Managing the madness
With February coming to an end and winter not quite over, the Paly campus is engulfed in its annual stupor.
School is back in full swing following grueling first semester finals, and the perennial third quarter slump has come out in full force. With a demanding six straight weeks of school, people begin to get the conception that the slump is caused by a lack of breaks. However, this couldn’t be more off target.
With the end of the NFL and college football seasons there is a two month lull before the MLB season begins. Consequently, weekends have become meaningless black holes of time now during which students cannot relax by indulging in football or baseball. Some might argue that this is prime time for the NBA. However, with “Linsanity” fading, the NBA, which is loaded with more premadonnas than a high school locker room, is back, being the one man circus act that it was before.
Nevertheless, as the calendar turns to March, outlooks become a little brighter. College basketball conference championships come to an end and the second best Sunday of the year arrives (Super Bowl Sunday being the best). “Selection Sunday,” as it has been dubbed, is the day that the the field of 68 tournament teams is selected. The teams that are lucky enough to get an invite to the “Big Dance” are then seeded and the infamous bracket is created. Teams are seeded from 1-16 in four different regional groups, South, West, Midwest and East. The winners of each region then meet together in what is known as the Final Four, which this year is in New Orleans.
Have no fear Paly… March Madness has officially arrived.
For one week school takes a back seat as shot clocks and buzzer beaters dominate our minds. Teachers suspend their “no cell phone rules,” the “NCAA March Madness Live” app becomes the most popular on iTunes and undivided attention is given to iPhones and iPod touches.
March Madness lives up to expectations every year. And the reason for this consistency is its unpredictable nature; unlike any other college powerhouse sport (such as college football and its flawed BCS system) for one week all teams, from mid-majors to majors, have an equal shot at cutting down the nets.
ESPN employs a small army of “experts” and “analysts” whose only role is to predict outcomes and upsets. However, if I have learned one thing over the years it’s that these guys are equally skilled at predicting the outcomes as I am. Therefore I am offering up my infinite wisdom and knowledge to those who are suffering “bracket block.” So before you, and the millions of others fill out your bracket (or brackets if you are like me), take a look at my suggestions.
First off let’s talk Final Four. The Final Four is where the winner of each region meet to decide which one of them is the best team in the nation. Theoretically if the committee was correct all four number one seeds would meet in the Final Four. However, this has only happened once history, in 2008. It is understandable that when filling out a bracket people often feel anxiety towards putting the four number one seeds in their Final Four. Albeit this is risky there is a good chance this year it could happen again. Number one seeds are there because they are good basketball teams. They have won a lot of games in hard conferences and are poised to make a deep run in the tourney. This year especially, Syracuse, University of North Carolina (UNC), Kentucky and Michigan State are all dominant forces not to be reckoned with. Do not be afraid to put all four number one seeds in your Final Four! It’s not a bad decision.
Since the bracket is divided into geographical regions I will now break down each region.
Kentucky is the no. one seed in the South and the first overall seed in the tourney. Kentucky is a long team that will be a matchup nightmare for any team that is unlucky enough to draw them. That being said Kentucky will have a hard time getting through to the Final Four. Duke and Indiana are both formidable opponents and Indiana has already beaten Kentucky once.
Not to mention Baylor is also in this region. The Bears have the length to match Kentucky namely Anthony Davis (otherwise known as the “big unibrow”) and have a shot at making a run to the Final Four.
After last years success I am willing to put my confidence in VCU to pull off the classic 12-5 upset over Wichita State. They have the experience and zeal to make a run at least to the Sweet 16 and possibly farther. Although they are not as much of a sleeper as they were last year, they deserve more respect than they got.
In contrast to how up in the air the South is, the West is much more polarized. Michigan State is the number one seed and the undisputed big fish in this section of the bracket. Fresh off a Big-10 Championship victory over rival Ohio State, MSU is full of momentum going into the tourney. They are firing on all cylinders and will be quite the force to be reckoned with. When the madness ensues Missouri (the two seed), while they did win the Big-12 title over the aforementioned Bears, will not have the fire power to overcome Michigan State’s consistent attack.
Although I feel the winner is relatively easy to pick there will be other upsets in earlier rounds in this region. Marquette and Florida, the three and seven seeds respectively, practice an up tempo style dominated by quick guards and shifty play. Both of these teams have a shot at knocking of the Tigers before they even get to the Elite Eight.
Murray State is the sixth seed in the West but deserved higher. They rank in the top 50 in both points per game and shooting percentage. The Racers only have one loss on the season and are team that knows how to win. Look for Isaiah Canaan and company to go as far as the Elite Eight in the tournament.
UNC is the number one seed and will make its way flawlessly into the Elite Eight. They have an unprecedented post presence in Tyler Zeller. Despite losing the ACC championship to FSU the Heels are still a one seed and my pick for going to the Final Four out of this region.
However, this region is still relatively up for grabs. Kansas and Georgetown are both perennial power houses coming in with the second and third seeds respectively. I see Georgetown upsetting Kansas and earning themselves a spot in the Elite Eight against UNC. Here UNC will assert their dominance and swiftly pick apart the starstruck Hoyas.
The 13-4 match-up presents an interesting decision. The University of Michigan has played spotty at best this year and is not as dominant as its’ high seed suggests. Ohio tied for first in its conference and beat Akron in the final game of its season. They have plenty of talent in D.J. Cooper and Walter Offutt to upset Michigan in the first round and move on.
From what I can tell this region is up in the air. Syracuse is the first seed and a national no. one rank for most of the season. The Orange had unprecedented depth until their 7’ 255 pound power forward, Fab Melo, was pronounced ineligible for the tournament. This will wound the team but not dehabilitate them. However, the bad news is, ‘Cuse had two losses on the season, both coming in games that Melo did not play in. He was their chief rebounder and shot alterer. Without him other players need to step up in the paint and run a more fast paced, guard dominated game. The team ranked 125th in rebounding this year and 39th in points per game. Let’s hope its 2-3 zone is as stifling as ever or it could be yet another disappointing tournament for Syracuse this year.
Other parts of this bracket will likely cause quite a stir as well. With the recent popularity surrounding Paly grad, Jeremy Lin and the resurgence of the Harvard basketball program, it might seem smart to put your faith in the Ivy League champs. However, there is a reason Harvard has produced more presidents (8) than NBA players (3)… They are not that good. Do not rest the fate of your bracket on the shoulders of Harvard’s mighty basketball players. Vanderbilt, as the five seed, will beat Harvard and then keep going to the Sweet Sixteen where they will present Syracuse with a challenge. Vanderbilt’s last game was a victory over mighty Kentucky in the SEC Championship Game proving the Commodores have the ability to beat a number one seed.
Ohio State is comfortably situated in the bracket as the two seed. In my opinion they are the best two seed in all the land and will make the Elite Eight to create a power packed match-up with Syracuse. With this match-up my only advise can be flip a coin and look for divine intervention, or lintervention, because it’s more up in the air than a King Kong versus Godzilla match up (I’d put my money on King Kong though, aka Ohio State).
If you followed my expert analysis your final four should contain, Baylor, Michigan State, UNC and Ohio State. This is where things begin to get hairy and the games become next to impossible to predict.
Last year the University of Connecticut won the Big East tournament and used that momentum to breeze though the bracket and win the NCAA championship. I see Michigan State following suit in much the same way. The Spartans are hot off a huge Big-10 tournament victory over the Buckeyes and will defeat their final four match up and enter the championship game. Similarly UNC, although they lost the ACC final to FSU, defeated their hated rival Duke by more than ten points late in the regular season. They have more confidence than Barack Obama going into the 2012 election. This confidence will earn them a spot in the championship game.
The hard part is over; Now all we have to do is predict a winner. Michigan State will win the game and take home the title. However the bracket becomes ever more difficult when you have to predict the score of the championship game. For this I have devised two full proof equations that will give you the final score. For the first number, take your favorite single digit number and add 50. Then add the number of classes you take and that will be one score. For the other score take the sum of the average of your parents ages and the average of the numbers in your address. Which ever number is higher will be the score of the winning team.
Well Paly, I hope my bracketology expertise helped clear up the mangled mess that is the NCAA March Madness bracket. Good luck in your bracket pools and please do not come looking for me to reimburse you when your bracket loses… I have zero liability.