NCAA Tournament Fact vs. Myth
by Max Powers, Doc's College Basketball Handicapper - 03/17/2009
The NCAA Tournament is here and March Madness is in full swing. This is our favorite time of year here at Doc's Sports and we are expecting big things once the tournament begins on Thursday. If you have not already, be sure to check out our printable brackets for both the NCAA and the NIT, as Doc's Sports is your one-stop shop for all your basketball handicapping needs.
The following will examine a couple of key questions many of you have about the upcoming tournament and we are confident this discussion will also help you fill out your bracket and be the king of your office pool.
Fact vs. Myth
Fact vs. Myth No. 1: Oklahoma has the best player in Blake Griffin and thus they are a threat to win it all?
Answer: Myth. Despite having the best player in Blake Griffin, the Sooners have a hurdle that they will not be able to overcome, Jeff Capel cannot coach. Everything Blake Griffin gets is on his own and not because of some great offensive attack devised by Capel. In fact, the Coach K "family tree" has not been successful as evidenced below:
Tommy Amaker (Seton Hall, Michigan, Harvard)
Bob Bender (Washington)
Mike Brey (Notre Dame)
Neil Dougherty (Texas Christian)
Quin Snyder (Missouri, NBDL Austin Toros)
Jeff Capel III (Virginia Commonwealth, Oklahoma)
David Henderson (Delaware)
Johnny Dawkins (Stanford University)
This certainly does not line-up with the Coach Rick Pitino tree. The Sooners have a nice draw but I don't expect them to make it to the Elite Eight, despite being a No. 2 seed.
Fact vs. Myth No. 2: The Big Ten set basketball back 20 years this season and all of the teams will be knocked out this weekend?
Answer: Myth. Granted the Big Ten was hard to watch in 2009 and the first team to reach 50 points won the majority of games, but familiarity played a major role in this. Every coach in the conference has a veteran this season and opposing teams are very familiar with each coach's style of play. The same cannot be said for teams outside the Midwest and expect the scoring of Big Ten teams to increase and this may set up some great totals plays on the over. I expect Purdue and Michigan State to make it to the second weekend and four of the seven Big Ten teams will win their first round games. The officiating and unfamiliarity will help all of these squads. Watch out for Purdue, as this team has the best talent and is starting to get healthy.
Fact vs. Myth No. 3: Location is important when filling out your bracket?
Answer: Fact. You have noticed that there have not been as many upsets in recent years and the chalk has prevailed through the first weekend. Last year, the Top 8 seeds made it through the first weekend and it would not surprise me if that trend happened again this year. I do not see many strong teams in the 7-10 games that would have a chance to knockout a No. 2 seed in round two. Teams benefiting from location this season are Villanova, Louisville, North Carolina, and Duke. Expect all of these teams to advance to the second week of the tournament.
Fact vs. Myth No. 5: Teams need stars in order to advance deep into the tournament.
Answer: Fact. The tournament is a different breed and oftentimes games get into half-court battles and, in order to score points, you need players that can create their own shots. Does Stephen Curry ring a bell from 2008? Teams that come to mind this season are North Carolina, Florida State, Arizona State and Pittsburgh. Teams that don't have a star are Wisconsin, Illinois, West Virginia, and Texas A&M.
Fact vs. Myth No. 6: The tournament should be expanded to eliminate the bubble teams.
Answer: Myth. Regardless of how many teams you put in, there will always be some team that feels they got jobbed. Do we really need all 16 teams from the Big East in the NCAA Tournament? Does DePaul deserve to be in after going 0-16 in the Big East? The tournament is fine the way it is now and I like the fact that each conference gets at least one team into the field. Nobody left out this season (Penn State, Auburn, or St. Mary's) could win six straight games in the tournament. The only thing I would eliminate is the play-in game, (yes that is what it is called) because the loser does not get to experience the real tournament atmosphere. Coaches are in favor of expansion because it may help save their jobs and, much like the bowls, mediocrity can seem a lot better with a victory late in the season.
There you have it, so who do I think will advance to the Motor City: Michigan State, UCONN, North Carolina, and Pittsburgh. Who will cut down the nets: UNC.