Thoughts on the tourney so far and today’s games, covered in powdered sugar from the Cafe Du Monde . . .
— KANSAS DID NOT LOOK LIKE A NATIONAL CHAMPION, which isn’t good for me, since I picked the Jayhawks to go all the way. Why do I say that? History says that No. 1 seeds who do not dispatch their No. 16s without a blip do not go on to win it all. Usually. In fact, most do not even get to the Final Four (think Louisville last season, which labored to beat Morehead State by 20). The dividing line seems to be 21 or more.
Pounding your No. 16 seed foe doesn’t guarantee you a trip to the Final Four, of course. But struggling with your No. 16 does usually say something significant. There are exceptions to everything. But look at recent national champion 1 vs. 16 scores. I found only three examples in the 64(5) team era of a No. 1 seed beating a No. 16 by 20 or fewer and going on to win it all (they’re in italics below):
2009 – North Carolina 101, Radford 58
2008 – Kansas 85, Portland State 61
2007 – Florida 112, Jackson State 69
2006 – All No. 1 seeds won by less than 20. None reached the Final Four.
2005 – North Carolina 96, Oakland 68
2004 – No. 1 seed didn’t win title. (UK as a No. 1 beat Florida A&M by 20, lost in second round).
2003 – No. 1 seed didn’t win title.
2002 – Maryland 85, Siena 70 (this is the lone exception the past decade)
2001 – Duke 95, Monmouth 52
2000 – Michigan State 65, Valparaiso 38
1999 – Connecticut 91, Texas-San Antonio 66
1998 – No. 1 seed didn’t win (UK won as a No. 2, didn’t dominate South Carolina State in first round, though)
1997 – No. 1 seed didn’t win
1996 – Kentucky 110, San Jose State 62
1995 – UCLA 92, Florida International 56
1994 – Arkansas 94, North Carolina A&T 79
1993 – North Carolina 85, East Carolina 65
1992 – Duke 83, Campbell 56
1991 – No. 1 seed didn’t win
1990 – UNLV 102, Arkansas-Little Rock 72
1989 – No. 1 seed didn’t win (three No. 1 seeds won by single digits, only one of them made the Final Four)
1988 – No. 1 seed didn’t win
1987 – Indiana 92, Fairfield 58
1986 – No. 1 seed didn’t win
1985 – No. 1 seed didn’t win
— THE BIG WHAT? The Big East looked bad, plain and simple, no way to spin it. Having said that, I don’t know that it was a surprise. In my bracket, I did have Georgetown and Notre Dame winning (and had Georgetown going to the Elite Eight). But I only had three Big East schools overall making it to the Sweet 16, and none to the Final Four. If you watched the league at the end of the season, no one, except maybe West Virginia, was playing particularly well. And given Villanova’s struggles yesterday, I think they’re going to have their hands full with St. Mary’s. The SEC got Kentucky and Tennessee through, and I expect both to move on with wins on Saturday. Today is put-up or shut-up time for the Big Ten and ACC.
— UPSET MANIA: Pete Tiernan of the excellent site bracketscience.com points this out in his blog using his “Madometer” which measures the predictability of the tournament. Last year was the first one ever when all 12 of the 1-3 seeds made it to the Sweet 16. This year? Mayhem. Says Tiernan:
We’re only 12 games into the 2010 tourney and it’s already more unpredictable than the entire 2007 dance. That’s right: 12 games have resulted in more craziness than all 63 games in 2007. Amazing. In fact, right now, the Madometer reads 35.4 percent Chitwoodin’ madness. Remember: 1986 was the most insane tourney ever–and that only pushed the Madometer to 18.8 percent.
— SPEAKING OF BRACKETS: I went 14-2 on Day 1. You can view my full bracket on the previous blog entry. My big mistake was having Georgetown into the Round of 16. I also had Butler beating Murray State to make it to the Sweet 16, but I think the Racers have a real shot.
— TODAY’S PICKS. If history serves, these picks are worthless. There has to be a correction somewhere. I had far too good a day yesterday . . .
- Michigan State over New Mexico State.
- Maryland over Houston. I have the Terps in the Sweet Sixteen.
- Oklahoma State over Georgia Tech.
- Ohio State over UCSB. Road opens up for the Buckeyes with Georgetown out.
- Syracuse over Vermont
- Gonzaga over Florida State (St. Mary’s win makes me like this pick)
- Xavier over Minnesota, then over Pitt
- Pitt over Oakland
- Temple over Cornell, then Wisconsin
- Wisconsin over Wofford
- Clemson over Missouri
- West Virginia over Morgan State
- Duke over Arkansas-Pine Bluff
- Louisville over Cal (feeling shaky on this pick)
- Texas A&M over Utah State
- Siena over Purdue (might be on shaky ground here, too)
Happy bracketing folks. I’ll have a few more updates from the UK press conference this afternoon at 4.