Monday, March 16, 2009

West Bracket Breakdown

And finally, here come the complete region breakdowns. I'll go in my typical reverse alphabetical order, beginning with the West region:

Most likely 11+ seed to win a game: I have to go with Utah State over Marquette here. In general, it's actually not a good idea to pick a small conference team to pull an upset over a major conference team in the NCAA Tournament (you're much more likely to have an upset pulled by a major conference team over a small conference team), but I'll make an exception for a Marquette team that is 1-5 since Dominic James got hurt, with that one win being over St. John's. They are in a tailspin, and Utah State has been red hot and they're playing with a chip on their shoulder. Especially in a region where I really dislike the 12 seed over the 5, I'd go with the 11 over the 6 here. One last thing to note here is that we have by far the best 13/4 match-up in the whole bracket, so if you're in a bracket competition where you get heavily rewarded for picking upsets (like a scoring system where you get the seed of the team + 1 point for a correct first round selection) then I'd think seriously about taking Mississippi State. But the question is which team is most likely to win, and that's Utah State.

Most likely 6+ seed to make the Sweet 16: I don't really like any of the 6+ seeds here, but if i had to go with somebody I'd go with Maryland. They are overrated as a 10 seed (they were most likely an 11 seed that got bumped up to make room for another ACC team), and I think that the first round game against Cal is 50-50, but I think they're in a better position than Cal to get hot and go on a run. Maryland has been inconsistent this year, but they have shown the ability to pull big upsets. I can't see Cal possibly beating Memphis. I'd take Memphis over Maryland also, but Maryland would at least have a chance to get hot and win the game. The 8/9 game is an interesting one, but I don't see either of those teams having a chance against UConn, and I've already said that I think the 6 seed is going out in the first round. So that is why I'm picking Maryland here.

Most likely 3+ seed to win the region: This was a tough decision, and it comes down to Missouri and Purdue here. Missouri has been the better team over the course of the season, but Purdue has played as well as just about anybody in the nation since Robbie Hummel has been relatively healthy again. Should he start having back problems again, though, they're not going to beat anybody. But because we're talking about upside here, I think Purdue has the highest upside. This Missouri team is new to the Tournament, and I think they need to have a learning experience before Mike Anderson has a team that can be a serious Final Four contender. That said, with both UConn and Memphis being highly flawed, I would not be shocked to see Purdue playing Missouri in the Elite 8.

Conclusions: This is a quirky region, and that's why it's so wide open. You've got the weakest 1 seed, the strongest 2 seed, a good 3 seed, the weakest 4 seed, the strongest 5 seed, and the weakest 6 seed. All in all it's a weird combination that doesn't work out by the normal "S-Curve", but we already knew that the "S-Curve" was completely destroyed by their need to keep the 7 teams out of the ACC, Big East and Big Ten from playing each other before the Elite 8.

I see four teams with a very legitimate chance to win this region. If I had to pick a single favorite, I would actually have to pick UConn. I think they can out-tough Memphis, and I still have questions about a Memphis team that hasn't really proven that they could beat elite teams this season. Of course, as I said two paragraphs ago, I could easily see a Missouri-Purdue Elite 8 game. And as I also said, I think Purdue takes that game. The key for Purdue will be finding a way past UConn.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The comments regarding Purdue are very astute. I hate to admit it but the Boilers are very much like (oh dear lord, help me) Duke. A defense in your grill - and if they hit their 3s - they can be virtually impossible to beat. If not, they can lose to a much lesser opponent. If the rims in Portland are as soft as they are at Conseco Fieldhouse, Purdue will be a very difficult out.