Ill-Advised Early NCAA Tournament Prediction

I think you can tell by the photo who I’ve picked to win it all in my brackets. I don’t do a lot of variation in them in order to win different ones; I just pick one system and ride it in every one I enter.

My Final Four at this point is essentially UCLA, Tennessee, Kansas, and Stanford, with UCLA and Tennessee meeting in the title game.  Memphis doesn’t shoot free throws well enough to make it out of the South, and Rick Barnes has coached enough Texas teams and choked with them at every opportunity. This leaves an opening for the Cardinal — who are very, very good when their guards hit their shots.  UCLA has the easiest path to the Final Four (especially with a serious Pacific Time Zone advantage). Tennessee will get there by knocking off UNC, and if UCLA has an easy path, so does Kansas until the Jayhawks face the Georgetown Hoyas in my regional final in the Midwest.

I may make some shifts in the early rounds, particularly if I can figure out more about schools like Siena (I really don’t like either Clemson, Vanderbilt, or Villanova out of that grouping in the Midwest), but some of the basic stuff is pretty clear. There may be some round-by-round predictions coming before Thursday gets started.

Oh, and I’ll take Mount St. Mary’s in the play-in game today.

4 Responses

  1. I’ve got UConn as my surprise team in the final 4. But it will be Texas and Tennessee in the title game. And Kansas is left in the final 4 dust again.

  2. STN,

    I’m not following you on Rick Barnes choking with the Longhorns. Is it only in the NCAAs, or is it season-long? Is it based on perceived talent differences, particularly bad decisions at crucial game moments? Is it a failure to play above seeding in the NCAAs?

    He’s not perfect, of course – neither was Dean Smith. But given what he’s had to work with at Texas during his tenure – i.e., a handful of elite talent mixed with a healthy diet of scrubs and role-players, as well as often indifferent fan and administration support and no basketball tradition to speak of – if anything, I think he’s overachieved.

    Which particular teams has he choked with? I can see 2001 (6 seed losing to 11 Temple), and I suppose one could make the argument that last year was a something of a choke. I know Bill Simmons surely does. I’d argue that it’s hard to get far starting 4 freshmen and a sophomore, even if one of them is Kevin Durant.

    Every other team met or exceeded expectations, at least from my close if inexpert observation. It’s hard for me to see that he’s “choked … at every opportunity.” If it’s strictly in the NCAAs, I’d put his record against, say, Bill Self’s, or Roy Williams’, all things considered.

    (Full disclosure: I’m a Texas alum and a fan of Barnes, so those are my biases.)

  3. “Choked” was probably too harsh, but he’s assembled quite a bit of talent there and at times, underachieved. Yeah, 2001 was the obvious example, but I would say they should have beaten USC last season, even with the raw roster they had comparatively.

  4. I think the Texas reference goes back to last year when they choked against USC. I have Texas in my title game, but that is risking A LOT. Texas has the best road to the final 4 (yes even better then UCLA) If Texas gets to the 2nd weekend. Because they get to play in Houston, which is just over 2 hours from Austin plus Houston has the largest fan base for that school. Then they get to play the Final 4 in San Antonio which is even closer to campus then Houston and still just under 3 hours from Houston.

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