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Texas blog Burnt Orange Nation went to all the trouble of organizing the Ken Pomeroy Ratings for each team in the NCAA Tournament by bracket. They also make some observations on the brackets and how the ratings shake out.
For the East Regional, I wasn’t surprised to find that both the median rating and average rating of the Top 10 seeds are the highest of any of the four regions. My initial reaction after my first glance of the bracket was that the East and South stood out as markedly deeper, more challenging groupings.
With that said, I will say that that is one nasty, nasty top four atop the Midwest region. St. Louis will be a very interesting place to be should Kansas, Ohio State, Georgetown, and Maryland all make the Sweet 16.
Syracuse fans should be giggling right now. The two seed in their bracket (K-State) is not a team that’s well-geared to giving them trouble, the 3-seed (Pitt) is the seeded far too high, and their toughest challenge might prove be the winner of Butler-UTEP-Vandy.
Chris Dobbertean, SB Nation's resident bracketologist and editor of Blogging The Bracket, shares his initial thoughts about the NCAA field and his very early picks.
What started in November with early round games for the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic is rapidly reaching its conclusion. Tonight's announcement of the NCAA field of 65 means that the season will soon be over. But looking at the bracket, as flawed as it is, with Duke as a 1, West Virginia a 2, Temple a 5, Gonzaga as an 8, Cornell as a 12, it looks like we'll be in for a maddening three weekends of basketball.
From the seeding and bracketing perspective there was one change this year I wasn't expecting. Traditionally, teams from the same conference are kept apart until the Elite Eight, but there has been flexibility during recent years to allow league brethren to meet as soon as Round Two. The Committee didn't take advantage of this idea until this year. The East and South regions both feature potential all-Big East regional semifinal matches. I don't happen to think this will happen in either case, though.
For more seeding talk, from the mid-major perspective, check out Adam Jacobi's thoughts on the subject.
The Illini got themselves into an exempt event, and lost two games in Las Vegas to teams who went nowhere. They went 10-6 in the Big Ten, but didn't grab enough wins in their many chances to be selected.
The Bulldogs certainly looked like one of the best 34 at-large teams, this week. If they had showed that sense of urgency in games against Richmond, Rider and Western Kentucky (or even in some of their regular season SEC games), they would have been in.
Likewise, the Hokies went 10-6 in the ACC, and grabbed three wins over the RPI Top 50 as the season wound down. With the Committee's emphasis on finishing kick, perhaps they would have been in had they not lost to Miami in the ACC quarterfinals. They didn't, so the scheduling criteria kicked in, and the fact the Hokies' best non-league win was against Seton Hall relegated them to the NIT.
That's enough about the teams who didn't get in. Here are my thoughts and early picks for each of the four regions.
On the surface, this region is the most difficult, which many have said is unfair to the number one overall seed, Kansas. However, the Committee made the proper choices in seeding this bracket. The first priority is to get teams on the top four lines as close to their natural regions as possible, not to match up the top 1 seed with the worst 2 seed. Since Kansas State couldn't be placed in this region because of Kansas' presence (the top three teams from a conference must be placed in separate regions), Ohio State got the nod instead.
Maryland likely gets a 4 seed here based on their finish. Their overall profile, thanks to early non-conference struggles, warranted a 5 in my opinion. Not that there's really much of a difference when Eastern schools are sent to Western sites as "protected" seeds.
Round One: Kansas, Northern Iowa, Michigan State, Maryland, San Diego State, Georgetown, Georgia Tech, Ohio State
Round Two: Kansas, Maryland, Georgetown, Ohio State
Regional Semifinals: Kansas, Ohio State
Regional Final: Kansas
Kentucky faces a very difficult road to Indianapolis. A potential matchup with underachieving Texas in the second round is the least of the Wildcats' worries. The regional semifinals could see them face Wisconsin, Temple or Cornell. The Owls and Big Red are two of the most underseeded teams in the field.
If they survive that, Kentucky could potentially face West Virginia, a team I thought had a better case for a 1 seed than Duke did, thanks to higher-quality wins. In the end, the Committee took the team who won both their conference regular season and tournament titles (which makes me wonder why Temple isn't higer than a 5, as they did the same).
Round One: Kentucky, Texas, Cornell, Wisconsin, Washington, New Mexico, Clemson, West Virginia
Round Two: Kentucky, Cornell, New Mexico, West Virginia
Regional Semifinals: Kentucky, West Virginia
Regional Final: Kentucky
This region looks like it could be a cakewalk for Duke, who I didn't even have pegged as a one seed this afternoon, but I don't think it will be. The Blue Devils should cruise to the regional final, but Villanova could await there. The Wildcats have the speed and guard play that can give Duke issues.
But it won't be easy for Nova, as they may have to get past some teams with talented big men. Potential second round opponents Richmond and St. Mary's both have interior guys who will give the Wildcats headaches. The Gaels have Omar Samhan and 6-11 Ben Allen, who's a dangerous three-point threat, while the Spiders have Dan Geriot and Justin Harper, another big body who has a nice perimeter game. And I haven't even mentioned potential regional semifinal opponent Baylor, who has Ekpe Udoh inside.
The Committee did struggling Purdue no favors, placing them as a 4 seed opposite Siena, a veteran team who is a bit underseeded at 13. The Saints could even make the Sweet 16, as their second round opponent with a win would be either Texas A&M, who's done amazing things without Derrick Roland, but hasn't had a ton of Tournament success lately, or Utah State. The Blue Aggies will face a team that shares their nickname for the second game in a row. They'll do it in Spokane, which just happens to be where head coach Stew Morrill went to college.
This is the other region where there's a potential Big East regional semifinal, but I'm picking Gerald Lee and Old Dominion to get by Luke Harangody and Notre Dame in a battle of two of the country's best forwards.
Syracuse fans throughout the country were a bit peeved when they saw the name Vermont pop up as their first round opponent, but this isn't 2005 and Taylor Coppenrath has exhausted his eligibility, so the Orange, backed by plenty of fans in Buffalo, should move on to face either Gonzaga or Florida State in round two. The Bulldogs are a bit underseeded in my opinion, and they can not only score, but they have a big man in Robert Sacre who can give the 'Cuse problems, especially if Arinze Onuaku is limited.
If they can survive the first weekend, the Orange should be in good shape, as long as Pittsburgh gets knocked out before the regional final. The Panthers would love nothing more than to end Syracuse's season before Indianapolis.
I had Florida as my final team in, and looking at the bracket, the Committee was of a similar mindset. They were likely among the last few teams in based on their seeding relative to the other at-larges. Their reward, a game against a BYU team that can really score. Given how the Gators seem to disappear offensively at time, that could be trouble.
The one team I missed this season happens to be in this region, as UTEP is the 12 seed in San Jose, where they'll face Butler in the first round. This one will feature an interesting contest between the Miners' Derrick Caracter and Bulldogs' Matt Howard: which talented, but foul-prone forward will spend more time on the floor? My pick is Howard, which gives Butler the edge in one of the more intriguing first round matchups out there.
Round One: Syracuse, Gonzaga, Butler, Vanderbilt, Minnesota, Pittsburgh, BYU, Kansas State
Round Two: Syracuse, Butler, Pittsburgh, Kansas State
Regional Semifinals: Syracuse, Kansas State
Regional Final: Syracuse
National Semifinals: Syracuse over Kansas and Kentucky over Villanova
National Final: Syracuse over Kentucky
The combination of a few extra days rest, a confusing well-executed defense, Wes Johnson's all-around play, Andy Rautins' threes and an ever-maturing supporting cast should push the Orange to the top. However, if Arinze Onuaku is limited, this pick may change, as Syracuse's depth will be challenged.
As I haven't really scratched the surface in terms of studying this bracket, I'll post a final set of picks on Wednesday.
The general consensus is that the NCAA selection committee basically got the 65 teams right; though we at SBN figured Virginia Tech would be in, it's not exactly a disservice that the Hokies were left out. The eight at-large bids given to mid-major teams seemed fair and reasonable, and now we can focus on the tourney, hooray hooray.
Still, there's a few teams who can make the case that the committee buried them with inaccurately low seeds. Not surprisingly, they're all mid-majors:
Butler: 5 seed, West Region. The Bulldogs are fixtures in the tournament now, like the Gonzaga of the Horizon League. Horizaga? No, that's not a good one. We won't use that. Anyway, the Bulldogs are on a 21-game winning streak; they trounced Siena in the Bracket Busters; they beat Ohio State and Xavier in December; their worst loss is at a 23-8 UAB, and they're flat-out higher in the Pomeroy rankings than the 3 and 4 seeds in their own region (Butler, 26th; Vanderbilt, 36th; Pittsburgh, 30th).
San Diego State: 11 seed, Midwest Region. The Aztecs were probably hampered by a lackluster non-conference schedule, and it's a shame; they whipped Arizona, but it was quickly evident this season that Sean Miller's Wildcats weren't tourney material this season. Once in the Mountain West--a four-bid conference this season--the Aztecs were at least the equal of higher-ranked New Mexico and UNLV. The Aztecs split their regular season series with both teams... then rolled through both in the MWC tourney and won the championship. So they get an 11 seed while UNLV's an 8 and New Mexico's a 3? Huh?
Cornell: 12 seed, East Region. Okay, they're not the 5 seed or legitimate Sweet 16 threat that Jay Bilas has been telling everybody about on ESPN. That must be Bilas owning up on a bet he lost or something. Still, the Big Red are legit; they've been to the tournament the last three years, they took Kansas to the brink in Lawrence, and they won at St. John's. Hey, laugh if you want, but Louisville can't say that. The Big Red have a tough game in front of them with Temple as the opposing 5 seed; shame, really, because there's a few 6 and 7 seeds that we could easily see Cornell taking out (Oklahoma State, Clemson, Marquette, Notre Dame--we're looking at you here).
Bracketology is over, bubbles have been popped and Joe Lunardi is slowly climbing back into his cave until he reappears next year (Mel Kiper lives there when Lunardi's not using it) -- all that can only mean one thing: the 2010 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament Bracket is complete.
View the entire bracket here: 2010 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament Bracket
Still to come in this StoryStream, reaction and analysis to all of the seedings, snubs and surprises. In the meantime, let us know what you thought. Does Duke have the easiest road? Should West Virginia have been a No. 1 seed? Did Virginia Tech get left out? Share it in the comments.
Duke already received a surprising No. 1 seed Sunday night, and now they catch another break with arguably the easiest draw in the tournament -- they miss West Virginia and instead get a slumping Villanova as the No. 2 seed in their bracket.
1 Duke v.16 Arkansas-Pine Bluff/Winthrop
8 California v. 9 Louisville
5 Texas A&M v. 12 Utah State
4 Purdue v. 13 Siena
6 Notre Dame v. 11 Old Dominion
3 Baylor v. 14 Sam Houston State
7 Richmond v. 10 St. Mary's
2 Villanova v. 15 Robert Morris
Expect plenty more reaction to the complete filed here in this StoryStream throughout the night from our team of bloggers, including our resident Bracketology expert, Chris Dobbertean of Blogging the Bracket (who correctly predicted all but one of the at-large teams).
The East Region has been released, and Kentucky, the second-best No. 1 overall seed, gets West Virginia, most likely the top No. 2 seed in the tournament, in their bracket.
1 Kentucky v. 16 East Tenn. Stat
8 Texas vs. 9 Wake Forest
5 Temple v. 12 Cornell
4 Wisconsin v. 13 Wofford
6 Marquette v. 11 Washington
3 New Mexico v. 14 Montana
7 Clemson v. 10 Missouri
2 West Virginia v. 15 Morgan State
Here's the complete West Region, with a fun possible matchup of Syracuse and Kansas State in the Elite Eight.
1 Syracuse v. 16 Vermont
8 Gonzaga v. Florida State
5 Butler v. 12 UTEP
4 Vanderbilt v. 13 Murray St.
6 Xavier v. 11 Minnesota
3 Pittsburgh v. 14 Oakland
7 BYU v. 10 Florida
2 Kansas St. vs. 15 North Texas
The full Midwest Region has been released, and so far, it's the toughest region (also, it was the only one to come out thus far, so, there's that).
1 Kansas v. 16 Lehigh
8 UNLV v. 9 UNI
5 Michigan State v. 12 New Mexico State
4 Maryland v. 13 Houston
6 Tennessee v. 11 San Diego State
3 Georgetown v. 14 Ohio
7 Oklahoma State v.10 Georgia Tech
2 Ohio St. v. 15 UC Santa Barbara
Jokes aside though, this may very well end up being the toughest side of the bracket, with six of the AP top-25: Kansas, Ohio State, Georgetown, Maryland and Michigan State, and Tennessee, as a six-seed.
The four No. 1 seeds have been released for the 2010 NCAA Tournament:
Kansas - Midwest Region
Kentucky - East Region
Duke - South Region
Syracuse - West Region
Kansas was awarded the overall No. 1 seed, after finishing the season 32-2, 15-1 in the Big 12 Conference.
While the first three were seemingly set for the past couple of weeks, Duke as a No. 1 seed was somewhat surprising, while being selected as the third number-one, ahead of Syracuse, was almost shocking.
Our resident Bracketology expert, Chris Dobbertean of Blogging the Bracket, argued Sunday morning that West Virginia should have been awarded the fourth No. 1 seed.
While the Mountaineers and Blue Devils have similar records against the Top 50, WVU's wins are simply better. WVU owns an 8-5 record against these teams, with victories against No. 7 (twice) Georgetown, No. 9 Texas A&M, No.13 Villanova and No. 15 Pitt. Duke, meanwhile is 7-4, with their best victories coming against No. 22 Maryland and No. 32 Georgia Tech, who they split with. They also lost to the seventh-rated Hoyas. The Blue Devils could take the top spot back with a win over the Yellow Jackets in today's ACC final, but I doubt it.
It's tough for a schedule announcement to get any more exciting than the NCAA Tournament Selection Show. It kicks off at 6:00 Eastern on CBS, and when it does, you'll want to see how the fans react. Whether they rejoice, despair, or simply breathe a sigh of relief, it's going to be quite a thing to behold.
Thankfully, some of our blogs across SB Nation have started up open threads. Hop on in and start talking with other fans. Here are the links to all the open threads:
A few years ago, a book titled The Enlightened Bracketologist: The Final Four of Everything was published. The focus of the book was to explore the application of NCAA Tournament-style bracket logic to everyday decisions we make. From a write-up on the book:
The brackets structure forces you to organize and focus your thoughts. "The smartest executives and the most successful investors have a unique ability to process an enormous amount of information and boil it down into binaries—'yes or no' is a binary—that simplify decision-making[.]"
After thinking about it, I think there's some truth to this. Whether conscious or not, the decisions we make lead to future decisions, which compound into end results. For example, given the time change and your decisions last night, what time did you wake up on Sunday, and what did you have for breakfast? Let's draw up a bracket.
When You Woke Up/What You Had For Breakfast On Sunday Division
(1) 9:30 AM, freezer-burned Totino's Party Pizza
(16) 1:00 PM, hot sauce packets you discreetly filched from a Taco Bell
(8) 8:00 AM, communion wafer
(9) 4:00 PM, 5 Hour Energy, ibuprofen, toothpaste (inadvertent)
(5) 11:00 AM, your spoiled indignant toddler's half-eaten Pop-Tart
(12) 6:00 AM, grapefruit and eggs benedict garnished with parsley
(4) 2:38 PM, remaining juice from otherwise empty jar of pickles
(13) 12:00 PM, expired eggs seasoned with salt (which has somehow also expired)
(6) 10:00 AM, casserole leftovers you must finish or dispose of by the time your girlfriend comes over so that you do not hurt her feelings
(11) 8:15 AM (and again at 3:30 PM), Waffle House
(3) 6:30 PM, hot wings at the bar down the street, Coors
(14) 8:41 PM, malaise and regret over a life poorly spent
(7) 11:00 AM, your roommate's "Patented Bro-tastic X-Treme Bacon and Eggs" which is just bacon and eggs
(10) 7:30 AM, gas station cup of coffee, inside of which you have secreted a Slim Jim
(2) 8:00 AM, Sunday school pretzels and lemon drink
(15) 2:21 AM, hopelessly lost group of hikers
So ask yourself: who won? Personally speaking, the 6-seed is the improbable winner. Sorry, lady.
At 6:00 P.M. Eastern, CBS will broadcast its NCAA Tournament selection show. We'll be offering results and commentary before, during, and after the proceedings.
There are plenty of pressing questions to be answered, but the most recent is this: on the heels of Mississippi State's overtime loss to the hugely favorited Kentucky, where do they stand?
Our resident hoops expert, Chris Dobbertean, has been dropping science in our Bubble Watch StoryStream. Entering Sunday's action, here was his forecast:
In Good Shape
Louisville should be in even though they lost to Cincinnati in the Big East Second Round Wednesday.
Last Five In
California, UTEP and Utah State are here after losses Saturday.
Minnesota can book a place by winning the Big Ten.
First Four Out
Florida will have to sweat it out after their loss to Mississippi State Friday. The fact they came back to avoid a blowout against the Bulldogs helps; events around the country Saturday did not.
Illinois lost a double overtime thriller to Ohio State, 88-81 (recap), though they had chances to win the game at both the end of regulation and the first overtime. They just couldn't get a shot off. The loss came at a bad time, considering how Minnesota performed in the very next game.
Keep an eye on William & Mary, even though they lost to Old Dominion in the Colonial Athletic Association final Monday. They have enough quality wins to make a solid case, but some headscratching losses may keep them out.
UAB is likely on the outside looking in after they failed to beat Southern Mississippi in the Conference USA Quarterfinals Thursday.
Arizona State looks to be out of the running after they lost their Pac-10 Quarterfinal to Stanford.
Charlotte is off the board after they lost to Massachusetts at home in the Atlantic 10 Opening Round Tuesday.
Cincinnati had a chance to win at the end of regulation, but Dion Dixon couldn't hold on to the ball and Da'Sean Butler banked in a three when time expired to give West Virginia a 54-51 win in the Big East Quarterfinals Thursday, bursting the Bearcats bubble.
Dayton once again couldn't close out a close game, as they fell to Xavier in the Atlantic 10 quarterfinals Friday. That was a fatal loss for the Flyers.
Memphis, like UAB, is finished, as they lost their Conference USA Quarterfinal against Houston.
Rhode Island is out of the running after they lost to Temple for the third time this season, 57-44 (recap) in the Atlantic 10 semifinals in Atlantic City.
Seton Hall and South Florida are both likely finished after they lost Big East Second Round games Wednesday.
Wichita State lost their chance when they fell to Northern Iowa in the Missouri Valley final Sunday..
Also, be sure to check out Chris' Bracketology StoryStream.
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