Last week, The Concordian ran my predictions for March Madness 2011. I now offer you my rationale for those predictions. But first, let me just say that no matter how large the tournament gets, you’ll always have teams who think they should have been in. Teams have all season and then their conference tournament to prove their worth. Take the decision out of the committee’s hands.
#14 seeded Wofford in the Southeast. I believe this is the weakest region of the four, and they draw BYU in the first round. The Terriers have won eight straight entering the tournament and are eight in the country in field goal percentage (.479) and 54th in points per game (73.8).
Easiest road to the Final Four:
I’m not saying that going through the NCAA Tournament is by any means easy, but looking at all four regions, Pittsburgh, the #1 seed from the Southeast region, has the easiest road to the Final Four. Florida is the #2 seed in the region and I’ve held all season that they are an overrated team and by no means, despite reaching the SEC Championship, should they have been the second seed in any region. BYU is the #3, and let’s be honest: without Brandon Davies, the Cougars are a different team. Jimmer Fredette who has taken the college basketball world by storm this season, has proven he can carry his team, but to ask one player to be on his A-game every single night in this tournament is simply asking too much.
The East. The selection committee, for the second straight year, put the overall #1 seed in the hardest bracket. Last year it was Kansas. This year it’s Ohio State. I think you can make an argument for any of the top seven teams in this region reaching the Final Four. The Buckeyes have their work cut out for them if they hope to reach Houston.
Selection that made me scratch my head:
Argue that UAB, VCU or even USC didn’t deserve to get in, but I’m going with Penn State. The Nittany Lions had a nice run to reach the Big Ten Championship, but to give them a spot in the field and a #10 seed on top of it with 14 losses is ridiculous. They are 298th in the country in scoring at 63 points per game, even worse in team rebounding at 313th, and they won just six games against teams in the field, with two of those coming in the conference tournament. Despite the selection committee saying they take a look at the entire body of work, it’s clear Penn State got their seed based solely on their conference tournament play. At the beginning of the season, they had bad losses against Maine and Maryland.
Do I have all four #1 seeds in the Final Four? I do. Not because they’re #1 seeds, but because this is pretty weak. I really don’t see a surprise like Northern Iowa, Butler or George Mason of past tournaments stealing the spotlight, but having said that I didn’t pick any of those teams then. It’s about to happen that a seed in the 4-6 range makes a run and steals an upset, but I just think the top four seeds are the best the tournament has to offer.