See? I'm not the only one picking Duke to beat Michigan.
This Week's Obsession: We Hate Our Brackets
The manager of my pool uses Excel, is bad at Excel.
Here's our brackets.
No questions; show us your bracket, and explain your upsets and weird guys. This time and this time only you may pick against the Kenpom gods.
Brian: I'm having a terrible time picking any upsets other than Michigan State only comprising three-fourths of the Final Four. I'm pretty sure the fourth slot will go to Indiana.
|MSU's Gary Harris is one of the most dangerous offensive weapons in the tournament. [Fuller]|
Wait, what? They're in the--
They're *not* in the NIT. Well, they'll probably do well in the...
I see. Well then.
In that case, Indiana will probably be replaced by a mewling baby that the three Michigan States will dismember and consume as they celebrate about 30% as hard as they did when they beat Michigan.
But in the event we have a tournament based on data from outside the last week... uh... isn't Cincinnati a really bad matchup for State? Lost in the healthy hoopla is a totally healthy MSU team kicked off their rampage by losing to Illinois and Ohio State, two hard-nosed defensive teams with wonky offenses. Cincinnati is a hard-nosed defensive team with a wonky offense, one that plays no one shorter than 6'4" in their starting lineup and has a guy who can get buckets against anyone.
You know how the world is falling all over itself about Louisville? Well, Cinci won at Louisville and dropped their return game by a single point. Calling my shot: it's more likely MSU goes out in the second round than makes the final four.
Elsewhere, New Mexico is a dangerous second-round opponent for Embiid-less Kansas, Wisconsin is going out in round two to Oregon, Baylor will cruise to the Sweet 16, and Michigan plays Tennessee in the Sweet 16.
[After the jump we argue over really good offensive/mediocre defensive teams]
BiSB: Cincinnati is a bad matchup for State, as is Virginia. According to hoop-math.com, Michigan State is 15th in the country in transition attempts at 33.6%, which they finish at over 60% in terms of eFG%. Virginia is 13th in the country in preventing transition attempts. They don't turn the ball over much, they won't let Michigan State get out on the break, and they don't allow offensive rebounds. Look for Virginia to upset Sparty.
If you own a coin, and you are able to flip that coin seven times, congratulations. You can predict the bottom half of the South region as well as anyone. No one knows what a Joel Embiid-less Kansas team will do. Syracuse is both good and terrible. I have Dayton beating Ohio State and then falling to Syracuse, but like I said. Coin.
I'd remind you that UCLA is coached by Steve Alford now, so look for them to get bumped by VCU. I know Stephen F. Austin is a popular upset over VCU, but SFA hasn't faced this level of athlete this year, and VCU is the last team against whom you want to test the waters of "hey what if we played some good athletes."
|Save us, Smart!|
I don't see the top 4 seeds in the Midwest being particularly threatened in the first weekend, and yes, that includes Wichita State. I'm also surprised Brian is that high on Tennessee; their entire resume consists of a neutral court win over Xavier (during an abysmal weekend in which Xavier also lost to Iowa and USC) and a shellacking they put on Virginia in December. They finished 11-7 in the SEC despite single-plays with Kentucky (which they lost) and Arkansas (at home). They'll probably beat Iowa, as holy crap have you seen Iowa lately, but Duke beats either them or UMass going away.
Ace: It's a good thing BiSB and I aren't doing a bracket pool together, because I have almost the exact same thing—my Final Four is identical save for Duke making it over Michigan (I know, boooooooo me), and I also have VCU knocking off UCLA due to the coaching edge.
While Cincinnati should provide a stiff test, I have Virginia as the team that will knock off MSU, which I don't believe will get past two teams that are so strong defensively. Also, the thing nobody is talking about regarding the Spartans that could be a huge factor: yes, they're healthy now, but how long does that last? They couldn't get through the Michigan game without a Gary Harris shoulder injury scare, Adreian Payne needs an inhaler after two trips up and down the floor, and Keith Appling still isn't shooting much—or well—from the outside, and Branden Dawson is playing with a big ol' brace on his wrist. Even if one of those guys has to sit out for just a few extra minutes, that could be the difference between a win and a loss, especially in a defensive slog.
For upset picks, I like North Dakota State over Oklahoma in the round of 64; the Sooners tend to play close games against decent competition, they don't have a great defense, and the Bison are one of the most experienced teams in the country, not to mention lethal inside the arc. I've got Providence over North Carolina simply because the Tar Heels are so inconsistent this year.
Otherwise, my bracket is pretty bland—the only one-seed I don't have making their regional final is Wichita State, which I have losing to Louisville before the Michigan/Duke winner (a coin-flip, IMO, and on those I try to account for my inherent bias) knocks off the Cardinals. Arizona over Florida in the title game; those two teams have separated themselves from the rest of the pack, even if neither is a true juggernaut.
Seth: Now that we've listed all the reasons Michigan State won't make it to the Final Four, let's remember Izzo teams tend to play like a banner is on the line in the tournament. This Spartan squad may fight with less vim than any in my basketball-watching lifetime, but I won't count on that in March.
|Tom Izzo is such a mortal lock to overperform in March that they might as well rename the month after him. [Fuller]|
Rather I'll count on them being the kind of team that needs to control the possession battle. Notably, they generated five or fewer turnovers in four of their losses, and lost the turnover battle in all but one (at Wisconsin). In the BTT they dominated Wisconsin with uncharacteristic shooting (64% eFG), so the momentum from last weekend is largely based on winning the boards battle against Max Bielfeldt. I think Payne is the kind of post presence that Cincy doesn't do well against (L'ville's Montrezl Harrell had 18 and 21 points against them, and two losses to UConn were blamed on the bad post matchups), but MSU's second weekend sets up with Virginia, and then Villanova or ISU (I have Iowa State). The former have great defenses, and ISU is excellent at protecting the ball.
Elsewhere, I hate all ones. Florida and Wichita State have a combined four wins over Tennessee going for them in those massive piles of wins, but those are still massive piles of wins. Arizona isn't the same without Brandon Ashley. Virginia was the last one in, and is defensive Michigan.
I hate the South, where I'm basically praying Marcus Smart can save us from the same kind of GO BUCKS!-vs-ESSEEESEE! hell that football's been trapped in since the mid-aughts. HAVOC should do well against SF Austin--their big flaw is guards who turn the ball over--and UCLA, whose thing is they have a 6'9 point guard. VCU is as good a pick as any to upset Florida (Arkansas took them to overtime in their one game). And while I have Ohio State emerging, once Syracuse is put out of its misery and suddenly-small Kansas hits the New Mexican wall of Cam Bairstow and Alex Kirk, who here hasn't dreamed of sending ol' rosy cheeks on his way with a 7-turnover performance?
Michigan's side is boring. In the West the WOOO OFFENSE Wolverine in me makes a face at Brian's Baylor Bears and takes Creighton to the final weekend (SD State does for Arizona). I think Michigan loses to Duke in the rematch when all the stupid calls in the world go against us. With sighs: Virginia over Louisville.
Mathlete: The South is a strange bracket. Florida has been dominant but largely untested. KU has the pieces but has been woefully inconsistent and will be without Embiid for some or all of the regional (side note, they did whip New Mexico by 17 in an earlier matchup). Syracuse has been fading like crazy since they had to play quality teams. Even though I'm not sold on the teams at the top, I don't know that there are great candidates to make a run. Maybe VCU, but I still think the South has the best chance for a top 2 seed to make the Final Four.
Out West things could really get wild. Although not top-heavy like the Midwest, I think 7 of the top 9 seeds (everyone but Oklahoma and Gonzaga) have the pieces to make a run at the Final Four. In the East, Michigan State's been covered to death. Everyone outside of MGoBlog-world has crowned them National Champs and retroactively awarded them a perfect regular season with all losses deemed flukes and thus non-counting due to unprecedented injury woes that plagued the Spartans in a Job-like fashion. The problem with picking anyone else is that no one seems flashy. Villanova made a two seed largely due to one nice win in November and not losing against the largely mediocre portion of the conference schedule. Virginia should be good but like, Nova, not talented enough to be invulnerable. The team that I think has a real shot at making a run is 3 seed Iowa St. The Cyclones are talented and good enough to play anyone.
As for Michigan's route, I think the bracket initially seemed terrifying but they are aided by a very clear path to the Sweet 16, then potentially enough time to prepare for Duke or whoever knocks them off. That just leaves the winner of the loaded top half of the Midwest. Kentucky is scary to play, but I feel comfortable saying that can't put together multiple quality games in a row. Everyone has written my hometown Wichita St Shockers off. Everyone has focused on the undefeated record against weak competition this season and forgot that most of these guys were there when the Shockers made the Final Four last year and played Louisville closer than anyone. There are going to be some fantastic games as I see everyone top half game except the 1/16 matchup being highly competitive.
My Final Four: Florida, Iowa St, Creighton, Wichita St
Yes...yes it does.
Didnt your mother ever tell you "two wrongs doesnt make a right"?
Besides - picking Duke is like picking Germany in war.
On the other side of Little Brother's bracket I'm thinking Iowa State into the Elite Eight over Villanova since Jay Wright just can't seem to get his teams over the hump in March.
This is not educated. Nova has burned me in the tourney at least 3-4 times. I will not make that mistake again!
People's thoughts on the potential VA/ISU Elite Eight matchup?
How did none of you pick Michigan?
Maybe because they're not blind homers. Michigan fans (for all sports), in general, are unlike Ohio fans when it comes to football in that they think they will go undefeated every single year.
I think you should take a good look at the prediction threads in the preseason for football. With one notable exception of 2011 (and I definitely include myself in this as I had us at 9-3 this past year), people here are somewhere between 1-3 games too optimistic on our final record.
I'm of the opinion you should pick like a blind homer, because you can end up with a self financed trip to the final four like I did last year. Hedged with the person who would have won w Louisville beforehand. People say picking against Michigan is a hedge but I think the opposite
Also, given how much kenpom loves MSU, and how much these guys love kenpom, they are picking like blind homers w/r/t MSU upsets but not Michigan wins. Weird
Is it really blind homerism to pick Michigan against Duke? The teams are basically clones of each other - top 3 offensive efficiency (Duke 2nd, Michigan 3rd) and 100-105 defensive efficiency (Duke 102nd, Michigan 104th).
It's a toss up, and you'd think brackets would reflect that (e.g. some Michigan, some Duke).
Virginia over Michigan State is NOT an upset.
HAS THE WORLD GONE MAD? Yes, yes it has.
It is in Vegas, isn't it?
That is absolutely an upset. MSU would beat the pants off of Virginia.
Not trying to be a UVA homer, but I'm genuinely curious what this certain beat-down is based on.
UVA is #4 and 6 in KenPom and BPI rating versus #11 & 10 for MSU. MSU was smoked at home by UNC, a team that Virgina beat easily. Virginia is an elite version Illinois or OSU - both of whom beat MSU - but with much better shooters and way better offensive efficiency (#22 per Kenpom; IL and OSU are 186 and 127). Individually, UVa presents elite defenders who can match up Harris and Payne (Mitchell, Brogan and Anderson). Collectively they defend, the perimeter, transition, and halfcourt well - nothing is easy. Overall they can more than match MSU trademark "physical" play. In fact, UVA plays tough D, without fouling much. MSU (hopefully) won't have the benefit of Big 10 refs either which should help.
MSU will likely be the favorite if this matchup comes to fruition, but objectively I'm not buying that MSU will beat their pants off, nor that a UVA win can even remotely be called an upset. It's a coin flip game IMO.
Hate on me all you want, but I'm in a bracket with all Michigan fans. So I have us losing earlier (to Duke) and MSU and OSU going farther. So if that happens, there's a good chance I'll win money and if not, then I get to laugh at MSU and OSU. Also in general I've been burned by Mtn West teams often enough to always pick them to lose early.
OSU is going to lose to Dayton.
Dayton lost by one to Baylor, they beat Gonzaga, St. Louis, and UMass. They also beat Georgia Tech at GT, and GT beat Syracuse in the carrier dome.
And that wouldn't surprise me at all. I'm not saying I'm particularly confident in it. My general bracket stategy in a large group is to try to exploit the inefficiencies in any given bracket pool. In my case I know that my group really hates OSU, MSU, and have a general lack of respect for Witchita St so I pick those teams to go far.
That makes a great deal of sense. It's just hard for me to remember what playing in a pool of like minded people is like. Down here they all drink the SEC kool aid and are picking Florida and Kentucky. There are also a lot of Duke lovers down here, so I don't have to worry as much about picking in that manner.
My question is: will WIsconsin finally do something this year?
I hope they lose to Dayton, but think they get passed them and lose in the second round.
I just want to revisit this thread to say....BOOM. I knew OSU was going to lose.
Michigan escapes the national title game with a 2 point win....Go Blue!!!
Last year I had us bowing out to Kansas and to see the heart the team showed in that game. ..well it ain't happening this year! I see a way we can take it all the way again and this year I choose to BELIEVE!
What are you smoking?
Also, is VCU anywhere as good as they were last year? I think not.
KU is without Ejiim, and they've been playing with an extra guard instead. They are vulnerable against any team with 2 good posts, and New Mexico is exactly that.
Syracuse has been reeling, and before that they were playing with fire. I could see them going to the Final Four, but they're very vulnerable and Ohio State is the kind of team that doesn't really care if you zone them since everybody sucks at shooting equally.
Embiid, I assume you mean; Ejim is the ISU guy. Anyway, main point, I would argue that considering that OSU sucks at shooting, that ought to be a reason they should get steamrolled by Cuse, not beat them.
Their suck is evenly spaced out. It's therefore immune to weird defenses, and should perform at a standard level, which isn't great, but is usually okay enough to win with their defense.
On the other hand you've got a freshman (a good one but still a freshman) going against Aaron Craft. OSU over Syracuse isn't a bad bet.
I just think that's overthinking it. It seems to me that the logical extension of what you're saying is that if they had the exact same team, but, say, Craft and Ross were really damn good shooters and the rest were as sucky as they are now, they'd lose.
I'll buy the Ennis vs. Craft argument, but I don't think that's enough to propel them.
I think I may be the only person in the world with new mexico losing to stanford. I watched the mountain west conference title game and left it thinking both new mexico and sdsu would exit the tourney early, not impressed with either one.
Trust Mountain West teams in the NCAA Tournament at your own peril. SDSU only recently got its first victory in the Big Dance and New Mexico has never advanced to the Sweet Sixteen since the Tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985.
MSU isn't getting through Cinci, Virginia, Nova/ISU. 2-1 in that stretch would be very very good during a season. 2-1 doesn't get your through. I think they lose to ISU. ISU and Michigan are similar in the aspect that they can flat out get buckets. They do it different, but they score. I just don't think MSU can handle everything ISU can do. FWIW, I have a Michigan/ISU rematch for the Championship.
They had two good wins in a row and now everyone is just falling over themselves trying to pick them to win it all. This same healthy team lost to a crappy Illinois team at home and a mediocre OSU team on the road just 1-2 weeks ago.
Every year people look at teams who stumbled down the stretch to be knocked out earlier (Michigan '13) or a team who finished strong to automatically go deep but there's always a surprise. I think MSU will be the overrated surprise this year. They're good but I don't really understand what they did to make everyone have a huge boner for them. Beat the top 2 Big Ten teams in a row? Cool story bro, Michigan won @Wisconsin, Iowa, and @MSU in a row. Timing is apparently everything
they have a very strong history of being able to win ugly games and theyve built identity around defense and boards. usually very tough for finesse teams to win 5-6 straight games on road with such high stakes - msu certainly not finesse. the tourney always includes a ton of ugly, close games with teams fighting for possessions, eking out wins. final 4 teams almost always field at least 1 pro prospect and typically more - msu has payne and harris. and entering the year msu was pretty much consensus top 5 team. after winning the BTT, the above factors leave many "experts" fellating msu as well as vegas setting lines account for public money. i think msu is solid, not great - payne can be nightmare if hes at full strength but how many double doubles does he have in him, and can harris run off string of good games? they killed um in effort dept but almost every team in this field will have better/ more interested perimeter defenders than stauskas and robinson and levert - makes big difference when only 1 wing can create like harris. i completely undertand the infatuation bc its all based on speculation, preseason hype and late year BTT run. but they really struggle getting buckets for long stretches and thatll kill them in the tourney....and valentine and those dudes will not be outhustling robinson or stauskas, theyll be matched in intensity on every possession of madness. unless appling starts shooting 50% theyre going home. unfortunately um will be out about same time
I hedged last year by picking teams I hate to go far and picking m to lose early. Best march madness I can remember.
Is there a reason everyone other than apparently Seth assumes Texas would be Michigan's round 2 opponent?
I know Texas is chalk, but on paper Texas v. ASU looks really tight. What am I missing?
...with Texas playing in a slightly better league and playing a slightly better schedule. I think Texas will win in my bracket...but this game could go either way.
Are u going to watch the tourney after UCLA beats VCU?
I'm in a huge pool that I've won twice--the only way to stand out from the pack in that one is have your good upsets hit. Taking chalk gets you buried.
...top 30 win...I have finished top 30 6/10 years....top 5 2/10 years. I am well versed in winning tourney pools. Unless u are in a pool of 1...you ain't winning with VCU. :)
I have Michigan in my Final Four, but only because it's killing me to pick them to lose to Louisville again. I guess my other option is to pick them to lose to Duke, which is even less appealing...
Michigan beats Iowa St. in the finals. The NCAA tournament is the exact time to be a homer and I'm ashamed of most of you.
Obama picked Sparty to win it all.
Agreed, you root for who you pick, which means you have to pick who you're going to root for. Don't understand picking michigan to lose. So should Michigan lose to Duke you're going to be ... happy?
The average number of upsets in the first round in the 8-9, 7-10, 6-11, 5-12 and 4-13 games are 1.9, 1.5, 1.5, 1.7 and 1.0 respectively. So, I chose the number of upsets in each of those and then basically picked the most likely ones. It doesn't make much if you look at Ken Pom, Ed Fang, 538, or Sagarin margins. They basically have the same order.
I feel like my bracket is going to blow up in the first two rounds this year because I successfully picked the championship game last year (with Michigan winning... jkfjhflasdfq). Still, I have Michigan losing this year to UVA. Florida and Wiscy in the other two spots. My gut and brain says that Florida will likely be the only one left standing come the actual Final Four, but we'll see what happens I suppose.
Also, I have oh*o losing to the flyers and staee losing to cincy. And no seed lower than a 3 in the Elite 8, which is actually really weird for me.