Wednesday, March 14, 2007

NCAA Preview – East Region

1 North Carolina
16 Eastern Kentucky

I think UNC is still too young to go all the way, but they’re obviously not too young to lose to EKU. Their game against N.C. State the other day was, I think, pretty indicative of what we’ll see from them over the next couple of weeks. They look athletic and talented enough to run you off the court at any moment, but they don’t actually do it.

Prediction: UNC

8 Marquette
9 Michigan State

I’ve tried and tried to analyze this game, but I just couldn’t figure out who I thought was I’m just going with the injury fallback—Jerel McNeal, Marquette’s second-best player, is out for the game. Neither team has a ton of firepower outside of their star guards (Neitzel vs Dominic James), but State’s healthier, so I guess I’ll go with that.

Prediction: Michigan State

12 Arkansas

Wow, what an awful selection Arkansas was. I mean, I guess it makes Mizzou look better since we can say that we beat them, and they’re in the tourney, but still. Awful. A bad record in the SEC’s bad division and an overall mediocre resume was deleted by the fact that they won 3 games in a weekend, beating exactly one decent team, Vanderbilt. Power to Joe Lunardi for predicting that they’d get in, but...that just makes me think he has sway on the committee or something. K-State, Syracuse, Drexel, and West Virginia, at the very least, all had better resumes than Arkansas. Just a terrible selection. Of course, they’re playing a shaky USC team, and they’ll probably win after hearing how they don’t deserve to be here all week, but still...they don’t deserve to be here. USC, like Oregon, is a team I just can’t get a grasp on. They simultaneously look like they’re overachieving and underachieving. I don’t know what to do with them, but since I’m going to have Texas winning the 2nd round matchup anyway, I might as well go out on a limb and pick the team that has no business being in the tourney.

Prediction: Arkansas

4 Texas
13 New Mexico State

It’s really hard not to agree with Bill Simmons and think that Texas could run the table all the way to, at the very least, the Elite Eight. But there’s a reason why they’ve played in so many amazingly close, exciting games this season—they’re good enough to play with anybody, but they’re not consistent enough to beat a good team easily. In two different games this year, they put on about the best offensive display imagineable in the first half against Kansas and slowly fell apart in the second half, only to rally at the end. I don’t think Rick Barnes is as bad a coach as Simmons does, but he’s not great. And the team really does forget about Durant sometimes in crunch time.

All that said, they still have a devastatingly easy route to the Sweet 16.

Prediction: Texas

6 Vanderbilt
11 George Washington

I was very high on Vandy a few weeks ago, and suddenly I’m not. I think GW has some NCAA karma owed to them after getting absolutely screwed with an 8-seed last year despite all of 1 loss on the season. GW’s not as good as they were last year, but Vandy peaked a while back. You see where I’m going with this?

Prediction: George Washington

3 Washington State
14 Oral Roberts

Along with Winthrop, I vowed to pick ORU in the first round against whoever they played. I thought they’d get a 13-seed of course, but I’m a man of my word, I guess. While I’ve seen USC, Washington, and UCLA multiple times this season, I managed to not see even one second of a Wazzu game. I have no idea if they’re actually any good (I suppose they are), though in my own misinformed opinion, it’s blowing my mind how much the Big XII was disrespected this year (K-State not getting in, A&M getting a lower seed than Memphis, Texas getting a lower seed than Wazzu). I’d still normally pick Wazzu to win if not for my strange ORU vow, though.

Prediction: Oral Roberts

7 Boston College
10 Texas Tech

Two teams that have been quite underwhelming for a while. I saw BC early in the season, and they looked like a darkhorse Final Four team. Then I saw them play at home against Duke, and they couldn’t have cared less. Duke got roughly 453 offensive rebounds and loose balls in that game. They came back to beat Miami-FL on Friday after looking quite poor for a majority of the game, and then they failed to show up against UNC. At the same time, Tech was limping toward the finish line, losing 5 in a row...until they won 6 of 7 to end the regular season. And then, facing what seemed like a must-win matchup against K-State, they laid a big egg, losing by 21. Still, they’ve at least not lost three games by double digits in the last three weeks like BC has.

Prediction: Texas Tech

2 Georgetown
15 Belmont

I’m always wary of teams that peak in the conference tourney, and there’s absolutely no way Georgetown can play any better than they played last week at Madison Square Garden. But they have a couple games here to get into a rhythm. I always enjoy when Belmont does well—I guess in some extremely backwards way it subconsciously justifies our losing to them in 2003-04...or not—but they’ve got a 0.01% chance of winning this game.

Prediction: Georgetown

Looking Ahead

On to the second-round games...

1 UNC > 9 Michigan State (MSU should keep it close for quite a while)
4 Texas > 12 Arkansas (UT should at least double their 4-point December win)
14 Oral Roberts > 11 George Washington (Didn’t really expect this matchup, but whatever)
2 Georgetown > 10 Texas Tech (Beware of Bobby Knight, but G’town’s just way too big for Tech)


4 Texas > 1 UNC (I’m not trying to be like Bill Simmons, but I just can’t help myself)
2 Georgetown > 14 Oral Roberts


4 Texas > 2 Georgetown

I'm not sure Texas' defense is capable of this, but I had to pick at least one team worse than a 2-seed...