Monday, March 16, 2009

March Madness thoughts

- I must admit, the more I ponder the seedings, the more irritated I am that Kansas was shipped to Minneapolis and Missouri to Boise, versus having one (or both) of the schools play here in Kansas City at the Sprint Center. Kansas' record against teams in the tournament is 9-4 with an RPI of 11, a schedule strength of 22 and an outright conference championship. Included in their resume was a win over Oklahoma in Norman. (Yes, I know that Blake Griffin didn't play in that game, but it WAS on OU's home court and it's not like the Sooners, with Griffin, have been dominant in their past few games.)

Missouri also makes a strong argument for playing locally. The Tigers won the Big 12 post-season tournament, also beat Oklahoma, have an RPI of 10 (schedule strength of 38) and are 8-4 against teams in the tournament.

In contrast, Oklahoma was placed as the #2 seed in Kansas City. The Sooners lost to both KU and MU, finished second in their league, lost their first game in the post-season conference tournament and lost four of their last six games. OU does have an RPI of 5 and a schedule strength of 25, but are they truly deserving of the slot here over their two Big 12 brethren?

- Three Big East teams were seeded as #1. Of those, Connecticut is the most vulnerable. The Huskies lost in the first round of the Big East tournament and are without the services of starting guard Jerome Dyson.

- Much is being made of North Carolina point guard Ty Lawson's injured toe and what that means to UNC's chances in the tournament. But, the Tarheels caught a break with an easy bracket when comparing the various seeds...and have struggling Oklahoma as the #2 seed in the South.

- Missouri, if it gets past Cornell, would likely play Marquette, another up-tempo team but one who is without the services of star guard Dominic James. Don't be surprised if Utah State upsets the Eagles in round one.

- North Dakota State is in the tournament for the first time and will face defending national champion Kansas. The site is Minneapolis, only three hours from Fargo, where NDSU is located. Uh oh--let's hope plenty of Jayhawk fans make the seven hour trek to the Twin Cities.

- Most noted first round upset: Western Kentucky over Illinois. This is the one that most of the analysts are predicting as a first day upset.

- Under-seeded teams: West Virginia as a 6, Siena as a 9, Kansas as a 3, Memphis as a 2 (I think they deserved the final 1 seed), Butler as a 9 and Clemson as a 7.

- A sexy upset pick is Virginia Commenwealth over UCLA. I think UCLA will win this game but then face the prospect of likely playing Villanova--in Philadelphia. Not a good draw for the Bruins...

- The trend continues with fewer and fewer mid-major teams making the tournament. Please, Tournament Committee, don't let this continue. Teams like Arizona and Wisconsin do not deserve a bid. And, unfortunately, "surprise" conference tournament winners like USC and Mississippi State have impacted slots for mid-major teams.

- Interesting statistic of the day: All of the national title winners since 2005 have finished in the top 20 in both offensive and defensive efficiency. Who fits that profile this year? Connecticut (1 seed), Duke (2), Kansas (3), Missouri (3), Gonzaga (4) and West Virginia (6.)

- My Final Four is...(stay tuned to this space as I'm still trying to figure that out.)

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