Final Four: Can one conference dominate?

I wondered what the possibility would be of a single conference putting four teams into the final four. Which conferences actually has a shot? I made up some odds off the top of my head, here they are…
 
ACC:
North Carolina, Clemson, Duke, Miami.
The ACC only has four bids in the tournament, but they are represented in each region. So while it’s not likely that Miami will reach the Final Four, you can’t discount the possibility.
North Carolina is the East region’s best bet, and Duke winning the West wouldn’t be a shock. If Clemson can get a favorable draw along the way and foul shots don’t cause them problems, they have a good chance of being there too.
 
Odds – 160 to 1
 
Big 10:
Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Purdue.
The Big 10 also has a representative in every region. Indiana probably won’t show up, but if they do, they’re a very dangerous team and I’d consider them a Final Four threat. Wisconsin has a tough road to San Antonio but if some teams are taken out by “cinderella” they’ll be in position to crash the party. Michigan State probably won’t get past Memphis, maybe not even Marquette, that said, if Drew Neitzel gets hot they can certainly make a run. Purdue is probably the least likely of the bunch. Despite a big win over Baylor in round one, Xavier in round two, Duke in round three, UCLA in round four. It would take a small miracle for the baby boilers to reach the final four.
 
Odds – 192 to 1
 
Big 12:
Oklahoma, Kansas State, Baylor, Texas A&M, Texas.
Baylor has already been knocked out, though the Bears’ chances weren’t good to begin with. I could see Texas A&M surprising UCLA in round two but running a gauntlet that might include UConn and Duke as well might be too much to ask. Texas is a very good bet to be in San Antonio, especially playing in the Houston regional. Kansas State wasn’t seeded properly and is going to have one helluva first round matchup with USC. Oklahoma isn’t 100 per cent healthy and might get picked off by St. Joes in the first round.
 
Odds – 224 to 1
 
Big East:
Notre Dame, Louisville, Villanova, Georgetown, Pittsburgh, Marquette, UConn, West Virginia.
It would make sense that the biggest league would have the best chance and that’s probably the case. The 16-team Big East can boast a 2-seed, a 3-seed, two 4-seeds, a 5-seed, a 7-seed and an 8-seed. The most likely candidates are UConn out of the West, Pittsburgh out of the South, Georgetown out of the Midwest, and Louisville out of the East. All of those teams have a very good chance of being in San Antonio and it wouldn’t surprise me in the least bit.
 
Odds – 64 to 1
 
Pac-10:
Washington State, USC, Arizona, UCLA, Stanford, Oregon.
Since the league got 60 per cent of its members in the field, it’s only a hair behind the Big East in this category. UCLA is being picked by many to win the whole thing. Stanford is a great team but will have to go through Texas in Houston to get there. Ditto for Washington State who will have to go through North Carolina in Charlotte. USC seems to be the trendy pick but I’m not buying it. First Kansas State, then Wisconsin, followed by Georgetown and Kansas? It’s a murderer’s row of basketball teams.
 
Odds – 96 to 1
 
SEC:
Tennessee, Arkansas, Vanderbilt, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi State.
First round exits by Georgia and Kentucky have since made this feat impossible for the SEC. But getting three of four can still be arranged. That would mean Mississippi State has to beat Memphis, one of Michigan State/Pitt, and either Texas or Stanford. Tennessee is a favourite, but it would take a lot for Vanderbilt to get there with Clemson, Kansas and Georgetown in their way.
 
Odds – N/A, already knocked themselves out.

NCAA Tournament Predictions

So here’s my kick at the can, I expect that it will be a brutal attempt and potentially one of the worst brackets ever put together. So I’ll be out of contention after the first weekend, much like the Big 10 Conference will be.

EAST
First round winners: UNC, Indiana, Notre Dame Washington State, St. Joseph’s, Louisville, South Alabama, Tennessee
Sweet 16: UNC, Washington State, Louisville, Tennessee
Elite 8: UNC, Louisville
Final 4: Louisville
 
MIDWEST
First round winners: Kansas, UNLV, Villanova, Vanderbilt, Kansas State, Wisconsin, Davidson, Georgetown
Sweet 16: Kansas, Vanderbilt, Kansas State, Georgetown
Elite 8: Kansas, Georgetown
Final 4: Kansas
 
SOUTH
First round winners: Memphis, Mississippi State, Michigan State, Pittsburgh, Kentucky, Stanford, St. Mary’s, Texas
Sweet 16: Memphis, Michigan State, Stanford, Texas
Elite 8: Memphis, Texas
Final 4: Memphis
 
WEST
First round winners: UCLA, Texas A&M, Western Kentucky, UConn, Baylor, Xavier, Arizona, Duke
Sweet 16: UCLA, UConn, Xavier, Duke
Elite 8: UCLA, Duke
Final 4: Duke
 
NATIONAL SEMIFINALS
Louisville over Kansas
Duke over Memphis
 
NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP
Duke over Louisville

F*ck, I should’ve gone with the chalk. Here’s hoping this isn’t the first Final Four with all four No.1 seeds.

Duke vs. Carolina Feb. 6

Paulus

Random thoughts from the night that was the first Duke-Carolina game of the year. 

It might be the best rivalry in sports, not just college sports. Duke-Carolina in the Dean Dome Wednesday night was testament to that.

Taking in the atmosphere of the first ten minutes is spellbinding, that and my lack of wireless connection for the time being. Singler and Paulus hit consecutive threes. I’m beginning to believe some of these dookies can create their own shot.

How does coach K go out west and get Singler from Oregon and King from Cali? Carolina needs a ball-handler. Without Ty Lawson they don’t look like they know what they’re doing. Players who don’t normally have to make extra passes are forcing them. Quinten Thomas has played admirably, he’s no Lawson but he’s serviceable.

This game may as well be Paulus vs Hansbrough, the two are on fire. Gerald Henderson is an athlete. Maybe the best pure athlete at Duke since … somebody help me finish that sentence, this kid is a freak. Carolina can’t seem to close the gap. This Duke team isn’t amazing but they’re excellent at what they do. Coach K has coached them up. Imagine how good they’d be if Josh McRoberts had stuck around. 

Jon Scheyer can get his own shot? I did not know that. If he can do that consistently he’ll have a bigger affect than JJ Reddick did. That’s where Reddick came up short in his time at Duke and he still managed to garner national praise.

Carolina’s scorer on the other hand, Wayne Ellington, needs to step up big time if they’re going to win this game. Singler pushes the lead to 9 with a 3-ball. He reminds me of a better rebounding Mike Dunleavy. Strangely, both of those two are from Oregon and found their way to Duke. Damn you Coach K, leave the northwest alone. 

Singler

With under 5 to go and Carolina down by 8, it’s hard to foresee the Heels winning this one. Every time they pickup some momentum Duke hits a seemingly impossible shot. And it’s usually Paulus, he’s a gamer. He will win a national championship before his time is done at Duke. Carolina can’t win this game without Lawson. They have no answer for Paulus who has been far and away the most effective player on the floor.

It’s great to hear Dick Vitale back on the air. Chances are you’ve heard his story, if not check out the New York Times article and audio slideshow. College basketball isn’t the same without hearing about the “diaper dandies” and “PTP’ers” in the way only Dickie V can. As a Carolina fan, it’s disappointing to see a loss, especially to Duke at home but running the table in the ACC isn’t the goal. Getting a number one seed and making final four arrangements is. The ACC won’t be overly difficult but getting through this stretch without Lawson will be. If Thomas can’t be a stabilizing force for the offense it will continue to flounder.  

Tonight just wasn’t to be. Duke had six players in double figures, including Scheyer, who came off the bench to lead the team in minutes played. Hansbrough had a monster stat line of 28 pts and 18 boards but he couldn’t do it on his own. Ellington finished with a paltry 8 points, half of his average. 

Another Duke-Carolina match-up is in the books. I can’t wait for March 8 to see a healthy Ty Lawson battle Paulus and company.

Here’s Your Reason to Watch College Basketball

Kentucky Gardner WebbGardner-Webb University, an unknown school when it comes to NCAA hoops, just knocked off Kentucky by a score of 84-68, and led the entire way through, leaving Rupp Arena in complete and utter shock and putting Billie Gillespie’s job in serious jeopardy.

It’s just not supposed to go down like that. Big schools beat small schools because they have more money and recruiting powers.

And this is why we watch sports. This is why we go and see movies like Glory Road.

When a virtually unknown team beats the winning-est team in Division One history, it’s not because they’re bigger, faster, or more skilled. It’s because they flat out have more heart.

Keep your eyes on Gardner-Webb, we could have an epic sports movie in the making right before our eyes.

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