As North Carolina, Oregon, Gonzaga, and South Carolina complete final workouts in advance of Saturday’s Final Four, four key questions come to mind. They are …
How healthy are Joel Berry ankles? Given his game-winning shot against Kentucky, it would be tempting to look at Luke Maye’s bench production (12.5 ppg in NCAAs vs. 4.9 ppg in regular season) and wonder if he can sustain those numbers in Phoenix. No question, North Carolina would like that to continue. But the Tar Heels chances of reaching Monday’s title game and avenging last year’s loss hinge more on the health of Berry’s ankles. How many minutes can he play? How effective will he be? Will his ankles be 70 percent? 80? We don’t know. He may not either until he takes the court. Standing between Carolina and another NCAA title are three solid defensive teams. Oregon shut down Kansas, and South Carolina and Gonzaga are elite defensive groups. As we saw against Duke in the ACC tourney, UNC can struggle when Berry’s off the floor. How healthy are Joel Berry’s ankles? The answer could well map out UNC’s final journey. Read more…
Between Thursday and Friday, three eleven seeds won. We also had the usual 12 over 5-seed. And yet, the first two days of the 2017 NCAA tournament feel rather chalky. Maybe that’s because the twelve seed, Middle Tennessee State, was actually favored to win its matchup with Minnesota. Also, were we surprised to see Xavier beat Maryland? Or Rhode Island trip up a less-than-healthy Creighton? If there was a surprise, it’s USC. The Trojans rallied from double-digit deficits twice, beating Providence in the First Four, and then SMU on Friday.
While the results might leave us a little hungry, the Round of 32 looks might tasty. My Quick Takes on the weekend’s top five matchups …
Gonzaga vs. Northwestern – We could rename this game: Ultimate Underdog vs. New Kids on the Block. While Gonzaga is respected for its consistent excellence, the Bulldogs have never reached a Final Four and remain many people’s pick as first No. 1 seed to lose. Thus, the pressure is squarely on the Zags, who struggled to score against South Dakota State (shooting 39 percent overall and 27 percent from 3). The good news: Gonzaga no longer relies on its offense to carry the day. Flipping the page, Northwestern might be the feel good story of the year. They survived a late rally by Vanderbilt to win their first-ever NCAA tournament game in their first-ever appearance. And who doesn’t enjoy those sidelines shots of Doug Collins and Julia Louis-Dreyfus, right? Read more…
When it comes to filling out a bracket, I usually begin with the Final Four and work backward. Not that it’s been a particularly good strategy, but you have to start somewhere, right? While I’ve faired pretty well when it comes to projecting how the Field of 68 will look in advance of Selection Sunday, my bracket picks are no more insightful than yours. So take my picks with a proverbial grain of salt (aka disclaimer if looking for advice).
Once the ball is tipped, we don’t know what will happen. It’s the beauty of March Madness. What we do know is this … incredible drama will unfold, keeping us on the edge of our seats, wanting more. Here’s to an incredible 2017 NCAA Tournament. Now, onto the picks … Read more…
While the Noon tip on Thursday will always feel like the true beginning of March Madness, we’ve seen some really good First Four games in recent years. If nothing else, after a full day without any college hoops, it’s time to rekindle the fire. It’s going to be a great three weeks. The NCAA tournament rarely disappoints.
I’ll share my full bracket picks on Wednesday, with this caveat: they are for entertainment purposes only. I’m no better at picking actual tournament games than anyone else.
Another Selection Sunday is coming to a close. The actual 2017 NCAA Tournament Bracket has been revealed. So the questions is …. how did our projection end up?
Here are the details (updated)…
- Correctly selected all 36 at-large teams (36/36)
- 44 teams were seeded on the correct seed line
- 21 teams were seeded within one line of correct seed line
- 3 teams were within two seed lines
- Total … 65/68 teams either on or within one seed line
A huge thanks to everyone who visits the site and participates in the process. You are the reason I do this. I love talking brackets and hoops with fellow college basketball fans. It should be a great tournament. The Madness is about to begin.
Selection Sunday is here. Tonight, the Selection Committee will reveal its 2017 NCAA tournament bracket. While there will be a healthy debate about whether Duke’s late-season run should vault them onto the No. 1 seed line, what we do know – or at least believe – is that reigning champ Villanova will be the No. 1 overall seed.
For now, North Carolina remains the top seed in the South Region. It may change this afternoon. Either way, your top line figures to end up with Villanova (East), Kansas (Midwest), North Carolina/Duke (South), Gonzaga (West).
With league favorites winning most of their conference tournaments, potential bid thieves have largely been eliminated. The biggest bubble debate figures to be centered around Syracuse. Will the Orange’s high quality wins outweigh its losses, record-high RPI, and poor record away from the Carrier Dome? That’s something we won’t know for sure until tonight.
As the final seconds ticked away in Brooklyn on Friday night, Duke celebrated a victory over rival North Carolina. With it, the Blue Devils may also have secured the No. 2 seed in the East Region behind Villanova. They certainly look dangerous. Arizona tripped UCLA in the Pac-12, setting up a rematch with Oregon. The winner will likely be the No. 2 seed out West.
Vanderbilt continues its climb and could become the first at-large team with 15 losses, assuming they fall short in the SEC tourney. Elsewhere on the bubble, teams like Kansas State, Wake Forest, USC, and Illinois State must sit and watch; their resumes complete. Pay special attention to the Atlantic 10 semifinals. Rhode Island is close to grabbing a spot, and two potential bid thieves lurk opposite the sets of Rams (URI, VCU). Today, it’ll be time to re-scrub the seed list again as more resumes fill up.