Tag Archives: Elite Eight

Bracket Bustin’: East & Midwest Regions

14 Mar

For our musings on the South & West regions in this year’s bracket, head here.

East Bracket

Randall P. Floyd:

– So far the most buzz to come out of this region has been Syracuse’s loss of star Fab Melo, who’s been suspended for the tournament due to academic problems.  I had doubts about the Orangemen’s mental focus and toughness even before this, and now it’s even harder to see them getting very far in the tourney this year.  They have an easy game in the first round, but still expect to see several shots of Peeved Jim Boeheim on the bench before the second round’s over.

– Wisconsin looks to be the team most able to take advantage of Syracuse’s misfortune.  The Badgers have some tourney experience and can easily sneak into the Elite Eight or maybe even the Final Four.  Just don’t expect to have a great time watching several rounds of the grind-em-out, ‘first to 50 wins’ games that the Big Ten is so strangely proud of.

– The quicker Ohio State just goes away, the better.

– Florida State has been looking sneakily good all season, starting with strong regular-season wins over Duke and UNC and finishing up with an ACC Tournament title.  Their ranking might not make them an ‘underdog’ pick, but I still think they’ll surprise people with how far they’ll make it.  Also, they’re being coached by Bunny from The Wire, which is worth at least two tourney wins in its own right.  If I was a FSU student, the Hamsterdam Fan Shirts would have been made months ago.

– Gonzaga always seems to have at least 2-3 players who look like that shaggy kid in your homeroom or dorm hall who rocked sweatpants 24/7, played a lot of FIFA, and had a great pot hook.

–  It wouldn’t be very surprising if Vandy and Harvard had velvet pouches of gold coins kept on the scorers’ table during their game and then delivered to the winner, just to make things a little more interesting and worth their time.

– Feels like the Sweet Sixteen matchups coming out of the East will be Kansas State vs. Wisconsin, and Florida State vs. Ohio State, with the region to be decided by Wisconsin vs. Florida State.

Donovan Kess:

Syracuse.  My chips were all in with Syracuse until Fab Melo was declared ineligible. Losing Melo impacts the style of gameplay dramatically, however this will not be an easy upset for UNC Asheville who will need to take advantage of the defensive holes by transitioning fast and winning the inside game.

Wisconsin.  The alma mater of my soon to be father-in-law, the Badger’s made an impressive end of season run, which makes me hate to like them ever more. Not counting the two losses to Michigan State, this team has played some impressive basketball this season and they will need to bring it against Montana in Round 1 and then potentially against Vanderbilt in Round 2.

Cincinnati.  After going 1-1 with Syracuse for the regular season, and gaining momentum with wins against Marquette, Georgetown and Connecticut, it just feels right watching Cincinnati advance to late in the tourney. The obvious question will be if they can get past a round 2 matchup versus a rabid Florida State.

Ohio St.  With a fresh loss to Michigan State the Buckeye team is deflated, but needs to realize they played ruthless basketball all season. They are capable of maintaining a steady offense while not letting anything go on D. The big match ups include a possible round 2 versus Gonzaga.

Midwest Bracket

RPF:

–  Kansas has been a popular pick to get upset early on, based upon some of their recent tourney struggles, and Detroit is no push-over behind their scoring leader and coach’s son, Ray McCallum.  McCallum is a solid player and was even given an offer to play at Kansas, which he turned down to play for his dad.  This could make for an interesting game, but Kansas is probably just too strong.

– Not to be outdone by fellow WAC member, St. Mary’s always seems to have a few of the bushy-haired roommates of the aforementioned Zag brahs at their disposal.

– Cal was the only Pac-12 team to receive an at-large bid to the tourney this year, which is totally justified.  The Pac-12 play this year bordered on a pillow fight, and the level of excitement at the conference tournament in Staples was dismal.  You had a good chance of finding a higher level of basketball being played at the USC street courts down the street.

– North Carolina finished off the year on a good run, after being stunned by a last-minute Duke comeback in Chapel Hill.  Can the Mr. Rogers of college basketball take them to the ‘ship this year?

–  Creighton has a little bit of that ‘surprise run’ feel to them this year, but face a daunting second round challenge against UNC.  Expect a lot of ‘scrappy’ references.

– Temple seems like a bit of a surprise as a 5-seed – feels like I haven’t heard anything about them all year.  The only thing I can think of when I hear about Temple is Bill Cosby.  In fact, if the selection committee had taken a break during the bracketing process and Bill Cosby: Himself was on TV, and everyone enjoyed some laughs and Pudding Pops before getting back to their work, then I can totally understand how that moved Temple up several seeds.

DK:

UNC.  My third most watched team of the year behind Duke and Western Washington University, this year’s squad is electric with a stellar pace that is backed up by a defense that affects every team it plays. My favorite matchups include a potential Round 3 battle against Temple.

Temple.  Temple always has a respectful basketball team on the court and this year is no different. They beat Duke early in the season and have been riding that big blue wave of joy ever since. Two of their players are shooting nearly 40% behind the arc which will make the possible round 2 matchup against Michigan even more exciting.

Georgetown.  They are a great defensive team that should go far in the tournament due to the depth of their regular season schedule and the veteran status of Henry Sims and Jason Clark. The Hoyas possible matchups are challenging with possible opponents of Perdue in Round 2 and Kansas in Round 3.

Kansas.  A perennial tournament favorite that should have no problem dealing with the first two rounds of this tournament. The discipline required to win against Georgetown or Syracuse rounds will come from the lessons they learned during the early season losses to both Duke and Kentucky.

Enjoy the Madness and stop by Dan Swanky’s throughout the tourney for more straight talk and snappy sound bites.

Bracket Bustin’: South & West Regions

13 Mar

America loves any excuse to turn an event into an Event.  Particularly over the last several years, certain happenings from the worlds of sports, entertainment, or minor holidays have become cultural institutions that can serve as common talking points for anyone with a TV or access to the Internet.  You could go years without seeing a single football game, yet still obligated to attend your neighbor’s Super Bowl party and act interested for four hours.  The day after Thanksgiving is no longer just a casual day off – it’s Black Friday, a violent and fearful Event shared by millions across the country.  And the NCAA tournament is not just a collegiate sporting event.  It’s March Madness, a glorious Event in which normally mild-mannered and upstanding working folk fall all over themselves to throw wads of cash into unregulated gambling rings and shirk their professional responsibilities for two whole days.

Is this a bad thing?  No.  March Madness is American through and through, and because Dan Swanky’s loves America, we have no choice but to add our own noise to this Event.  (This is also a perfect opportunity for us to open up the new Sports Section of our fine establishment.)  Since you’re probably deep in the midst of bracket fatigue by now, we’ll eschew that tidy and constrictive type of breakdown and instead offer up some freeform thinking on each region of the tournament.  We may not be entirely objective and our feelings may color our judgment, but we’re not messing around.  So have a Schlitz and grab a pen.

South Bracket

Randall P. Floyd:

– Kentucky is the Tourney’s No. 1 overall this year, and I’d have to agree with that assessment.  Even though head coach John Calipari is the sports equivalent of a shifty used car salesman, this year he has pulled the reverse Ashley Schaeffer and has moved from pimping Kias to proudly featuring top-of-the-line BMWs on his lot.  Starting with the (arguably) Number One Player In The Country Anthony Davis, Kentucky is stacked with talent and should make it out of this region, at the very least.

– If Duke and Notre Dame both win their first games and meet in the Round of 32, we’ll be treated to the highest concentration of Pure Class the tournament has seen in a long time.  I mean, isn’t this what the Game is all about?  Just a bunch of bros taking off the polos and putting the textbooks down long enough to Play The Game The Right Way?  Count me in.

–  To be fair to Duke, (which is tough) they’ve got a great point guard in Austin Rivers, and with Coach K once again being gifted a fairly unremarkable bracket draw, they’ll probably make some noise in the tourney again this year.  Fundamentals, baby.

–  I like a Baylor-Duke matchup coming in the Sweet Sixteen, which will be an interesting game as Baylor has some exciting athleticism going up against Duke’s controlled and heady style.  The only negative going against Baylor right now is their unfortunate push to bring the Oregon-style jerseys to college basketball.  The neon green and camo unis should be quickly swept under the rug.

– Kentucky vs. Baylor in the Elite Eight because you’re only going to get a Swanky approval for Duke from my esteemed partner.

Donovan Kess: 

My favorite teams from the Coach K Region:

Kentucky.  Kentucky is a fortress of domination and a favored team to win the Tournament. They are highly consistent and the recent loss to Vanderbilt is a blessing in disguise as it will provide the boost needed to charge into the tournament energized.

Wichita State.  The experienced Shocker’s will defeat the underdog favorite VCU in Round 1, and then manage the winner of Indiana vs. New Mexico St. in Round 2. The attentiveness achieved from these two victories should set them up nicely to battle against Kentucky, which would be the greatest challenge of Wichita State’s 2012 season.

UNLV.  An early season victory against Carolina is the blueprint to follow for success. They need to find the intensity of that game and sustain it early in the tournament with the possible second and third round opponents of Baylor and Duke.

Duke.  For most Cameron Crazies, the disappointment of last week’s loss to Carolina has been replaced by the pleasure of no longer having to share a tent with 12 other people. Duke has had a great ride this season, and has seen a few of its players mature to tournament quality, including Austin Rivers and Ryan Kelly. The keys to success will be maintaining a high level of perimeter play, improving rebounding, and cutting down on the amount of turnovers. A possible second round match up against Notre Dame is about as far forward as the Blue Devil’s should be looking.

 

West Bracket

RPF:

–  Michigan State seems to come in under the radar a lot for Tourney time, but by the time the Elite Eight comes around, there they are again for yet another year.  They don’t seem like a sexy pick this year, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they make another long run.  They’re just kind of like that bland guy with a nice watch and a steady job who eventually ends up marrying the hottest woman in town.  You’re not sure how, you kind of expected it, and you can’t really be that mad about it.

–  Billikens is a delightful word to say.  I will wear it out while I can.

–  After a few seasons of Breaking Bad, it seems like New Mexico may be one of the most depressing places to live in America. I don’t know too much about the University of New Mexico team this year, but I think maybe they need this one.  So they’ve got my backing.

–  Speaking of depressing places in America, here comes BYU.  They don’t have my backing.

–  Billy Donovan continues to be the slicked-back ageless wonder of NCAA basketball.  I swear he’s been coaching Florida basketball for at least twenty years.

–  I really like Missouri this year and think they’ve got a shot to win it all.  Murray State might be a little bit of a dark horse in this region, but Missouri is athletic, deep, and confident – in addition to being fun to watch.  It looks like Marquette vs. Missouri and MSU vs. New Mexico in the Sweet Sixteen, with a solid Mizzou vs. MSU matchup deciding one of the Final Four.

DK:

Michigan State.  Tom Izzo knew his team would need tournament competition early on, so he scheduled the first games against Carolina and Duke. Although they lost both, this strategy set the bar high for a successful season and number 1 seed. The high seed should propel the Spartan’s safely to the Sweet Sixteen, where I predict they will face a strong Louisville team.

Louisville.  Fresh off a Big East championship win, Louisville is ready to do some damage and prove they can compete with the best. They have more than the required defensive skills but need to get hot behind the arc and faster with transitions if they are going to have any change against Michigan St.

Marquette.  Marquette will outplay Florida in Round 1 and then will be challenged by Murray State in Round 2, however the Golden Eagles’ high scoring Senior duo will push them to victory and a spot in this year’s Sweet Sixteen.

Missouri.  A highly competitive season netted victories versus Kansas and Baylor. With multiple players skilled at the 3-ball it is up to destiny to see how far the deep ball will take them. Faced with a difficult path to the final four, Missouri has to stay focused.

Stay tuned for the Midwest and East regional breakdowns from Swanky’s Sports.