So it occurred to me that there should be a place on here where people can share their NCAA Tournament thoughts in terms of picking brackets. Obviously, people do not have to contribute (especially given the BSD pool), but if you want to chime in, I would encourage you to do so.
Note: I pick with heavy reliance efficiency stats - this typically has served me well, and typically leaves me with a fairly chalky bracket. I do consider individual matchups when picking upsets.
Note 2: Criticize all you want, but I'm riding the Zags. They're two extremely fluky games (Brandon Paul going bananas and the Butler uncalled foul/buzzer beater) from being undefeated, and statistically they are quite sound. I have Gonzaga winning it all, and Kansas, Michigan State, and Indiana in the FF. Besides, Kelly Olynyk is totally gonna be able to dominate Brittany Griner in the final, and no one can tell me otherwise.
Here are my bracket thoughts:
1) What the hell to do with Florida? They're the top KenPom team still (and have been since... maybe mid-December?). However, the team that was in full-on "Destroyer of Worlds" mode in January hasn't shown up in two months. I don't think people realize how good Florida was. To put their performance into a bit of perspective, last year's Kentucky team went undefeated in SEC play and was considered one of the most dominant teams in recent history. Those Wildcats posted a conference efficiency margin of +.30 points per possession, which is quite frankly, ludicrous. On January 22nd, Florida's margin stood at +.42 points per possession. The Gators finished right around the Kentucky mark (at +.29 to be specific), which means that since January 22nd, they've merely been an elite team. The big question hanging over the entire bracket to me is just how elite Florida is.
2) VCU is getting a lot of love as a sleeper pick, but I can't see them beating Michigan. The Wolverines are one of the best teams in the country in terms of not turning the ball over, Trey Burke has a turnover rate of 11% (VCU forces turnovers on approximately 29% of defensive possessions, most in the country), and the Michigan guards collectively are big enough to be able to pass over the VCU defenders. Similar to Belmont being forced to play a turnover-free Wisconsin team a few years ago, sometimes a good team just gets a bad matchup.
3) I've become highly wary of elite efficiency teams with slow tempos. Wisconsin is the main culprit on this, but other teams (Notre Dame, Pitt) also qualify. For whatever reason, these teams' regular season performances do not translate well into the postseason. Pomeroy himself has actually acknowledged that Wisconsin breaks his system and that the Badgers are always more highly valued than they should be. Teams to be wary of this season: Florida (1st efficiency, 299th tempo), Pitt (7th, 339th), Wisconsin (9th, 310th), Georgetown (12th, 313th), and possibly Miami (14th, 282nd).
4) I am saddened that my "Never Pick a Rick Barnes Team" rule is out of play this year. It's usually good for free points.
5) High seeds that skew heavily towards offense are good upset candidates. Unfortunately, the only one of those this year is... Michigan, who plays a reeeeeeally bad South Dakota State team in the first round and will more than likely get an extremely favorable matchup with VCU in the second. The only other team that fits the profile is Creighton, but they're a 7 seed.
6) Statistically overrated teams (more than one full seed line above where KenPom expects them): Miami (2 seed, 14th in KenPom), New Mexico (3 seed, 17th), Marquette (3 seed, 25th), Kansas State (4 seed, 30th), UNLV (5 seed, 36th), Memphis (6 seed, 39th), Illinois (7 seed, 42nd), UCLA (6 seed, 44th), Butler (6 seed, 52nd), Temple (9 seed, 68th)
6a) Nice strong batch of 6 seeds, huh?
7) Statistically underrated teams (more than one full seed line below where KenPom expects them and ignoring the tempo teams listed above): Creighton (7 seed, 15th in KenPom), Missouri (9 seed, 18th), St. Mary's (11 seed, 22nd), Minnesota (11 seed, 23rd), Colorado State (8 seed, 24th), Middle Tennessee State (11 seed, 32nd), Mississippi (12 seed, 34th).
7a) Nice strong batch of 11 seeds (for reals). Both St. Mary's and MTSU play in the First Four tonight and both rank higher in KenPom than the team they will face (Memphis).
8) Easiest game to call in the first round: VCU over Akron. If you didn't know, Akron is playing without it's starting point guard. The backup is a freshman. VCU forces more turnovers than any team in the country.
9) Hardest game to call in the first round: Oklahoma State-Oregon. Everyone is (rightly) complaining that Oregon got shafted with a 12 seed and thus primed for an upset bid, but I keep thinking "Do you really want to have your point guard working his way back from injury up against Marcus Smart?" With apologies to some of the 8-9 and 7-10 games.
10) Biggest upset of the tournament: I don't think Louisville wants any part of St. Louis. The Billikens have already shown that they can handle relentless pressure, having beat VCU once during the regular season and Sunday in the A-10 championship game. Furthermore, they have the defense to really constrict Louisville's halfcourt offense, which has been a problem for the Cardinals.
That's it for me. Please post your own thoughts below. Obviously not everyone will agree on everything (or else what fun would bracket pools be?) but please try to value other people's opinions, even if you're convinced that they don't know their ass from a hole in the ground.