Wednesday, March 18, 2015

2015 Schmolik Bracket Analysis

Hello, college basketball fans!

One day before the real tournament begins! It's time for me to tell you what I think is going to happen in the NCAA Tournament.

I'm wondering if you had to bet Kentucky or the rest of the field who would you take?

Or if you're not brave enough to pick Kentucky, how about will a team named "Wildcats" win the NCAA Tournament? You can have two #1 seeds (UK and Villanova) and a #2 seed (Arizona).

Which is the toughest regional?

Using my Schmolik 64 seeds,
The Midwest top 4 according to me are really 1, 3, 3, and 3 seeds (Kansas is really a #3 while so is Maryland).

The East top 4 are really 1, 2, 3, and 4 seeds (all are perfectly seeded). But their #5 seed (Northern Iowa) is a #4 to me so I say they really have two #4 seeds.

The South top 4 are really 1, 2, 2, and 6. You do have 2 #2 seeds (Gonzaga and Iowa State) but their #4 is really a #6.

The West top 4 are really 1, 1, 3, and 4 (I had Arizona as my last #1).

If you add up the seeds, the West has a score of 9, the East and Midwest 10, and the West 11. So it is fairly balanced. You hardly can find a "Group of Death" like last year when they had an undefeated Wichita State, Kentucky, Louisville, and Michigan in the same regional.

Let's begin with the Midwest. At the top are two of the biggest stars in basketball, Kentucky and Kansas. In the top half of the draw, I would say look out for Buffalo. I do enjoy the 12-5 upsets and Mid American teams (or Big Mac's). I think West Virginia is vulnerable. But Buffalo is playing in their first ever tournament. Will they just be happy to be there? Remember Buffalo played both Kentucky and Wisconsin. Do you think playing West Virginia will intimidate them?

Now in the bottom half is an under seeded Wichita State at #7 (I had them as a #5). Two years ago, Wichita State started out as a #9 seed but wound up in the Final Four. But last year they went 35-0, came in as a #1 seed and lost to Kentucky (although UK did make the championship game). Which Wichita State team will show up? Fans of college basketball are looking forward to a potential Wichita State vs. Kansas game on Sunday. I feel Wichita State is the 2nd best team in Kansas and it's about time the two will play. This is a not so good Kansas team (lost eight times including six in the Big 12 and to a Temple team that should have made the tournament but didn't). If Wichita State beats Indiana and Kansas wins its first game, it could be the biggest game in Wichita State basketball history. I think Wichita State will want it more and be out to prove it can complete at a top level. Another problem for Kansas here is Notre Dame, who defeated Duke and North Carolina in back to back games to win the ACC Tournament (after beating both in the regular season as well). I remember Notre Dame beat Duke and fully expected the fans to storm the court as almost everyone who beats Duke does. I didn't see it. It might tell you Notre Dame expected to win.

Midwest Regional Final pick: Kentucky over Notre Dame

Out west, we have the same two top seeds as last year. But this time Wisconsin is the #1 seed, their first in school history. If the two get back to a regional final, they will play at the Staples Center in Los Angeles (last year, they played in Anaheim). VCU and Ohio State looks to be one of the best round of 64 games. Too bad it's in Portland. Ohio State is down but has a great star that if he's on his game can lead the Buckeyes to greatness. I think either VCU or Ohio State has a chance vs. Arizona. Don't forget Arizona also is playing Texas Southern in their first game. Texas Southern beat Michigan State on their home floor earlier in the season. I mentioned I love the 12-5 upset (Erin Andrews talked about 12-5 upsets this morning when she filled in for Kelly Ripa on Regis Philbin's old show). Let's put it this way. I've never been more sure of a 12-5 upset before. You heard it here first...


Honestly, it's kind of unfair. You've got the classic mid major vs. the not so good power conference team. Arkansas is from the overrated SEC. They lost at home to LSU and Mississippi (and probably the reason both made the field at all). And consider Arkansas last made the NCAA's in 2008. Meanwhile, Wofford is playing in their third consecutive tournament. Who has more tournament experience (assuming Wofford isn't led by a bunch of one and dones). Another theory I feel is the upset everyone feels is going to happen doesn't because the favorite usually hears too much about the upset and send a message. I'll bet Wofford isn't getting the love. They've never won an NCAA Tournament game. It's not like if Mercer made the NCAA's and everyone will be scared when they hear their name on the opposite side. To me, Wofford has so many things going for them, I think Wofford should be the favorite in that game.

I think Arizona and Wisconsin will have a rematch in Los Angeles and I have to go with the Big Ten. The Pac-12 (or as I like to call them, the Pathetic 12), hasn't had a Final Four team since UCLA in 2008. Meanwhile, four different Big Ten teams (including Wisconsin) made the Final Four in that span.

West Regional Final Pick: Wisconsin over Arizona

The West Regional had the same top two seeds as last year but in reverse order. The same holds true in the East. Being from Philly, I am excited Villanova made it to the East #1 seed as they gained once Duke and Virginia both lost in the ACC semifinals. Good things happen to Villanova in years that end in a 5. They last won the Big East Tournament in 1995 (of course that year they went one and done). And their national championship in 1985. Even in 2005, they made the Sweet 16.

Meanwhile, second seeded Virginia could meet Michigan State again. Virginia has lost two of their last three and Justin Anderson is just coming back from a hand injury. Michigan State seems to have caught fire, almost beating Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship game. If you are looking for a big round of 32 upset (technically the third round although I heard they're returning to the first/second round names next year), go with Michigan State over Virginia. Again, I'm not sure it's an upset. Do you want to bet against Tom Izzo in March? I don't. I think Michigan State can make the regional final. Also remember MSU is the 7th seed in the East. Last year's East #7 seed was Connecticut, and they won it all. And the team that won the national championship the year before Michigan State won their last? Connecticut. I don't think it will happen, but I think you have to watch out for them. If it happens, I am looking forward to Northern Iowa vs. Louisville. I enjoy seeing the top mid majors against established programs.

East Regional Final pick: Villanova over Michigan State

Finally we move to the South. Duke is at the top. They've lost their first NCAA game two of the last three seasons (both in the state of North Carolina no less). If North Florida wins tonight, remember they beat Purdue earlier in the year. Then again, we're talking a 1 vs. 16 game, and a 16 has never beaten a 1 (plus North Florida or the other team will have to play an extra game). In the top half, we have our most overrated top 4 seed in Georgetown, Remember they lost their first game as a #2 seed to Florida Gulf Coast in their last NCAA appearance and have lost early several of the last few years. They also have to play in Portland, making a cross country trip, vs. Eastern Washington. Another potential 12-5 upset could be in this region with Stephen F. Austin (who won a game last year) over Utah, who last made the NCAA's in 2009 and went 0-4 vs. Arizona and Oregon, the two Pathetic 12 teams that deserved to make the NCAA Tournament. If you're looking for a double digit seed to make the Sweet 16, I say they're probably coming out of Portland.

Gonzaga is the #2 seed and Mark Few will try to lead them to the Final Four for the first time ever. Interestingly enough, Gonzaga hasn't made the Elite Eight under Few (they made the 1999 Regional Final the year before Few took over). Another head coach trying to get to his first Elite Eight is Iowa State's Fred Hoiberg, or the "Mayor" as he's called in Ames, Iowa. Remember they made the Sweet 16 last year, beating North Carolina, and lost to the eventual national champion in UConn. They also beat Kansas twice this year to win the Big 12 Tournament. I normally call the Big 12 Kansas and the Nine Dwarfs but Iowa State is starting to make me change my mind. In my Schmolik 64, I had Iowa State over Kansas as a #2 seed. But Kansas is in Kentucky's bracket and with Duke and Gonzaga vulnerable, Iowa State might have been done a favor. I don't normally pick all four #1 seeds (only once have all four #1 seeds made the Final Four in the same year, 2008). So if you want to roll the dice on a Final Four sleeper, I give you Iowa State!

South Regional Final pick: Iowa State over Duke

Final Four: If you're playing for money, you realize it's almost impossible to win by picking Kentucky as probably almost everyone will. But I think it's too obvious and I think Kentucky will finish 40-0, the first undefeated national champion since 1976. The Final Four game between Kentucky and Wisconsin (if it happens) might be the de facto national champion. Remember Wisconsin lost on a late basket. I certainly will want to see them play again but alas it won't be Championship Monday.

Championship: Kentucky over Villanova

Enjoy the tournament!

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