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The Jeff Falconio Blog

NCAA Tournament: Early analysis

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To me the NCAA Tournament brackets are like a fine wine.  To fully appreciate it you don't just start poppin' bottles and drinking away.  You gotta let it breathe a little bit.  So that being said, I'm still formulating my Final Four picks as well as the rest of the bracket but here's a few thoughts:


First, the seedings.  I have no real issue with the Badgers getting a 5 seed.  I had them seeded fourth but ultimately the actual seed number doesn't matter much.  It's more about the matchups, the draw, and the contrasting styles.  The Badgers get a doozie with Ole Miss, a high-scoring team led by Marshall Henderson.  As we saw against Indiana over the weekend the Badgers can force an up tempo team out of their game and doing so usually leads to success.  However, the Badgers have shooting problems and a seven minute drought could spell doom, even if the Rebels are off their game plan.  I don't buy into momentum too much so the fact that Ole Miss played their way in by winning the SEC Tournament doesn't weigh too heavily to me.  However, Henderson has the ability to take over a game as he showed against Florida and that is a bigger concern.


It seems that Davidson is an early pick by many as a bracket buster over Marquette.  Sure, the Wildcats have strung together a bunch of wins but that was against the SoCon (with the exception of a home overtime win over Montana) which was a one-bid league the whole way.  Two numbers should define the game for the Golden Eagles: rebounding and turnovers.  Davidson is not a particularly strong rebounding team so if Marquette wins the battle of the boards that will be a good first step.  Protecting the basketball is also important as we saw over the final 30 minutes in Marquette's loss to Notre Dame.


A few other thoughts in no particular order: I think the committee did their usual bang-up job in constructing the field.  Sure Miami was worthy of a #1 and yes the Pac-12 is horribly underseeded but often times that just ends up being minutiae.  Oregon and Cal get to stay on the West coast so seeding shouldn't mean that much.  The fact that the Golden Bears get to play in their backyard means much more than being a #12 seed and makes them a good candidate to pull off an "upset."


There could be some real flavor to the Elite Eight.  You're looking at potential matchups like Indiana-Marquette (Tom Crean versus his old team) and Louisville-Duke (Rick Pitino against Mike Krzyzewski just like in '92) which would carry some great storylines.


A few other potential bracket busters are Bucknell and New Mexico State.  it's hard to bet against Brad Stevens but Butler has looked ugly in a few of their recent losses and something seems a bit off there.  The Aggies are back in the dance for the third time in four year so they know the territory.  However, they have a tough draw against an under-the-radar St. Louis team.


I'll have more thoughts throughout the week and as always, follow me on Twitter for more bracket talk.

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