Monday, March 15, 2010

2010 NCAA Tournament Preview: East Regional

First of all, there's no argument from me about the #1 seeds. All deserve them, and I'd say three of the four #2's are legit as well. Kentucky is no exception, but thanks to some underseeding, they've got what actually looks like the toughest bracket of the four #1 seeds.


New Mexico
. The media darling of the late college seasons got a lot of hype for a 3 seed and despite a semifinal Mountain West Tournament loss to San Diego State, they got it, the lack of stuffing to their 29-4 record makes them little more than a padded #6. This is going to prove all the more awkward should they face a likely matchup with legitimate #6 Marquette, or a legitimate #11 in Washington that has the speed and stamina to play like a top 25 team.

Wake Forest: I had the defense-minded Demon Deacons in by the skin of their at-large teeth after an ugly conclusion to their season (1-5), but the Committee thought them more of a #9. That's a shame, because their opponent....

Got the Shaft:

Texas: From my view, this region has three #4 seeds. It's just that only one of them got an actual #4 (Wisconsin), one got seeded an acceptable shade low (#5 Temple) and the other is #8 seed Texas. I'm not sure if the Committee saw their nine late season losses (7 of 9 which BTW came to top 25 caliber teams) and, forgetting that Texas plays in a tough Big 12 Conference, figured that the Longhorns were stumbling. Texas could easily go Harrison Bergeron with a higher seed and make it to the second weekend. But as it stands, they get a surprisingly beatable Wake team and then are slated to get fed to a seemingly unfair 2nd round matchup with Kentucky that's going to be a lot more competitive than people may think, and certainly moreso than the Wildcats would like.

Missouri: One of the nation's best defenses took the pipe in the Big 12 Tourney against Nebraska and despite Dan Guerrero's assurances that the Committee downplays or even ignores the last 12 games of the season, the Tigers were given a #10 seed on the strength of a couple of embarrassing mid-season slip ups (Oral Roberts and a poor Oklahoma team), that Nebraska loss and three losses to top Big 12 teams (Baylor, Kansas State and Kansas). Boy, is #7 Clemson going to be upset when they realize their #10 seed opponent is in fact a tough underseeded equal, and if I'm #2 West Virginia, I don't get too cocky about easily making the 2nd weekend.

Contrary to popular belief:

Cornell did not get overseeded. Sagarin has the deliberately paced but offensively talented Big Red around 50, which is right below the at-large cutoff point. This is a legitimately good team hidden in a mostly weak Ivy League (though Harvard had a good season and Princeton came on late in the year), and while their chances of beating top 20 Temple are dim, they certainly deserve to get seeded as high as 12.

Not a prayer:

East Tennessee State is the strongest #16 in the field but has a 7.3% chance of beating Kentucky. #15 Morgan State isn't much better, with only a 7.4% chance of ousting #2 West Virginia. ETSU has less than a 9600 to 1 chance of reaching Indianapolis, but Morgan State is the longer shot at 10700+ to 1.

You have a better chance of... dying of a drug overdose between the ages of 35 and 44. The odds of that are 7877 to 1.

Watch out for:

Wisconsin. Ken Pomeroy actually has the Badgers rated 3rd in the nation, while Sagarin has them at a more reasonable 14. The defense-minded Badgers have one of their best offensive squads in years, great at controlling the ball (their 15.1% turnover rate is 3rd best in the country) while their defense allows the fewest offensive rebounds per possession in the country at 25.8%. The Badgers are going to be a tough out for everybody, and has a very real chance of ousting Kentucky should they meet in the Sweet 16. A berth in the Final Four is not an unrealistic possibility.


1. Kentucky. Sweet 16: 55.7%. Final Four: 4.2 to 1
2. West Virginia. Sweet 16: 53.8%. Final Four: 4.3 to 1
3. New Mexico. Sweet 16: 31.7%. Final Four: 28.3 to 1
4. Wisconsin. Sweet 16: 61.9%. Final Four: 4.1 to 1
5. Temple. Sweet 16: 26.9%. Final Four: 22.2 to 1
6. Marquette. Sweet 16: 32.7%. Final Four: 17.7 to 1
7. Clemson. Sweet 16: 22.4%. Final Four: 15.9 to 1
8. Texas. Sweet 16: 34.3%. Final Four: 8.7 to 1
9. Wake Forest. Sweet 16: 9.2%. Final Four: 87.9 to 1
10. Missouri. Sweet 16: 23.1%. Final Four: 15.1 to 1
11. Washington. Sweet 16: 30.7%. Final Four: 20.0 to 1
12. Cornell. Sweet 16: 12 to 1. Final Four: 236.3 to 1
13. Wofford. Sweet 16: 27 to 1. Final Four: 945.6 to 1
14. Montana. Sweet 16: 20 to 1. Final Four: 1014.1 to 1
15. Morgan State. Sweet 16: 143 to 1. Final Four: 10732.5 to 1
16. East Tennessee State: Sweet 16: 125 to 1. Final Four: 9667.1 to 1

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