I am conservative, but not in the end
I know a lot of you are excited. The NCAA spent Sunday evening announcing the teams that will compete for the Men’s Basketball National title – all 68 of them. We only get four in football and play two extra games – really, just one extra game - as the first round is the same as a bowl game. In basketball, they play six or seven games extra depending on whether you have to qualify for a spot through a play-in game. Football could go to 32 teams in the playoffs and only add three more games over three weeks.
Oh, that would take too long is the response you get when you suggest that to the NCAA. Well how long does it take to play seven more games? Three weeks of playing twice a week. Well, if you would start the football playoffs immediately following the end of the regular season, it would be over by New Year’s Day.
Aww, forget about it.
Folks do not want to talk about football when it is round ball season – postseason that is. Have you looked at the brackets? Have you looked at the play-in games? Ridiculous, aren’t they?
We have Mt. St. Mary’s playing New Orleans for a shot at playing the overall No. 1 seed Villanova as the No. 16 seed in the East Regional. You have NC Central taking on UC Davis for a shot at the No. 1 seeded team in the Midwest Regional Kansas as the No. 16 seed in the Midwest Regional. Then you have four teams playing for two spots as the No. 11 seed in the East and South regional tournaments. Kansas State and Wake Forest will play for a chance to face No. 6 Cincinnati in the South Regional and Providence taking on USC to face SMU, the No. 6 seed in the East Regional.
And, to think, you left Illinois State and Syracuse out of the tournament all together. I think those two teams are probably as good, or better, than any team placed in any of the four brackets as the No. 11 seed or worse. They are definitely better than any of the eight teams selected for the play-in games.
I think I can say without hesitation that Illinois State and Syracuse are better teams than New Mexico State and South Carolina in the East Regional bracket and those teams are the No. 14 and No. 7 seeded teams in that bracket respectively. They are better than No. 9 Vanderbilt, No. 13 Bucknell, No. 14 Florida Gulf Coast and No. 15 North Dakota in the West Regional. They are better than No. 13 Vermont, No. 14 Iona, and No. 15 Jacksonville State in the Midwest Regional. They are better than No. 16 Texas Southern, No. 12 Middle Tennessee, No. 13 Winthrop, No. 14 Kent State and No. 15 Northern Kentucky in the South Regional.
But, we can always argue that some team got left out of the tournament that should not have been.
Taking a look at the No. 1 seeds in each bracket – Villanova, North Carolina, Kansas and Gonzaga – you know at least one of the teams is overrated for this high of a seed. According to the 2017 Pomeroy College Basketball Ratings through March 12, Kansas should not be a No. 1 seed. The top four in the Pomeroy ratings are Gonzaga, Villanova, North Carolina and Kentucky. There are five other teams listed before you get to Kansas. They are West Virginia (No. 4 in the West), Louisville (No. 2 in the Midwest), Virginia (No. 5 in the East), Wichita State (No. 10 in the South) and Florida (No. 4 in the East). How in the world is Wichita State at 30-4 a No. 10 seed?
The team with the worst Pomeroy rating in the tournament is No. 16 seeded UC Davis, which is rated at 218 in a list of 341 teams. Syracuse is No. 50 in the list and Illinois State is No. 51. There are 24 teams with a Pomeroy rating less than Syracuse and Illinois State. Geez. Give me a break.
So which team will win each bracket? Truth be told, we will have to wait to see. It is kind of like what U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi said about Obamacare, “We will have to pass the bill to see what is in it.” Only here I say, “We have to watch the games to see which teams win.” I think I will go conservative on half the NCAA bracket and moderate on the other side of the bracket.
In the East Regional, I feel like Villanova has the team to make it to the Final Four. In the West, I am going with Gonzaga, the overall No. 1 seed. In the Midwest, I am going to go with Oklahoma State, a No. 10 seed, to make it to the Final Four. In the South, well, I would like to say North Carolina or Kentucky, but my pick is Wichita State, another No. 10 seed. It would have been much easier to just have gone with Kansas in the Midwest and North Carolina in the South.
If I had done that, I probably would have selected North Carolina to take it all. Instead, my two teams in the National Championship game are Villanova and Wichita State. My pick for champ is Wichita State.
Why? I don’t know. This is all a guess. Try your luck and see how close you get to picking the next champion.
By Mark Clark. Clark is a local sports
writer for The Citizen.