If you haven’t been watching the NCAA Regular Season, and even as a guy who loves college hoops as much as I do, I can’t really blame you. Now is the time that we all act like experts to get our brackets together for that office pool, or just to make a little extra on the side.
I watched the selection show and almost threw up when Jim Nantz was joined by Grant Hill and Bill Raftery, and they conceded that the East and South were the 2 easiest brackets. Oh, no, they aren’t.
Villanova has to go through incredibly tough guard play. They could face Colin Sexton in the 2nd round, then “Press Virginia” in the Sweet 16, or a Wichita State team that seems to live off deep runs. Yes, the bottom half of their bracket is very weak, but no #1 seed should have to struggle to get to the Sweet 16. They might.
They also had the South as the 2nd easiest regional. Excuse me?
So let me get this straight, the #1 seeded team, Virginia, has to go through either Kentucky or Arizona, and the POY matchup nightmare DeAndre Ayton. Is this is sick joke? Then if they were to win that, they have a team that mirrors their style in Tennessee, with maybe the best inside-out game in the tourney.
As Jay Bilas says, “its sports, when you get 68 teams together, you’re going to get upsets.” He’s 100% correct.
For years, the #5 vs #12 matchup was the one you had to have. It still is one you want to keep a close eye on, but don’t discount the #6 vs #11 games. I saw a stat this week that over the last 4 NCAA Tournaments, an 11 seed has won its First Round Game 10 times. Don’t forget to pick your favorite 11 seed to find its way to the 2nd round.
The #3 vs #14 games used to be a fairly easy lock, but the 14 has advanced 5 times in the last 5 NCAA Tournaments. That’s because some #3 seeds are overseeded, and some 14 seeds are really 12 seeds.
You’ve got to make sure that you never pick a 16 or 15 seed. They aren’t going to win. But you would be wise to take a 10-12 seed to make the Sweet 16 somewhere in your bracket. They tend to advance.
Who Can Win It?
Ken Pomeroy is a National Treasure. Since he started doing his kenpom.com rankings in 2002, EVERY champion has been in BOTH the Top 20 defensive efficiency, and the Top 40 offensive efficiency.
No champion has been outside those metrics.
So based on that 16-year sample, here are the only teams that can win it all this year:
Virginia. #1 Defense, #21 Offense
Michigan. #4 Defense, #29 Offense
Tennessee. #5 Defense, #40 Offense
Duke. #7 Defense, #3 Offense
Michigan St. #9 in both
Gonzaga. #15 Defense, #12 Offense
Ohio St. #17 Defense, #27 Offense
Houston. #18 Defense, #31 Offense
Villanova is absent. Bad luck, but considering they are #1 on offense and just #22 on defense, they are within the margin of error.
One of these teams is going win the title. I’ll have a daily tournament betting update starting Thursday!