Posted: 10:00 a.m. Wednesday, March 20, 2013
By Matt Brown
You've probably read a half dozen articles so far on how to best fill out your bracket, as you're determined to prove that with exhaustive research, you can make up for the fact that you haven't seen a single Pac-12 or Mountain West game this season, and can finally foil your stupid coworker or sibling that picks on mascots or US News Report rankings. That approach is probably stupid. You should just embrace the inevitability of your bracket being torn all to hell by 4 PM tomorrow.
However, if you want to continue in this exercise of futility, don't worry! Your friends at Land Grant Holy Land have some #Hot #Bracket #Takes that should guide your bracket all the way to at least 8th place in your bracket pool.
1) If you're a fan of a team with a #2 seed, say, Ohio State, keep an eye on those 10 seed matchups. Over history, 10 seeds have a respectable 41% winning percentage over 2 seeds, which is pretty impressive given the purported gap between the two schools. If Iowa State ends up as Ohio State's second round opponent, you'd be entitled to sweat a little. A 10 over a 2 isn't a terrible upset pick.
2) Speaking of seed history, 9 seeds have actually historically won the 8/9 more than 8 seeds. If you're going all chalk in those matchups, realize you're historically picking upsets.
3) You probably want to mix up your Final Four a little bit. Only once, in 2008, has every single 1 seed made the Final Four, while twice in recent memory, 2006 and 2011, *none* of them did.
4) If you're a fan of advanced statistics, know that Ken Pom loves Florida and Pittsburgh. Pitt is actually ranked above 1 seeded Kansas, which seems a little hard to believe if you've watched both teams play this season...NERDS.
5) I've seen several folks talk about Ole Miss as a possible upset pick over Wisconsin in the first round. I'm a little skeptical for basketball reasons, as Wisconsin's team defensive scheme is excellent and taking away the other team's best offensive weapons, and I'm not sure Marshall Henderson is disciplined enough to wait for good shot opportunities. If you want a historical reason for Wisky, the Badgers are tied with Kansas for the longest streak of making at least the round of 32, six years in a row.
6) 15 seeds have won a game six times, including twice last season. If you're determined to test out the #BoldFlavors of a 15/2 upset pick, your most likely candidate is Florida Gulf Coast over Georgetown. The Hoya's slow style of play can help lesser talented teams within striking distance (see Bobcats, Ohio), and Florida Gulf Coast manged to beat the Miami Hurricanes earlier this season. I'm not saying this is going to happen, but if you were determined to look for a shocking really low seed upset, I'd look there.
7) I think your most likely upsets are going to happen in the 6/11 space. Minnesota is actually favored over UCLA, which seems crazy considering how completely awful they've looked over their last few games. Bucknell has a NBA caliber big man in Mike Muscala, and could be a legitimate Sweet 16 threat. Memphis hasn't really beaten a good team all season and could absolutely lose to St Mary's. The most *likely* upset candidate of them all, in my mind, is Belmont over Arizona. I've been singing the praises of Ian Clark on this website before, and the Wildcat's underwhelming finish and propensity for turnovers makes them a prime upset candidate.
8) Outside of the first round or so, I think the region best primed for madness is the South region. Nobody seems to have a lot of confidence in Kansas as a 1 seed, given their question marks at point guard, which could lead to an early exit at the hands of VCU, or perhaps against a Trey Burke-led Michigan squad. There are probably 7 teams that could conceivably win this region, so go crazy.
9) You're probably aware that a 5/12 upset happens just about every year. This year, I like the Pac-12 teams, Cal is basically at home against UNLV, and Oregon is a dangerously underseeded 12 seed that could cause Oklahoma State trouble. If you want to be a true hipster though, take a look at a 13/4 line, where we've seen a rash of upsets lately. I think that Kansas State is the most vulnerable of the four.
10) My Final Four, for what it's worth, is Duke, Gonzaga, Florida and Indiana, with Duke beating Indiana for the title. You could probably talk me into a half dozen other combinations though, which you could do in the comments.
I'm looking forward to St.Louis tangling with VCU in the finals in a few weeks, while CBS executives weep and I sigh over another tattered bracket.