Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The 2011 4 Quarters Bracket Entry, Southeast Region

(See previous posts for the other three regions.)

This region could get massively wild, at least based on the seedings. Of course, there are a couple of matchups here where the seeds should likely be reversed.

First Round:
#1 Pittsburgh v. #16 UNC Asheville: Asheville commits a lot of turnovers (21.3%) and allows a lot of offensive rebounds (35.9%). Pitt could salt this one away before halftime. Pitt by 30.

#8 Butler v. #9 Old Dominion: ODU is the top offensive rebounding team in the nation. That's fortunate for them, because they're mediocre shooters. Matt Howard and Andrew Smith aren't chopped liver on the glass themselves. Butler by 6.

#5 Kansas State v. #12 Utah State: Utah State didn't have too many big-name wins this season en route to a 30-3 record. That may have also contributed to their #6 ranking in defensive eFG%. All that said, Kansas State has certainly proved they're inconsistent, losing by 14 to Oklahoma State and dropping three games by increasing margins to Colorado. K-State can fumble and shoot themselves out of this one pretty easily. Utah State by 7.

#4 Wisconsin v. #13 Belmont: Belmont's the sexy upset pick this year, and a 30-4 record is usually hard to bet against. However, it seems like their strengths play into Wisconsin's. The Bruins put a lot of people on the line (45.9% opponent FT rate), and the Badgers are the best FT% team in the country. Belmont's strong on the offensive glass, but Wisconsin's 12th in the nation in defensive rebounding percentage. The only times the Bruins have faced big-time competition this year have been the times they've come up short. And Bo Ryan's teams are always tough outs in March. It all adds up to... Wisconsin by 6.

#6 St. John's v. #11 Gonzaga: Gonzaga's been wildly up and down this season, but when they're on, they can score with anyone. St. John's, for all their inspirational moments this year, can't shoot from outside and have a hard time stopping others from shooting. They can force turnovers, but D.J. Kennedy's ACL tear took out their prime ballhawk. In addition, Gonzaga's been here, done this. Gonzaga by 10.

#3 BYU v. #14 Wofford: When Noah Dahlman gets the ball near the basket, he scores. When Jimmer Fredette gets the ball anywhere in a five-mile radius, he scores. Advantage Jimmer. BYU by 16.

#7 UCLA v. #10 Michigan State: One of my pet peeves is people who call a game like this an "upset." You've got UCLA, which hit three Final Fours last decade, but has struggled to find its way past the second round the last couple of seasons (or even into the tournament last season). Then, there's Michigan State, which can always find a way to slip into any opening that can get them to a Final Four. Kalin Lucas has one more big win left in him, especially if Durrell Summers is hitting his shots. If you call this an upset, you know very little about college basketball. Michigan State by 4.

#2 Florida v. #15 UC-Santa Barbara: It's not going to be a high-scoring game, but Florida's just got better players. UCSB has a hard time defending the perimeter, and between Kenny Boynton, Erving Walker, and Chandler Parsons, they will have too many people to keep eyes on. Florida by 12.

Second Round:
#1 Pittsburgh v. #8 Butler: Neither team forces many turnovers, but the difference will be getting better shots. Butler's opponents get better shots than Pitt's (#152 in eFG defense v. #20), and the Panthers have some pretty good scorers. Pitt by 14.

#12 Utah State v. #4 Wisconsin: One thing we could always count on from Wisconsin was their rugged defense. This season, however, the Badgers are giving up 37.5% shooting from long range, 315th in the country. Utah State does a much better job of getting to the line than Wisconsin does (43.4% to 28% FT rate), and Tai Wesley is much more prepared to hammer away on the glass than Jon Leuer and Keaton Nankivil, both of whom are essentially stretch fours. Utah State by 4.

#11 Gonzaga v. #3 BYU: Gonzaga's biggest defensive weakness is defending the three-pointer (36.1%, 261st in the nation). Facing the Fighting Jimmers, that's dangerous. They do have the tremendous size advantage, though, and Robert Sacre and Elias Harris should be able to carry them through. Gonzaga by 7.

#10 Michigan State v. #2 Florida: Kalin Lucas had one more big win in him. UCLA was it. Florida's another team able to ride a size advantage over a dangerous opponent. Florida by 12.

Sweet 16:
#1 Pittsburgh v. #12 Utah State: The #6 offense v. the #8 defense. #2 in offensive rebounding v. #2 in defensive rebounding. #20 eFG defense v. #6. This has the recipe for a phenomenal game, and because there's a 12-seed involved, it will be called a monumental upset if Utah State wins. Pitt still has the size advantage of guys like Gary McGhee and Dante Taylor, though, and that's the only factor that has me taking them in this matchup. Pitt by 1.

#11 Gonzaga v. #2 Florida: Gonzaga will need to be aggressive on defense and rattle Walker and Boynton into some turnovers. Allowing Florida to run its offense (#15 in efficiency) is a difficult way to win. What the Zags do have in their favor is the fact that they can get to the free throw line (41.6%) and make the shots when they get there (75.9%, 14th nationally). I still have a hard time, though, trusting Gonzaga's perimeter defense against a team with multiple threats. Florida by 2.

#1 Pittsburgh v. #2 Florida: One thing is for certain: there will be a lot of points left at the free throw line in this game. Both teams are in the mid-200's nationally from the stripe, hovering around 67%. Brad Wanamaker is a steadier presence at the point than Erving Walker, and Ashton Gibbs can blow up any night. Much as I hate to put three top seeds in the Final Four... Pitt by 8.

So, that leaves me with a Final Four of:
Ohio State v. San Diego State
Purdue v. Pitt

Later on this morning, I'll go into those matchups and officially submit brackets.


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