Thursday, March 20, 2008

First Day Thoughts

I don't think anybody can be too shocked with what Georgia has been up to today. I figured Xavier would win this one because they are the better team, but Georgia is obviously coming in here with SEC-level talent. They have the horses to win this one. I do have to say that I heard some pretty idiotic analysis of this one beforehand - that Georgia was going to lose this one because they were too worn out from the SEC Tournament. I heard this several times from several different sources. If the team can win three games in two days... I'm pretty sure they can find a way to stay energized to win one game after three days off to recover.

Michigan State seems to be taking care of all of the Big Ten bashing heading into the Tournament. The majority of brackets I saw had zero Big Ten teams in the Sweet Sixteen, which is just a misunderstanding of how college basketball is played. In the NBA playoffs, the team with the best player usually wins. But college basketball is about the better team, and individual stars (especially freshmen) cannot take over and win games by themselves in the Tournament. The media is doing a horrible job of teaching kids bad lessons by focusing so much on OJ Bayo and Michael Beasley, and other freshmen individuals, and ignoring the teams that are greater than the sum of their parts. The Big Ten this year is all about solid teams that just pound you and beat you. They are built for the Tournament. I picked Purdue to go down in the first round, and Indiana isn't going far either. But both Michigan State and Wisconsin are sleeper Final Four teams.

Kansas is looking very impressive in dismantling Portland State. I know that #16 seeds are supposed to be pushovers, but Portland State is a pretty good team. They are, by far, the best #16 seed. In my mind, they have the ability level of a #15 seed, and only got knocked down to a #16 because of all of the parity this season. The way they're getting killed by 30 points is a very impressive effort for the Jayhawks.

Coming up... three very even match-ups. I've already talked about Purdue, and obviously Marquette/Kentucky is an even match-up. The Kent State/UNLV game is also a toss up, although Kent State is actually slightly favored by Vegas. It could just be because #9 seeds are generally better (they have won 54% of the time in the modern era). Kent State had the better season, but the big red flag for me was the 16-0 home record vs. the 8-5 true road record. Can they handle the pressure without the comfort of a home crowd? We'll find out in less than an hour.

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