Monday, March 18, 2013
2013 NCAA Tournament Primer
"It's the most wonderful time of the year" - Andy Williams
Andy Williams wasn't really singing about Christmas...okay, he was. But really he should have been singing about March Madness, which really is all of March, since it started over two weeks ago with mid major tournament conference play. For those of you in NCAA Tournament Brackets or if you just like watching college basketball like me, here's some things to look for based on recent tournament history.
1) Pick Seven to Eight Double Digit Seeds to win in Round of 64 - Since 2006, with the exception of 2007 when only two double digit seeds made it past the Round 64, double digit seeds on average have won seven games in the Round of 64 (2012 - 9, 2011-6, 2010-8, 2009-8, 2008-6, 2006-8).
To go even further, since 2006, #12 seeds have won eleven Round of 64 games. #11 seeds have won thirteen Round of 64 games. #10 seeds have won twelve Round of 64 games. Since 2006, with the exception of 2007, A #13 seed has won at least one Round of 64 game.
Based on the odds, figure at least two #10 seeds, two #11 seeds, two #12 seeds and one #13 seed are going to win their Round of 64 games.
2) Don't Pick Double Digit Seeds in the Second Round - Since 2006, no more than three double digit seeds have advanced to the Sweet 16 (2012 -3, 2011-3, 2010-3,2009-1,2008-3,2007-none, 2006-2). So even if you think any team can win this year, temper your enthusiasm when it comes to double digit seeds in the second round. Pick maybe one or two exceptions and go with chalk. See #4 for more details.
3) #2 Seeds Often Die Before the Elite Eight - I saw a CBS statistic last night that only 42.5% of #2 seeds make it to the Elite Eight. That's less than half folks. If you are picking more than two #2 seeds to make it to the Elite Eight, check again. If you want to do well in your office pool, pick two #2 seeds to either lose in the Round of 32 or certainly in the Sweet Sixteen.
4) Know Where Certain Teams Are Playing - The Committee is often very generous in giving teams basically home games in the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament. This year is no exception - Michigan, Michigan State, California, Louisville and Ohio State are playing in their home state for the first two rounds. Kansas and Kansas State are playing in the familiar territory of Kansas City, Missouri, which hosted the Big 12 Tournament last week.
If you think for example VCU has a great chance of upsetting Michigan on what's basically a home court, you may want to rethink. Likewise, temper your enthusiasm for Iowa State/Notre Dame vs. Ohio State.
However, from #2, if you think a double digit seed is going to make it to the Sweet 16, look for a double digit seed playing on a neutral site. Minnesota, my #11 pick to go to the Sweet 16 is playing in Austin, Texas. Florida has no home court advantage there. Throw in some good guards and I think the Gophers make the Sweet 16.
5) When Picking Teams in a Certain Round, Check To See if Strengths Are Neutralized...Or Not - It pays to know your teams. If you are a Ken Pomeroy insider, you might know that Middle Tennessee is 30th in the country in three point percentage offense and St Mary's is #300th in three point field goal percentage defense. Likewise, Belmont is #33 in the country in three point field goal percentage offense and Arizona is #276 in the country in three point field goal percentage defense. Needless to say, I like Middle Tennessee and Belmont in those matchups.
Even more stats for you. VCU is #1 in the country in turnover percentage defnse at 28.7 percent. But Michigan is #1 in the country in turnover percentage on offense at only 14.3 percent. The Wolverines are #11 in the country in 2 pt field goal percentage offense. That doesn't bode well for the Rams who are 258th in the country in 2 pt field goal percentage defense.
I heard Jay Bilas basically say that the committee gave VCU a golden opportunity of getting the Rams to the Elite Eight. I disagree. By putting VCU in a potential second round matchup in Auburn Hills against a Michigan team that doesn't turn the ball over, I say the committee didn't do the Rams any favors at all.
Further down the road, many experts have picked Louisville to win it all. And as many people know, Louisville's strength is their press, as they are second to VCU in the country in turnover defensive percentage at 27.6 percent. However, they may likely face St Louis in the Sweet Sixteen. As the Rams have twice found out, the Billikens are strong with the ball. St Louis is #46 in the country in turnover percentage offense at 17.6 percent and #23 in the country in turnover percentage defense. I like the Billikens to knock off the Cardinals.
I stopped doing brackets years ago because it's more fun to watch the games play out. That being said, on request, I am contributing to a friend's site this year with some picks. Here's who I like;
At Large Play In Games - As I noted, I like Middle Tennessee to beat St Mary's. Middle Tennessee played a good non conference schedule, better than people think. Plus one of their strengths, shooting the three is a major weakness for the Gaels.
Boise State-LaSalle is a toss up to me. So I will pick the Broncos to win a close one. I think either team is capable of beating Kansas State. So I have Boise as a double digit seed winner in Round of 64
Round of 64 Upsets - Middle Tennessee continues their run knocking off a Memphis team whose best non conference win was Tennessee. Blue Raiders prove they're the second best team in Tennessee (Belmont is first).
Belmont's three point shooting prowess knocks off Arizona. Oregon is playing really well. I don't like Oklahoma State's non conference. Like the Ducks to win a #5-#12 game.
This is a slight upset with a #9 over a #8. Wichita State likes physical play and had a strong non conference schedule . They will beat Pittsburgh.
I have #9 Nova beating #8 North Carolina as well another #9, Missouri beating #8 Colorado State, So why not make it a canasta and say Temple, another #9, beats mercurial #8 NC State.
As I noted, Boise takes out Kansas State for the sixth straight season a #13 beats a #4.
Fred Hoiberg's #10 Iowa State beats #7 Notre Dame in a shootout.
#11 Minnesota beats a depleted #6 UCLA team without Jordan Adams.
Everyone thinks #11 Bucknell can beat #6 Butler in Lexington. But that's not going to be the upset in that bracket. I like #14 Davidson, a veteran team that's terrific on offense to beat #3 Marquette. Something tells me that the Golden Eagles will be looking ahead at a potential return match up with Butler. The Wildcats will stun them.
Finally #10 Colorado will mercifully end #7 Illinois' wacky season.
Everything else is chalk. Sorry my Iona friends. The Gaels will give the Buckeyes a good run. But in the end, Iona doesn't have enough defense to beat Ohio State.
Round of 32 - Based on tournament history, two #2 seeds will be gone before the Elite Eight. So why not get rid of one of them in the Round of 32. Creighton, who is more than just Doug McDermott, knocks off Duke.
I love VCU. And if they weren't playing Michigan, let alone playing Michigan in Auburn Hills, I could see them beating most other teams left in the Round of 32. But the Wolverines are a bad match up for the Rams, especially on what amounts to a home court. Michigan advances.
As I noted, love Minnesota's guards. They handle the Florida press and we at least have one double digit seed go to the Sweet 16.
A slight upset will be #5 UNLV over #4 Syracuse. Love Moser and Bennett on the Rebels.
Believe it or not I have chalk with all the other teams - Louisville, who pounds undisciplined Missouri again, St Louis, Michigan State, Gonzaga, Wisconsin, New Mexico, Ohio State (only because they are playing in Dayton), Kansas, Georgetown, Indiana, Butler and Miami.
Sweet 16 - I really believe St Louis knocks off Louisville. Love their guard play with Jett and Mitchell. Michigan State and the Fighting Izzos knock off Creighton.
Wisconsin has been playing really well. I think they take out Gonzaga. New Mexico is such a terrific defensive team and they have played such a strong schedule overall. Snell is the difference in beating Ohio State.
Michigan is a much better match up than VCU for Kansas. McElmore, Withey, Johnson etc beat the Wolverines. Meanwhile Georgetown's Otto Porter guns down Minnesota.
Indiana outlasts UNLV in a shootout. Miami's length, especially at guard with Larkin and Scott will be too much for Clarke and Butler.
Elite Eight - Something tells me Michigan State beats St Louis. I never bet against Izzo with a Final Four on the line.
New Mexico knocks off another Big Ten team in Wisconsin. Defense wins the day here.
I say there has to be one #1 seed in the Final Four. Kansas makes Jaden Daly happy and ends Georgetown's run.
Hate to say it for all those Larranaga haters out there, but he's got a really good team. Again Scott and Durand are too much for Indiana.
Final Four - Michigan State ends New Mexico's run. Meanwhile, Miami beats Kansas in a dandy.
Final - I have been impressed with Miami all season. Scott and Larkin take home the title and beat Michigan State.