We sensed from the beginning of the March Madness this year that the NCAA collegiate basketball championship would be a tough tournament to call, and the results have definitely proven that. College basketball is much more balanced around the country than it used to be. See e.g. the Massey Ratings. Predicting the winners of games has thus become more difficult.
In the NCAA tournament now headed to Indianapolis (NCAA headquarters) to determine the national champion, not a single Number 1 regional seed has advanced to the Final Four.
In fact, one of the teams, the Patriots of George Mason, is living up to the year's top headline at Sports Illustrated regarding the Patriots' win over top-ranked Connecticut. That headline reads simply:
The Patriots, strong underdogs from the CAA (Colonial Athletic Conference), have knocked off Michigan State, North Carolina, Wichita State and Connecticut on their way to nationwide stardom as perhaps the greatest NCAA Cinderella Team of all time. This march is all the more improbable as George Mason ended the regular season with a CAA tournament loss to Hofstra, a team that beat them twice in their own Colonial Athletic Conference. Hofstra, however, was relegated to the NIT, because, as was reported in the New York Post in "Pride and Prejudice" by Mike Vaccaro prior to the NCAA selection of teams:
"There has been much hand-wringing among the college hoops cognoscenti whether Hofsta should get in, because the Pride play in the Colonial Athletic Association, and both the regular-season winner (George Mason) and tournament winner (UNC-Wilmington) are almost certain to get bids, leaving Hofstra - with 24 victories, including two over Mason, and a thrilling near-miss comeback against Wilmington in its most recent games - sweating, because the thoughts of the Colonial getting three bids and the Big East left with seven is enough to throw Mike Tranghese into a coughing fit."
You can be sure, next year the CAA will get three bids.
At Indianapolis, Florida looks like the clear favorite on paper. The Gators convincingly beat LSU, one of the remaining Final Four, twice within the last two months, winning 71-62 at home on February 11 and then trouncing the Tigers 81-65 on the road on March 11. However, in spite of what are now a total of 31 wins, the team can be beaten, and, indeed was beaten twice this year by both Tennessee and South Carolina (the Gators then beat the Gamecocks in the SEC championship game 49-47), in addition to single losses by Florida to Alabama and Arkansas. Florida has had trouble with scrappy teams having good perimeter shooting and they may thus have trouble with George Mason, which has excelled on this score.
The most recent Massey Ratings - including the NCAA regional games - based on the won-lost record and the strength of schedule rank Florida 5, LSU 8 and UCLA 9, so that, theoretically, and indeed, in reality, any team can win. Note that in terms of the RPI Index used to make selections for this year's NCAA tournament, only UCLA was ranked in the top 10 (in fact, as Number 10). None of the first nine RPI regular-season top-ranked teams made it to the final four (Duke, Villanova, Connecticut, Memphis, Ohio State, Tennessee, Iowa, Texas, Gonzaga). Prior to the tournament, in the RPI Index, LSU was ranked 13th, Florida 15th and George Mason 26th.
Here's what read about the Final Four at Yahoo Sports from Seth Davis at Sports Illustrated:
"We caught up with SI.com's Seth Davis -- who is serving as a studio analyst for CBS during the NCAA tournament -- to talk about the NCAA tournament after Sunday night's action.
SI.com: How many brackets in all of America do you think had these teams in the Final Four?
Davis: Well, nobody had George Mason obviously. I would be surprised if anyone had three of these teams. I think that we can expect tournaments like this in the future. We were all kind of speculating, Is it possible that four No. 1 seeds can make it, and now it's the first time in 26 years that all four ones don't make it. This is just where the game is at. Obviously you're surprised that George Mason gets there. The other three teams may be unlikely, but they're not longshots. They all have been playing great basketball for a couple of months now. George Mason is obviously a longshot. I just want to know how good Hofstra is. Hofstra has to be like the best team in the country. They beat Mason twice. So, I think if Mason wins both games in Indianapolis, then they should have to play Hofstra on Tuesday. We'll settle this thing once and for all.
SI.com: So basically, you're saying parity rules college basketball these days?
Davis: Yeah. You can't get a better demonstration of that. I don't know how often it's going to be that no No. 1 seeds get [to the Final Four], but this is truly the character of the game. This is not an anomaly -- this is where college basketball is. And it's so unbelievably entertaining to watch."
By the way, it is not true that no one had George Mason in their brackets. If you look at the Yahoo Fantasy Sports Tournament Pick'Em brackets, a certain Tim McKenna in fact picked all four teams in the Final Four, including George Mason. He picks UCLA and Florida to win the semi-final games and UCLA to win the championship.
We don't have a clue, finding George Mason to be the Cinderalla pick, UCLA the nostalgic "era of Wooden" pick, Florida to be arguably the best if also most inexperienced team, and LSU to be a rough and ready opponent which no one should underestimate after their conquest of Iona, Texas A&M, Duke and Texas.
We most certainly would not bet any money on any of these games.
Most Popular Posts of All Time
Ndamukong Suh agrees to 5-year deal with Lions | freep.com | Detroit Free Press : "- Sent using Google Toolbar"
UPDATE TO THIS POST at http://sportpundit.blogspot.com/2011/07/college-football-preseason-rankings.html __________________________________...
College Football Bowl Game Predictions 2013 Season for the 2013-2014 Bowls, by SportPundit The BCS bowl matchups this year on the whole ar...
Svellnosbreen, Spiterstulen, Jotunheimen : Extreme Sports : Glacier Climbing in Norway as a Guided TourDid someone say "extreme sports"? Bloggers do not just sit at their PCs. How about glacier climbing in Jotunheimen in Norway? We l...
College Football Bowl Game Predictions 2011-2012 for NCAA FBS Games -- by SportPundit -- using YPPSYS (the Yards Per Play System) Here are...
This post is an update of a previous posting at http://sportpundit.blogspot.com/2011/06/college-football-fbs-2011-preseason.html . The pol...
Update : line and CFPT average computer spread updates as well as some prediction changes for the reasons given there are found at the next...
Our game predictions for the 1st week of College Football 2011 (Week One) are based upon our YPPSYS Preseason College Football Rankings 201...
College Football Predictions and Results for Week 8 2012 by SportPundit and the Yards Per Play System YPPSYSUpdate, Sunday October 21, 2012. Final prediction results for Week 8 2012. ____________ We were 46-10 in calling the winner of the game...
Bowl Game Prediction RESULTS for 2012-2013 by SportPundit and YPPSYS for FBS & BCS College Football BowlsUpdate: The initial good news is that we picked Alabama as the national champion in our preseason rankings and that is how the season a...
The ISandIS Network
Our Websites and Blogs: 3D Printing and More 99 is not 100 Aabecis AK Photo Blog Ancient Egypt Weblog Ancient Signs (the book) Ancient World Blog AndisKaulins.com Anthropomorphic Design Archaeology Travel Photos (blog) Archaeology Travel Photos (Flickr) Archaeo Pundit Arts Pundit Astrology and Birth Baltic Coachman Bible Pundit Biotechnology Pundit Book Pundit Chronology of the Ancient World Computer Pundit DVD Pundit Easter Island Script Echolat edu.edu Einstein’s Voice Energy Environment and Climate Blog Etruscan Bronze Liver of Piacenza EU Laws EU Legal EU Pundit FaceBook Pundit Gadget Pundit Garden Pundit Golf Pundit Google Pundit Gourmet Pundit Hand Proof HousePundit Human Migrations Idea Pundit Illyrian Language Indus Valley Script Infinity One : The Secret of the First Disk (the game) Jostandis Journal Pundit Kaulins Genealogy Blog Kaulinsium Kiel & Kieler Latvian Blog LawPundit.com Law Pundit Blog LexiLine.com LexiLine Group Lexiline Journal Library Pundit Lingwhizt LinkedIn Literary Pundit Magnifichess Make it Music Maps and Cartography Megalithic World Megaliths Blog) Megaliths.net Minoan Culture Mutatis Mutandis Nanotech Pundit Nostratic Languages Official Pundit Phaistos Disc Pharaonic Hieroglyphs Photo Blog of the World Pinterest Prehistoric Art Pundit Private Wealth Blog PunditMania Quanticalian Quick to Travel Quill Pundit Road Pundit Shelfari SlideShare (akaulins) Sport Pundit Star Pundit Stars Stones and Scholars (blog) Stars Stones and Scholars (book) Stonehenge Pundit The Enchanted Glass Twitter Pundit UbiquitousPundit Vision of Change VoicePundit WatchPundit Wine Pundit Word Pundit xistmz YahooPundit zistmz