Sunday, March 15, 2009

NCAA Tournament Bracket Absurdity

First of all, go join the Daily Quickie Readers group over at the Tournament Challenge.

The National Bracket already has some statistically significant results: America picks UNC to beat Louisville for the national title, with the Final Four a repeat of last year -- all No. 1 seeds advance.

(The Elite Eight is all 1 and 2 seeds, which you KNOW ain't gonna happen.)

Most contentious N.B. picks: UConn-Memphis, which was predictable... Syracuse-Oklahoma... one other notable result so far: Florida State over Xavier by a 60-40 margin. Surprising, given Xavier's recent proven excellence in the NCAA Tournament -- and FSU's lack of it.

So here's my dilemma: Back in November, I picked Louisville to win the national title. Do I try to maintain epic integrity and pick them to win it all this year?

(I did that last year with UCLA, and fell short -- it wasn't the reason my bracket sucked last year; that was all the OTHER wrong picks.)

Here's the thing: I'm naturally disinclined to pick the No. 1 overall team to win the national title -- certainly not this season.

That said: I like the idea of maintaining my pick from November til now. I just had figured that Louisville would finish the season as a 2- or 3-seed and I'd be making a novel bracket pick, not picking the damn No. 1 overall team in the field.

I'm also nervous about Louisville winning too many close games -- scoring margin should be a big factor in picking winners to go 6 straight. Close games means too much is left up to random chance. (And, as Pitt fans reminded me, L'ville played a much easier schedule than Pitt.)

So: Do I get ANY credit for picking Louisville in the preseason to win the national title if they do go on to win the national title -- but I have picked another team (say, Pitt) to win it all on my actual bracket?

My suspicion is that you all would say: No credit at all. You can't have it both ways. (And you'd be right, as much as I hate to say it.)

And so I'm torn: I actually do think that Louisville COULD win the national title -- I give them as much of a shot as Pitt (and an even better shot than UNC, who I think will fold early this season...again. Of course, Pitt has its own tradition of choking in March.)

But I really do hate taking the paper favorite. It seems so uninspired.

And, more importantly, feels like it will be inevitably wrong.

(Also: I'm absolutely sick to my stomach about UCLA-VCU in the first round -- I very well might have picked both to the Elite Eight... if not further. I still think UCLA has all the ingredients to be a Final Four team...yet again. And I think VCU is good enough to make a 2- or 3-game run. Of course, either will have to play Villanova in Philly -- again, WHY SELECTION COMMITTEE WHY?)

Just filed my column to Sporting News. Hope to have a URL for you shortly.

-- D.S.


Brett said...

I would give you tons of credit if you picked 'Ville preseason and they went on to win the national championship regardless of who you pick now that the brackets are out. If you feel they lose to someone based on a match-up that is fine. I would not discredit you at all if they go on to win it despite your bracket not agreeing with your preseason pick.

The bracket is a whole new game.

Dan Shanoff said...

Brett wins!