Welcome to G:TB’s First Annual Regional Bracket Wager. TJ, Whitney, Dennis, and I were each assigned a region to break down in our usual uninformed style. TJ’s handicapped by his complete lack of attention to detail - he'll spend much more time trying to find a suitable picture for his entry than on picking the games. Dennis’ wife just had a baby and he’s trying to figure out how he can work his kid’s name into every game capsule (hint: think Miles Simon), Whitney is going to spend way too much time trying to derive clever pop cultural associations for each school, and I’m not really all that bright.
The least successful contestant will purchase lunch for all other contestants at an eatery chosen by the most successful contestant. Points will be awarded based on choosing winners correctly with a risk/reward nod given to successful underdog selection. The point system follows:
Round # 1: 1 point + seed# = score (so, if the 8 seed is correctly selected as the winner of the 8/9 game, the contestant receives 9 points for that game. All games are tallied and the contestant with the highest total score wins. More importantly, the contestant with the lowest total score loses.)
Round # 2: 4 points + seed# = score
Round # 3: 8 points + seed# = score
Round # 4: 16 points + seed# = score
The G:TB Height Laser was reconfigured to generate random regional assignments, and I drew the East. Predictions follow, with all statistical information stolen from Ken Pomeroy’s awesome college basketball site. Efficiency and tempo numbers represent rankings among all 336 Division I teams.
Offensive Efficiency: 2
Defensive Efficiency: 2
Tempo (Average Number of Possessions/Game): 9 (Very High)
16) Eastern Kentucky
Offensive Efficiency: 211
Defensive Efficiency: 179
Tempo: 312 (Very Low)
In the history of the NCAA Tournament as a 64-team event, no 1 seed has fallen to a 16. Not earthshaking analysis here, but it’s not gonna happen in this game. Carolina’s too athletic, too deep, and playing too well right now for this one even to be close. The Colonels will try to take the air out of the ball and get open looks from beyond the arc, but they’ll succumb to Carolina’s vastly superior weaponry. Brandan Wright will have at least 2 breathtaking throwdowns, and UNC will be up by 15+ at halftime, and by 30 when the final buzzer sounds.
Line: Carolina -26.5 - Usually hate to give that many, but the Heels will cover easily.
Offensive Efficiency: 41
Defensive Efficiency: 28
Tempo: 90 (Above Average)
9) Michigan State
Offensive Efficiency: 42
Defensive Efficiency: 13
Tempo: 310 (Very Low)
I’m tempted to wave Marquette through because Dominic James is quicker and stronger than Drew Neitzel, but then I remember that I watched James lay a total egg against Gheorghetown and witnessed Neitzel as the second coming of Gerry McNamara against Wisconsin and Indiana. Jerel McNeal is back for Marquette to play defensive stopper on Neitzel after missing the Big East tourney – that matchup will be key. The teams will display contrasting styles, as the Spartans look to stretch the game out with a controlled offense in comparison to the Golden Eagles’ more aggressive tendencies. Though both events happened years ago, we still harbor residual anger at Marquette for getting rid of those killer patchwork uniforms and ditching the Warriors moniker in the name of political correctness. G:TB says that the master handles his apprentice as Tom Izzo’s Spartans move on at Tom Crean’s expense.
Line: Marquette -1.5 – MSU wins outright.
Offensive Efficiency: 57
Defensive Efficiency: 35
Tempo: 121 (Slightly Above Average)
Offensive Efficiency: 64
Defensive Efficiency: 20
Tempo: 133 (Slightly Above Average)
Let’s state for the record that G:TB deplores the inclusion of Arkansas in this tournament, and submits this pick under protest. We’re backing USC purely on principle, and will do so even if the Trojans’ team plane drops into the Pacific Ocean while traveling to lovely Spokane. That said, this is a matchup of two evenly matched squads that are more than capable on the defensive end of the floor.
Line: USC -1.5. Trojans cover and the horse stomps on Stan Heath just to make a point.
Offensive Efficiency: 4
Defensive Efficiency: 59
Tempo: 99 (Above Average)
13) New Mexico State
Offensive Efficiency: 99
Defensive Efficiency: 115
Tempo: 42 (High)
I could dig deep into the analysis on this one, but it’s really pretty simple. The Aggies and Reggie Theus’ post-Hang Time resurrection are a nice story, but Texas has Kevin Durant. Point, and win, Texas.
Line: Texas -9. Lay the lumber, Danny.
Offensive Efficiency: 22
Defensive Efficiency: 81
Tempo: 128 (Slightly Above Average)
11) Gheorghe Washington
Offensive Efficiency: 121
Defensive Efficiency: 58
Tempo: 123 (Slightly Above Average)
Like most of the G:TB gang (think Seinfeld’s Van Buren Boys, only less Jewish), I think very little of the Atlantic 10, and was prepared to hold my nose and go with Vandy here. But a little bit of nose-to-the-grindstone analysis (I clicked on a hyperlink) revealed that Vanderbilt’s last 2 games have been…losses to G:TB nemesis Arkansas. Applying the transitive property of G:TB Sporting Scorn, and considering the fact that the hometown Colonials have won 8 straight games and possess a significant edge in terms of athleticism, we’re going with GW.
Vandy -3.5 – hard to play with a line this small (cue rimshot), but the instinct gambler in G:TB says take the points and go with the Colonials in this close one. Point of relevant information: the instinct gambler in G:TB is several thousand dollars shy of break-even over his career.
3) Washington State
Offensive Efficiency: 61
Defensive Efficiency: 22
Tempo: 322 (Very Low)
14) Oral Roberts
Offensive Efficiency: 115
Defensive Efficiency: 91
Tempo: 139 (Slightly Above Average)
Wazzu’s one of those happy-to-be-here high seeds, unaccustomed to their lofty perch. ORU knocked off Kansas early this season and has some legit game. The Golden Eagles’ Caleb Green is better than any of WSU’s big men by a long-shot. Call it a hunch, but G:TB likes God’s Chosen Team here – and if you don’t root for them, a 700-foot statue of the school’s founder and namesake will haunt you until you repent.
Line: WSU -6.5 – G:TB’s feeling very Christ-like in this matchup, giving until it hurts. And ducking lightning bolts.
7) Boston College
Offensive Efficiency: 11
Defensive Efficiency: 92
Tempo: 246 (Below Average)
10) Texas Tech
Offensive Efficiency: 58
Defensive Efficiency: 82
Tempo: 206 (Below Average)
This is a crap game, and will most likely be crap to watch, and the result won’t matter, as the winner will be drilled in the 2nd round. Boston College has been the very definition of mediocre since Sean Williams was lost for the season to suspension in January. Also, Al Skinner has one of college basketball’s most bizarre hairlines – Lou Henson makes fun of him. Texas Tech’s not been particularly consistent themselves, winning 4 straight to effectively clinch a tournament berth before laying an egg against Kansas State in the Big 12 tourney. BC’s Jared Dudley is a legitimate player with inside/outside skills, but G:TB is following the hoary dictum (be real careful with that phrase) assigned to these games and choosing quality guards over quality big men. Bob Knight and the Red Raiders move on in a deliberate affair.
Line: BC -3. Knowing the BC student body’s history of loose interpretations of Federal gambling statutes, G:TB is taking this game off the books.
Offensive Efficiency: 1
Defensive Efficiency: 17
Tempo: 327 (Very Low)
Offensive Efficiency: 141
Defensive Efficiency: 119
Tempo: 132 (Above Average)
The nation’s hottest team and the most efficient offense in the land against…well, against the very definition of bracket fodder. I think Belmont’s located in Nashville, TN, but it doesn’t really matter. By the time I look it up, they’ll be roadkill.
Line: GU -16.5 – The Hoyas just beat Pitt by 23. I think the Panthers are slightly better than Belmont (though not if Aaron Gray continues his John Leone impression – there’s an inside joke for maybe 2 or 3 people).
1) UNC vs. 9) Michigan State
These 2 teams thought they’d be matching up in the 2nd round last year, before Jim Larranaga’s boys made Billy Packer’s brain explode. This is a bit of a trap game for the Tar Heels, as they’ll almost certainly be looking ahead to a potential Sweet 16 matchup with Texas. Michigan State will try to control tempo, and have more success than Eastern Kentucky – they may even get out to a 10-12 point lead – but as in round 1, Carolina’s too deep and too fast for a team that’s used to the Big 10’s more limited athleticism. This is a dream game for Tyler Hansbrough – he gets to bang inside with guys who are willing to trade paint. I think he’ll get more ornery as the game goes on. Prepare to be either really annoyed with him or really fired up by the end of the contest, depending on your tolerance for Psycho-T.
5) USC vs. 4) Texas
In the lesser-touted rematch between two schools with recent college football national championship experience, Texas rubs Southern Cal’s nose in it one more time. My only real concern is where Matthew McConaghey plans to score chicks in Spokane – I don’t think John Stockton’s dad’s bar is the kind of place that Wooderson likes.
11) Gheorghe Washington vs. 14) Oral Roberts
In all honesty, this subregional is one of the lamest I can remember, with weak 3 and 6 seeds and a sketchy 11. Though I’m going the semi-cautious route and picking GW to stretch its winning streak to 10, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least to see ORU sneak out of here and be lauded as “This Year’s Gheorghe Mason”. (Note: If that happens, I’ll be petitioning for partial credit in our wager.)
10) Texas Tech vs. 2) Gheorghetown
The Red Raiders have a chance if they can unsettle the suspect Hoya guards, as Jarrius Jackson will be the best perimeter player on the court. In the end, though, Gheorghetown’s got too much of what counts: size, discipline, teamwork, patience, and Jeff Green.
East Rutherford, NJ
1) UNC vs. 4) Texas
This may well be the tournament’s most exciting game, with two young, up-tempo, extremely athletic squads matching up. Texas’ inability to close out good teams concerns me considerably, as does the Longhorns’ lack of quality interior depth. Sometimes, though, at this stage in the tournament, players of destiny step up and make their bones. Kevin Durant may be the best college player I’ve ever seen (I say “may” as I hesitate to make sweeping generalizations of that nature because the alcohol has taken many of the brain cells devoted to memory). On a hunch, a whim, a flyer, I’m going with Texas.
11) Gheorghe Washington vs. 2) Gheorghetown
I swear to Oral Roberts that I didn’t plan this as a nod to local rooting interests. The fairytale ends for the Colonials, and it doesn’t end pretty. GW’s speed may negate Roy Hibbert slightly, but they have no answers for the Hoyas' offense and rebounding.
4) Texas vs. 2) Gheorghetown
I’ve watched a whole mess of college basketball this year, and especially over the past few weeks, and nobody’s measured up to the Hoyas in terms of teamwork, execution, and poise. That’s not changing in the Regional Final as JT3’s boys put together another workmanlike effort to hold off the Flying Durants.