Following up on Steve’s post below, here is a breakdown of my finalized bracket for 2010: (Sidenote: To each his own, but I think that pools should never allow more than one bracket for each person – wouldn’t it seem a little tainted if “Wilson (2)” was the winning bracket? That would deserve an *)
I’ll start with my final four – Ohio State, Syracuse, West Virginia, and Duke will be fighting for the championship in Indianapolis – with Syracuse defeating WVU in the championship. I managed to follow Noffke’s rule of 2 teams from the same conference in the final four with Cuse and WVU, OSU will ride Evan Turner to the final four the way Marquette rode Dwayne Wade in 2003, and Duke gets in by default (what a joke of a region).
Biggest Debate – Syracuse or K State from the West?
The talk of the week so far is that Syracuse’s bad play down the stretch coupled with the injury to Arinze Onuaku will lead to an early exit – I don’t buy it. I think that the Orangeman will get by Vermont and FSU with Onuaku in uniform and glued to the bench. The second weekend he’ll return to the starting line-up and Syracuse will play the zone defense to perfection on their way to the 2010 NCAA championship.
8 1’s in the Sweet Sixteen
That can’t be right, can it? It is. Along with all four number 1 seeds, I also have 11 seeds Minnesota and Washington advancing past the second round. I think Minnesota will use its length to disrupt a streaky Xavier team and then sneak by Pitt in round two on the strength of solid 3 point shooting by Lawrence Westbrook and Blake Hoffarber. Washington was more of a gut selection because they have two guys in Quincy Pondexter and Isaiah Thomas that can go off for 30 on any given night. We’ve seen in the past guys like Steph Curry and Acie Law carry their teams with huge performances in the tourney. Both guys I mentioned are capable of something similar.
Two Seed Trouble
It seems like every year I find myself picking a 1 or 2 seed to bow out early for one reason or another (Note: This usually doesn’t pan out..). This year is no different as I have the Richmond Spiders knocking of Noffke’s South champion Villanova. I can’t say I have seen either team play much in 2010 – call this a hunch play. I did see what Nova did down the stretch and think that they are primed for an upset. I will say that whichever team meets Baylor in round 3 is going to lose anyway.
Other Notable Upsets
The only 12 seed I have advancing past round 1 is Utah State. This is the strongest group of 5 seeds I can recall in awhile – Butler and MSU have too much experience to lose in round 1 and Temple is just too talented to be upset by a Cornell squad I would normally pick to advance without thinking twice. The only other double digit first round upsets I picked are San Diego State over a worn down Tennessee team and Missou over Clemson solely on tourney track record.
Noffke: You Call That a Big Ten Bias? Pshhh
This is something I didn’t notice until running through the bracket now…but I have the Big Ten going 10-0 over the first weekend. Of those 10 wins only 3 would be classified as “upsets” – both of Minny’s wins and the MSU second round win over Maryland – but it is still a noteworthy trend. (Note: You also might throw the two Purdue wins in that category based on their game against Minnesota last weekend sans Hummel, however I have them beating 13 seed Siena and 12 seed Utah State…not exactly murderer’s row).
No Guts No Glory – Part Deux
There are two upsets that I really wanted to include in the bracket but with money on the line decided against.
Northern Iowa over Kansas in Round Two
Kansas seems to be the consensus choice to cut down the nets in 2010 which would make this one of the greatest upsets of all time. The Panthers of Northern Iowa return the core of their tourney team from last year that pushed Purdue to the brink as a 12 seed in the first round. If this match up with Kansas comes to fruition my eyes will be glued to the television.
Louisville vs Notre Dame Regional Final
By all accounts Duke will face a cupcake schedule on their way to the final four this year, which I think makes them a target for an upset. Louisville is a deep team that Rick Pitino will have ready to play in round 2 vs the Dukies. If they get by the Blue Demons I think they are a shoe-in to get to the regional final. Notre Dame, on the other hand, switched up their game plan upon the return of Harangody this month and have really taken off. If they can get by Baylor in round 2 they’ll have a shot at the Final Four as well.
Only a Few Years Early 2012 Tournament Prediction