Monday, March 22, 2010

Apparently, March Is as Mad as Ever

So, you remember last week how I said, among other things, that talent generally bears out in the tournament? Well, either these lower seeded teams are more talented than I realized (not impossible), or I was simply wrong about how today's NCAA championship bracket plays out. The whole weekend was a kind of upset special, with particular shockers happening on Thursday and Saturday.
  • Early Thursday, #13 Murray State hit a buzzer-beater to knock off #4 Vanderbilt, and the avalanche had begun. Before the day was over, two #6's and #3 Georgetown would all fall victim to upsets.

  • Friday was mostly upset-free, but Ivy League champions Cornell blew #5 Temple out of the building.

  • Saturday, the first #1 seed fell as Kansas lost to #9 Northern Iowa. Washington proved that the Pac-10 was under-estimated as they shrugged off their 11-seed and laid the lumber to #3 New Mexico. And as boldly predicted by ESPN's Digger Phelps, #10 St. Mary's kept Villanova on their heels all game, eventually pulling off the upset.

  • On Sunday, things almost came back down to earth, but #12 Cornell ran roughshod over Wisconsin to make the Sweet 16, and #6 Xavier bounced #3 Pittsburgh in the battle of teams that most frequently disappoint their fans in the tournament. Don't count on the Musketeers to give Kansas State any trouble next round.
The best game of the weekend had to be #4 Maryland vs. #5 Michigan State on Sunday afternoon. The Spartans had the lead most of the game, often double-digits, but late in the second half, ACC Player of the Year Greivis Vasquez turned it on and brought his team all the way back. What followed was a series of back-and-forths with the lead changing hands several times. Vasquez made an off-balance runner with six seconds left to put the Terrapins up one, but those six seconds were too much time, as Michigan State was able to run back down the floor and nail a three-pointer at the buzzer to advance. It was disappointing, because it would've been nice for Maryland to have a deep run, but still a satisfying game to watch.

What can we take away from this weekend of insanity? Well, on a personal level, I wish I had watched a little more college basketball so that some of these upsets would have more weight to them. If I had watched Kansas a few times and appreciated how good they really are, the upset might have been more gratifying. And perhaps watching some Villanova games might have allowed me to see their front-court deficiencies, allowing me to make the same kind of prediction that Phelps made about St. Mary's.

More importantly, now that we've all watched some college basketball, and we think we know these tournament teams, let's do a Sweet 16 bracket. Post your predictions as a comment. Give your Elite Eight teams, then your Final Four teams, then your championship matchup and the victor.

To give you an example, here are my Sweet 16 predictions:

Elite Eight
Michigan State
Tennessee
Syracuse
Kansas State
Kentucky
Washington
Duke
Baylor

Final Four
Michigan State
Syracuse
Kentucky
Baylor

Championship
Syracuse
Kentucky

NCAA Champion
Kentucky

Wager? I'll leave that up for discussion. Could be money, could be a dare, or something else. Something really cool that I don't even know about.

1 comment:

Chip said...

Elite Eight
Michigan State
Ohio State
Syracuse
Kansas State
Kentucky
West Virginia
Purdue
Baylor

Final Four
Ohio State
Kansas State
Kentucky
Purdue

Championship
Kansas State
Kentucky

NCAA Champion
Kansas State

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