Saturday, March 24, 2007

Seal The Hall Of Champions - This Tournament Is An Impostor!

Call me a college basketball dork if you want, but I have this information at my fingertips and didn't have to root through old web pages to try to find it. We're down to the Great Eight in this year's men's NCAA basketball tournament, and for the first time since I started completing brackets and saving them for posterity, the bracket is as close to the way the seeds should go, assuming the higher-seeded team wins each game, than I have ever seen it.

What that means, in a nutshell, is that the 1- and 2-seeded teams should be playing each other in the next four games, if they have managed to beat each lower-seeded team they have so far faced. We call the next round the Great Eight, but its actual name is the Regional Finals - in theory, if the higher-seeded team wins every game in the tournament, then the Great Eight should consist of four matchups of the 1- and 2-seeded teams in each region.

In theory. It never actually works out that way, and it didn't work out that way this year - but it's as close as it's been to working out that way since I have been keeping track (and that goes back to the 1994 tournament). This year's Great Eight has all four 1-seeds, three of the four 2-seeds, and a 3-seed. There's no exciting Cinderella story like last year's George Mason team, and the games haven't, I don't think, been up to the same level of intensity and excitement as they were two years ago. A lot of the teams that are left have survived scares, to wit:

Purdue and Butler both harassed Florida pretty well, UNLV hung with Oregon for part of the game tonight, UCLA was sixty seconds away from losing to Indiana before their defense sacked up and caused a critical turnover, Vanderbilt gave Georgetown a run for their money tonight - and Ohio State survived overtime against Xavier and a 17-point halftime deficit (which would have been a 20-point halftime deficit if not for a last-second three point play) against Tennessee, the team that dropped 121 points on Long Beach State in the first round.

Normally you can count on a lot of big upsets each year in the tournament, but there have been only three this year. Two of those were 11-seeds that won in the first round - Winthrop beat Notre Dame, and Virginia Commonwealth beat Duke. I don't count the Winthrop game as a big upset, but the VCU-over-Duke game is. Even a bad Duke team is still a Duke team, and it's rare for them to go out in the first round - the last time it happened was in 1996. The third upset is UNLV over Wisconsin, which is legitimately a big upset.

Here's how the higher-seeded teams fared in each of the first three rounds of this year's dance:

27-5 in the First Round.
11-5 in the Second Round.
8-0 in the Sweet Sixteen.

Of the five higher-seed losses in the first round, two were the aforementioned 11-seeds beating 6-seeds. The other three were 9-seeds beating 8-seeds, which aren't really upsets. In the second round, three of the five were 5-seeds beating 4-seeds, and the other two were a 6 beating a 3 (Vanderbilt over Washington State) and a 7 over a 2 (UNLV over Wisconsin).

As for my picks, well...they're actually decent, although that's not saying much. If you had picked the higher-seeded team blindly in every game of this year's tournament, you'd be 46-10 right now. My bracket is 39-17 at this point, and my East/South side looks great, with only two mistakes in the East region and one lone foul-up in the South region (I had BYU beating Xavier). My Final Four are all still alive. I'm rarely even near to being this accurate on my bracket - not that it means anything, of course; it's just fun to be able to watch and/or keep track of so many different basketball games, packed into a handful of days, and be able to root for or against a team, and have some kind of personal involvement in every game, based solely on which team's name you wrote down on a piece of paper.

I could have missed the pain, but I'd have had to miss...the uh-uh-uh Dance. (Only one other human on the planet besides me is going to read that last sentence and get a chuckle out of it - unless some sparty-pants chuckles arbitrarily, just to prove me wrong.)

1 comment:

Last King of SCOOTland said...

Ah, and yes, I laughed my sorry ass off. I even sang it to myself. love how you wrote out the uh-uh-uh's. HAH!

Anyways, this tournament is wierd. It's like the teourney where every game is close, then the team that should win does. It seems that there have been countless upset chances, only to have the better team make the plays at the end to win. I don't necessarily think it's been a bad tourney. Some exciting games here and there. It just hasn't had the upsets, but the games have been close, which is all you can really ask for. This is by far the best bracket I
've done. I have all my final fours left. I only missed 1 great 8 team. I picked the three upsets, and Have a good shot at winning our group (although me dad and I have the exact same picks at this point, so it could come down to the tie breaker).

Oh well, it's been fun.

Scoot out!