Monday, March 23, 2015

Sportz' NCAA Tournament Recap - Round of 32, Day 2


Just a quick recap of what I saw in my Sportz Room -- filled with TVs that I can watch all four games going on at the same time.

GAME OF THE DAY: Wichita State vs Kansas. Just like on Friday, there wasn't a ton of nail-biting upsets today.  However, the feel and fire of the Wichita State-Kansas game was palpable.  A battle of the Sunflower State being played in Omaha, the crowd and both teams were into this.  The fact that the Jayhawks have been ducking the Shockers put a little spice on this one.

UPSET OF THE DAY: Michigan State over Virginia. There were three games where the lower seeded team won, but none of them felt like a true upset.  Sure, Wichita State running Kansas was ... shocking.  And while a lot of people penciled in Michigan State over Virginia here, it still is a pretty big upset.  Michigan State hasn't had their typical Sparty season and Virginia has spent most of the year near the top of the rankings.  For the Spartans to end Virginia's season like this was an upset.

CONFERENCE OF THE DAY: ACC. Sorry for beating a dead horse, but the ACC is now 11-1 in the tournament.  Sure, Virginia lost today, but the league has 5 of the Sweet 16 and, due to NC State and Louisville facing off in the next round, one guaranteed spot in the Elite 8.

CONFERENCE WITH A BAD DAY: Big Ten. The Big Ten split their games today, with Wisconsin and Michigan State winning and Iowa and Maryland losing.  Nothing to be ashamed of here, but they were the one league to have multiple losses.  

DUD OF THE DAY: Duke vs San Diego State. Just not a good game to watch.  Duke had this game in control pretty much the entire way.

DOMINANT PERFORMANCE OF THE DAY: Duke. If Okafor dominates the paint like this and they keep hitting all those shots ... they are scary good.

UNDERLYING STORYLINE OF THE DAY: Great coaching. Just look at the names of some of these coaches in the Sweet 16.  Mike Krzyzewski, Roy Williams, Rick Pitino, John Calipari, Tom Izzo, Bob Huggins, Bo Ryan, Mark Few, Sean Miller, Lon Kruger and Mike Brey have a combined 10 titles and loads of tournament experience.  Steve Alford, Mark Gottfried, Gregg Marshall, Larry Krystkowiak and Chris Mack aren't slouches, either.  This is a big dog bracket of coaching.


Sunday, March 22, 2015

Sportz' NCAA Tournament Recap - Round of 32, Day 1


Just a quick recap of what I saw in my Sportz Room -- filled with TVs that I can watch all four games going on at the same time.

GAME OF THE DAY: Notre Dame vs Butler. A battle of the Hoosier state was as good as it gets.  The Irish and Bulldogs went back and forth and needed overtime to determine the winner.  Big defensive plays and huge shots late made this game exciting and the fact Irish coach Mike Brey revealed his lost his mother earlier in the day makes it more touching.

UPSET OF THE DAY: NC State over Villanova. The Wolfpack are on a roll.  Two days after a wild comeback to beat LSU, NC State knocked off a No. 1 seed.  NC State had control all game long and held off every comeback attempt by the Wildcats.  The East Region looks to be wide open now.

CONFERENCE OF THE DAY: ACC. The ACC won three more games today, making them 9-0 so far in the tournament.  NC State made Villanova the first No. 1 seed to fall and Notre Dame played with toughness to oust Butler.  Add in North Carolina's fast-paced win over Arkansas and the ACC is dominating this tournament.  By the way, the ACC women's teams are currently 8-0 in their NCAA tournament ... making the league 17-0 right now.  Duke, Virginia and Louisville play today.

CONFERENCE WITH A BAD DAY: Big East. The Big East has taken a beating over the last two days.  Butler, Georgetown and Villanova all lost today (Xavier did win).  Nova became the first No. 1 seed to be knocked out and G'town gave up a big lead to Utah and couldn't recover.  Add that in to St. John's and Providence's loss a day earlier and the Big East has just one team remaining.  

DUD OF THE DAY: UCLA vs UAB. Both teams had stunning upsets in the Round of 64, but UAB just couldn't hang with UCLA and were promptly eliminated.  UCLA, controversial for not only getting in the tournament but beating SMU on a much-discussed goaltending call, will be in the Sweet 16.

DOMINANT PERFORMANCE OF THE DAY: Kentucky. They may not win pretty, but they took Cincinnati's aggressive and slow down style and made it work for them.

UNDERLYING STORYLINE OF THE DAY: ACC. The league already has three of the spots in the Sweet 16 with Duke, Virginia and Louisville (all the higher seed) attempting to join them.  The league is undefeated and it will be interesting to see how deep these schools can go.


Saturday, March 21, 2015

Sportz' NCAA Tournament Recap - Round of 64, Day 2


Just a quick recap of what I saw in my Sportz Room -- filled with TVs that I can watch all four games going on at the same time.

GAME OF THE DAY: Louisville vs UC-Irvine. Unlike yesterday, there weren't many candidates for this spot.  The Cardinals close win over Irvine gets the spot due to how close the game was.  Key defensive plays late are what won the game for Louisville.  Of course, most of us will remember UCI's 7-foot-6 Mamadou Njiaye.

UPSET OF THE DAY: Dayton over Providence. The only real upset.  The 11th seeded Dayton Flyers won their second game on this tournament by out-muscling the Friars.  The Flyers have had a quirky benefit of playing a First Four game on their home floor, then playing a second round game up the road in Columbus, OH.  Dayton will now face Oklahoma.

CONFERENCE OF THE DAY: ACC. The ACC won three more games today, making them 6-0 so far in the tournament.  Sure, there were some close calls in there (Louisville, North Carolina, NC State, Notre Dame) but every ACC school is still alive in the Dance.

CONFERENCE WITH A BAD DAY: Big East. After a big day on Thursday, the Big East saw Providence upset by Dayton and St. John's lose to San Diego State.  Really, all those one-bid conferences had a bad day since none of them won and most didn't come close.  

DUD OF THE DAY: Iowa vs Davidson. Davidson was getting a lot of buzz as a possible Cinderella team again.  They had one of the most efficient offenses in the nation.  Then they go out and look very scattered and were blown out by a non-elite Iowa squad.

DOMINANT PERFORMANCE OF THE DAY: Duke. Not they just blew out Robert Morris in Charlotte, but that they shot 63% from the field and had 28 assists.  They also hit 10-of-21 from behind the arc.

UNDERLYING STORYLINE OF THE DAY: Where are the upsets? Yesterday, we had some great games.  Today?  Not so much.  That happens in the tournament sometimes.  Of the 16 games played, 15 were won by the higher seed.


Friday, March 20, 2015

Where Will UAB Go When Conference USA Kicks Them Out

UAB has been one of the talks of the NCAA Tournament with their stunning defeat of Iowa State in the Round of 64.  It is a good story for a school that needs some good feelings from their sports programs.

See, it was over three months ago that UAB announced that it was scrapping their football program.  Gone.  Kaput.  A controversial decision, for sure, and one that will have big consequences on their other programs.  Namely, this Blazers basketball team.

See, the C-USA wants their members to have football teams and UAB won't.  Conventional wisdom says that UAB must leave the conference and find a new league to play in.  But that isn't very easy.  See, this could be a giant fall for the Blazers if they don't watch it.  While the C-USA isn't a super conference, it is on the level just below the major conferences.

Let's assume for this argument that no other major football conference will let them join as a non-football member.  So no jumping to the American Athletic Conference or something.  So where could they go?

NCAA Tournament MOPs Rarely Turn Into NBA Studs

Shabazz Napier was the MOP of the 2014 NCAA
tournament.  Does that mean he will have the same
success in the NBA?

The NCAA Tournament is in full swing and that means guys will be making big plays and having big games to help his team advance to a title.  Sometimes it is the gutsy upperclassman.  Sometimes it is a hot hand.  Very few times it is a big time NBA prospect.

It used to be the MOP turned into quite the NBA player.  Kareem Abdul-Jabbar won it three times.  Bill Walton won it twice.  David Thompson, Magic Johnson, Isiah Thomas, James Worthy, Hakeem Olajawon and Patrick Ewing all won it and are now Hall Of Famers.

No, the tournament's Most Outstanding Player tends to peak during their basketball career that final weekend of the college basketball season.  Don't believe me?  Well, let's look at and rank the last 22 MOPs according to their NBA careers.

Sportz' NCAA Tournament Recap - Round of 64, Day 1

Georgia State's head coach Ron Hunter may have
made the most memorable moment of the 2015
NCAA Tournament.

Just a quick recap of what I saw in my Sportz Room -- filled with TVs that I can watch all four games going on at the same time.

GAME OF THE DAY: Georgia State vs Baylor. Honestly, how hard is it to pick just one game as the Game Of The Day?  There were so many great ones.  But this one barely takes the top due to the sheer upset nature of the result as well as exciting game-winning shot as well as G-State's head coach Ron Hunter falling off his stool.  One of the tournament's great moments.

UPSET OF THE DAY: UAB over Iowa State. First off, UAB was 16-15 when they started play in the C-USA tournament.  They went on to win the automatic bid and then knock off one of the buzziest Final Four picks in the field.  Add in the fact that UAB's athletic department has had a tough time since announcing it was shutting down the football program and the uncertainty that has surrounded the program.  The Blazers win was quite stunning.

CONFERENCE OF THE DAY: Big East. A couple conferences had a nice day, but the Big East did quite well.  Villanova, Georgetown, Xavier and Butler all won their games and, relative to today, did so handily.

CONFERENCE WITH A BAD DAY: Big 12. Rather shocking.  The conference most felt was the best, top to bottom, came out with a thud.  Both Iowa State and Baylor lost as No. 3 seeds to No. 14 seeds.  Also, Texas got beat by Butler.  Also, the state of Texas had a bad tournament as Texas, SMU, Texas Southern, Baylor and SF Austin all lost.  

DUD OF THE DAY: Kentucky vs Hampton. Not surprising, since it was the undefeated team taking on a team that, with the loss, finishes below .500.  It wasn't just a dud because it was a blowout, it was also because Kentucky kind of mailed it in once they took a sizable lead.  Hey, it happens.

DOMINANT PERFORMANCE OF THE DAY: Villanova. These Wildcats won by 41 points over Lafayette.  Not only did they win convincingly, they played very well throughout the entire game.

UNDERLYING STORYLINE OF THE DAY: Close games. As I alluded to earlier, today was an outstanding day of tournament basketball.  We had a record FIVE games decided by a single point.  We had another decided by two points and two more by three points.  I didn't even mention the amazing comeback by Cincinnati with a buzzer beater to force overtime.  Or NC State's buzzer beater to beat LSU.  Or Harvard coming back from down 16 points to nearly beat North Carolina.  Just so many great games today.

FINAL THOUGHTS:

*Ohio has had a nice tournament.  Ohio State, Dayton, Cincinnati and Xavier all won their first tournament games.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Sportz' 2015 MLB Predictions


The 2015 baseball is nearly upon us, so it is time again to make my futile picks for the season.  So here it goes, division by division:

NL EAST

1-Nationals
2-Marlins
3-Mets
4-Braves
5-Phillies


What once was a strong division now looks like it is Washington and everyone else.  Both the Phillies and Braves are embracing some rebuilding while the Mets and Marlins have been in that camp for a few years now.  The Nats have been among the best in baseball the last three years but cannot make that translate in October.  So we'll have seven months to break that down.  After the Nats, who knows what will happen?  Miami failed at just buying wins before and instead have built a nice club that can contend now.  The Mets will need all that pitching to lead the way.

NL CENTRAL

1-Cardinals
2-Pirates
3-Cubs
4-Brewers
5-Reds

St. Louis has a mini dynasty going on right now.  In last 15 seasons, they've won the division 9 times and finished 2nd three times.  All that includes 11 playoff berths.  The Cards are a bit older and there's injury issues with Alan Wainwright.  Still, it is hard to bet against their success.  That is, unless you are a Back To The Future Fan and do believe that the Cubs will win the World Series.  I don't think they're there yet, but this team has taken a major upswing in hope.  The Pirates are still right there, as usual, but will have some more teams battling them for wildcard spots.  At the bottom, the Reds seem to have the better roster than the Brewers, but Milwaukee tends to exceed expectations while the Reds underperform.


NL WEST

1-Dodgers
2-Padres
3-Giants
4-Rockies
5-Diamondbacks

The big spending Dodgers are again looking like the class of the West.  They'll be a better defensive ballclub and that pitching is still damn good.  San Diego decided to go for it this year which should make the Pads a really fun team to keep track of.  Not only did they buy a new, more offensive-minded outfield, but they also snagged James Shields.  If the Dodgers or Giants slip up, San Diego is in the mix.  Speaking of San Fran, it is an odd numbered season.  As good as the three teams at the top of this division are, the bottom is that bad.

AL EAST

1-Blue Jays
2-Red Sox
3-Orioles
4-Yankees
5-Rays

Why not the Blue Jays?  They currently hold the longest playoff drought but they have a nice young staff.  It all comes down to if the offense can hold up.  Boston will hit, but can they pitch?  This is a very subpar pitching staff that may not survive in this division.  The Orioles have been baseball's darlings, but losing Nelson Cruz and Nick Markakis could damage their playoff hopes.  Drama will be the keyword for the Yankees this year as long as A-Rod is on the roster.  Tampa is rebuilding mode.

AL CENTRAL

1-Tigers
2-Indians
3-White Sox
4-Royals
5-Twins

Is this the Tigers' crossroads?  They've won this division four straight years but is that greatness decaying?  The once dominant pitching staff is showing signs of wear (Justin Verlander) and defections (Max Scherzer).  This is an expensive team that may not be able to plug in the holes like they've been able to do in recent years.  The Indians were pretty good last year despite some injuries.  If they can all get on the page, they could topple Detroit.  Chicago?  The White Sox are a true wild card.  They have nice pieces but do they all fit together?  They've gotten better in some spots.  We all loved the Royals last season, but the small ball they played worked when the pitching was dominant.  No Shields could bring them back down the ladder.  This division is tough.  To put it another way, Kansas City could win the AL East if they were in that division.

AL WEST

1-Mariners

2-Angels
3-Athletics
4-Rangers
5-Astros

Seattle, who has laid in the weeds for most of this decade, looks to break out and back to the division titles.  Nelson Cruz joins Robinson Cano as mashers who will up the M's sometimes sluggish offense.  The pitching staff is nice and uses their defensive infield wisely.  The Angels will try to keep Seattle in their place as they return another great roster, albeit with some issues with Josh Hamilton.  The A's can mash, but will all that tinkering the last few years cost them?  Texas is coming off a injury ravaged season.  Houston is still rebuilding.

PLAYOFF TEAMS

NL:  Nationals, Cardinals, Dodgers, Padres, Marlins
AL:  Tigers, Mariners, Blue Jays, Angels, Indians

WORLD SERIES:

Nationals over Mariners

Sportz' NCAA Tournament Recap - First Four


Just a quick recap of what I saw in my Sportz Room -- filled with TVs that I can watch all four games going on at the same time.

GAME OF THE DAY: Ole Miss vs BYU. This was a season where everyone has complained about the lack of scoring and the boring pace of play.  Well, this was a game where we had 184 points scored ... and that was in regulation!  These two teams just went at it, hitting shot after shot and making big plays.  Just a super game.

UPSET OF THE DAY: Hampton over Manhattan. Not a huge upset (that's hard in the First Four), but Hampton was a sub-.500 team and got a tournament win.  Shame that Quentin Chievous turned his ankle late, but hopefully he'll be healthy enough to take on Kentucky in their next one.

CONFERENCE OF THE DAY: SEC. Ole Miss was a very bubbly team heading into Selection Sunday and BYU was one of the buzz teams for a Cinderella.  Despite falling behind by 17, the Rebels looked outstanding in coming back to win that game.  Even though it doesn't really count towards this page, the SEC also looked pretty good in the NIT as Texas A&M, Vanderbilt and Alabama won their first round games.

CONFERENCE WITH A BAD DAY: Atlantic Sun. North Florida was the lone team playing in the First Four that won a regular season title and they couldn't beat a team that finished 3 games back in the Northeast Conference.

DUD OF THE DAY: Hampton vs Manhattan. In a round filled with nailbiters, the game that is decided by 10 points is the boring one.

DOMINANT PERFORMANCE OF THE DAY: Ole Miss. I know that it was a close game, but did you see them in the second half against BYU?  Ole Miss scored 62 points ... in the second half.  They also shot 60% in the 2nd half and turned the ball over just three times.  That second half performance alone would've beaten Dayton or Boise State and nearly would've beaten Manhattan.

UNDERLYING STORYLINE OF THE DAY: Dayton in Dayton. This was a sketchy situation that really looked bad.  I know Doug Gottlieb touched on this during the broadcast, but it really isn't fair for Dayton to be playing an NCAA tournament game on their home court.  I know, I know.  Kentucky gets to play in Louisville, Duke plays in Charlotte and we have had schools playing virtual home games.  But they aren't playing on their actual home floor.  To me, the NCAA might want to find a neutral site for the First Four.  A gym that no Division I school calls home.  Maybe Kansas City's Sprint Center?  Or Cincinnati's US Bank Arena.  Dallas' American Airlines Center.  Or why not just have these games played in the pod city anyway (like the Hampton-Manhattan game just being played in Louisville).

Monday, March 16, 2015

Sportz Assassin's South Region Preview


TEAM TO BEAT: Duke. The Blue Devils may be the one team that can topple Kentucky and they'd have to get to the Final to do so.  They have NBA talent, clutch guards and a nice mix of youth and experience ... and a guy name Krzyzewski ... to get it done.  

TEAM THAT WILL WIN THE REGION: Gonzaga. I really think this is set up for a Duke-Gonzaga matchup in the region final and Gonzaga's ability to wear out Jahil Okafor will win out.

TEAM TO WATCH FOR (LESS THAN A NO. 3 SEED): SMU. I really like this team.  They are a tough-nosed team that plays smart and has nice size and athleticism.  Oh, and they have Larry Brown who has done it all and won't get cute during the tournament.  

YOUR CINDERELLA: Stephen F Austin. As a rule, I tend not to pick the same Cinderella two years in a row.  But SFA is good enough to upset Utah like they did VCU a year ago.  The next step for them is getting to the Sweet 16.  The Georgetown/Eastern Washington winner could be ripe for an upset as well.  

WORST SEEDING ERROR: UCLA. Sorry, but I didn't see them in the tournament at all ... let alone not having to play in the First Four.  I was genuinely shocked when this selection came up.  

HOME COURT ADVANTAGE: Duke. Well, for the first weekend, Duke (Charlotte) and Gonzaga (Seattle) have distinct home court advantages.  If SMU (or Stephen F. Austin?) can get to the second weekend, they could have a nice gathering in Houston.  Still, that's an advantage for Duke.

MUST WATCH GAME: SMU vs UCLA. Forget what you've read up there for a moment.  UCLA, despite me not thinking they should be in the tournament, is and they have talented and athletic players.  It will be fun to see them go against Larry Brown (who took UCLA to the title game in 1980) and his SMU squad.

MUST WATCH (POTENTIAL) SECOND ROUND GAME: Iowa State vs SMU. There could be some other nice matchups ... but this one should be the best game.  The Cyclones are an extremely well coached team and I'd love to see Fred Hoiberg and Larry Brown play chess against each other.

See also:
South Region preview

East Region preview
West Region preview
Midwest Region preview




Sportz Assassin's East Region Preview


TEAM TO BEAT: Villanova. The Wildcats have had an amazing year and the committee obviously valued them by making them the 2nd overall seed.  Nova has been a bit under the radar when compared to the other elite teams.  

TEAM THAT WILL WIN THE REGION: Virginia. Wow, have people just left the Wahoos for dead.  A little over a week ago, Virginia was entrenched as the 2nd ranked team in the country.  They lose with seconds left at Louisville to end the season then lose to a solid North Carolina team in the ACC tournament.  Their only other loss was a late game meltdown against Duke. Now no one believes in them?  Watch out.

TEAM TO WATCH FOR (LESS THAN A NO. 3 SEED): Michigan State. Tom Izzo's teams tend to perform well in the NCAAs.  With an interesting bracket laid out here, the Spartans may be able to be the low seed in the Final Four.  While they may be an underdog virtually the entire way, they have the ability to move a long way in this bracket.  

YOUR CINDERELLA: Dayton. They Flyers are in a First Four game in their own arena.  This is a team that went to the Elite 8 last season and head coach Archie Miller has done a great job with this year's team.  

WORST SEEDING ERROR: Northern Iowa. How is this team a No. 5 seed?  I know rankings don't mean much, but this has been a top 15 team for a bulk of the season and yet they are treated like just some other mid-major?  Unreal.    

HOME COURT ADVANTAGE: Villanova. To the victors go the spoils.  The Wildcats start their journey in-state by traveling to Pittsburgh before moving up the Syracuse for the regional finals.  Really, only Providence and Albany can feel great about playing in Syracuse.

MUST WATCH GAME: NC State vs LSU. LSU is talented with a few first round NBA picks on their roster.  They are also inconsistent.  NC State has been on a nice roll of late and have beaten Duke, Louisville and North Carolina.  This will be one of the best matchups of the first (or second or whatever) round.

MUST WATCH (POTENTIAL) SECOND ROUND GAME: Virginia vs Michigan State. This was a great game in last season's NCAA Tournament and it could be even better.  Two tough coaches squaring off.  As you saw above, Virginia is my pick to win this region and Michigan State is my danger team pick.  One will be gone after this matchup.

See also:
South Region preview

East Region preview
West Region preview
Midwest Region preview

Sportz Assassin's West Region Preview


TEAM TO BEAT: Wisconsin. The Badgers are a complete team that has done this before.  They have some familiar foes in this bracket and the probable Player Of the Year.  They felt they let a title slip away last year and are back to finish the job.  

TEAM THAT WILL WIN THE REGION: Arizona. I've been on Arizona all year long.  Their three losses are a bit weird (none made the tournament) yet they are 18-0 against the RPI Top 100.  Those three losses were by a combined nine points.  They got size and are athletic and have been just spanking teams of late.

TEAM TO WATCH FOR (LESS THAN A NO. 3 SEED): North Carolina. The story of UNC this season is that they have the talent to beat anyone but they don't always have the drive.  They showed toughness against Virginia in the ACC tournament but then got shaken by a Notre Dame run the next night.  They have size, depth and can pound the boards which would make a matchup with either Wisconsin or Arizona a must-see.  

YOUR CINDERELLA: BYU. From "First Four" to "Final Four"?  Not quite.  But BYU could do some damage in this bracket.  They won at Gonzaga which means they are dangerous.  They can beat Ole Miss, Xavier and Baylor and sneak into the Sweet 16.  

WORST SEEDING ERROR: Ohio State. Honestly, I cannot find any real gripes with the seeding in this region.  Maybe the Buckeyes could have gotten a #9 seed instead of Oklahoma State?  

HOME COURT ADVANTAGE: Arizona. Really, no one has that great of an advantage, but Arizona gets to head to Portland and then Los Angeles.  If they get Wisconsin in the region final, they'll definitely have the edge in home court.  

MUST WATCH GAME: VCU vs Ohio State. VCU's trapping defense against the OSU backcourt of D'Angelo Russell and Shannon Scott.  This should be a fun game to watch.  

MUST WATCH (POTENTIAL) SECOND ROUND GAME: North Carolina vs Arkansas. Both teams want to run, run, run.  North Carolina's offensive rebounding ability is outstanding but the Hogs can force some turnovers.  This would be a track meet.

See also:
South Region preview

East Region preview
West Region preview
Midwest Region preview

Sportz Assassin's Midwest Region Preview


TEAM TO BEAT: Kentucky. The Wildcats are 34-0 and the only teams that have even come close to beating them have done so because Kentucky has looked bored.  That shouldn't happen in the NCAA tournament.  

TEAM THAT WILL WIN THE REGION: Kentucky. It's hard to bet against a team that hasn't lost yet.  Kentucky could be challenged by Notre Dame, Maryland or Kansas, but they should breeze through this region.

TEAM TO WATCH FOR (LESS THAN A NO. 3 SEED): Maryland. The Terps aren't afraid of anyone.  Maryland has beaten Wisconsin, Iowa State and Michigan State ... twice.  They have big time scorers in both Melo Trimble and Dez Wells.  

YOUR CINDERELLA: Indiana. Hard to think of a program like Indiana as a Cinderella, but they are a #10 seed and have beaten some really good teams this year.  They beat Maryland, SMU, Butler and Ohio State.  The problem with the Hoosiers is that they haven't beaten anyone any good since late January.  

WORST SEEDING ERROR: Wichita State. This committee pretty much let it be known that they like those power conference schools.  Case in point, Wichita State getting a #7 seed.  Does no one respect the MVC?  I guess not.  The Shockers are ranked 12th in the AP poll and are 18th in the RPI.  

HOME COURT ADVANTAGE: Kentucky. Honestly ... everyone seems to have a home court advantage in this region.  Kentucky will be playing in Louisville, Cleveland and Indianapolis if they go all the way.  Still, Cincinnati and Purdue also will be in nearby L'ville.  Kansas and Wichita State will be in Omaha.  Heck there are five Indiana teams in this region alone (zero made the tournament last year).

MUST WATCH GAME: West Virginia vs Buffalo. Bobby Hurley (yes, that Bobby Hurley) helms a Buffalo squad that could make a surprising run in this region.  West Virginia was just 2-7 against the RPI's Top 25.  This could be an upset.

MUST WATCH (POTENTIAL) SECOND ROUND GAME: Kansas vs Wichita State. Kansas won't schedule in state Wichita State so this will be huge for the Shocker faithful.  The game would be in nearly Omaha and should be rocking.  We could also get the same sort of feel for a possible Kentucky-Cincinnati game in Louisville.

See also:
South Region preview

East Region preview
West Region preview
Midwest Region preview

Sunday, March 15, 2015

The Annoying Things That Bracket People Do ...


It is bracket time again, so people all across our great land are taking pen or pencil to brackets at hoping for the best.  They reason, they debate, they flip a coin.  Most of all, they think they are correct.  They go to blogs and websites to get that last bit of info to make their selections.

This isn't that post.

This is for those people who collect the brackets.  Those people who tirelessly print the brackets, make copies, convince people to enter a sheet in, chase people down for their money and enter in all the results into some sort of program ... or do the scoring themselves.

Here are the people you are likely to deal with this week and this is just to let you know, you're not alone.

WHAT'S THIS?:  I love when you hand someone a bracket and they respond this way.  If you don't know by now, you never will.  

THE "FLORDIA" PEOPLE:  I love when people cannot spell Florida.  It is sometimes "Floirda" or "Florda" but usually I see "Flordia".  First off, you should be able to spell every single state with the exception of Massachusetts and Connecticut with relative ease.  Plus, it is only printed in type in the line right next to your dumb spelling.  

THE NUMBERS PEOPLE: I love those people that refuse to write the names of the teams in the lines but instead write their seedings.  So you  get those 1s and 5s and 12s all over the place so it is awesome when you get to enter that sheet into a database.  Plus I love when they have two #1s facing off in the Final Four and write "1" as the winner.  Thanks.

I'LL GET THE MONEY TO YOU ... :  We all know this.  Those people who just never have the $5 or whatever to pay.  It is the Final Four and you are still telling me to wait until payday?  Great.  God forbid they actually have a shot to win because they'll just hang onto their money with the ol' "well, you'd be giving it back to me anyway" jive.  Oh, and those late payers are usually the ones who are up your butt when they do win and complainin when all the money hadn't been collected yet.  

Selection Sunday - What Is Left To Do

Can UConn steal a bid from a bubble team?

Today is Selection Sunday when we finally get to see the 2015 NCAA Tournament bracket.  Still, there is some unfinished business left to do.  So what's on tap before we see the brackets tonight?

Also see:
*Who Gets The No. 1 Seeds
*Latest Bubble Watch

1-AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP:  This is the most important game of the day.  If UConn beats SMU for the AAC title, the Huskies win an automatic bid in the tournament and knock one of those bubble teams out of the dance.  So this is a game fans of Indiana, LSU, Texas, Boise State, Temple, Ole Miss, UCLA and several other schools are going to be watching very closely.

2-SOUTHEASTERN CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP:  This will get the most eyes on it.  A Kentucky win means they will be 34-0 heading into the NCAA tournament and attempting to be the first undefeated team since the 1976 Indiana Hoosiers.  A loss would be an epic news story, as well, but wouldn't really shake the foundation of the actual bracket.  Kentucky will still be the No. 1 overall seed and Arkansas may move up to be a 3 or 4 seed.

3-BIG TEN CHAMPIONSHIP:  Both Wisconsin and Michigan State are firmly in the field.  But a Wisconsin win could likely put them as a No. 1 seed.  They would have won both the Big Ten regular season and tournament titles which would hold some weight over teams like Duke and Virginia.

4-SUN BELT CHAMPIONSHIP:  Okay, it isn't a big-time game like pretty much anything on this list, but aside from UConn, these two are the only teams playing today that must win to get into the tournament.  Georgia Southern and Georgia State have been solid all season long and could be a Cinderella once they get in.

5-ATLANTIC TEN CHAMPIONSHIP:  Both VCU and Dayton are in the dance.  Only seeding could matter here, and I don't think it will very much.

Selection Sunday Preview: Who Gets The No. 1 Seeds?

Duke and Wisconsin played a highly anticipated
game early in the season.  Can one or both teams
end up as Number 1 seeds in the NCAA
tournament?

This evening, we will see the 2015 NCAA tournament bracket.  We will argue about who got robbed, who got snubbed, who is overseeded, underseeded and who got the easiest bracket.

We love to spend so much time over who the bottom teams in the tournament are ... let's look to see who can lock in those top seeds.

NUMBER ONE SEEDS

1-KENTUCKY:  No matter if they win or lose to SEC title game today, they should be the overall top seed in the Midwest Region (which ends in Cleveland) and start their tournament in Louisville.

2-VILLANOVA:  The other Wildcats won both the Big East regular season and tournaments and look like a lock to get the 2nd overall top seed and the East Region (which is in Syracuse) and play the first weekend in Pittsburgh.