Following NCAA tournament victories over Wichita State, Louisville, and Michigan, there’s an obvious question to ask about Kentucky: Are the Wildcats the favorite to cut down the nets in North Dallas?
For starters, the Kentucky team we’ve seen against the Shockers, Cardinals and Wolverines resembles – at least in part – the team we expected to see when preseason rankings were released last October . Most projections considered UK a Top 5 team and potential No. 1 seed. While the regular season had its share of bumps and bruises, few doubted the Wildcats’ ability. Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised by UK’s ultimate arrival at the Final Four.
But what ignited the charge?
Most notably, the improved play from guard Aaron Harrison. Look beyond the late-game heroics and you’ll find an impressive stat line. In the three games against Wichita State, Louisville, and Michigan, Harrison averaged 15 points a game and committed just five (5) total turnovers. Against Louisville and Michigan, he had only one turnover in each game.
While improved shooting (UK made 7 of 11 3-pointers against Michigan) has been important, Kentucky has done much of its damage on the backboards, out-rebounding its NCAA opponents 144-104 in four games. Those numbers pay huge dividends. Read more…
I forgot to post these the other day and was asked about it. So here’s how I picked the Field of 64 by Region. If I’ve learned anything in recent years, I’m better at projecting brackets than predicting results. Proceed with caution.
I have Florida coming out of the South as the No. 1 seed and advancing to the Final Four.
- Round of 64 – Florida over Albany; Pittsburgh over Colorado; VCU over S.F. Austin; UCLA over Tulsa; Ohio State over Dayton; Western Michigan over Syracuse; New Mexico over Stanford; Kansas over Eastern Kentucky
- Round of 32 – Florida over Pittsburgh; UCLA over VCU; Ohio State over Western Michigan; Kansas over New Mexico
- Sweet 16 – Florida over UCLA; Kansas over Ohio State
- Elite 8 – Florida over Kansas Read more…
Tuesday (March 18)
NC State vs. Xavier – Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) player of the year T.J. Warren takes to the court. He averages almost 25 points a game and is the primary reason why the Wolfpack slipped into the Field of 68. Will he get enough help? That’s the question. Only one other N.C. State player, Ralston Turner, averages in double figures. Xavier is more balanced with three players averaging double-digits, led by Semaj Christian. All things considered, NC State is the hotter team and the trendy pick to win. But this will be a de-facto home game for the Musketeers who have played in UD Arena many times – host Dayton is a long-time rival and former A10 opponent. The pick: Xavier in a close one.
Albany vs. Mount St. Mary’s – The winner earns the right to battle the NCAA tournament’s top overall seed, Florida, Thursday in Orlando. The pick: After a run through the NEC, go with the Mount St. Mary’s. They’ll want to push tempo and are more likely to score in bunches. Read more…
The NCAA tournament bracket has been released and we’ll all spend a couple of days mulling over picks and upsets in preparation for the opening tip of March Madness. It’s going to be a fun three weeks.
I’ll share a few thoughts the tournament soon. But first, here’s a quick peek at how we fared in 2014:
- Selected 35 of 36 at-large teams correctly (67 of 68 overall).
- 40 teams were listed on their correct seed line.
- 20 teams were listed within one seed line of actual (+/-)
- 7 teams were listed within two seed lines of actual (+/-)
- 60 of the 67 teams selected in our final projection were either listed on the correct seed line or within one spot of their actual seed.
- The one team missed: SMU. The Selection Committee chose NC State for its final spot in the bracket. I’m not at all shocked that SMU was left out. A non-conference strength of schedule around 300 has proven costly for several teams over the years. The primary reason why SMU held its spot: four tournament-level wins and an overall weak bubble pool.
Thanks again for following along. I appreciate your support and feedback. It’s what makes the Blog fun. One of these years I would love to try putting together a “fan” bracket using the same principles as the Committee. Maybe we can get that done.
Florida held off Kentucky to complete an amazing regular season run. The Gators will be rewarded with the top overall seed in the 2014 NCAA tournament and the No. 1 seed in the South Region. Expect Florida to be joined on the top line by Arizona, Wichita State, and either Michigan, Virginia, or Villanova. It was a race to the finish.
Bracket Projection | Final 2014
Besides a couple of minor seeding adjustments, the rest of the Field remained in tact from the Sunday morning bracket.
Now, it’s time to put away the projections and await the spectacle that is March Madness. If Championship Week has show us anything it’s that the upcoming Road to the Final Four should be a great ride. Thanks for following along. It’s been fun!