Wednesday, March 15, 2006

From 64 to 1: My NCAA Tournament Projections

The first thing to keep in mind is that I'm in probably six or seven different pools, and I probably have different picks in every pool, and I'm not going to list them all. So this is the most recent set, and this is the one that I feel most confident about. Anyway, let's get to the picks:

Atlanta Region

First Round

  • Duke over Southern: No 16 seed has ever beat a 1 seed. It won't happen this year either.
  • George Washington over UNC Wilmington: GW will be pissed about their seed, and they'll have one game to show it before getting trounced by Duke.
  • Syracuse over Texas A&M: One last hurrah for Gerry McNamara.
  • LSU over Iona: One of those games where no one seems to be picking an upset, which means that Iona will probably play them really tough.
  • West Virginia over Southern Illinois: Look out for senior laden teams in the tournament.
  • Iowa over NWSU: Another senior laden line up, playing well right now.
  • Cal over NC State: Lots of size in the front court, and Cal's guards are smart enough to keep feeding Leon Powe.
  • Texas over Penn: I don't expect any of the 2 seeds to go out in the first round, at least now that Hampton is out of the tournament.
Second Round

  • Duke over George Washington: By all rights, GW probably shouldn't be in this game. And guess what? They won't be. Duke cruises.
  • LSU over Syracuse: Cuse is way overseeded here, and they'll play down to the seed they should have received.
  • Iowa over WVU: Battle of senior teams. WVU's reluctance to go inside will neutralize Hansen somewhat, but I think Iowa is more tested. Haluska is the X factor.
  • Cal over Texas: If healthy, Leon Powe will be the best post player Texas has seen this year.
Sweet Sixteen:
  • Duke over LSU: Big Baby's tournament run comes to an end.
  • Iowa over Cal: Powe will get his, but Hansen knocks enough away. Cal's backcourt defense isn't good, and Horner will exploit that.
Regional Final:

  • Iowa over Duke: This assumes competent officiating. If Coach K gets some lapdogs with whistles, Hansen and Brunner will spend a lot of time on the bench. If they're allowed to play, Iowa locks up on Redick and wins by six.
Oakland Region

First Round:

  • Memphis over Oral Roberts: 1 vs. 16 - nuff said.
  • Bucknell over Arkansas: The SEC almost always disappoints, and Bucknell is good.
  • Pitt over Kent State: The dreaded 12-5 game. Whatever, Pitt wins easily.
  • Kansas over Bradley: Not sure if Bradley should be here. They're not as good as Bucknell from last year. Self will get another opportunity to show he can't coach in the tournament.
  • San Diego State over Indiana: Aztecs play a lot of games at altitude. Killingsworth gets winded, and those jumpers travel just a little too far in the thin air. Mike Davis says goodbye.
  • Gonzaga over Xavier: Musketeers play tough, but too much Morrison dooms them to an early exit.
  • Marquette over Alabama: Tom Crean begins to re-raise his profile (more later).
  • UCLA Bruins over Belmont Bruins: I could make a Bruins joke here, but I get the feeling that others will take care of that.

Second Round:

  • Memphis over Bucknell: Young, athletic, and talented Memphis move on.
  • Pitt over Kansas: I'm not sure if Jamie Dixon is a good tournament coach, but I know that Bill Self isn't. Latest reports indicate that he still doesn't think he should defend the perimeter against Notre Dame.
  • Gonzaga over SDSU: Bulldogs no longer America's darlings, so they actually start playing to seed.
  • UCLA over Marquette: With the Indiana job officially open, Tom Crean spends too much time focusing on the press conference he's called to deny interest in becoming the head Hoosier, and forgets to prepare for UCLA's defense. Ah, who am I kidding? You can't prepare for UCLA's defense.

Sweet Sixteen:

  • Memphis over Pitt: Something about Pitt and the sweet sixteen. Nothing changes this year.
  • UCLA over Gonzaga: Gonzaga still plays to seed. UCLA defense is too tough, and they completely take Batista andn Raivio out of the game. Ced Bozeman shows Adam Morrison how to play defense.

Regional Final:

  • UCLA over Memphis. This isn't the same Bruins team that played Memphis back in Madison Square. Lack of tough competition over the last few months catches up with Memphis.
Washington D.C. Region

First Round

  • UConn over Albany: 1, 16, nuff.
  • UAB over Kentucky: I haven't seen much of either team this year. This is just a gut feel.
  • Washington over Utah State: I think this will actually be a struggle for Washington, as the Huskies aren't great at defending the perimeter.
  • Illinois over Air Force: Dee talks trash. Cadets proseletyze. Advantage Dee.
  • Michigan State over George Mason: Seniors, and a great coach in March make this an easy one for MSU.
  • North Carolina over Murray State: Young Tarheels are peaking at the right time, which makes it the wrong time for the Racers.
  • Wichita State over Seton Hall: I've been to Wichita. I've gotten absolutely wasted in Wichita. Seton Hall, you're no Wichita!
  • Tennessee over Winthrop: This one should be so easy for Tennessee that Satan's Spawn (Bruce Pearl) shouldn't break a sweat. Doesn't mean he won't, of course.

Second Round

  • UConn over UAB: Tall and talented Huskies blaze by UAB.
  • Illinois over Washington: This game will be determined almost completely by officials. Let them play and Illinois rolls. Call it tight and Washington wins a free throw shooting contest, with Brandon Roy putting up big numbers against whoever is forced to replace Brian Randle.
  • MSU over UNC: In a game of tournament tested seniors over talented freshmen, I'll take the seniors every time, and I'll win most of the time.
  • Tennessee over Wichita State: Bruce Pearl sweats through two suits. The spectacle distracts Wichita State long enough for Tennessee to put the game away.

Sweet Sixteen

  • UConn over Illinois: Illini get pounded on the boards. Dee has a tremendous final college game, but the Huskies' size inside makes life miserable for James Augustine.
  • MSU over Tennessee: Late in the first half, Chris Lofton slips on a puddle of Bruce Pearl sweat and sustains a concussion that ends his night. The Spartans never look back.

Regional Final

  • UConn over MSU: Sparty meets the same fate as the Illini one round later. They use that to claim that they were better than Illinois despite their crappy record and home loss to the Illini.
Minneapolis Region

First Round

  • Villanova over Monmouth: enough already.
  • Arizona over Wisconsin: Tough call here. I think Arizona's big white guy will outplay Wisconsin's big white guy. The question is, will Ivan Radenovic show up to play the second half? Ah, who am I kidding, of course he won't.
  • Nevada over Montana: The multitude of Montana grads in my family won't be pleased, but Fazekas eats up mediocre teams.
  • Boston College over Pacific: The UOP grads in my family might not like this, but that's OK, because we don't talk to that side of the family anymore.
  • Oklahoma over Wisconsin Milwaukee: UWM has exorcised the Spawn of Satan, but the money they saved on sweat mops this season wasn't invested wisely enough.
  • Florida over Southern Alabama: Why do the Gators hate the USA?
  • Georgetown over Northern Iowa: Hey, I already picked one Iowa team to do well. I'm not dumb enough to pick another.
  • Ohio State over Davidson: Davidson will not slay the Goliath that is Terrence Dials this year.

Second Round

  • Villanova over Arizona: Arizona can't overcome turnover prone Mustafa Shakur against Villanova's quality backcourt.
  • Nevada over Boston College: Too much Nick Fazekas.
  • Florida over Oklahoma: The Gators and Sooners trade volleys for a while, but Joakim Noah slams a winner past Kelvin Sampson's club.
  • Georgetown over Ohio State: I like the Buckeye's but I just have feeling about the Hoya's in this one.

Sweet Sixteen

  • Villanova over Nevada: The great guards take over at this time of the tournament.
  • Florida over Georgetown: In the battle of solid big men, Noah comes up aces again.

Regional Final

  • Florida over Villanova: I'm running out of tennis metaphors. I'll take the big guy in this one.

Final Four

  • UCLA over Iowa: Low scoring defensive battle. This goes against my 'trust the seniors' tendency, but at this point of the tournament, everyone has tourney experience. The Bruins' depth keeps their front line out of foul trouble, while Mbah A Moute and Afflalo lock down on Haluska and Horner, sending UCLA to the title game for the first time in 11 years.
  • UConn over Florida: The Gators have a great big man. UConn has about four or five. Back to the title game for the Huskies.

Championship Game

  • UConn over UCLA: The Bruins run into a juggernaut, and learn from the best program of the last decade just what it takes to win a national championship. It will be a valuable lesson for the group of kids who will be cutting down the nets in Atlanta in 2007.

1 comment:

Jon said...

Wow, you're optimistic for a UCLA fan. I too wish a deep run for the Bruins, but I dread the east coast antagonization that will ensue if we bow out early.