The Juice Blog’s Annual NCAA Tourney Preview

Let me begin by mentioning that no one had a right to truly feel cheated by the selection committee. Syracuse played their typical weak non-conference schedule and then made it worse by losing to almost every decent team out of conference they faced. The Big East was down from last season. Quit your whining Boeheim.

Drexel had the opposite type of season than Syracuse, playing great on the road, when out of conference, but then finished 4th in the CAA. While the CAA is pretty solid at the top, you can’t finish 4th in that league and expect to make the tourney.

Air Force choked down the stretch. Kansas State was another playing a really soft non-conference schedule. On the surface, it appears like the Missouri Valley was hosed, just getting only 2 teams in. The problem was that the league was solid from top to bottom and the bracket busters games were really damaging, with Missouri State, Creighton, Northern Iowa, and Wichita State all losing home games.

Yes, Arkansas, Illinois, and Stanford could just as well be out of the tourney, but they are no less deserving than the 8 teams who missed out. There were about 12 at-large teams trying to fit the last 4 spots. The answer is not to add more teams to the tourney. None of these teams are going to win more than 1 game this year, so let’s focus on the quality.

 

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Generally I do well in the tourney picking lower seeds to beat Pac-10 teams. West Coast basketball is generally softer in style, which allows the teams that play top-notch defense to slow the tempo down and win. Sure there have been exceptions, but overall this has been the case. Not in 2007, though. Ben Howland and Tim Floyd have brought toughness to their respective teams. Playing against Washington State helps the Pac-10 teams in the tourney, as the Dick Bennett-style of basketball is usually what trips up the league during March Madness.

The SEC is really hard for me to figure, as LSU and Alabama appeared like Sweet 16 teams before the year, but didn’t even make the tourney. In the Big 10, it was a year where Ohio State and Wisconsin were the only 2 teams that could win on the road. The Big East was overrated, with Georgetown being the only top-notch team. The depth of the ACC is impressive, but I’m not sure any of them can make the Final 4. It’s hard to say that any conference had 3 top teams as good as Kansas, Texas A&M, and Texas, but the rest of the league was as bad as I can ever remember it.

There is more talent in college basketball this year than has been the case in a long time. The cause behind this upswing is the new NBA rule, not allowing high-schoolers to enter the draft. Having said that, I also think the Elite 8 will have no seeds below a 4 for the first time in quite awhile. Hopefully you enjoyed your George Mason, because this year looks like a chalk walk past the Sweet Sixteen.

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Top Number 1 Seed: Florida
Worst: Kansas

Top Number 2 Seed: Georgetown
Worst: Memphis

Top Number 3 Seed: Texas A&M
Worst: Pittsburgh

Top Number 4 Seed: Texas
Worst: Virginia

Top Number 5 Seed: Tennessee
Worst: Butler

Top Number 6 Seed: Duke
Worst: Vanderbilt

Top Number 7 Seed: Boston College
Worst: Nevada

Top Number 8 Seed: Marquette
Worst: Kentucky

Top Number 9 Seed: Michigan State
Worst: Xavier

Top Number 10 Seed: Creighton
Worst: Texas Tech

Top Number 11 Seed: Winthrop
Worst: Stanford

Top Number 12 Seed: Old Dominion
Worst: Long Beach State

Top Number 13 Seed: Davidson
Worst: Albany

Top Number 14 Seed: Oral Roberts
Worst: Penn

Top Number 15: North Texas
Worst: Texas A&M C.C.

Top Number 16: Eastern Kentucky
Worst: Jackson State
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Best First-Round Games

Purdue/Arizona: Wildcats are far more talented, but Purdue is the type of grind it out team that gives them fits.

Butler/Old Dominion: I live in Indy, so I have a soft-spot in my heart for the Bulldogs, but Butler was playing their best basketball 3 months ago. The Monarchs just might be the last mid-major standing after the first weekend.

Besides these 2 games, the Midwest region has other match-ups that could provide upsets with Miami (OH), Davidson, Winthrop, and Georgia Tech all capable of advancing against the higher seed. Only the top 2 seeds in this region look to be locks.

The West is the weakest of the 4 regions, with Kansas and UCLA looking to be a giant step above the other teams. Besides ODU and Butler, the other 12 over 5 that I think has a good chance of happening is Illinois over Virginia Tech, as Bruce Weber is one of the best when he has this much time to prepare. Kentucky/Villanova is the battle between 2 teams that have disappointed for the latter half of the season.

Marquette/Michigan State: The best first-round game, as both teams use very similar systems. While Crean is really good, Izzo is right there with Coach K and Jim Calhoun in knowing how to build a team for NCAA success. Defensive FG percentage is the most underrated stat to judge how a team will do during March Madness. The Spartans are generally right at the top of this category.

Vanderbilt/George Washington: The Commodores are the most over-seeded team in the whole tourney. They were more like an 11, as I think all the teams seeded 10 or higher would beat them. While GW isn’t as strong as last year, I rate them even with Vandy.

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I will give my more extensive review after the games tip-off on Thursday. This year, the prolific Bob Timmerman has created a 2007 NCAA pool . Check it out.

17 thoughts on “The Juice Blog’s Annual NCAA Tourney Preview

  1. 1.  Nevada the WORST no. 7? Yikes. In my view they’re the best one by a mile.

    IMO the best first-round matchup is Stanford vs. Louisville in Kentucky. I don’t think the Cardinal are the worst #11 either.

    Say what you will about the Big 12’s quality, but that conference produced more exciting league games this year than the rest of the BCS conferences combined. It really was stunning to watch.

  2. 2.  I agree about the 7 seeds being off. Boston College seems to finally be seeing the affects of the Williams suspension, they have been playing terrible ball recently. In fact, I’d say that the only reason I’ve picked them to even win their first round game is because Texas Tech is definately the worst 10 seed.

  3. 3.  Nevada the worst #7? Wow. They may only have one true star, but he’s pretty damn good.

    I agree re: Stanford. They let a 13 point lead against USC disappear and lost in OT or they are seeded higher. Tough draw against Louisville – I think that is the best game of the 1st round.

    Arizona is struggling but I can’t say I’ve seen Purdue play. I try to block anything (everything) from my viewing out of the Big 10 if it’s not OSU or Wisc.

    Anybody think Winthrop knocks off ND? They certainly played tough games @ UNC, @MD, @A&M and @Wisc – only the A&M game wasn’t close.

  4. 4.  I can’t imagine a scenario under which Miami of Ohio beats Oregon, short of several Oregon players getting hurt or tossed.

    Other than that, we pretty much agree, other than I think Nevada is better than you do, and I doubt that Duke is a legitimate #6 and you think they’re the best one. Should be interesting, anyway.

    I have Texas A&M in the Final Four, for what it’s worth. Also, UCLA is better than Kansas.

  5. 5.  I don’t like mid-majors in the tourney who are already ranked. (See Butler as well) When they go into these games they are not underlooked. This has happened to Gonzaga over the past few seasons, losing to lower seeded teams. Nevada has lost to Utah State twice in March. This is the same Utah State team which lost to Michigan by 10 last night.

    I saw one of the guys on CSTV actually pick Nevada to make the Final 4. We will see. Actually, Fazekas has only been the second best player on the team the past month.

    I’m smelling some West Coast bias going on here. Just like ESPN does the East Coast bias, you Dodger Thoughts guys have to be careful about not getting too far out in front on this one. This is the best Pac-10 group I can remember, but Stanford and Arizona might not even be in the tourney, if California and Washington hadn’t of dealt with injuries.

  6. 6.  I like Oregon to win, but traditionally, the MAC has beaten or given major scares to major conferences. Now if Akron would have won, they would have been a scary team. They are made up of a some of Lebron James teammates in HS and are really good. Lost on a freakish buzzer beater to Miami (OH), which is still a questionable call, as the time clock was as close as it gets.

  7. 7.  Not only is Long misguided on politics/social issues, he’s positively cracked when it comes to NCAA hoops.

    Only two teams had six victories against top 25 teams this year: UCLA and Vanderbilt.

    Florida got props for being the first team to beat Kentucky 6 in a row. Vanderbilt’s beaten UK the last 5 times in a row.

    Let’s not forget Vanderbilt took out Long’s “top #1 seed” Florida by 13 points a few weeks ago. This was when CW had Florida going undefeated in the SEC.

    Vanderbilt has SEC player of the year Derrick Byars (voted by the coaches, not the idiotic media)

    Other than that, they suck.

    Do a little more research next time, Long.

  8. 8.  Jason O. Like your spirit.

    Everything you state is right, but I would put some perspective on these wins. Ranked teams Alabama and LSU were 2 huge disappointments in 2007. Georgia Tech didn’t really catch fire until the end of the year. This is the worst Kentucky team in a long time.

    Tennnesse had few wins on the road, but I still think Vandy’s 1 point win is quality. The Florida victory is why the Commodores are seeded 6th. I didn’t see the game, but I can’t take that away from them.

    Having a libertarian view on spending and most social issues makes me a crackpot, I know. What can I say, I don’t believe in mortgaging our fiscal future to load the pockets of special interest groups. I was against going in pretty much unilaterally into Iraq, because I thought it was too expensive and would make us the complete focus for future terrorists.

    Wow, I am Nuts.

    I will take the Vandy attack over the political one.

  9. 9.  Actually, Long, I said you were only misguided on politics but cracked in your comments re: Vandy.

    I agree with you on entitlement spending, but you and I both know that with the current culture in DC the whole f***ing government will have to go bankrupt in 20 years for anything to be done about it.

    It will be impossible, i.e., not possible, to have meaningful medicare reform (this will be the #1 drain on the treasury in 20 years) with the current political climate.

    I disagree with you on Iraq, but I had misgivings before the invasion on its effect on the 180 year old international system.

    The Vandy disrespect? Outrageous.

  10. 10.  Being an ‘SC grad I’m a Pac 10 homer (sans UCLA) and an ‘SC fatalist. I’m not sure we even beat Arkansas… But Stanford is real good depending on the matchup. I think they push Louisville. It’s a tough matchup for them – even the 6-11 matchup with Notre Dame would have been better.

    Arizona is absolutely struggling as they can’t stop 3 girls and a dog from putting up 80 – but like I said, I haven’t seen Purdue once. Oregon was just ridiculous in the Pac 10 tourney – but teams that depend on the outside shot are so hot/cold that it’s hard to project them.

    I still think ND goes down (and that’s not a bias against ND, we only hate them in football).

    I couldn’t put my finger on Wazzu all year. Strange team. Great defense, really only one scorer and booooring basketball.

    FWIW, while everyone is piling on Texas, a guy I know in Vegas is loading up on NMSt +8 v. Texas and some on the m/l at +320. (Information solely provided for entertainment purposes).

  11. 11.  While I’m a dodgerthoughts poster, I’d have to say that my opinion of BC as the worst 7th seed has nothing to do with West Coast bias. First of all, I haven’t lived near the West Coast in almost 20 years, also, I only saw 10 games this year involving any teams west of Texas. I’ve seen BC, and they are not a good team right now, how in the world do you make them the best 7 seed based on what they’ve done lately without Williams?

  12. 12.  Penarol- I hear you on BC, but the No. 7’s aren’t really that strong. I think the 8 and 9 seeds are better overall. I do like BC’s experience.

  13. 13.  I heard that Nevada had one of their better players injured in the conference tourney. Is that not the case?

  14. 14.  A little Live Blogging here. Unless Stanford can outscore the Ville by 30 points from this point on….uh, well I was right on about Palo Alto.

  15. 15.  C’mon now, Scott. If you’re going to live blog your wins you have to live blog your losses. Unless of course Butler gets outscored by 15 in the final minute!

    Just busting your balls. I knew Lou was a bad matchup for the Tree but that was a pathetic performance.

    I disagree strongly with you on Vandy but I guess we’ll see.

  16. 16.  Live blogging part 2. I was as far off on Vandy, as I was right on Stanford. ODU was ODiUs. Actually, Butler didn’t even play well until the last 10 minutes. Really a bad b-ball game to watch.

    Balls completely exposed here online. Bust away.

  17. 17.  Nah, it’s all part of it…

    I do agree with your assesment of Memphis. I think they are ripe for an early exit, maybe Rd 2. That schedule they played was pathetic.

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