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Trying to predict the NCAA Tournament bracket is a bit of a fool's errand, so I'm going to try to help you out (as if I knew any better). I'm going to take a deeper look at the potential tournament matchups of each of the local teams and try to predict how far they will advance. Let's take a look at the Rams of VCU.
VCU was one of if not the most controversial inclusions in the NCAA Tournament field this year. When pundits wanted to express their outrage over Virginia Tech and Colorado not making the field, they chose VCU as the team to take out their anger on. There's no denying that the Rams are among the least talented teams in the field, so will they be able to justify their inclusion?
In a word, no. Even if they win the play-in game against USC, that won't earn them very many brownie points because people (including myself) tend to discount those games. This is the first year that a play-in game will decide a seed other than 16th, so it will be interesting to see how that is handled, but I still don't think a Rams win would change people's minds about their inclusion in the field.
A win in the next round probably would, but I don't think that VCU, or even USC if they advance for that matter, have a very good chance against Georgetown. I don't think VCU gets any further than the play-in game, and they definitely won't beat Georgetown. And when they lose, you'll hear the talking head resume their Va Tech and Colorado talk, so look forward to that.
Trying to predict the NCAA Tournament bracket is a bit of a fool's errand, so I'm going to try to help you out (as if I knew any better). I'm going to take a deeper look at the potential tournament matchups of each of the local teams and try to predict how far they will advance. Let's take a look at the Spiders of Richmond.
We all know about 12-5 matchups in the NCAA Tournament. Even though they are pretty far apart in the seeding, there is at least one every year. For some reason, the five seeds are never as strong as their seeding would indicate, and the 12 seeds are always stronger. Your bracket isn't complete until you pick at least one upset. Can Richmond be that team?
I believe they can. I don't have a ton of faith in Vanderbilt, and I'm not sure how they got seeded at five. It seems like they were an above average team in the SEC (which is not a terrific conference) all season long, and didn't have a spectacular win to speak of. A five seed would indicate that they are one of the top-20 teams in the Country, and if they are ranked there, I don't think that they are. So I actually like Richmond to advance here.
In the next round they would face the winner of Louisville and Morehead St., and I'm pretty sure that is going to be Louisville. Even though they are only one seed higher than Vanderbilt, I think they are the better team by a pretty large margin. If Richmond advances to the second round and the Cardinals are there waiting for them, I don't think they get any further.
Trying to predict the NCAA Tournament bracket is a bit of a fool's errand, so I'm going to try to help you out (as if I knew any better). I'm going to take a deeper look at the potential tournament matchups of each of the local teams and try to predict how far they will advance. Let's take a look at the Patriots of George Mason.
George Mason is the eighth seed in the East Region and faces a bit of enigma in ninth seeded Villanova in the first round. Villanova was a top-25 team for most of the year, but they fell off the map towards the end of the year. They looked really bad at the end of the year and got beat by an even worse USF in the Big East Tournament. USF!. They haven't been playing like they are capable of, but that certainly doesn't mean that they are a team to take lightly.
I can see Villanova responding to their late season swoon in two ways. They can either come out like the team we expected them to be and be a force in the tournament, or they can continue their disappointing slide and lay down in the first round. I think that George Mason is good enough to beat them no matter how they come out. It won't be easy if they are playing well, but I like Mason in this one.
Unfortunately, I stop liking Mason immediately thereafter. The worst part about being an eight seed isn't that you have to play "in theory" the hardest lower seeded team in your region' it's that even if you do advance you have to take on the top seed in the next round. In Mason's case, that's the Tournament's overall No. 1 seed Ohio St. Even if they beat Villanova, I can't imagine them being very competitive against the Buckeyes.
Trying to predict the NCAA Tournament bracket is a bit of a fool's errand, so I'm going to try to help you out (as if I knew any better). I'm going to take a deeper look at the potential tournament matchups of each of the local teams and try to predict how far they will advance. First up, the highest seeded local team, the Georgetown Hoyas.
Keep in mind that everything I'm about to say is contingent on Chris Wright returning to the Hoya lineup and playing effectively. Everything we have heard suggests that will be the case. If he is not, however, that makes it a lot less likely that they will advance very far at all.
The Hoyas are the No. 6 seed in the Southwest regional. In the first round, they face the winner of the USC/VCU play-in game. Obviously, it's hard to predict the results of a game when you don't know the opponent, but I think the Hoyas will win this one no matter who they are playing.
If they advance Georgetown will face the winner of Purdue and St. Peter's, which I think is safe to assume will be Purdue. I happen to really like Purdue in this tournament and think that they will go pretty far when it's all said and done. But Georgetown certainly has the talent to get past them if they are playing their best. If this matchup were to happen, I would pick Purdue to advance, ending the Hoya season.
But just for fun, let's see what would lie ahead for them if they were able to beat the Boilermakers. Realistically, they could face any one of Notre Dame, Texas A&M or Florida St. in the Sweet 16. I think Notre Dame is the only team they wouldn't beat, and I'm not so sure they couldn't beat the Irish if they were right. I think they would have an easier time winning in this round than they will in the second round, actually.
We'll stop speculating there because I just don't think that Georgetown is good enough to make it past the elite eight, even under ideal circumstances. In fact, I'd be surprised if they made it there. They have the talent to advance pretty far in the tournament, but realistically, I don't think they make it past the second round.
The day of bracket reckoning in the 2011 NCAA Tournament is very nearly upon us. I hope you're ready to lose all of your final four teams by the end of the first round. In the hopes of avoiding that fate, we're going to try to pick every tournament game. Let's take a look at the West Regional.
1 Duke Vs.
16 Hampton: I have a rule when I'm filling out a bracket to eliminate Duke as early as I can justify it to myself. Even I can't take them out here. It pains me to put them through in any round, but I think Duke is the pretty clearly winner of this game.
8 Michigan Vs.
9 Tennessee: I'm not really sure how Michigan earned an eight seed in this tournament. I can't think of one impressive win they've had this year, or even a time when they have demanded my attention. Tennessee meanwhile, has a pretty good group of talent and should be able to outrun the Wolverines. I like Tennessee in this game, and I hesitate to even call it an upset. 5 Arizona Vs. 12 Memphis: This is one of the juicier matchups in the first round. Memphis coach Josh Pastner used to play and coach for the Wildcats, and Memphis has plenty of talent to pull off a first round upset. We know that there is going to be some 5/12 upsets, there always are. I think this might be one of them.
4 Texas Vs.
13 Oakland: Texas probably should have been a lot higher than a four seed, and they are pretty bummed about it. There are two reactions we usually see from this. They can either come out with their hair on fire and burn through the tournament, or they can just lay down in the first round. I'm going to choose the former. 6 Cincinnati Vs. 11 Missouri: Frankly, I was a little surprised when I saw that Missouri only got an 11 seed in this field. I remember them being a very good team early in the yearthat was ranked at one point. They might not be that good at this point, but talent doesn't just disappear. I also don't have a ton of faith in Cincy, and I'm not sure they deserve the sixth seed. I like the Tigers here.
3 UConn Vs.
14 Bucknell: Full disclosure, I am from Connecticut and am a big fan of the Huskies. But I don't think any of my bias came into play when picking this game. Kemba Walker is just too good, and I'm not even sure Bucknell would have a chance if they were playing the rest of the Huskies without him. that's how much of a talent disparity there is between these two teams.
7 Temple Vs.
10 Penn St.: Talor Battle is a pretty solid player, but I don't think he has enough pieces around him for the Nittany Lions to pull off this upset. Temple is one of those hard nosed, defensive oriented teams that always seems to do well in the Tournament. And by well, I mean at least win their first round game.
2 San Diego St. Vs.
15 No. Colorado: San Diego St. has shown all year that they are capable of playing with anyone in the Country, and it is going to be interesting to see how they hold up as the tournament goes on. Luckily, I think we'll have that opportunity, because I don't envision them having too much trouble in this game.
The day of bracket reckoning in the 2011 NCAA Tournament is very nearly upon us. I hope you're ready to lose all of your final four teams by the end of the first round. In the hopes of avoiding that fate, we're going to try to pick every tournament game. Up first, the East regional.
1 Ohio St. Vs.
16 UTSA/Alabama St.: This one is kind of a no-brainer, right? We're still waiting for the first No.1 seed to lose to a 16 in the first round, and I don't think that it will be happening in this particular contest. Ohio St. is just too strong.
8 George Mason Vs.
9 Villanova: On paper, Villanova is the much more talented team. But they just strike me as a team that has completely given up. They lost to USF in the Big East Tournament, and I don't know that they'll be able to get their swag back before the tourny. I think George Mason plays hard enough to win this one.
5 West Virginia Vs.
UAB/Clemson: I don't really feel comfortable picking any team that has to win a play-in game to make the field. I don't have a ton of faith in West Virginia, but I think they are better than either of the teams they will be facing. There will be some 5/12 upsets in this tournament as there always are, but I don't think it happens here.
4 Kentucky Vs.
13 Princeton: Alright, so we're a little chalky early, but I don't think any of these picks should surprise anyone. Kentucky is young, and that will cause a lot of problems for them later in the tournament. But this early, their talent should be able to carry them. 6 Xavier Vs. 11 Marquette: Marquette is severely undersized, but they play so hard that I don't that matters against an A-10 opponent. Xavier does not have the size to exploit Marquette's weakness, and I think that they play too hard to lose this one. Yay, our first upset!
3 Syracuse Vs.
14 Indiana St.: I think Larry Bird would have to find an unused year of eligibility if the Sycamores want to have a chance against Syracuse. I'm sure the Orange have a bad taste in their mouth from their loss to UConn, and they might try to take it out on their first round opponent. I expect them to advance.
7 Washington Vs.
10 Georgia: Washington is one of my favorite teams in the tournament this year. This tournament is won by guards, and Washington has one of the best in Isiah Thomas. They don't have a ton of size, but they do a good enough job rebounding to ignite their fast break. I like the Huskies, and I don't think this is the only game they win either.
2 North Carolina Vs.
15 LIU: Thus concludes a pretty boring first regional. North Carolina didn't look great in the ACC Tournament. We saw what happened when they played a team that was able to hold onto an early lead that they got. I'm not sure they will go very far in this tournament, but they will win their first round game.
Now that the brackets are out, predictions for the 2011 NCAA Tournament are pouring in. We already went over the local teams, but I'm not sure that any of them have a good shot to advance to the Final Four in Houston. So I'll do my best to predict who will be in the final four, and which team will be cutting down the nets in Houston.
East: I love Jared Sullinger. Rarely do I count on freshmen to carry their team in the tournament, but his game is based on things that will not change from game to game. His strength and intensity aren't going anywhere. While a shooter might lose his touch from time to time, nobody is going to keep Sullinger off the boards. I think the Buckeyes can ride him all the way to the Final Four, without being challenged to greatly.
West: I'm a huge believer in the UConn Huskies after their miracle run to the Big East. They'll have a few days to rest, and a pretty favorable bracket. The NCAA Tournament is won by dominant guards, and Kemba Walker is the best player in the country when he is on. We saw how he can control a game, or five, in the Big East Tournament. Things might not get too difficult for them until the Elite Eight, and I could never pick Duke to beat a team that I think has a remote shot to beat them.
Southwest: I'm going to go with a little bit of an upset here and pick the Purdue Boilermakers. I love E'Twuan Moore, and when he is playing well, JuJuan Johnson is all but impossible to guard. I think that having two players like that can help them advance through a bracket that should provide relatively little resistance, other than Kansas who they won't have to face until the Elite 8.
Southeast: Having watched a lot of Big East games this year, I think Pitt is just too tough for everyone. They won't wow you with flashy play or anything, but they will just play their butts off and out-work you on both ends. Brad Wanamaker and Ashton Gibbs can outscore you, and they have the big guys to control the boards. I think they make it through an easy bracket pretty easily.
I like UConn over Ohio St. because of the way they play. They put a huge emphasis on getting to the free throw line, and I believe that Kemba Walker can get Jared Sullinger into foul trouble early. If that happens, this is UConn's game to lose.
I like Purdue. Like I said above, I don't think there are any teams in the country that have answers for Moore and Johnson. They might not be the best team in the country, but I think they have some of the best premier talent, and that is what helps you win in the tournament.
National Championship: Purdue 69 - UConn 63
I really want to pick UConn. I really do. But I think it's a lot to ask for them to win 11 elimination games in a row. At some point, they have to run out of gas, right? No seriously, I'm asking, because I thought they would have for sure in the Big East Tournament, and they didn't. If Alex Oriakhi can rebound like he is capable of, and Kemba Walker continues to be Kemba Walker, I think they can win it all. But I'm not sure I can count on that for six more games, so I'm going with the Boilermakers.
There are two local teams in the NCAA Tournament that aren't getting a lot of publicity, and that may be some indication of how far they are expected to advance. Here are my 2011 NCAA Tournament Predictions for Old Dominion and Hampton.
Old Dominion: ODU has a No. 9 seed and will be facing the runners-up from last year, Butler. I actually like their shot in this game because I don't think the Bulldogs are nearly as good as they were last year. I just don't think they have the size to be competitive in the tournament this year. Old Dominion does a good job rebounding, and I think that they are a particularly good matchup against Butler. I think they will advance, but then they have to play top-seeded Pittsburgh in the next round. Everything that ODU does well, Pittsburgh will be doing better. And I'm sure the Panthers will want to wash the taste of the Big East Tournament out of their mouth early. I think ODU makes it to the second round, but loses there.
Hampton: Well, just being included in the tournament field is an honor in and of itself, right? I think that is what Hampton will have to look back on, because realistically, I don't think they stand a chance to even stay competitive against Duke. Keep in mind, I will be rooting for them with all of my heart.
We'll be using this thread to compile all the 2011 NCAA Bracket Predictions into one convenient place. If anyone out there has an opinion of the Tournament, you'll be able to find it here. But before we get to any of the professional prognosticators, I'll give you my take on where the local teams are going to end up.
Georgetown: The Hoyas earned a No. 6 seed and will face the winner of the VCU/USC in the first round. I think they will advance past that game fairly easily, no matter who the opponent is. In the next game they will likely face Purdue, which will be an extremely tough test for them. They have a perimeter scoring threat in E'Twuan Moore and a big man that's hard to stop in JuJuan Johnson. There is a very real chance that their tournament run ends here. A win would mean a game against Notre Dame. Depending on how healthy Chris Wright is, I think that the Sweet Sixteen is about as far as the Hoyas get this year.
George Mason: Mason will face Villanova in the first round. The Wildcats are in a free fall right now, and were bumped from the Big East Tournament in the first round. That might be a bad thing for Mason, as it could help inspire them. But if they advance past Villanova, they will probably lose to Ohio St. in the next round.
Richmond: We all know that there are always a few 12-5 upsets every year. I think this could be one of them. I don't have a ton of faith in Vanderbilt and I think the Spiders could score an upset here. Unfortunately, I don't think that they have much of a chance against Louisville in the next round.
VCU: I have a rule in the brackets that I participate in that the first play-in games don't count. VCU could advance past USC, or they could not. I would think not, based on how unqualified they appear to be. But either way, I don't think USC advances past Georgetown in the first round.
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