Coaching Power – Sean Miller at Arizona is the young gun among a group of high-profile coaches in the Elite 8. Think about this list … Mike Krzyzewski, Rick Pitino, Tom Izzo, Bo Ryan, John Calipari, Mark Few, Mike Brey, and Miller. If you remove Few, Brey, and Miller, you have a who’s-who list of “elite” coaches – and that’s not to disparage Few’s dominant tenure at Gonzaga or the work that either Brey and Miller has done at Notre Dame or Arizona. Consider these accomplishments:
- Mike Krzyzewski – Four National Championships, 11 Final Four appearances, 31 NCAA tournament bids
- Rick Pitino – Two National Championships, 7 Final Four appearances, 20 NCAA tournament bids
- Tom Izzo – One National Championship, 6 Final Four appearances, 18 NCAA tournament bids (consecutive)
- John Calipari – One National Championship, 5 Final Four appearances, 17 NCAA tournament bids
- Bo Ryan – 1 Final Four appearance, 14 NCAA tournament bids … Note: Won 4 National Championships at Division III Wisconsin-Platteville
However you slice it, those are impressive resumes. We could see four of the five at the Final Four in Indianapolis; and Pitino and Izzo square off for the East Regional final. Read more…
My picks for the 2015 NCAA tournament are posted below. Of course, I went 1-3 while selecting First Four games in Dayton (the Flyers were my only winning pick, and they needed a late-game rally to beat Boise State). In other words, take these picks and run the other direction.
Having watched a lot of college hoops this season, six teams stand out as the most elite: Kentucky, Villanova, Duke, Wisconsin, Arizona, and Virginia. Working through the bracket, my champion was going to come from this group. And I, like most others, settled on Kentucky; not because the Wildcats can’t be beat, rather because they have proven to be the best team.
Here we go – with some early upsets mixed in, including a pick with my head (Texas) and not my heart (Butler) … Read more…
As somewhat an NCAA tournament traditionalist, there’s something grand about the early tip-times on Thursday: the midday games, the unveiling of March Madness. But a few years in tow, the First Four has delivered its moments as well. And once again, that’s where we start our journey on the Road to the Final Four.
For what it’s worth (not much), here are my picks for the First Four games. I’ll share my choices for the 64-team field soon. Let the Madness begin!
First Four picks
- Manhattan over Hampton – As a reward, the Jaspers will have the honor of playing No. 1 seed Kentucky.
- North Florida over Robert Morris – We’ve seen some upsets from Atlantic Sun teams before; this isn’t an upset, but the Ospreys will have a chance to take on Coach K and Company in Charlotte.
- Dayton over Boise State – Why the “host” Flyers were the last at-large team in the Field is unclear. But a home-court advantage is just that; UD moves on to battle Providence.
- BYU over Mississippi – Although I had the Cougars as my “First Team Out” on Sunday night, that doesn’t mean they can’t win a game or two; they can really score the ball. If they continue doing that, BYU will face Xavier.
If I’m 0-4 by Wednesday night, it’ll be predictable. In recent years, it’s been easier to try and project what the Committee will do (UCLA excluded) than figure out what will happen once tournament play begins. And that’s why we can’t wait for another round of Shining Moments.
Although the Selection Committee tossed a bit of a curveball Sunday evening by including UCLA in its Field of 68, I’m pleased with the final results of my 2015 projected bracket. Here are the numbers …
- 66 of 68 teams | 34 of 36 at-large selected correctly
- 44 teams placed on the correct seed line
- 17 teams within one of the actual seed line
- 61 total teams either on or within one of actual seed line
- Bracket Matrix score: 347 – topped 339 score in 2014
After much debate between Temple and BYU for the final spot on Sunday, I stayed with Temple based on its double-digit win over Kansas and slightly better overall record against the Top 100. But I have no problem with BYU’s choice; it was a coin flip, and the Cougars certainly had advantages based on other metrics. Although UCLA was considered, and finished among my First Five OUT, I eliminated the Bruins from final consideration by Saturday night. Read more…
Time to unveil the Madness. One thing we know for sure: Kentucky will lead the 68-team field on its Road to the Final Four in Indianapolis.
This year’s bubble has been, well, quite interesting. And on the other end of the spectrum, we’ve had an intense race for No. 1 seeds. Let’s hope the tournament is as exciting as the season. It generally lives up to expectations, even with a high ceiling.
Down to the wire, nothing was finalized until late this afternoon, with Wisconsin battling for a No. 1 seed in Chicago and Connecticut trying to steal one last bid. Ultimately, the Huskies came up a bit short and will not defend their NCAA title.
As for history, Kentucky begins its final quest for a perfect season. The Wildcats will certainly be the favorite as action begins Tuesday in Dayton. Enjoy the Madness!
As the dust settles from Thursday’s bubble carnage, we’re left with two quick takeaways … 1) the final few teams “IN” remained in place, although in a slightly different order; … and 2) at-large opportunities improved for teams like Tulsa and UCLA, along with a couple of teams from the Atlantic 10.
Today is a potentially important day for the top of the bracket, too. Virginia, Duke, Villanova, Wisconsin, and Arizona all take the court in search of a No. 1 seed position on Sunday. Kentucky is locked in as the No. 1 overall seed, regardless; but spots 2-4 are still undecided. We have six teams for three spots.
Friday’s Bubble Tracker …
Temple – the Owls take on Memphis; a game they probably need to win. Read more…
Illinois – The Illini take on Michigan in the 8/9 game at the B10 tourney in Chicago. It’s a must win. We’ll see if the home crowd can push the Illini into a matchup with top-seed Wisconsin on Friday.
Indiana – A loss to Northwestern would really put the squeeze on IU’s NCAA hopes. The Hoosiers have lost three straight and four of five games, and haven’t beaten an NCAA team since a home victory over Maryland in late January.
Oklahoma State – The Cowboys have lost five of six games to create a bit of uncertainty. A host of good wins is countered by a growing number of losses. The good news: losing to Oklahoma would be a “good” loss. But would it be one “good” loss to many? A victory should seal an NCAA invitation.
Texas – The Longhorns took care of business against Texas Tech on Wednesday. Next up is Iowa State. Losing to the Cyclones a third time could create further issues for a team who’s major stumbling block is too many “good” losses (and not enough wins). Read more…