Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Re-seeding the Sweet 16

If the selection committee could revise their work after the first three rounds of the tournament, here's how it would look:

1. Louisville – The #1 overall seed has won its first two games by a combined 57 points.  No reason to drop them now.

2. Indiana – The Hoosiers survived a scare from Temple in the third round, but the B1G regular season champs still have a great chance to reach Atlanta.

3. Michigan – Success in March is about guard play and the way the Wolverines’ two-PG lineup and Tim Hardaway Jr. handed the VCU press is proof that UM has the horses to cut down the nets.

4. Duke – I feel the Blue Devils are still getting re-adjusted to life with Ryan Kelly, and the first two games were workmanlike victories that should help prepare them for Indianapolis.  They will need more of the same to set up a likely rematch with Louisville in the Elite 8.

5. Michigan St. – Ho hum.  The Spartans are in the sweet 16 for what feels like the tenth straight year.  With physical play inside and solid backcourt performance, Izzo has his March formula working for a run at the Final Four.

6. Florida – The Gators are strong favorites to reach the Elite 8 for the third year in a row with victories over the 14, 11, and 15-seeds in the South region.  A date with tournament Cinderella Florida Gulf Coast on Friday should be one of the more entertaining games of the weekend. 

7. Ohio St. – Aaron Craft’s three with one second left in Ohio State’s third round matchup with Iowa St. saved the West region from complete chaos and set the Buckeyes up for the easiest road to the Final Four of all the 1’s and 2’s remaining.

8. Miami – With the news that the Canes will be without senior center Reggie Johnson due to surgery on his knee, Miami’s road to Atlanta took a slight hit.  Miami was not the same without Johnson earlier in the season, but he has not been quite the same player since returning from injury.  If they can get past Marquette in the Sweet 16, Johnson would have been a huge help    against Indiana or  Syracuse in the regional final.

9. Kansas – Bill Self was able to escape another March flameout despite three consecutive uninspired halves of basketball.  The Jayhawks finally played like a top seed in the second half of their victory over UNC.

10. Syracuse – Jim Boeheim’s team is good enough to continue their run through the tournament and upset Indiana but has also shown the inconsistency during this season and during their third round victory over California to have their season end next round.  I’m putting my money on the latter.

11. Marquette – The Golden Eagles were able to escape against Davidson with a miracle comeback in the final seconds of their second round game and used a disguised defense to cause an ineffective inbounds play execution by Butler to seal their victory and advance to the Sweet 16.              Next up is Miami sans Reggie Johnson, which should allow Marquette to continue its trend of out-rebounding opponents by 4.5 per game.

12. Arizona – The Wildcats have not been tested as they have had one of the easiest roads to this point in the tournament, but they have looked more like the team that was in play for a 1-seed earlier in the year than the one that struggled to finish out the conference season.

13. Oregon – I think that Oregon has made it clear to the committee that they were severely under-seeded on Selection Sunday.  The Ducks dominated popular final four sleeper Saint Louis after running through Oklahoma St in the second round, and Dominic Artis and Damyean Dotson have a shot at the Louisville press to advance.

14. La Salle – The Explorers have proven to be the class of the Big 5 in 2013 by becoming the only team in the tournament with three victories.  Next up is a clash of styles against Wichita St., as the guards of La Salle will try to control the tempo against the bigger and more physical Shockers.

15. Florida Gulf Coast – There is no way the story of the tournament could be ranked last.  Dunk City has captured college basketball, becoming the first 15-seed to advance to the Sweet 16 in NCAA tournament history.  Brett Comer has been electric leading the Eagles offense to a meeting against Florida on Friday evening.

16. Wichita St – The Shockers were able to take out top seed Gonzaga in the round of 32, using a nine possession, 23-point stretch to propel themselves to a 76-70 victory.  The draw couldn’t be better for a trip to the Elite Eight, but they cannot count on a similar shooting run to advance.

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