Against the Grain

Slightly more than just jibba jabba

NCAA Hoops: Who ya Got?

Posted by Patrick on 12 Mar 2007

I was born into the SEC, there’s just no other way to say it. My alma mater (which would be Georgia) isn’t in the field this time around, but with 5 schools representing the conference, I think it’s a solid showing for a football/baseball conference. Partisan arguments aside, let’s look at the top few seeds tournament-wide and see who the NCAA is rimjobbing and who actually deserves their place:

Midwest Regional
#1: Florida 29-5, 13-3 conf
The defending champions are coming off of their third consecutive SEC title win after obliterating a pretty good Arkansas team 77-56. The Gators are #3 in the coaches poll and are the overall #1 seed in the tournament. Experts give them about a 10.4% chance of winning it all again this year. But I don’t think they deserved to be the #1 seed overall, despite being the defending champs and having a solid season. I think this is a little bit of fluff on the NCAAs part. If they win it all, I’ll eat crow.

#2: Wisconsin 29-5, 13-3 conf
I was impressed by Wisconsin earlier in the year, but after an absolutely embarrassing show against Ohio State in the Big 10 tournament finals, in which they amassed a piddly 49 points, I believe they clearly deserve a #2 seed after being the top-ranked team for parts of this season.

West Regional
#1: Kansas 30-4, 14-2 conf
These kids are talented, but young. They play in the Big 12 north division, which was significantly weaker than the south this year. Despite losing one game on a last second prayer to A&M and winning the regular season conference title and the conference tournament by beating a talented Texas team 88-84, Kansas has their moments of youth demonstrated by losses to schools like Oral Roberts.

#2: UCLA 26-5, 15-3 conf
Last year’s runner-ups in the big dance had another strong year. They won the regular season Pac-10 title with the contributions of guard Arron Afflalo, who is the Pac-10 player of the year. The Bruins are a solid #2 seed, playing their first/second round games near home will help them shake some nerves.

East Regional
#1: North Carolina 28-6, 11-5 conf
The Tarheels are one of the youngest teams in the tournament with 3 starting freshmen and sophomore Tyler Hansbrough, but they are also one of the most talented. What troubles me about UNC is that they are on a downward skid — they’ve lost 3 of their last 5 plagued by turnovers and just poor defense, and in their win against Duke Tyler Hansbrough suffered a broken nose in what is now dubbed “the foul” here in WordPress-UNC circles. Many experts give UNC a 15%+ chance to win the tournament, I think their youth and Hansbrough’s mask will be factors in the E8.

#2: Georgetown 26-6, 13-3 conf
I think this is a little bit high of a seed for G’town. I remember a span this season where they got romped 2x at home by Old Dominion, then Oregon, and lost a third straight game at Duke. The tide turned when Georgetown won at Michigan, and they rolled to the Big East tournament championship. Last year they made the S16, and probably in line for the same or worse fate this year, looking at a potential matchup against either BC or Bobby Knight in the second round.

South Regional
#1: Ohio State 30-3, 15-1 conf
The Buckeyes are probably my overall #1 in this tournament, but it’s going to be just like football season in the end, I’m afraid. The tournament committee has given them a fluffy escort to the F4 this year, and it certainly looks like the South bracket is the weakest for a power team like this to just mow the lawn on. The biggest challenges facing tOSU on their way to Atlanta are A&M and Memphis, both looking good but both also known for failing to execute in these conditions. If they do not make the F4, it will be a disappointment for such a good club.

#2: Memphis 30-3, 16-0 conf
Fluff. Maybe if their 22-game (current) win streak included any ranked teams, I’d give Memphis some dap. 16-0 in Conference USA isn’t saying a lot this year, including a fairly close game against Houston (closer than its final score) to win the conference tournament. Memphis should have been a #3 seed in my opinion, as A&M is probably more deserving in their own bracket. This is a young team, as well, and their weak schedule hasn’t done much to prepare them for the power teams down the tournament road. I don’t see Memphis beyond the S16.

Who have I got?
Well, I like the way Florida is playing right now, but as a #1 seed I can see that sense of superiority getting in their way, as is classicly a flaw in SEC teams in most sports. I like the way UCLA and Texas look right now. I won’t count out Boston College because I think they have a good chance against Georgetown. If Florida loses in the S16, I like Wisconsin’s chances if they can take the first few game and get their act together.


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