Monday, March 15, 2010

Welcome to Bracketville, Population 2

The High Holy Days of the sporting calendar are once again upon us. Selection Sunday kicked off the celebratory season that casts a spell for many of us thru April 5th’s Championship Game.

So…I’ll show you mine, if you’ll show me yours---bracket, that is. A blank bracket is attached in Excel if that makes sending it back easier. By the way, is there a more beautiful geometric construction than the bracket to arrange March Madness? Only a heretic would wish for a 96-team grid.

As is my habit, I’ll update the points and standings after each round. One point for each correct pick in the first round, 2 points in the second round, and so forth.

Deadline is noon on Thursday, March 18th…all brackets must be exchanged by then.

From Day One, ESPN’s Jay Bilas has said there are no great teams this year…but many good ones. I bought into that about a month into the season. That should make for a most interesting tournament…as well as a humbling one after each day’s final buzzer.

If the conference tournaments are a clue, the NCAA Tournament will be a treat. Evan Turner’s 37-footer, Da’Sean Butler’s game-winner, DeMarcus Cousins’ stick-back and Jon Scheyer’s dagger were just start of the conference tournaments’ highlights.

Great first-round matchups: Vandy/Murray State and Temple/Cornell.

Wonderful potential second-round matchup: Kansas State/BYU. Honorable mention to Villanova/Richmond.

Best potential Sweet 16 matchup: Ohio State/Georgetown. Please let this happen!

Terrific potential Elite 8 matchup: Kentucky/West Virginia. Runner-up to Kansas vs Ohio State/Georgetown winner.

Random observations. Should BYU win their first two games, they play their Sweet 16 game in Salt Lake City. All five of BYU’s losses are to tournament teams.

Could Kansas meet up Kansas State in the Final Four? Kansas State ranks 16th in offensive efficiency and 19th on defensive efficiency.

The Florida State/Gonzaga is one of the toughest 8/9 games I can recall. Florida State is the #1 overall team in defensive efficiency.

Duke is the #1 offensive efficiency and overall efficiency team according to kenpom.com.

Baylor #52 in defensive efficiency.

For two starters for Texas A&M this will be their fourth dance. Their Sweet 16 games are in Houston.

Butler has very little front-court depth if their all-world big man, Matt Howard gets in foul trouble.

15 & 16 seeds are a combined 4-192. The championship game has pitted two #1 seeds against each other only six times. Only four #5 seeds have made it to a Final Four.

No Elite Eight team in the past decade had a top 10 scorer.

Separated at birth: Villanova’s Jay Wright and George Clooney.

Truism: Seedings don’t matter as much as matchups.

Kentucky’s schedule is ranked the 64th toughest year according to Jeff Sagarin.

Word is Syracuse’s Arinze Onuake will be recovered enough from a strained quad to play…but at what level?

Second chance points will be the key this year…there will be many missed shots.

Best name in tourney goes to Baylor’s Tweety Carter.

It’s been 60 years since Baylor won a tourney game…Northern Iowa has one total victory. Look for both to add to those numbers this year. Baylor’s games this year are in New Orleans and Houston---as close home advantage as you can get.

No matter how their threes are falling, Duke guards their opponents from the time they get off the bus.

Richmond is 14-4 in games decided by seven points or less…many against teams in the field of 65.

Help increase the Bracketville population, Let the Madness begin!

KVD

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