Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Final succumbing

To those of you who think you might be (or are) succumbing as well: Let this be a warning . . .

Image found here.

I begin succumbing here; succumbing continues here.

In yesterday's post, I mentioned Luke Winn's "Bracket Math, Part One." Today, I want to draw your attention to Part Two of that series, in which he discusses offensive and defensive efficiency. Short version: teams with big disparities between the two tend not to do well in the tournament. I'm pleased to see that, despite my relative ignorance of college basketball this year, my various picks for the tournament aren't completely out of line with what the data show in these posts.

The Wikipedia page has lots of stats, a list of past champions, etc.

And finally, in what must be the ultimate sign of succumbing short of actually wagering money on all this, I've joined Ariel's Facebook group, "Braggin' Rights Bracket Fight."

Below the fold: my Elite 8, Final 4, and championship picks. I'm afraid at least one regular reader will be disappointed . . .

EAST, 3rd round:

(1) North Carolina vs. (13) Winthrop. In a battle of Carolina schools, my Cinderella's dance ends. North Carolina.
(3) Louisville vs. (2) Tennessee. Tennessee doesn't wilt in big games (except when it played Texas, of course).

4th round:

(1) North Carolina vs. (2) Tennessee. Sorry, Winston. I had to resort to a couple of coin-flips. Really. North Carolina in front of the almost-home crowd in Charlotte. Tennessee won't wilt; it'll lose in a close one.

MIDWEST, 3rd round:

(1) Kansas vs. (5) Clemson. I don't think this is Kansas' year to win it all, but it's also not its year to be denied a Final Four berth. Kansas.
(3) Wisconsin vs. (10) Davidson. I think this Cinderella still has another win in it. No offense to the school I ended up not attending for graduate school. Davidson.

4th round:

(1) Kansas vs. (10) Davidson. As long as the names of schools from the lower half of the bracket don't begin with a "B," Kansas can handle upstarts.

SOUTH, 3rd round:

(1) Memphis vs. (12) Oral Roberts. Memphis won't make it to the Final Four, but they'll win this one.
(3) Stanford vs. (2) Texas. Stanford is one of the Pac-10 teams that unquestionably belongs in the tournament, but here, the Big XII continues its dominance over those teams. Texas.

4th round:

(1) Memphis vs. (2) Texas. Over at, Grant Wahl calls this one of the great anticipated matchups in all the tournament, and that would be hard to argue against. But: The game will be in Houston. One team shoots free-throws in the 70s; the other, um, doesn't. And most important of all, apart from Texas' unquestioned Goodness: its English department is far superior. The 'Horns in a close one decided at the free-throw line.

WEST, 3rd round:

(1) UCLA vs. (5) Drake. Somehow, I suspect Ben Howland will impress upon his players the importance of guarding the perimeter against Teh Drake. UCLA.
(11) Baylor vs. (7) West Virginia. In my bracket, the Bears have most definitely earned their way to this point. I think they have one more in them. Baylor.

4th round:

(1) UCLA vs. (11) Baylor. Bruins vs. Bears. One school's English department larger and better than the other. A game in Phoenix, considerably closer to Los Angeles than to Waco. UCLA. But Baylor (even if it doesn't make it this far--which, truth be told, it probably won't) has nothing at all to be ashamed of this year; Scott Drew has to receive some consideration for national Coach of the Year.


(1) North Carolina vs. (1) Kansas. I don't know what Ariel thinks of this possible match-up. Personally speaking as someone who lives in Kansas yet feels no emotional investment in the Jayhawks, I find the still-ongoing "That-liar-Roy-Williams-left-us-like-we're a-foundling-in-a-Dickens-novel" psychodrama more than a little puzzling (and, yes, amusing). So, yeah: while most of the country will watch this game for its entertainment value, for many Kansas fans this game will have a subtext positively (choose one) Oedipal/Shakespearian in its resonances. And I'll be giggling as I think about it. But as to the game itself: Sorry, Kansas, but North Carolina has the better English department.

(2) Texas vs. (1) UCLA. A rematch of a game from early in the season, which Texas won in Los Angeles. UCLA hadn't yet come together as a team then. They have now, by all accounts. But this time, the rematch will be in San Antonio. Texas.


(1) North Carolina vs. (2) Texas. Over at, UCLA is the consensus pick; Ariel has selected Kansas as his champion (but I've already noted that his Jayhawk fixation renders suspect his judgment). Texas is not a frequent choice for the national champion, but--again--San Antonio will be too much like a home game to the 'Horns. Hook 'em!

As someone on CBS last Sunday said, summing up a discussion of who the group liked to be seeded #1 for the tournament, "Eight teams will be seeded #1." And yes, there's some truth to that, it seems to me. But this year in particular, plenty of lower-seeded teams have the potential, in this win-and-go-on, lose-and-go-home format, to bust up a few brackets. It'll be a most interesting tournament.


Doc said...

I had not previously suspected that you were afflicted with 'march madness': you normally write well and on topics that are relevant to mankind in general - there was just no way for me to know.

i would like to offer my condolances; we will see you once the moon has passed out of this phase...

Ariel said...

Great post. I've been waiting for this one, and I applaud your foray into the Madness. In particular, you did a good job including the English Dept. factor, something that totally slipped my mind. (Of course, you're assessment of UNC's English vs. KU's English is inaccurate...)

I particularly like this line: Stanford is one of the Pac-10 teams that unquestionably belongs in the tournament, but here, the Big XII continues its dominance over those teams.

[Boisterous applause.]

I'm impressed with your chutzpah in advancing Davidson, Winthrop and Baylor as far as you do. Baylor's debacle in the Big 12 tourney left me wondering about their NCAA chances, but I hope you're right...

And agreed, the Longhorns have to be considered a Final Four team.

Winston said...

Your generosity in volunteering to advance Tennessee to the E8 has been noted. Expect large shipments of expensive gifts soon. I just hope you are correct. I do not see them going further, as I don't see anyone stopping UNC from going to the Championship game. One place we differ is that I believe UCLA will steer Texas back to the ranch while advancing to play UNC in the Last2Standing.