68 Thoughts, Facts, Stats, Ideas, And Ramblings For The NCAA Tournament
I love this week so much. ABSOLUTELY LOVE it. It's the best event in sports, a terrific way to crown a champion in that the season matters very much in how you are seeded , but the unpredictability of the tournament can lead you with wild outcomes, especially in a 1 and done format. It's the best.
I thought in honor of my favorite event, what better way that to honor the 68 (now 66) teams in the NCAA Tournament than with some rapid fire thoughts, bullet points etc on the Tournament
1- I call it The Tournament not March Madness. Maybe it's a personal pet peeve, but people who say "when does march madness start ?' bother me, because the answer is Veteran's Day if we're being honest. The whole sport is chaos, every night is a movie as the kids say. This event is the NCAA Tournament, not March Madness, call it The Tournament or as Mike Francesa has said on radio 574845858489 times "Da Ternamint"
2- The play in games should be teams actually playing into the tournament. Making 16 seeds who won their conference, lose a game in Dayton and rob them from playing against a true #1 seed, or robbing them from that elusive dream at an upset is bullshit. The play ins should be all 11 seeds playing in.
3- If you lose the play in game as an 11 seed you didn't make the tournament (Looking at You Brandon Walker). However …
4- If you lose the play in game as a 16 seed, you did make the tournament. I don't shame little schools who got screwed via the system.
5- The biggest piece of advice for these 4 days is try to make it a tradition of who you watch the games with. It gets harder and harder to lock down people's times as the years go on, jobs, life, moving away etc, but if you are young and single reading this do everything you can to watch the games with your buddies, or friends you see once a year but it's for this event and that's your thing, or when in doubt your dad. The tournament is one of those things even casual basketball fans can love, and having a great tradition around it is awesome.
6- Let's cut right to the chase , there's a ton of pressure on the Alabama Crimson Tide to come out of the south region. They are the #1 overall seed , and have had off the court issues which now makes everyone but me hate them, or root against them. They also have a fantastic draw, and a boatload of talent. They are facing immense pressure to go to Houston for the Final 4.
7- The second round very much could have a 12 vs a 13 seed squaring off.
8- I watched Charleston in person at Drexel in February and thought they had a real hard nose team. The worry for me was the size of their guards, as they max out at 6'2. I said big guards in the tourney could do them in, San Diego St goes 6'4,6'2 and 5'10 across the board for guards, that's not going to be a massive advantage for the Aztecs. I also love that Charleston travels to Orlando for this game, while San Diego St has to go completely across the country.
9- You cannot talk me into trusting Virginia which has the 164th rated offense since 2/1 into being a team I want to buy long term. Furman is super live here as a dog. The Paladins shoot 46% of their total shots from 3, and shoot 34.7% from 3. That means they will take a ton, and shoot it fairly well. In a game where you may only need 60,hell 50, hell 45 some nights to beat that putrid Virginia offense … I'll roll with the team from deep here.
10- Charleston …Furman chance to go to the Sweet 16, book it.
11- Speaking of lighting it up from 3, Utah St shoots 39.3% from 3pt, and Missouri allows opponents to make 35.4% of their attempts. Missouri's defense also ranks 178th in the country … however
12- Utah St and Missouri rank top 15 in offense and. play in the top 3rd of fastest tempos in the country. as some would say it's an over bettors dream.
13- The over is 156.5 … As one man has said when presented the above points … "Say less Fanta."
14- Kevin Willard vs Bob Huggins in a first round game will be super entertaining.
15- If you work in the cubes you should have requested these two days off in August. If you are working til the bell either Thursday or Friday you are a fool. A FOOL.
16- When setting up for the day, make sure you order the food to show up at 11:30 , 11:45 the latest. Or if you go out to get the food, do it early. Don't be the guy streaming from your phone in the deli. Plan ahead.
17- The sleeper in the region could be the Creighton Blue Jays. Tons of offensive weapons, and a top tier defense. Seems like if anyone other than Alabama or Arizona crack through here it's the boys from Omaha.
18- My official picks for round 1 :
Bama, WV, Charlesto, Furman, Creighton, Baylor, Utah St and Arizona.
19- Sweet 16 matchups :
Bama, Charleston, Creighton, Arizona
20- Elite 8 - Bama over Arizona in a classic.
21- I know more about Chemistry , a subject I haven't studied in 20+ years, and when I did I failed the Regents exam , than what to do with the East regional.
22- The East Regional should play at MSG every other year. The Mecca deserves it.
23- It sure seems like everyone is falling in love with Duke for winning an overrated ACC doesn't it. Did anyone else see that the team who was 1 game off winning the conference had to play into the tournament (Pitt) ? Did anyone else see that Clemson was left out, NC State has a 11 seed, and the conference only got 5 bids ? Are we sure falling in love with Duke for winning a bad conference is the move ?
24- Oral Roberts is super trendy because everyone remembers their run from 2 years ago, but this year's team may be better. Max Abmas is back , a dynamic scorer, and they added 7'5 Arkansas transfer Connor Vanover . The Golden Eagles have the nations 22nd best offensive efficiency (compared to 66th in 2021), and are 106th for defensive efficiency (compared to 219th in 2021.) They have also won 17 straight.
25- Kansas St's best player Markquis Nowell has a twitter handle of Mr.New York City (@MrNewYorkCityy) . He's from Harlem,NY and would LOVE to be playing in the Garden with a chance to go to the Elite 8 and Final 4.
26- He's a super dynamic gaurd despite being 5'8. He's fearless and will take the big shot. Seems due for a big moment.
27- The guard Nowell could be facing in MSG is Tyler Kolek from Marquette. Another dynamic guard built to make big plays… who has said he has big balls.
The matchup of these two could be fantastic game. I hope we get it.
28- The region has a lot of big team names, coaches, and big players. Purdue…Zach Edey, Memphis and Kendric Davis, Duke and Kyle Filipowski, Tennessee led by Rick Barnes, Max Abmas, John Calipari, Ed Cooley, Markquis Nowell, Keyontae Johnson, Tom Izzo, Shaka Smart, and Tyler Kolek. The most loaded in terms of names and brands to the casual fan.
29- Not 1 team in this region is in the top 25 of both offensive and defensive efficiency. It's truthfully wide open.
30- You could talk me into anyone in this region making the Final Four, including Tennessee who I hate their style but may be flying completely under the radar and still play elite defense.
31- My picks are. this :
1st Round : Purdue, Memphis, Oral Roberts, Tennessee, Kentucky, K St, USC and Marquette
32- 2nd round : Purdue, Tennesee, Kentucky, Marquette
33- Sweet 16 - Purdue and Kentucky
34- Elite 8 … Purdue marches on
35- Trust none of that regions picks because it's WIDE OPEN. I cannot stress that enough.
36- I feel you should mark your bracket by highlighting the round in which the team wins, not the round in which they advance. We had a big healthy debate on this.
37- Northern Kentucky is going to be in a world of hurt vs Houston. NKU plays slow which fits Houston's style, and then in every other aspect of the game the Norse are massively overmatched. 217th in Offensive Efficiency, 43.2% for field goal percentage, 69.2% from the line, and a negative rebounding margin. Houston may hold this team to 8 points in the 1st half.
38- Give me Houston 1h, NKU team total under, Houston game, and Houston alternate line up to as far as I can push it on The Barstool Sportsbook.
39- Coaching experience is not being talked about enough for this tournament, that not a lot of coaches have had massive success in the tournament. Texas is one of those teams using an interim coach, yet sitting on the verge of a potential championship.
40 -How did Auburn get a defacto home game in Birmingham against Iowa ? How is that fair …
41 - I was able to get Fran McCaffery's reaction on the matter … Fran had this to say :"
I'll take that as a no comment, thanks Coach.
42- Miami has the 12th best offense in the country, yet the 132nd best defense. Miami also has DYNAMIC guards in Isiah Wong and Nigel Pack. This Miami team is a real wild card in this region.
43- I love Pitt over Iowa St. Since 2/1 Iowa St is 133rd in offensive efficiency. They play excellent defense (7th) in the same time frame, but didn't Pitt just pull one out against a similar style Miss St team ? Thought so.
Also I have Pitt in #BracketBuskers so let's go get a win boys !
44- This is an all time Onions shot (and call from Raf) by my friend Levance Fields. One of my favorite March moments.
45- It's a damn shame Colgate got a 15 seed. They deserve better and a fun to watch. Also they can really shoot it well from 3, and as a caller on Picks Central pointed out today, the back door is wide open with a team like that. Give me Colgate +13.5.
46- Is anyone talking about Texas having a -0.7 rebounding margin this year ? I feel like that's a big concern no one is addressing.
47- Xavier lost Zach Freemantle for the year, but actually plays better defense without him. Also Souley Boum is a FANTASTIC guard and a guy who is going to give teams fits.
48- My picks :
Houston, Iowa, Miami, Kent St, Pitt, Xavier , A&M, Texas
2nd round :
Houston, Miami, Xavier, Texas
Sweet 16 :
Elite 8 :
TEXAS (For what it's worth, I flipped between Texas and Xavier 45 times while writing this, and think Xavier Texas winner is going to the Final Four)
49- If you aren't wearing sweatpants the entire 4 days of the 1st and 2nd round I don't want to know you. Another bonus tip (aka dirtbag move) is to get a towel to wipe your hands from wings, chips etc instead of going back and forth on napkins. 1 towel all day then throw it out. Let it look like Bruce Willis tank top in Die Hard.
50- Kansas got rocked by Texas (without Bill Self) in the B12 Final. It's the equivalent of an Elite 8 game (ie 1 seed vs 2 seed). Does it feel like people are little too down on Kansas off that loss than we should be ?
51- Reminder Kansas has 17 Quad 1 wins, are the defending national champs, have an elite coach, and may have the most talent of anyone in the country. They also kind of got screwed having to go to Vegas and not Kansas City.
52- Arkansas and Illinois were both in the Top 15 at one point this year, and now square off in an 8-9 matchup. Illinois also beat Kansas in a secret scrimmage this preseason. Bill Self's former employer… Illinois.
53- Is St.Mary's being talked about at all ? The Gaels have 4 double digit scorers, wins over Gonzaga,Oral Roberts, and San Diego St this year. They lost to Houston by just 5 points.
54 - I need an unfiltered comment from Danny Hurley at Uconn on the committee not only making The Huskies play Iona and Rick Pitino in the first round, but play in Albany just 3 hours away from Iona's campus.
55- Adrian Wojnarowski still hasn't apologized to me for saying Danny Hurley wasn't leaving Wagner after he beat Pitt on 12/23/11 . It's disgusting behavior
56- TCU is without big man Eddie Lampkin. Significant news considering Gonzaga is likely their 2nd round opponent, and Drew Timme is one of the best in the country.
57- Grand Canyon's Head Coach is Bryce Drew. He hit my favorite buzzer beater of the tournament. I still remember where I was watching it. I still don't know why he dove on the floor.
58- My ranking of High Noon flavors for the weekend consumption are : Lemon, Black Cherry , Watermelon, Passion Fruit, Lime, and Kiwi.
59- Gonzaga has the best offensive efficiency in the country, but rank just 75th in defense. It also feels like The Zags are flying under the radar. It also feels like they are battle tested with non conference games this year vs : Michigan St, Kentucky, Xavier, and Alabama (all wins), and losses to Texas Purdue and Baylor. Many people want to criticize they don't play anyone. Trust me they do.
60- I like Boise St vs Northwestern in round one which terrifies me considering the Mountain West's track record in this tournament. 1-11 in First 4/First Round games since 2016, 5-17 since 2013 overall. Bad.
61- UCLA is without Jaylen Clark, maybe their best defender, and 3rd scoring option. Reminder, Gonzaga has the best offense in the country. UCLA plays in the Pac 12 which got 3 teams in for sure, and 1 playing in. UCLA's non conference schedule of note was Illinois, Baylor (both losses) and Kentucky (win). I think UCLA is good but be careful falling in love with them.
62- Anyone who says the committee doesn't know what they are doing is lying. They want Gonzaga and UCLA in the S16. They know the history.
63- My picks in the West
Kansas, Illinois, St.Mary's, Uconn, TCU, Gonzaga, Boise St, UCLA
Kansas, UConn, Gonzaga, UCLA
Gonzaga to the Final Four.
64- Attending the Final Four was an awesome experience, I would encourage everyone who loves basketball to try and do it.
65- In the Final Four, I think it's Bama over Purdue, and Texas bests Gonzaga.
66- Despite all the hatred, despite all the doubts. Alabama cuts down the nets. It's been a three year build for Nate Oats and the crew in T-Town, and he's got the best player in the country willing to carry them to a championship. The three's need to go down, but this team is deep, talented and a real tough cookie to beat on the defensive end.
67- Always Foul Up 3.
68 - If you love basketball and learning basketball, watch this video. it's porno for nerds like me.
Everyone have a great tournament, and enjoy the great options at The Barstool Sportsbook.