Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Midwest Bracket Breakdown

#3 Seed Or Lower Favorite: Wisconsin. I guess it's not a huge surprise that Wisconsin doesn't get any mention on Sportscenter in their bracket breakdowns. If you only watch this team once or twice, you are probably convinced that they're overrated. But if you watch them play a lot, you become convinced that they're underrated. They just do all of the things right that a Tournament team needs to do right. They never turn over the ball, they ooze senior talent and leadership, they are able to force their deliberate style on anybody, and they know how to win close games. To me, the odds of the Badgers taking this bracket are just as good as the odds for Georgetown and Kansas. Georgetown is also a very good, experienced team that knows how to win Tournament games. Wisconsin probably should have earned a #2 seed, meaning that Georgetown would have been my "#3 seed or lower favorite." As for Kansas, they have looked great all year, but why is this year any different than all the last? To me, Bill Self has to prove that he can live up to his seed before I'm willing to pick him far in a bracket.

Most Likely Double-Digit Seed To Win A Game: Villanova. See here. Also, see below:

Most Likely #6+ Seed To Get To Sweet Sixteen: Villanova. I think Clemson is going to come in over-confident, looking ahead to Vanderbilt and Kansas. The fact is that Villanova is just as good as Clemson, and has more history winning Tournament games. They will have the better player on the floor and the better coach. And Clemson will likely be over-confident after their ACC Tournament run. Meanwhile, Vanderbilt is by far the weakest #4 seed. A horrible Sagarin PREDICTOR, a horrible road record... stay away.

Last Word: When we talk about "easiest" or "hardest" brackets, what really matters is the route that a team has to take. Nobody plays the other 15 teams in their bracket - they play a maximum of four of them. So, the bottom of the Midwest bracket is tough, with both Georgetown and Wisconsin being potential Final Four teams. But the top half is terrible, with by far the worst #4/#5 seed pair. Even that #8/9 game isn't that impressive, although UNLV might have a chance to keep things close with Kansas for 20 or 30 minutes. To me, you can pretty much pencil Kansas into the Elite Eight, which is something that you can't say for any other team in the Tournament. But after that, they will be a toss-up against Georgetown or Wisconsin. And I would make them the underdog against UNC or Tennessee in the Final Four, should things get that far. Both Wisconsin and Georgetown would be a tough out for UNC as well, but most likely would be destined for a close loss.

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