Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Picks Are In (sort of)...

Since I've basically memorized the bracket and all the reasonable matchups throughout, yet not come up with my final four, I'm forcing myself to reach a conclusion on this blog. Whether or not that translates to my firm predictions remains up for debate, but at least it's something. By the way, here is an extremely thorough breakdown of the tourney.

We'll start in East. I'm not sure I consider this the toughest overall bracket as most are claiming, but I think it's probably the toughest path for a #1 seed. As you'll notice, I'm basically without balls with my picks here, but I just don't see too many upsets occurring. Starting from the top, I think both Indiana and Wazzu can (and likely will) give UNC a large headache, but neither have enough athletic ability to stay with them for more than 30-35 minutes. As for the bottom, I'm as lukewarm on Tennessee as anyone, but to me they're clearly better than either Butler or Louisville and I don't see any other viable challengers down there.

The elite 8 is an extremely tough call as I have similar issues with UNC and Tennessee – mostly surrounding their defense. Everyone raves about Tennessee's ability to pressure and force turnovers, but I just don't see that working against a healthy Ty Lawson. Something else the Vols like to hang their hat on is being able to wear a team down – another thing I don't see working against UNC. And lastly, UNC has the be-all-end-all of beings associated with college basketball, and he just happens to be a better inside presence than Tennessee can contain (If you look back, the ONLY real inside force they've seen is Patterson, who scored 20 when Kentucky beat the Vols). It's also worth noting that the other truly great offensive team they faced, Texas, obliterated the Vols by 19 points, despite Tennessee hitting 16 three balls.

UNC over Indiana
Wazzu over Notre Dame
Louisville over Oklahoma
Tennessee over Butler

UNC over Wazzu
Tennessee over Louisville

UNC over Tennessee

As you surely know by now, the East and Midwest winners face off in San Antonio, so that's where we'll head next. At first I thought this was an easy regional, and I still think Kansas' path is relatively simple, but as a whole this is a toughie. Consider you have the regular season champions from the Big 12, 11 and East. After that you've got a Vandy team that may be over-seeded but is still good enough to have beaten Tennessee and lambasted Kentucky (by 41), though both were in their weird gym, where they're clearly a different team. Below them you have a Clemson team that took UNC to the wire three times and legitimately should have won two of them, before blowing 1 in OT and the other in 2OT. Below them you have a USC team that starts a minimum of three NBA players and won in Pauley Pavilion. Moving further down you have everyone's Cinderella of yesterday (Gonzaga) and today (Davidson) to go along with extremely legit teams, UNLV and Kent State. And if that's not enough, the #11 seed has the best player in the nation and when he's not soiling himself another possible lottery pick.

Again, I apologize for all the chalk here as there are clearly some good upset picks here. Not only could KSU beat USC, but they have plenty of firepower to win a couple more as well – but they just haven't shown enough away from Bramlage to warrant me taking them anywhere. Also, I've seen Davidson give a solid effort against good teams, but Gonzaga has a tendency to play well as the underdog, which it looks like they're becoming. As for the top I took Siena over Vandy for the same reason I passed on KSU – they're just too inconsistent outside their weird gym. But if they do get by Siena, I could easily see them taking down Clemson as well.

As for the next two, I don't think I really need to justify KU over Clemson. Yes they're pretty good and they beat Duke and have given UNC trouble, but Kansas has the inside game Duke is missing and the defense UNC is missing. As for Wiscy over JT3, I don't have much of a defense, except that they seem like a more efficient version of Pitt, who I just watched beat G-Town pretty easily. Kansas over Wiscy is attributed to: 1) the eye test; 2) offensive abiltity, and 3) depth. So despite all of the firepower in this region, if the best team Kansas has to beat is Wisconsin, they don't have much of an excuse for not making it to San Antonio.

Kansas over Kent St.
Clemson over Siena
Wisconsin over USC
Georgetown over Gonzaga

Kansas over Clemson
Wisconsin over Georgetown

Kansas over Wisconsin

Going from perhaps the deepest to by far the easiest, we'll head West. Whereas the bigger champions from the East were the ACC and SEC and in the Midwest, they had the Big 12, 11 and East; the west has the Pac10 and….A10 and MWC. Riiight. This does, however, present my biggest string of upsets as I have very little faith in some of the top seeds. I would love to go against UCLA here (only because of Love and Mbah Moute's injuries), but I just can't because the rest of the teams are so average.

As you can see, I'm taking a few more chances here than in the others. The only real "leap" on the top is Drake over UConn and I'm solely attributing that to their ability to play the "no respect" card, which we'll hear ad nauseum until UCLA hammers them. The bottom is a different story. I actually like Xavier, but seeing them lose twice to St. Joe's and assuming Lavender's injury is worse than they're letting on I think Baylor is a tough matchup. I would also pick Purdue over X, but again I think all of Baylor's guards may prove a bit quick for the Boilers, who have been slogging away in the Big 11 all year and may not be up to speed. My biggest gamble here is probably Arizona, because they're unbelievably schizophrenic. But they're also unbelievably talented and battle tested and if Lute Olsen is done trying to sabotage the season, I like their odds to steal a few wins. But alas, UCLA has clearly shown they are much better.

UCLA over Texas A&M
Drake over UConn
Baylor over Xavier
Arizona over Duke

UCLA over Drake
Arizona over Baylor

UCLA over Arizona

And finally, we head South for possibly the most top-heavy region. Memphis and Texas lead the way, but anyone that doesn't think Stanford is better than Duke has been seeing way too much of either Mike Patrick or Dick Vitale. After that you've got a very hot Pitt team, but it's hard to say how well they'll play outside of MSG, where they commonly over-achieve. No one else really does much for me here.

So again I have some 1st round upsets here, but I don't like them going any further. I haven't seen enough of Temple to know how legit their run through the A-10 was, but MSU has been enormously inconsistent and for some reason I think they'll be off this weekend. I'm taking Kentucky over Marquette mostly because I like Billy Clyde in these situations (this would be a lot easier with Patrick Patterson). After that I do think Pitt will cause some problems for Memphis, but I just think the Tigers are a bit too deep. The toughest game to pick in the whole region is Texas/Stanford because of the contrasting styles. If there were ever a game for Texas to zone, this is it. From it they should be able to limit the touches of the Lopez sisters and make the Cardinal shoot from deep – both good things. What I'm unsure of is if they can rebound from it, which may decide they game. And lastly, it may again be bias, but I just think they're a better than Memphis. If you were to compare Memphis and Kansas, you'd likely say that the defense is comparable, Kansas has the edge with inside scoring and outside shooting, but Memphis can penetrate better. Based on what I've seen in their two games, if that's a correct, I'd say Texas can outscore the Tigers. The real issue here is that I'm not sure Texas can win 4 straight games, playing at least 3 different styles.

Memphis over Miss. St.
Pitt over Temple
Stanford over Kentucky
Texas over Miami

Memphis over Pitt
Texas over Stanford

Texas over Memphis

Which leaves us with a Final Four of:

UNC v. Kansas
Texas v. UCLA

If that's really the case, what a weekend we are in for in San Antonio. I mean, who is the favorite there? Who do you rule out? Which, I guess, means there is no way it's going to happen. And even if by chance this does happen, I know a lot of this is wrong by simply looking at my waaay too chalky Sweet Sixteen (West aside).
Bad Omen?

10 comments:

Big Head said...

That is the exact Final Four I have. I couldn't justify having any other teams in there. G'town would be the closest, but then again, they have one of the toughest parts of the bracket.

Hiphopopotamus said...

I wish this weren't my final four, because I always like to take a flier on at least one team. But this year, I just can't find that team.

Hiphopopotamus said...

Gingerballs - will you pick me up a copy of this week's SI? Much to my dismay, the issue sent to Chicago features ex-Sooner Drew Lavender - as if there are really Xavier fans outside of Cincy.

Big Head said...

All the Cinderellas will end up cancelling each other out. The only one I could see is Drake.

I wanted to take Butler AND S. Alabama out of the first round but...well they play each other. ESPN has S. Alabama as an Sweet 16 team. Un-freakin-believable.

GingerBalls said...

I guess I can do that hiphop...I got the same Final Four, but with the Vols over UNC. Probably just hoping, but I know that teams that run, score and D up give UNC more trouble. Big Head...RoboBoogie and I are going to be in Omaha on Saturday, any suggestions?

Big Head said...

Yeah- Where are you guys staying at? There's a ton of good places and I imagine you probably want to be fairly close to where you're staying.

Robo Boogie said...

I have the same final four as well. UNC, KU, UCLA, and TX. I tried to get creative but I just could not pull on it. We are staying at the hilton across from the qwest center head. Ideas? You going to the games? Want to get a beer?

Big Head said...

I live downtown too. It's kinda depends on which bars you like. All the downtown bars are just north of the Qwest, and within walking distance. Go South on 10th street and all the good bars are on Harney, Farnham, and Howard around there in The Old Market.

There's a kickass pub on 12th and Harney called The Dubliner. Right around the corner is a good restaurant called Jobber's Canyon. Old Chicago and Famous Daves are right next door, and around the corner from there on 10th/Harney is Barry O's. It's kind of a douchebag frat bar during the year, but it may be different for the weekend. JD Tuckers next door is ok too.

Billyfrogs and Toad's (two different bars) are pretty good and are on 11th/Howard (another block north of Harney). Toad's is a little more upscale and is pretty quiet. BF's is great if you are cool with a ton of people around. And The Old Market area is always safe. Shit ton of cops around and I imagine even more this weekend.

I have plans on Saturday until 4p, and I'm up for whatever after that. I can meet up for some beers.

Just remember- ALL NUMBERED STREETS GO NORTH AND SOUTH. You should be good.

GingerBalls said...

Provided KU wins on Saturday, I am sure we will be interested in many beers. Given our past history...mostly mine...it would be good to stick around the hotel, since I am prone to getting drunk and lost. As long as there are not too many 13 year-old street toughs, Roboboogie should come home with all his teeth. We should for sure grab some beers after, thanks for the hotspot update, good info.

Big Head said...

Shoot me an email at bullyforoldmizzou@gmail.com and I'll get you my cell. I'm up for some drinks Saturday night.