Only two games, and one was a complete snoozer. So the only story in this bracket is Nevada's comeback win over Michigan State. Kirk Snyder's three-pointer was probably the best shot of the day. with the game still very much in doubt, he just spotted up and shot over his man. Once Davis fouled out, MSU had almost no chance of winning the game. Without a size advantage on the inside, MSU really didn't have a whole lot going for them. Like I said in the preview, Nevada deserved the 7 and MSU the 10, so if you picked this upset, don't pat yourself on the back. In fact, don't ever brag about picking the upset in a 7-10 or 8-9 game.
Every game was good, even the blowout for St. Joe's, just because it was a nice statement game. SJU blew out Liberty early, and they look really, really pissed off about the general doubts about their seeding. Texas Tech really impressed me, the first time all year. I've though of them as just a one-man team, but Jackson, Marshall, and Dora all had big games (particularly Dora, who was 4 assists short of a triple double). UNCC (I know they aren't UNCC anymore, but it's easier to type) just couldn't but a three, shooting 25% from behind the arc.
How bout them Jaspers? Manhattan dominated this game from the get-go, and Florida once again goes home early wondering why they always end up playing teams like Creighton in the first round. As expected, Flores made Manhattan go. He took 23 of their 60 shots, and scored 26 of their 75 points. Wake can't be thrilled about this matchup, particularly after their tough matchup with VCU. What the hell got into Chris Paul? doesn't he know that he's a freshman and he's suposed to be intimidated by his first tourney experience? He was the mack daddy. VCU shot 11-20 from three, 18-37 everywhere else. Yes, that means they were more reliable from behind the arc than inside of it. Jacking up three at a 50% clip is not a presecription for long-term success, but usually that will get you an upset win.
In the unofficial Princeton bracket, the motion offense created all sort of problems before finally petering out in the last 10 minutes. UNC never really figured out Air Force's matchup zone, but AFA just started turning the ball over at an epic clip, allowing UNC to go on a huge 15-2 run to effectively put the game away. Princeton collapsed a little bit earlier, after dominating the first half. Oh well, I'll miss the crisp passing and back door cuts, but we all knew they weren't gonna be hanging around long.
Speaking of not hanigng around long, Chris Duhon who? Up 53-39 with 15 minutes to play against a pretty flawed Seton Hall team, Arizona had no business losing that game. But, lose they did. They did everything you can to lose a game: bad shooting, turnovers, silly fouls, and bad defense. Now is the time I insert my annual complaint of CBS' terrible coverage. The Zona-SHU game ended right at the same time as Dayton-DePaul. Somehow, CBS managed to show neither ending and instead I watched a commerical. I'm not sure for what, because I think I blacked out from yelling too many profanities at the TV.
I didn't see the best game of the day. SIU-Bama had three shots in the final 20 seconds, and I missed it (don't ask). I'm still bitter. But let's give credit to Bama for using a foul with 3 seconds left to disrupt SIU's last second chance. They had a foul to give, and it forced the Salukis to run a second inbound play. A great move by Bama. They win the right to play Stanford, who had trouble with UTSA until everybody remembered it was UTSA, and Stanford ended up blowing the game open down the stretch. It was within six with about ten minutes to play, but it was a mirage.
The Dayton-DePaul game was close, but don't let that fool you, it was a terrible, terrible game. By the end, I was only watching because I had invested so much time in it. I really just wanted to gouge out my own eyeballs with a spoon, so I'd never have to see basketball this bad ever again. Three times, Dayton called timeout to draw up a play to win the game, and each time the play was stand around until the last few seconds, and then throw up a wild three-pointer. Dude, you have a huge size advantage. Pound the flippin' ball inside. Two OT's? I deserve hazard pay.
UTEP made a late run at Maryland, but the Terps desrved this win. It was an up-tempo game, and really a joy to watch. The Terps just couldn't put a pesky team away, and then, suprisingly, hit their free throws down the stretch to win. If DJ Strawberry would have scored one more point, each team would have had five players in double figures. And that wasn't even the best game in their pod! Syracuse needed every one of Gerry McNamara's 46 points. Forty-six. BYU has to be thinking that this is a sick joke. McNamara has the game of his life, so the Cougars get sent home. I mean, 46? That's absurd.
posted by Poseur 3/19/2004 10:35:00 AM
Picking brackets, part deux
1Duke-16Alabama St vs. 8Seton Hall-9Arizona
On paper, Duke's the best team in the country, but they just haven't quite put it together this year. I'm not sure if five losses is a record for a one-seed, but it's close. Reddick can shoot from anywhere, and Duhon and Ewing are a nice combo, but you get the feeling this is a thin team with a habit of disappering in big games. Alabama St is not a big game. Arizona has the same problem as Duke, only moreso. They are much younger, but Stoudamire is an absolute stud. Neither team has anything which resembles a bench, and both can blow you out by 20 or find a way to lose. Andre Barrett's one of the best players to ever wear the Pirates' colors, but the team lacks a real inside game. Barrett and Toney provide steady leadership, Seton Hall's not as talented as Zrizona or Duke, but they aren't nearly as flaky.
THE PICK: DUKE over ARIZONA
4Cincinnati-13ETSU vs. 5Illinois-12Murray St
Cincinnati seems to either lose in the first round or go to the Elite Eight. It's feast or famine. This is a team which lacks a real go-to guy, but they have one of the deepest and most productive benches in the nation, pretty useful in a long tournament. They are probably the least-susceptible team to an injury. ETSU relies almost exclusively on one guy, Tim Smith. They play great defense, but they just don't have the sheer size to bang around with the Bearcats. Illinois is one of the hottest teams in the country, and they are the regular season big Ten champ. It took awhile, but they really seem to be clicking. It's a very young, very talented team that no one seems to be talking about. They rely on three guards, most notably Dee Brown, but they have some big guys up front who can contribute. They match up with anybody. Murray St plays at a frenetic pace, but they will have to do so without Shumate,who will miss the tourney due to (ahem) legal problems.
THE PICK: ILLINOIS over CINCINNATI
3Texas-14Princeton vs. 6UNC-11Air Force
It's the attack of the motion offenses! Think of Air Force as Princeton, with talent. The motion offense will frustrate anybody, and it feasts on undisciplined teams. AFA has the additional problem of not playing anybody over 6-7, so they can get dominated by a real big man. Texas is a deep, experienced team. they won't like playing the Princeton style, but they shouldn't really have any problems with it. It's not like they don't see some terrific defense in practice. As for UNC, they knock on the super-talented Heels is their lack of focus and discipline, the exact thing Air Force preys on. UNC matches up terribly with AFA, it's not like May is a real big guy himself. The troika of May-McCants-Felton is completely awesome, though. It's tough to pick against that kind of talent.
THE PICK: TEXAS over AIR FORCE
2Mississippi St-15Monmouth vs. 7Xavier-10Louisville
How bad of a coach was Dave Bliss? He had Lawrence Roberts and still couldn't win. He's only the SEC player of the year. MSU is deep, physical, boasting great guard play, and they have one of the best players in basketball. They even create matchup problems as their guards are great rebounders, and F Shane Power can step out and hit threes. Monmouth played tough against BC, so it's not hopeless, but they are a physical team about to play the ultimate physical team. Xavier's now everybody's favorite underdog, and they do have three seniors back from last year's team. Louisville's been slowly going in the tank the second half of the year, but they do have playmakers, and that Pitino guy's an okay coach. They have good guard play, but they have problems on the glass. They have a good first round game against another guard-oriented team.
THE PICK: MISSISSIPPI STATE over XAVIER
Unlike the other regions so far, the top seven teams which could legitmately take this thing. You want to bet against UNC? I sure don't., if they make it through the Air Force game, which I don't think they will, they will probably run to the Elite Eight. Duke's got the most skill, but MSU's the toughest team. Texas has got both, as does Cincy. Illinois and Xavier are scorching hot right now. It's a wide open region, and easily the toughest draw. No one has a free ride.
1Stanford-16UTSA vs. 8Alabama-9So. Illinois
Yes, Stanford's schedule was Charmin-soft, but Childress is for real. This team plays too many close games to make it through unscathed. You play with fire enough times, well, you know. It's a really good team, but they have not played a great schedule, and they struggled with it. UTSA has little chance of winning, but tune in to watch LeRoy Hurd play. Alabama played a brutal schedule and came out worn but not compeltely battered. they've played toe to toe with great teams, and then blown games to vastly inferior teams. Winston makes the team go, but the team gets pushed around by physical frontcourts. SIU is led by Darren Brooks, a tenacious defender and great offensive threat. They play a ball-hawking defense that forces mistakes and turns them into baskets.
THE PICK: STANFORD over SIU
4Maryland-13UTEP vs. 5Syracuse-12BYU
Gilchrest will probably come back to earth a bit, but Jamar Smith, who completely fell apart midseason, has picked up his game down the stretch. They are a terrible shooting team, but they make you make mistakes. They better, because UTEP is a terrific shooting team. They like a fast tempo game, but that plays right into Maryland's strengths. The sloppier the game, the better for the Terps. Most of Syracuse's title team returns, but it's missing the biggest piece, Carmello. And nothing against McNamara and Warrick, but they can't carry a team like Anthony. BYU is pretty loaded, by BYU standards. Hall was the MWC defensive PoY, Bigelow is one of the most decorated seniors in school history, and Araujo is a 7-foot, 280-pound force on the inside. They have no business getting such a low seed, and the Cuse doesn't have a center who can contain Araujo.
THE PICK: MARYLAND over BYU
3NC State-14UL-Lafayette vs. 6Vandy-11Western Michigan
Julius Hodge can carry this team as far as he wants. Evtimov and Melvin create matchup problems as both can pound on the inside and then step out and hit a three. they can run,. or they can play a grind-it-out offense. Actually, they run the Princeton motion offense, only with better athletes. ULL wants to run. They played some top tier teams close this year, but they also got blown out by GT by over 30. Without any sort of interior presence, it will be interesting to see which style wins out. Vandy's a very deep team, and they have two big guys who play pretty soft. They guards are terrible shooters, so defenses will sag to defend the frontcourt. WMU relies on six players and just goes. they are fundmanetally solid and they love to create transition baskets. So expect Vandy misses to turn into WMU fast breaks.
THE PICK: NCSU over WMU
2UConn-15Vermont vs. 7DePaul-10Dayton
Without Okafor, UConn is decidedly mediocre. Even with him, they haven't exactly lit the world on fire. Vermont is a one-man team, and now that one man, Coppenwrath, has a broken wrist. It's tough to advance far without him. DePaul kills teams on the boards. They crash like mad, and then kick it out to Diener for the three. They are hot right now, but they are a team that will not get frustrated if forced itno a half-court offense. Dayton also wants to domiante the middle, which they often do with the duo of Finn and Waleskowski. On top of that, they have excellent guard play. This is the same team which earned a four-seed last year, so overlook the Flyers at your own peril. They are talented everywhere.
THE PICK: DAYTON over UCONN
Another wide open region, lacking that one dominant team. UConn is the trendy pick, but we're like the only people in America who aren't believers in the Huskies. What have they done that's so impressive this year? They have a losing record vs. the RPI top 25. Actually, another matchup between NCSU and Maryland is possible, and if the fourth game is half as good as the first three, we'd be in for a treat.
posted by Poseur 3/16/2004 10:59:00 PM
And let's pick some brackets!
First off, it's all about matchups. The key to pulling upsets is not only catching the top seed napping, but also to have a good matchup to exploit. I'm approaching the first weekend as a bunch of 4-team tourneys. So let's look at each one, starting in the East.
1St. Joe's-16Liberty vs. 8Texas Tech-9Charlotte
St. Joe's lacks any sort of inside presence, relying sometimes on a four-guard set. With Jameer Nelson and Delonte West keying a potent backcourt, teams want to pound the Hawks inside to exploit their weak frontcourt. Liberty is also a guard-oriented team, so they don't seem to cause any problems for Martelli's team. Texas Tech plays that motion offense, but they also lack an interior presence, but they are also lousy outside shooters. Emmert is a great player and can win a game by himself, but they also pose no real matchup problems for SJU. Charlotte starts a 7-fotter, but they are also primarily a perimeter team, gunning over 20 threes per game. If they fall, they win. If not, they lose. They will have a huge rebounding edge over the Hawks if they can make it past Texas Tech.
THE PICK: SJU over CHARLOTTE
4Wake-13VCU vs. 5Florida-12Manhattan
The backcourt of Gray and Paul is amazing, but they also have some interior players. Danelius presents huge problems with his dynamic inside-outside game. The key might be their center, Eric Williams, who has a tendency to disappear in big games. VCU just doesn't have the bodies to match up with Wake's forwards. Jones is a good guard and can score bunches of points, but he can't do it alone. Florida played a brutal schedule but didn't really beat anybody. They have a similar makeup as Wake, boasting lots of big guys who can play outside, but this is a young team which goes through long stretches of uneven play. Manhattan's got one of the best players in the country in Luis Flores. They play a deliberate style, and everything goes through Flores. If he has a big game, they'll win. It's a focused, senior-laden team which gave Syracuse all they could handle last year. they won't be intimidated by anybody.
THE PICK: WAKE over MANHATTAN
3Pitt-14UCF vs. 6Wisconsin-11Richmond
If you like physical basketball, this is your pod. Every team here wants to play tough, physical defense and disrupt your style of play. Pitt's got the best athletes, but they stink at the free throw line, a place where games may be won over the weekend. Every starter averages double-digit points. UCF may find themselves looking at a more talented version of their own team. Lyons, the team leading scorer, was named conference defender of the year. They shoot better than Pitt, and they've got some big bodies to bash around with the Panthers. Wisconsin famously plays a defensive style and makes zero mistakes. They just take care of the ball and let Devin Harris score his 20 points per. Richmond forces lots of steals and plays a very agreesive defense as well. They can also shoot lights out, but they don't defend the low post that well. Luckily, only Pitt really has a dominant inside game of the teams in Milwaukee. This is cliche, but any team could come out of this pod, even UCF. But go with the home court, as Wisconsin hasn't lost in their home state all year
THE PICK: WISCONSIN over PITT
2Oklahoma St-East Washington vs. 7 Memphis-10South Carolina
This is OSU's bracket to lose. They shoot over 50% from the field, but also force turnovers and get tons of rebounds. No one in this group matches up well with OSU's sheer talent advantage. EWU is probably just happy to be in the tourney, and they shoot well, but will absolutely get killed on the boards. Burks is a nice player for Memphis, and they've got some pretty good players, but there just is nobody on the inside for the Tigers. USC comes in on a huge slide. They play nice defense, but they don't score and can't really play the interior either. the winner of their game gets the right to get waxed by the Cowboys.
THE PICK: OSU over MEMPHIS
As the teams file into New Jersey, it's tough not to think of OSU as the one-seed. Wake matches up well with them, and will be able to play the low post against them, as could Pitt. But really, OSU is clearly the best team in this region. Anything short of a trip to San Antonio is a disappointment.
1 Kentucky-Florida A&M/Lehigh vs. 8Washington-9UAB
Who do you stop? Eveyr starter scores over 10 a game, and they have guys who have played deep in the tourney before. They can bang on the inside, shoot lights out, play defense, run the transition offense, or play in the half-court. They are the best team in the country, despite having no bench. Someone gets to lose by 40 to them. Washington and UAB both want to run you out of the gym. UAB's got an incredibly deep bench, but unless somebody grows three inches overnight, they've got nobody in the middle. Both of these teams are incredibly quick and rely on athleticism to win games. Kentucky's got that in spades.
THE PICK: KENTUCKY over UAB
4Kansas-13UIC vs. 5Providence-12Pacific
What an underwhelming four and five seed. Kansas hasn't beaten a quality team all year, and Providence is on a three-game skid, including a loss to Villanova. Kansas wants to play a grind-it-out game, but they have a roster built for the transition game. This is a team compeltely in flux, and they are ripe for an upset as they still haven't found their identity. Enter the Flames. Cedric Banks can score at will, and the team shoots almost 40% from behind the arc. Bailey is one of the most prolific point guards in the nation. This team can play, make few mistakes, and even rebound. Ryan Gomes is a star for the Friars, but he doesn't want his legacy to be a bunch of first round flame-outs. Pacific is one of the hottest teams in the country. They have some decent players inside, but they don't have a player of Gomes' caliber. Few teams do.
THE PICK: UIC over PROVIDENCE
3Georgia Tech-14 Northern Iowa vs. 6BC-11Utah
Muhammad is the nost exciting player in the country. He can't shhot a lick, but he can jump out of the gym. They've got terrific guard play, particularly, Jack, and a credible inside game with rangy forwards who can go outside. UNI will shoot lots and lots of threes. If they go in, they'll win. If they don't, they'll lose. For a 14-seed, that's pretty good odds. BC's strength is on the interior, as they've got one of the best frontcourts in the nation. They are a physical team and want a lossely officiated game. Utah's not exactly a bunch of sissies. They play lock-tight defense and want to get in a physical game as well, but free up Jacobson on the outside. They go into the BC game knowing they'll have the best player on the floor.
THE PICK: GT over UTAH
2Gonzaga-15Valpo vs. 7Michigan St-10Nevada
The Zags also shoot over 50% from the field and the combo of Stepp and Violette may be the best guard/forward pair in the nation. Valpo's pulled some upsets, but really, they are horribly outclassed here. Suprisingly, MSU doesn't really have a great inside game, and their point guard play has bordered on terrible all year long. This is a young team that's probably a year away. Kirk Snyder is either a really big 2 or a smallish 3, but he gives Nevada a dynamic player who can do anything. The Pack will go as far as he takes them.
THE PICK: GONZAGA over NEVADA
Kentucky is the obvious pick, but Gonzaga's got an extremely talented team as does Georgia Tech. GT presents the biggest matchup problems for the Cats, but in the end, talent should win out and Ashley Judd's favorite team will advance.
posted by Poseur 3/16/2004 06:48:00 PM
TO to Philly
Apparently, the Niners inserted a clause in TO's contract allowing him to declare free agency as late as March 2nd. Whoops. The teams quickly scrambled to save face, keep the union in its place, and avoid losing yet another court case. Everybody wins in the end, except the union. The Ravens get a free draft pick, the Niners are still left without TO, and Philly gets their receiver.
And Owens gets a 10 million dolalr signing bonus.
posted by Poseur 3/16/2004 01:40:00 PM
Man U in trouble
Facing a near insurmountable deficit in the Premiership standings following a stunning Champions League exit has many Manchester United folks grumbling. Except the team brass.
Yes, it was a rough time in Old Trafford last week. Brazen FC Porto netted a late equalizer in the second leg of the knockout round, effectively sending the Reds to a 2-1 aggregate loss. Then on Sunday, United traveled to rivals Manchester City and were thrashed, 4-1. The loss to City dropped Alex Ferguson's group to third in the Premiership, 12 points behind unbeaten leaders Arsenal.
Let me laugh with maniacal glee for a few seconds before I comment on this.... okay, thanks. Man U was doing well without Beckham, the most overrated athlete on the planet, but things came crashing down as soon as Ferdinand got suspended. Management tried to ride out the suspension, but that hasn't exactly worked out well. So now they are left with bland platitudes to justify their losses despite huge financial advantages.
We're waiting. Oh, and Arsenal shows no signs of slowing down, ahead by four games with only 10 to play. It would take an epic collapse for Man U to overtake Arsenal.
posted by Poseur 3/16/2004 01:36:00 PM
Athens readies for the Olympics
"We are working very seriously for this ... Greece will give a unique answer to all those who dared to doubt her," she said.
Angelopoulos-Daskalaki later attended a meeting with police and security chiefs and ministers involved in Olympic planning to asses the results of an ongoing exercise involving about 400 U.S. troops and 1,500 Greek personnel.
Code-named "Shield of Hercules 2004," the two week-exercise began March 10 and also involves experts from Britain, Germany, Israel and Canada. The drill is the main test of measures to safeguard the games from a host of possible threats, ranging from hijackings to a "dirty bomb" attack.
We need more codenames like Shield of Hercules. I mean, that's just cool sounding. If they try and go after terrorists, will they call it the Lightning of Zeus? I hope so. Anyway, Greece has officially asked NATO for help.
I'll let that sink in.
That's right, Greece is asking for help from its military allies to put on an athletic event. It is a statement to how huge the Olympics are, but does anyone else think this is getting a little silly? Can't people have a big athletic competition without having some asshole blow the building up?
posted by Poseur 3/16/2004 01:32:00 PM
I'll pick brackets later, but today I just want to comment on the field. And I don't care that the regions are no longer named geogrphically, I'm still calling them by their regional name. So there.
Kentucky's got the #1 seed over the course of the weekend, but getting the play-in winner just demonstrates how few dominant teams there are this year. Kentuckt didn't even win their conference and now they're the overall #1 seed. That's just ridiculous. Gonzaga's a personal favorite of mine, and everybody else in the nation, but you just can't justify their 2-seed. They're 2-2 vs. the RPI top 50. Let that record sink in...
..You with me now? Georgia Tech's seeded fairly, but Kansaslucked out with the 4. When they beat a team in the RPI top 25, it'll be the first time this season it happens. Jumping down a few slots, does Tom Izzo have pictures of the Committe screwing goats or something? A 7-seed? Really? On what grounds? They are 39 in the RPI, so seeded to RPI, they are a 10. But should they move up or down based onthier peripheral numbers? They were 5-6 out-of-conference and finished third in a weak Big Ten (negative). They are 6-9 in road games (negative). They are 1-9 against the RPI to 50 (0-8 vs. the top 25). HUGE negative. They have all the attributes of an 11 or 12 seed. Or an NIT team. Luckily, Nevada probably deserved a 7, so just flip their seeds in your head. Pacfic's a reach as a 12, but they have won 10 straight, so I'll let it slide.
Put me squarely in St. Joe's camp. They earned their #1 seed over the full course of the year, and after they stumbled, nobody really picked up the slack to steal the seed from them. However, this is bracket is just obscenely loaded. Pitt should be a two, Oklahoma St. was a popular choice as a one, but they really are a two. Wake's a a quality 4-seed. Wisconsin's a six, but they are virtually playing at home, where they are unbeaten. I'm skipping over Florida because they were a tough team to seed, but five seems about right. This is a really good, but really fair bracket. Nobody's seeded to far from where they should be. Actually, my only gripes are with the 10 and the 11. South Carolina, on my bubble sheet at home, was my second-to-last team in (Washington was the last), but they got a decent seed of a 10. I also left Richmond out in favor of Utah St. You want to criticize St. Joe's schedule? Richmond plays in the same conference and they went 12-7. They struggle on the road and against good teams. It's not an outrage they're in, but with a deserving mid-major champ like Utah State left in the cold, it does irritate me.
For the record, USU has a better RPI (43 to 49), non-conference RPI (30 to 37), conference RPI (56 to 71), overall record (24-3 to 20-12). road record (10-2 to 8-7), record in the last 10 (8-2 to 7-3), and record vs. the top 50 (1-1 to 2-10). In all criteria the Committee says determine bids, the Aggies are superior to the Spiders. So come to think of it, I am outraged by this selection. There's no criteria in which Richmond is better than Utah State.
Ho-hum, Duke gets a one-seed. But lo and behold, look what awaits them: the bracket from hell. The NCAA does this every year, putting together a region so ridiculously loaded you just wonder what the have against these teams. Mississippi State could have been a one, Texas is a deserving three. Cincinnati got jobbed with the 4-seed. So did Illinois, the Big Ten champ, at #5. I'm still trying to figure out how UNC is a six. Xavier's the hottest team in the country, except for the Illini. There's even some perennial Cinderellas like Princeton, ETSU, and Murray St. So, not even I could complain about this bracket, right?
Well, right. Arizona got a gift of a seed, but nothing outrageous. Louisville's had a rough month, so maybe they do desrve to slide all the way to a #10. And I will fight for Air Force. Forget the RPI's, they did the most important thing, they won the regular season crown of a major conference, the Mountain West. That alone merits a bid. Jay Bilas can shove it up his rear. He's outraged by AFA's bid, and keeps pimping for Notre Dame. Notre Dame? Seriously? If you're gonna be outraged on behalf of an NIT team, get on the USU Express! Now is a good time to mention Colorado may turn down their NIT invitation. I'm all for teams declining the NIT when they've been truly jobbed, but that ain't the case in Boulder. and considering the athletic department's current, ahem, PR problems, maybe it wouldn't be such a bad thing if they didn't act like a bunch of whiny third graders.
It's not loaded like the South, but it's not the joke that the Midwest is either. It's just a thoroughly fair bracket. I'm alone in thinking UConn is horribly overrated, they are the only top ten RPI team with a losing record vs. the RPI top 25, but a 2-seed is fair. The Pac-10 is pedestrian, but Stanford earned their 1-seed. NC State's a monster lying in wait at 3. Maryland is horribly overseed, they were rightly considered a bubble team about two weeks ago. Then they won five straight. Now, that should have secured them a bid and maybe, at best, a 6-seed. Heck, a 5. But a 4-seed? That's like the Committee saying the first three months of the season simply don't matter. Syracuse and Vandy are thoroughly forgettable squads, but they could get hot at the right time. Actually, if I'm UConn, I'm pretty nervous about a matchup with the Dayton-DePaul winner. Both those teams can play.
There's nothing to quibble with excpet for BYU getting a 12, and the only team that should be ticked about that is Syracuse. It's a pretty boring bracket, easily the least compelling region of the four. Which probably means it will be gutted by upsets and become the most-watched bracket by next weekend, as everyone waits for the next big seed to come tumbling down. Or, it'll be perfect chalk.
The Committee only made a few real blunders. Choosing Richmond over Utah State simply can't be defended outside of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Maryland has no business getting a four seed, and neither does Kansas, a team with zero quality wins. As a conference, C-USA got incredibly low seeds, even Cincinnati. BYU got horribly jobbed, but considering the Mountain West's reputation, they've got to be thrilled with the bid. The Pac-10 all got some pretty high seeds for such a weak conference this year. The committee punished the Big Ten for a weak year, well, except for Michigan St, but we've covered that.
They got most of the seeds right. The only team which really can make a case for complete injustice is USU, but when you're a mind-major, you're used to getting screwed. Remember Butler? It seems like they bent over backwards to give Kentucky a free ride to the finals, but considering they stacked the deck against them last year, maybe the Cats have earned a break. I'll give the Committee a B+. Good job, overall. Most of the brackets are fair and the regions are roughly the same strength. The tough South is not nearly as tough as some of the monsters we've seen, and the weak Midwest is not the same bad joke we've seen in years past.
posted by Poseur 3/14/2004 11:59:00 PM