Bracket Time

Posted: March 11, 2007 in Big East, Big Ten, College Football, Illinois Fighting Illini, Sports

The bubble watch is over and the field for the NCAA Tournament has been set, so here are some of my initial thoughts:

(1) Illinois Homer Analysis – The Illini have been on the edge of the bubble for essentially the entire season, so it wasn’t surprising to see them end up being one of the last 4 at-large invitees to the NCAA Tourney as a #12-seed in the West Region.  However, I feel pretty good about the draw with getting placed in the heart of Big Ten country in Columbus against a solid, but certainly not unbeatable, Virginia Tech team.  In fact, this is the first time I’m going to be able to pencil in my own team for the annual 12-over-5 upset – we haven’t been pretty, yet any Big Ten team as a 12-seed is going to be a bit dangerous (especially considering that our twin brother Purdue drew a 9-seed).  Also, it looks as if though the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee has a sense of humor putting Kansas, Illinois, and Southern Illinois in the same bracket considering that Bill Self’s move to Lawrence spurred the Illini to hire Bruce Weber from the Salukis.  (Similar situations are in the bottom half of the West bracket with Ben Howland/UCLA/Pitt and the South with Thad Matta/Ohio State/Xavier)  Anyway, I’ve felt as negative about Illinois on the court as anyone lately, but a Sweet Sixteen isn’t out of the question as a result of the potential matchups in the first two rounds.  Unfortunately, there’s no way that we can get past a team as talented as Kansas, as much as it pains me to say.

(2) Is Georgetown Really That Awesome? – The analysts from across the country seem to be convinced that Georgetown has the easiest road to the regional final round out of anyone.  I can see from where they’re coming from – Vanderbilt is way overrated as a 6-seed, while Washington State, Boston College, and Texas Tech all have heavy flaws.  That being said, I always feel some bad chi with any team that everyone believes is a lock to advance, particularly since the Hoyas in particular have lost to Ol’ Dirty, er, Old Dominion University (a 12-seed this year) and NIT-bound Syracuse.  Maybe Washington State comes out from the bottom half of East bracket?  You never know.

(3) UNC Kind of Got Screwed – North Carolina’s “reward” for grabbing a #1 seed was to get placed in a bracket with Texas as a 4-seed.  It’s been said everywhere a million times but I’ll need to say it again: Kevin Durant is a monster and there’s no way I’d want to face the Longhorns in the tournament.  With the way that Texas has hung in with Kansas, possibly the most loaded team in the country, over the past couple of weeks, a Carmelo Anthony-in-2003-type run for Durant isn’t out of the question.

(4) Ohio State is in Good Shape – The Buckeyes have been clicking straight through to Big Ten regular season and tournament championships, so they got a good draw in the South region.  Greg Oden and Mike Conley, Jr. have a great inside-outside combo while the entire team plays fantastic defense.  As long as they don’t end up playing Texas A&M in the regional final (which is being held in Aggie-friendly San Antonio), Ohio State is the team that I’m most confident in making it to the Final Four.

(5) Praising Arizona???!!! – If you recall (which I hope you don’t), I picked Arizona to win it all back in November.  That led the Wildcats to essentially mail it in for the majority of the Pac-10 season to put them at the 8-seed position to set them up with a potential second round date with defending champ and #1 overall seed Florida.  What are the chances of Arizona knocking off Florida to turn me into the sage of the century?  Pretty slim, but I will say that Arizona might be the most talented 8-seed that I can ever remember (which is another way of saying that they were massive underachievers this year).

(6) BCS Championship Rematch?  Odds Say No, So the Final Four Will Be… – Notwithstanding my misplaced thinking on Arizona above, the obvious pick would be an Ohio State-Florida final, which would create the unprecedented scenario of having the same two schools in the championship games for both football and basketball.  However, the odds over the years show that two 1-seeds meeting in the final doesn’t happen very often.  So, my 2007 NCAA Tournament prediction is a Final Four of Oregon, Kansas, Texas, and Ohio State (maybe I’m wishing too much for a Durant vs. Oden matchup), with Ohio State beating Kansas for the national championship.

Regardless of what happens, I’m pumped up for the best sporting event of the year.  Enjoy filling out your brackets!

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Comments
  1. […] 2006 NCAA Tournament Predictions: Texas Two-Step (3/12/07 UPDATE: If you’re looking for predictions for the 2007 NCAA Tournament, click here.)  […]

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  2. vontos says:

    Well, so far you’ve been right about none of those…

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  3. Keith says:

    UNC “kind of got screwed”………are u kidding me. They didn’t have to leave their state to get to the final 4. Kansas as a suppossed #1 seed had to go to california and play UCLA and the refs. Also, nice job by the selection committee 7 ACC teams in the tourney……..and only one advanced to the sweet 16. The Big 12 only got 4 teams in and Kansas State was the first team in the history of college basketball to have 20 reg season wins and 10 conf wins and not get in to the tourney? You are right though UNC got screwed.

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  4. […] team, which goes to show you how fine of line there is between being a genius in the tourney (as I picked the Ducks to make the Final Four) and an idiot (how it always seems to go for me).  The one thing that I did when I approached my […]

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  5. Keith,

    I can sympathize with your current bitterness since I also experienced a Bill Self failure with a #1-seeded team in the Elite Eight back in 2001, but as the Final Four is now set, I don’t know if there’s much question that UNC had the toughest road. The irony from your dual argument that Kansas had a tough road and the Big 12 didn’t get enough love from the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee is that the biggest reason why I thought UNC got the shaft was the presence of Texas, a team from your supposedly underrated conference, as one of the most dangerous 4-seeds that I’ve ever seen. Are you really telling me that you would have rather have faced the USC-Texas winner in the Sweet Sixteen as opposed to the Southern Illinois-Virginia Tech winner? SIU might have given you a scare when the game was finally played, but there’s no way that you would’ve wanted the prospect of playing Texas again.

    Also, since you brought up the distance issue (“They didn’t have to leave their state to get to the final 4”? Unless the Meadowlands moved to North Carolina this past weekend, it looks like the Kansas educational system has as many problems with teaching geography as it does with evolution), you should note that the Georgetown campus is over 100 miles closer to East Rutherford than UCLA is to San Jose, so thanks for bringing up another argument that supports my initial analysis. Besides, the Selection Committee also put Texas A&M (another one of your counterparts from your “underrated” conference) in the potential path of Ohio State in San Antonio, which would have been a true home game for the Aggies and greater injustice to give a 3-seed (as opposed to UCLA, the best 2-seed that could have easily been named a 1-seed) such an advantage over the second best 1-seed.

    Look, it’s fair to call me an Illini/Big Ten homer, but there’s not a bone in my body that’s an apologist for the ACC or UNC (save for the fact that my all-time hero, Michael Jordan, is a Tar Heel). The fact is tbat Kansas had about as clear of a road to the regional final as any of the top seeds, which is why I had picked them to make it all the way to the national championship game. Sure, UCLA was arguably the toughest 2-seed, but I think any rational basketball observer also knew that Kansas was the fourth best of the 1-seeds, so that was a fair placement. I know that you have no love for Roy Williams, yet I don’t really understand your argument here that UNC didn’t have a tough road – the Tar Heels clearly did and I’m surprised that they weren’t bounced out of the tourney prior to getting beaten by the Hoyas last night.

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