Happy New Year wishes have finally arrived from “Joey Brackets” in the form of a new Bracketology! You know what that means? I’ll be sharing some of my own thoughts about Mr. Lunardi’s selections right here in bulleted list format.
- Duke, Michigan, Arizona, and Louisville are on the top line. How does that old song go? “One of these things is not like the other.” Arizona is undefeated, yes, but they’re ranked just 14th at KenPom – which would make them the lowest-ranking 1-seed since Stanford in 2004. For some of the dorkiest bar-room trivia ever, 2005 Washington (15) and 2004 Texas (10) round out the “medal stand” for this race for the worst 1-seed. I would anticipate either Kansas or Indiana (I still believe) to pass up Arizona.
- I would rank the 2-seeds as follows: Kansas, Indiana, Gonzaga, Syracuse.
- Two SEC teams find themselves on the 3-seed line. The league’s RPI ranks just 8th in the nation, so having its winner as low as 3 is appropriate, but having two teams there seems a bit strong.
- There are currently SIX Mountain West teams in Lunardi’s bracket. If that sentence isn’t remarkable enough on its own, consider that the league only has NINE teams. I’m not saying Joe is wrong in his reasoning (the league is 3rd in RPI), but I would bet a sizeable sum on the “under” with that number involved.
- The 4-seed line may be the strongest I’ve ever seen it. Uber-talented but yet-to-put-it-all-together teams like Ohio State and NC State combined with sneaky-good teams like Illinois and Notre Dame would mean that a “4” in the Final Four would have a definitely chance of happening.
- While the matchups aren’t likely to hold, I hate the UNLV-Bucknell and VCU-Memphis pairings in the Midwest. I realize it’s easier on the committee to do so (bracketing principles, guaranteed to eliminate one “small guy” who doesn’t attract TV ratings), but I hate when mid-majors have to play each other in the Round of 64. UNLV, Bucknell, and VCU are all teams I’d like as sleepers while Memphis could pick off VCU if they ever put half of their talent and athleticism together.
- North Carolina as a 10-seed with teams like Wyoming and Temple on the 8-9 lines is something I thought I’d never see. The Heels have a lot less margin for error than many think just to get in the field. Could you imagine UNC in a “First Four” — errr — Play-In Game? I’m still refusing to call it the “First Four” or acknowledge the games in Dayton as the “First Round.” And I never will.
Later today or early tomorrow, I’ll be posting my latest version of “Planting the Seeds” with Bill Riccette so you can see the beginnings of our brackets. They aren’t how we’d do it now – they’re projections of what we think will happen.