Wednesday, February 28, 2007

March Madness Primer

June 19, 2008 Note: This is a post that originally appeared on Golden's Football Rankings and is reproduced here for posterity.

With the tournament season upon us, time to look at some of the more interesting teams:

Team most likely to repeat as conference champs: Memphis, Conference USA
The Tigers have not only won all of their conference games, only one team, Southern Miss has come within 10 points of them. To make matters worse for the rest of the league, the tournament will be held in Memphis.

Team least likely to repeat as conference champs: Iona, MAAC
Last year the Gaels went 23-8, won the conference title and lost to eventual final four team LSU in the Big Dance. This year they won their first game of the year in February and ended up 2-27. They play Rider in the first round of the tournament on Friday.

Traditional powers who won’t be dancing this year: Uconn, Illinois (?), Syracuse (?)
This list was a lot longer a few weeks ago. Teams like Michigan State and Maryland have played themselves off the bubble. After last year, can we put George Mason on this list?

Team that will surprise average fan with their seed: Southern Illinois
There are three types of fans who participate in your average office bracket pool: The basketball junkie, who can break down every team’s chances; the casual fan, who knows that Duke, Kansas, UCLA are usually pretty good, and knows which school are “major” schools, and which are mid-major, but not much more; and the guesser, who might as well draw names out of a hat. The Salukis will surprise that casual fan with their high (maybe a “2” or “3”) seed.

Best tournament to watch (BCS conference): Big East
The Big Ten resembles a hockey game with their tough defensive style. The Pac 10 gets up and down the court quickly, and the ACC represents the bluebloods of the sport. But for pure entertainment value, its hard to beat the Big East’s (Madison Square)Garden Party.

Best tournament to watch (Mid Major): Colonial
Four teams have over 20 wins (Virginia Commonwealth, Old Dominion, Drexel, Hofstra) and all have decent tournament resumes, but are all far from a sure thing. If all four make the semi-finals, it could produce three great games.

Teams to root for if you are bubble team in a major conference:
These are the small conference teams that might be strong enough to make the tournament without winning their tournament.
Memphis, CUSA
Winthrop, Big South
Southern Illinois or Missouri State or Creighton, Missouri Valley
Butler, Horizon
Davison or Appalachian State, Southern

Final Four: Just some wild guesses
UCLA, Florida, Virginia Tech, and Texas

-I don’t know which was worse, Bruce Pearl in full orange body paint, or Pat Summitt in a cheerleader outfit. Let’s just be thankful that Phil Fulmer didn’t participate in this love-in.