Monday, March 14, 2011

NCAA Tournament 2011 Thoughts

I hope all of you enjoyed the national holiday yesterday! Selection Sunday ranks right up there with the NFL Draft opening round (although it's tougher to classify now with the way it's structured), the opening NFL weekend, the NFL playoff divisional round, and NFL's Conference Championship sunday. Hmm, I think I like the NFL...

However, I will make the argument that Selection Sunday is a better sports day than Super Bowl Sunday. Yea, I said it. But, once again, this is because I usually have one eye dead set on the future. The Super Bowl is somewhat bittersweet because it is the end of football for 7 months, while Selection Sunday is the launching pad of a 3 day vacation spent in Bracketville (where I turn everyday decisions into an 8 idea bracket), followed by the greatest sporting event known to man (where I spend so much time on my couch that I develop George's condition caused by a "prolonged state of inactivity"). So however silly this sounds, a simple reading of 68 College Basketball teams, in a specific random order, may be my single favorite sports day of the year.

On to some thoughts, I'll start with KU thoughts first for all my homiez out there....

  • I would give KU's draw, in terms of favorability, a grade of a rock chalk solid B. I believe they got the softest 8/9 draw with generi-8-seed UNLV, who has been on the 8/9 line with KU as the 1-seed now in 2008, 2010, and 2011. My buddy CS Mofo explains this phenomenon with the simple fact that Lon Kruger looks like a number 8 (better analysis than I got from the CBS fools). Looking past that, I think 4-seed Louisville could be rough, but I think KU handles their pressure style because of the history against Mizzou. The team that I am most afraid of is 3-seed Purdue, who I consider superior to 2-seed Notre Dame. And, if KU is fortunate enough to advance to the Final 4, I like that we are on opposite sides of both Duke and Ohio St (who I consider to be the overall favorites).
  • All this being said, I think KU is absolutely screwed this year. As soon as 3 of the 4 CBS fellas picked KU on national television for all of the world, all of the KU players, and all of the other teams to see, they were done. I don't like it, but it's true. KU absolutely CANNOT operate as the prohibitive favorite in the NCAA Tournament. Especially, when there's little-to-no reason to think they are overly superior. What are all these experts seeing that I don't see? How can they continue to pick KU year after year to win it all? Give us a chance! My buddy, S'nave compared KU to the Indianapolis Colts recently (to which I'll never concede - because they have a soul), but as far as the way they're treated by the national media (which may have been his point), it's a very fair comparison. Take me now baby Jesus (who I like to think of as a mischievous badger).
  • Everybody's first words out of their mouth last night were over Colorado's snub. Here's my favorite take, via Jack the Quack Harry: "Colorado gets the biggest hose job in the history of NCAA. How in the world could Buffs be left out and VCU & UAB get in. AWFUL. SHAMEFUL!" He then went on to compare it to the Japanese tsunami. What I haven't heard anybody bring up yet (maybe just because Husker fans are quiet right now) is the name Dan Beebe (Big 12 Commissioner - Nebraska public enemy #1). Nebraska blamed every bad break from the football season on Beebe (some of them justified - you can't change my mind), and now yet another Big 12 castoff gets a bit of the shaft? What if this man really is evil-set on revenge against the two teams that put a clown suit on his commissioner tenure, so he makes it his life mission to campaign against these two teams? 
  • For the record, the only change I would have made to the field would be to add Colorado, and subtract Clemson. I like how the Committee is giving more and more respect to mid-majors like UAB and VCU. Also, beware of those two teams specifically, who had to have heard all the bickering about how they shouldn't have gotten into the Tournament. Don't underestimate the motivational impact that can have on a team.
  • While Colorado may have the biggest beef amongst Big 12 teams, the Selection Committee did the other teams little favors. Texas was looking at a potential 2-seed with a win over KU on Saturday, but instead fell to a 4-seed and faces uber-dangerous Oakland in the first round now. K-State got a favorable 5-seed, but draws a team ranked higher than them in the first round, 12th seeded Utah St (who I was terrified to draw as an 8/9 seed). However, as I told a few of my K-State friends yesterday, if they can advance to the Sweet 16, they might become the favorites in that region. The top 4 seeds in the Southeast are incredibly weak. So, if the Wildcats goal is to make the Sweet 16 then they may have gotten screwed, but if their goal is to make the Final 4, I believe they may have received a gift.
  • While we're on the topic of regions, here is my ranking of the four from best to worst: (1.) East (2.) West (3.) Southwest (108.) Southeast
  • I'm very interested to see how the "First Four" affects the Tournament this year. Will it be an advantage to play and win in that game or a disadvantage? For instance, if I tell you that your team wins that game, would you rather be in that position or as an already-locked in 11th/12th seed position. Not only do you get your early Tournament jitters out in the first game, but you get the taste of winning in your mouth. On the other hand, you face the possibility that your team gets worn out playing 3 games in 6 days, as opposed to 2 games in 4 days. So, advantage or disadvantage?
  • In closing, I leave you with the circle of life possibility that Bill Self plays his former team (Illinois) in the city of another team he coached, also near where he grew up (Tulsa).

Up to my ankles in Brackets,
His Bracketness


DBZ said...

I read your article and figured the Southeast wouldn't be as bad as you exclaimed. It is so bad though. I hate saying this becuase of my comment last year, but I actually think we have one of the tougher 8/9 draws again this year. Colorado deserved it. Lik eyour "First Four" thoughts. Bring on Illinois.

DBZ said...

I meant Colorado deserved the spot in the field of 64, not that they deserved what they got. Only their fans deserved it.