Wednesday, March 18, 2009
#1 Pitt over #16 East Tennessee State. Should be the closest thing to a competitive 16/1 or 15/2 game, with the Bucs being able to hang at least a little bit with Pitt.
#9 Tennessee over #8 Oklahoma State. Should be a pretty competitive game, since Tennessee and Oklahoma State have almost identical Ken Pom ratings, and watching the two teams you can see how closely matched they will be. As Snacks said, will the good Tennessee show up (the one who swept Florida and South Carolina and beat Marquette, Georgetown, and Siena) or the bad one (who lost to Miss State, Ole Miss, and Alabama). Actually looking at the Volunteer resume, I think they are much better than a 9 seed, and I also think Ok State is an ok team who got hot at the end of the year.
#5 Florida State over #12 Wisconsin. Florida State has come a long way since they lost to Northwestern earlier this year, and they managed to ride senior point guard Toney Douglas to a very impressive 10-6 record in the ACC this year. They turn the ball over way too much, which is worrisome, but Wisconsin doesn't create turnovers at all - and they suck.
#4 Xavier over #13 Portland State. You want to know how confused I am about Xavier? The first pass through this bracket I had them in the final four. On a subsequent pass later (and I've gone through this one a whole bunch of times) I had them losing this game right here. I still think the could lose this one, but Portland State is the worst defensive team in the NCAA tournament, so I can't possibly make this pick.
#6 UCLA over #11 VCU. Really, everybody? Really? We're all picking VCU here because of a game they won two years ago? The same VCU team that lost to Vanderbilt? And East Carolina? And was one of UNC-Wilmington's seven wins this year (RIP Brent Blizzard)? Really? I think UCLA will be fine here - Collison shuts down Maynor.
#3 Villanova over #14 American. American might be able to give Nova a run here, especially if the shots aren't falling for the Wildcats and Scottie Reynolds since American shoots quite well from three themselves. And it's a good matchup for the Patriots since their complete lack of an inside presence won't hurt against Villanova and their lack of an inside presence.
#7 Texas over #10 Minnesota. More on this later today
#2 Duke over #15 Binghampton. Duke is top 17 in both offensive and defensive efficiency. Binghampton is top 159 in both. Even if I didn't think Duke was actually good this year - and I do - this is an easy blowout call.
#1 Pitt over #9 Tennessee. In a normal year, I'd say an athletic, offensive type team would have a chance against a Pitt team, but this Tennessee team is incredibly sloppy, and incredibly bad defensively. And whoever is going to take this Pitt team down is going to have to have some size, and not just height but bulk, in order to slow them down, and is going to need a game changer at guard - too bad the Vols are loaded with wing players instead.
#5 Florida State over #4 Xavier. If I considered Xavier losing to Portland State, I definitely don't think they can handle a Florida State team. FSU's defense is just way too tough for a pretty bland Xavier offense, and I don't think the Musketeers have any chance at slowing down Douglas. X also relied on their superior size to wear down teams in the A-10, and won't be able to count on that against the Seminoles.
#6 UCLA over #3 Villanova. It makes me nervous taking a team that is horrible at defending the three pointer (UCLA) over a team that relies so much on the three-pointer in Villanova, but I can't possibly bring myself to allow Villanova and that Stephen Curry-esque chucker Scottie Reynolds to advance any further.
#2 Duke over #7 Texas. The only real concern here for Duke is containing Oliver Miller Lite, Dexter Pittman. He's got size the Dukies can only match with Brian Zoubek, who only plays 12 minutes a game. He'll have to come up big, but other than that Texas is a horrible shooting team and Duke plays very good perimeter defense, so that should take of the Horns.
#5 Florida State over #1 Pitt. Of course, my bracket goes completely up in smoke if FSU can't get passed Florida in the first round, which is a legit concern, but assuming this matchup happens I think it's a great chance for the Seminoles. Pitt's strengths are it's size and inside players to go along with an overrated point guard in Levance Fields. FSU is one of the biggest teams in the NCAA, and can match Pitt's size and skill, and Toney will destroy Fields. Even the biggest weakness of FSU, their propensity to turn the ball over, is masked here because for all the press about Pitt's defense they don't cause turnovers.
#2 Duke over #6 UCLA. Remember what I said about UCLA not being able to defend the three-pointer?
#2 Duke over #5 Florida State. It pains me to put Duke in the final four, and through various incarnations of this bracket I've had every seed from one through six in at various points, but when it all shakes out, I think everything points to Duke. If Pitt manages to get passed Florida State, I think they will steam roll Duke, but that's not how I have it picked. God what an awful bracket. Not a final four worthy team in the bunch.