Sunday, March 11, 2007

Mindless Tournament Thoughts...

...because, let's face it, "Selection Sunday" sounds like a rejected title for a Shirley Jackson short story.

200 Wins Doesn't Buy What It Used To:
There were 104 teams that won 20+ games by the time all was said and done. There are 65 slots. You do the math. What this really means, of course, is that the good teams may be getting better, but the bad teams are really, really bad.

Next Time, We Won't Beat the #2 Seed:
Overheard at Missouri State and West Virginia.

Your Mandatory 12-5 Upset:
Long Beach State over Tennessee. Because there's always one, the coach at Long Beach is fighting for his job, and Tennessee is, well, Tennessee.

Your Mandatory "16 seed that scares the bejesus out of the 1 seed before getting clubbed like a baby seal":
Central Connecticut State, which has been red-hot and gets a bored Ohio State team. Besides, having spent four years in central Connecticut, I have to believe that those kids will do anything - anything - to avoid going back for as long as possible.

Team I Would Not Want To Be Right Now:
VCU. Nothing against the Rams, but who in their right mind would want to be standing there when Duke takes the floor without its accustomed #1 or #2. Or, to put it another way, the current crop of Blue Devils already have to take crap from Christian Laettner. They're not going to want to take any more.
Elbows to the shnozz, however, are an entirely different matter.

It's Been That Kind of Year:
Figure #9 'Nova to take out #8 Kentucky. Tubby Smith has never lost in the first round of the tournament, but this year has been so thoroughly snakebitten for the 'cats that you have to figure this will go wrong, too. Besides, Villanova's spent the last three months being pointed to as everyone's "quality win". You have to figure they're a little tired of it.

Other Upset Alerts:
Winthrop over Notre Dame, Gonzaga over Indiana, Albany over Virginia, Creighton over Nevada. The last is kind of a cheapie, seeing as how one of Nevada's best players is potentially out after a mishap with a floor decal on the court, but I calls 'em like I sees 'em.

Easiest Path to the Final Four:
Kansas. With a bottom bracket full of underachievers, Duke in a down year, and the play-in game as essentially a bye, this is the year for Kansas to make some real noise. The toughest obstacle in their way may in fact be Southern Illinois, which certainly has the guns to get past both Holy Cross and Virginia Tech.

Toughest Path, #1 Seed Division:
UNC, despite the fact that they're opening an hour down the road from Chapel Hill. Both Marquette and Michigan State are dangerous second-round opponents, and Georgetown is waiting in the other half of the regional bracket. Texas, lurking at the #4, won't be fun, either, and the combination of Kevin Durant and Tyler Hansborough's busted mug could get very ugly for the Heels.

The Lesson of Appy State:
Never mind that with Donte Minter, the hot-hot-hot Mountaineers kicked butt up and down the heart of the Confederacy. Though there's a lot of talk that teams that lose name players during the season, whether to injury, academics or arrest, are re-considered based on their current configuration, there's really no consideration for teams that gain good players partway through the season. For this, UVa and Vandy, among others, are profoundly thankful.

Next Time, Try New Jersey:
The key factor in the 'cuse's getting squeezed out (pardon the pun) is the fact that every year, their non-conference road schedule looks a lot like Gil Meche's trophy case, which is to say, empty, if not nonexistent. This year, it finally caught up with them, as the selection committee noted that they basically didn't play a road game until league play started. Getting clipped by Drexel in their own building just sealed it.
Mind you, the lesson Jim Boeheim is liable to take away from this is "Don't schedule Drexel."

Big Name School Most Likely To Get Crushed:
Stanford. They're tanking (losers of 4 out of 5) and drew a dangerous Lousiville team that can make anyone look bad in a hurry.

Joke We're Going to Hear Way Too Much Of:
"TAMU-CC? I thought they were an investment firm."
Or something to that effect.

And Finally, The Fearless Predictions:
Final Four - Kansas, Georgetown, Florida, Texas A&M
Kansas over Florida, Georgetown over A&M
Kansas over Georgetown
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