Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The 2011 4 Quarters Bracket Entry, Southwest Region

(See previous posts for first two regions.)

My favorite team is in this region. So is a team that's burned me so many times that I'd almost be tempted to pick them to bomb in the first round, top seed be damned.

Luckily, I'm not that vindictive. Not quite, anyway.

First Round:
#1 Kansas v. #16 Boston University: Kansas has athletes. BU has mad bombers John Holland and Darryl Partin. Almost 40% of the Terriers' shots come from outside, and they're going to need to hit a lot of them to hang with KU. Of the four 1-16 games, this could be the closest one, and not merely because I'm dogging Kansas. Kansas by 6.

#8 UNLV v. #9 Illinois: Mike Davis and Mike Tisdale can own the paint if they're adequately motivated. UNLV can harass Demetri McCamey and Brandon Paul into turnovers and bad shots if they're motivated. Lon Kruger couldn't motivate his team against Northern Iowa last year, now can he do it against his old employer? I don't think so. Illinois by 9.

#5 Vanderbilt v. #12 Richmond: Vanderbilt's got the horses to make a very deep run in this tournament. Unfortunately, their offense has a disturbing tendency toward the boneheaded plays. They have shots blocked on 9.6% of their possessions and have the ball stolen on 10.1%, figures that both rank in the 200's nationally. The Spiders can defend the three, and if they slow down John Jenkins, Vandy will once again have a short stay in the dance. Purdue grad Kevin Stallings may start feeling some heat on his seat if he drops another one to a low seed. Richmond by 6.

#4 Louisville v. #13 Morehead State: Louisville has no one who can keep Kenneth Faried off the boards, so they'd be well-served to take him out of the game via foul trouble. That's easier said than done, though, when you're a team that jacks up 40.5% of its shots from beyond the arc. Preston Knowles and Kyle Kuric will have to be locked in early, and it helps the Cards that MSU can't defend the perimeter (opponents shoot about 37% from long range). Peyton Siva has to harass Demonte Harper into some turnovers, as well. When in doubt, though, who's the best player on the court? That would be Kenny Faried. Morehead by 3.

#6 Georgetown v. #11 VCU: Tempo doesn't seem to be as big a factor as we might think, as VCU's middle of the pack in pace. What they do well is force turnovers, and if it's someone other than Chris Wright running the point for the Hoyas, or if he's still feeling effects from his hand injury, that could make the game the kind of barn-burner the analysts are expecting. It does seem, though, that VCU's an all-or-nothing team on defense, ranking in the 230's against both the two-point shot and the three. Plus, they're 320th in America in opponents' offensive rebounding rate, which will make Julian Vaughn salivate. Georgetown by 13.

#3 Purdue v. #14 St. Peter's: St. Peter's is a weak shooting team (45.9% eFG, #297) that commits a lot of turnovers (23.4%, #321). Even without the suspended Kelsey Barlow's defensive harassment, the Peacocks will struggle to produce points. Purdue by 24.

#7 Texas A&M v. #10 Florida State: If Chris Singleton was healthy, I'd be marking this one down as academic. The 'Noles are top-15 in two-point defense, three-point defense, steal rate, and block rate. A&M's not the kind of dominant scoring team that can overcome that kind of efficiency. If Singleton can't go or is limited, though, FSU loses their dominant presence on both ends of the court. The Aggies have a good front line and have won in the first round five straight years. I'll give them the benefit of the doubt and make it six. A&M by 5.

#2 Notre Dame v. #15 Akron: If Akron was a better scoring team, this might be interesting. Notre Dame has a solid defense, but it's not a disruptive defense (15.9% defensive turnover rate, 337th in America). Akron's decent at defending the three, but can they slow down Ben Hansbrough, Tim Abromaitis, Carleton Scott, AND Scott Martin? Doubt it. Notre Dame by 18.

Second Round:
#1 Kansas v. #9 Illinois: The Mikes or the Morrises? Tisdale and Davis have to be in the mood to play a great game. The Morrises are always in the mood. Kansas by 14.

#12 Richmond v. #13 Morehead State: Richmond's not a great rebounding team under the best of circumstances. Facing the NCAA's all-time rebounding leader is not the best of circumstances. Morehead by 6.

#6 Georgetown v. #3 Purdue: At times, it seems like Purdue gets waaaaaaaay too in love with the three-point shot. Ryne Smith, D.J. Byrd, E'Twaun Moore, even JaJuan Johnson will step out and try the long ball. But Georgetown fires away from distance on 36.6% of their shots, compared to Purdue's 33%. Georgetown's not great at forcing turnovers, and that may be enough to make Moore and Johnson's lives easier. Purdue by 8.

#7 Texas A&M v. #2 Notre Dame: A&M can defend the long shot and Notre Dame gets heavily reliant on it. The Irish don't force a lot of turnovers, and even if the Aggies miss the shots, they're still 13th in the country in offensive rebounding. It all adds up to... A&M by 8.

Sweet 16: 
#1 Kansas v. #13 Morehead State: You know, I was intent on Kansas bombing out about here, but I don't think I can, no matter how much I love me some Faried. Kansas by 17.

#3 Purdue v. #7 Texas A&M: The Aggies are prone to getting stuffed (shots blocked on 12% of their possessions), which will give JaJuan Johnson something to do all day. Purdue has to make sure to keep feeding Johnson inside and not struggling to jack up unnecessary threes, or else this game will look much like the Iowa and Michigan State games, which were both defeats. Hopefully, Matt Painter and the team learned something. Purdue by 4.

#1 Kansas v. #3 Purdue: My lifelong team against the team that's burned me on too many brackets. Screw the numbers. Purdue by 1.

I so know I'm going to regret this region, but here goes.

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