Monday, March 4, 2019

2017 Tournament Analysis

I never published this from 2017 but I thought it'd be interesting to see how these predictions went. This is unedited and the results are highlighted.

EAST: Villanova over Duke (watch out for SMU though)
I think Villanova will waltz to the Elite 8. Baylor won't get by SMU, though, and will be a tough out for Duke. Villanova-Duke is final-four-quality.
SMU lost in the first round, and South Carolina shocked Duke then Baylor. Villanova was done in the second round too. South Carolina made the final four. No points, but I'm not sure anyone saw SC coming. Hey, did YOU have a 7-seed in the Final Four?

WEST: Gonzaga over Arizona (and nobody else)
These two teams have a pretty easy march to the Elite 8. Yeah, WV or ND might give Gonzaga a tough game in the Sweet 16, but I'm not buying Florida State. Arizona-Gonzaga is another final-four-quality game, even if would clearly favor the Zags.
The Mountaineers did give Gonzaga a game (losing by 3) and Xavier edged Arizona in the Sweet 16 but got blown out by the Zags in the regional final. I get partial credit. LOL.

SOUTH: UCLA over UNC (with some interesting contenders)
I'm on the UCLA bandwagon. I think Kentucky will have a tough time getting to the second weekend (though I do think they'll eke out a win over the Shockers, I won't be at all surprised if they don't). UNC has the easiest track to the Elite 8 outside of Villanova, especially if MTSU pulls an upset or two.
Since UNC won the national title, the UCLA upset call was off (they didn't make it past Kentucky). Kentucky DID eke out a win over the Shockers, and gave UNC all it could handle in the Elite 8. Was right about UNC's track to the Elite 8 though. 

Here's an error: I didn't say anything about the Midwest Regional. I called the Michigan upset (below) but would probably have whiffed on Oregon.

1. I think Michigan will upset Louisville. The Cardinals are really good and well coached, but the Wolverines are en fuego and I think they'll pull an upset. KenPom would disagree, given that Louisville's #6 over there, but I think "hot" will trump "not hot" in this game.
Michigan DID upset Louisville. Woo hoo!

2. I looked for a long time at Wichita State vs Kentucky in the second round. I mostly think Kentucky ought to win, but these are two top 10 teams in, and it was a tough decision. Nobody should be surprised if the Shockers win, or lose at the wire.
Called the close game right.

3. The chalkiest bracket to me seems to be the West. I could see all four top seeds getting to the second weekend (though I think Notre Dame will beat WV in a slight upset). A Gonzaga-Arizona elite 8 game would be almost as incredible as a Duke-Villanova East final.
Xavier was the only non-chalk winner in this region but lost in the Elite 8. 

4. I am in a pool that lets us re-do our picks once the Sweet 16 is set, for a smaller prize. And if SMU is playing Duke as I project, I'm going to take a long look at that game too. I'd be a fool not to push Duke into the Elite 8 (at least) as of today, but let's see how they look on Sunday night.
Yeah, dead wrong on SMU. 

5. It's not very daring but I really like MTSU to make the Sweet 16. I'm not sold on Butler or Minnesota at this point.
Called the 12 over 5 upset, but Butler beat MTSU handily.

6. I've jumped on the UCLA bandwagon, taking them to beat Kentucky and then UNC to make the Final Four.
Shouldn't've done that.

7. I'm going to put Iowa State into the Final Four. I can very much see them defeating Kansas in the Sweet 16, giving them a virtual home game in the Elite 8... and since I'm not high on 2-seed Louisville and Oregon lost a key player, I'm guessing they'll beat Michigan or whatever team ends up there. Again, going with the hot hand in this region (plus Kansas' history of underperforming and their veryclose wins this year). Also, the Midwest doesn't do much for me.
Shouldn't've done that either: lost in the second round.

8. I think the top two seeds in the East and West would be a great Final Four if it were possible. But I'm counting on Gonzaga to break through at last, despite their SOS, and on Villanova repeat as champions, over UCLA.
Gonzaga broke through, but Villanova, UCLA and Iowa State did not. 

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