#1 Niagara The Purple Eagles have the lowest offensive turnover rate, while forcing the most turnovers defensively. They have a tremendous backcourt in Green and Mason, and Mason is finally looking recovered from a sprained ankle. They have no height, and can take some ill advised 3’s, shooting themselves out of games. They’ll have #9 Siena first, who I wouldn’t count out with Anosike on a tear in his final MAAC run, and then either Iona or Canisius. They were 1-1 versus both of those teams, with all four games being tight except the first meeting at Iona way back on Nov 28.

#2 Rider The Broncs are the hottest team coming into the tourney, having won 7 of their last 8. Unfortunately the Broncs’ Achilles heel is turnovers, and they have #7 Fairfield today. The Stags turned Rider over 48 times in the season sweep.

#3 Loyola is the defending champion, and Cormier, Etherly, and Olson have all been here before, and that could be a big difference in such a muddled field. The Greyhounds can be taken advantage of on the offensive glass, and the #6 Manhattan can absolutely shut people down defensively. Ultimately, I think the Greyhounds turn the Jaspers over enough to win by 5-7.

#4 Iona vs. #5 Canisius could easily be the title game if the bracket shook out differently. These two split the series in a couple of entertaining games. The Griffs went 26-58 from 3 in the 2 games. If the Gaels play a modicum of D (questionable), they can win this whole thing. I didn’t like the way Canisius looked heading into the tournament (they haven’t won b2b games in over a month and needed OT vs SPC), and Iona won 2 straight to end the season after a bad run. This could very well be the most entertaining game of the tournament.

Ultimately, I’ll go with Loyola to repeat over Iona.