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College / Mar 14, 2010 / 7:12 pm

10 Things to Think About Heading Into March Madness

If you’re a true college hoops fan, you just got done watching the March Madness Selection Show. So now that you’ve called your fraternity brothers, washed off your face paint and printed out your bracket, take a couple minutes to read our initial observations including snubs, sleepers and who has the toughest road to the Final Four.

1. Kansas, the No. 1 overall seed, has the toughest road to the Final Four. Whether you thought the Jayhawks were the best team in the country or not, there’s no way that they thought they’d have to battle with Ohio State, Georgetown and Maryland en route. Plus, if you throw in teams such as Michigan State and Tennessee, this bracket is absolutely stacked!

2. Speaking of Tennessee, they have to be the most dangerous No. 6 seed in the country. They knocked off two No. 1 seeds this year – Kansas and Kentucky – so they know how to play the role of giant killer. Watch out!

3. While Syracuse gets to play their first two games in Buffalo, you know Coach Jim Boeheim couldn’t have been happy to see Vermont as their first draw. The last time the Catamounts were in the Big Dance, they beat ‘Cuse in the first round back in 2005. Plus, while many 16 seeds have to play far from home, UVM can hop on a ferry to get to this one. Nonetheless, ‘Cuse should roll in this one.

4. Although some would disagree, there is a debate about whether or not West Virginia should have been seeded ahead of Syracuse. Sure ‘Cuse beat the Mountaineers in the regular season, but West Virginia won the Big East – the toughest conference in America with eight teams in the NCAA Tournament. Although they didn’t get that No. 1 seed, WVU does get to play in the East bracket, while SU is headed out West.

5. At first glance, you gotta love the potential second round match-ups of ‘Cuse and Gonzaga, as well as Butler and Vandy. Gonzaga as an eight seed seems kind of low, and they will be dangerous. Any four of these teams could make a run to the Elite 8.

6. Two underrated teams, Cornell coach Steve Donohue was a LONGTIME assistant under The Genius, Fran Dunphy, when he was at Penn before Temple. While both teams were probably under-seeded, this has to be the best 5-12 match-up in the first round.

7. Just like Kansas, Kentucky has a tough trip to the Final Four. Battling three very tough teams, West Virginia, New Mexico and Wisconsin are all bruisers. Oh yeah, and they’ll also have to face Texas in the second round (who was the No. 1 team in the country and one point this season). One thing all of those teams have that Kentucky doesn’t is upperclassmen.

8. One of the best match-ups in the first round has to be between No. 11 Washington and No. 6 Marquette. In a down year for the Pac-10, UW was one of only two teams to make it, while Marquette is joined by eight of their conference mates. The winner of this game has a legit shot to make it to the Sweet 16, as No. 3 New Mexico could very well lose to Anthony Johnson (who scored 34 in the second half this week to win the game) and No. 14 Montana.

9. If I had to pick a sleeper right now, it’d be have to be No. 13 Siena over No. 4 Purdue. Definitely not the same team after losing Robbie Hummel, Purdue wants no part of a Siena team that defeated Ohio State 74–72 in a double overtime thriller last year, before losing to Louisville in the second round 79-72. Playing the winner of the battle of the Aggies after No. 5 Texas A&M plays No. 12 Utah State, Siena should be a lock for the Sweet 16.

10. While people could argue that Virginia Tech and Illinois were two of the biggest snubs, there is no bigger snub than Mississippi State. Going into the season, the Bulldogs were getting talk as a darkhorse Elite Eight pick – maybe even Final Four depending on how much you liked guards Dee Bost and Ravern Johnson. But the main reason for the initial high expectations was the Bulldogs’ front line, whose size and versatility made them look (on paper) like college basketball’s version of the Lakers: 6-9 senior shot-blocking machine Jarvis Varnado, 7-2 freshman John Riek (Baby Mutombo) and 6-10 frosh Renardo Sidney (Baby Odom). That juggernaut front line never materialized. Varnado posted 13.4 ppg, 10.4 rpg and 4.8 bpg, Sidney was ruled ineligible by the NCAA, and Riek’s PT was closer to Mbenga than Mutombo. Mississippi State made an inspired run to the SEC tournament final and lost to Kentucky in overtime, but their inconsistency throughout the regular season hurt them.

What do you think? What are your initial observations after the selection show?

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  • Matt

    Mississippi State got SNUBBED!!! How can they just beat Vanderbilt, Florida and barely lose to Kentucky and not get in? Even Calipari said after their win today that Mississippi State had to be a lock for the tournament.

  • Greg Reynolds

    I’m an Auburn alum (yes, we have enough problems of our own when it comes to basketball), but I really think the choice of Florida over Mississippi St. by the NCAA shows just how important money (i.e. size of fan base, ratings concerns by CBS) is in the world of big time college sports.

  • GoEasy

    Duke got a soft bracket…

  • Robbie Zee

    WVU did not win the Big East. WVU is the BE tournament champion and SYR is the BE regular season champion. Both get trophies. WVU finshes the season at 27-6. SYR finished the year at 28-4. SYR beat WVU in the head to head played in West Virginia. Now tell me who gets the one seed. The committee got it right.

  • Robbie Zee

    Last year SYR knocked UCONN out of the Big East Tournament in six overtimes. UCONN still got a #1 seed because of their body of work. Winning the BE tournament is not the same as winning the Big East.

  • airlords

    maryland got kind of screwed, as did every team in that bracket….

  • heavy d

    While I agree that Kansas is in the toughest bracket, the reality is they will only have to face one out of Ohio St, Georgetown, Oklahoma St, and Tennessee. Those teams are in the other half of the bracket while UNLV or Northern Iowa and then Maryland or Michigan State are their likely 2nd and 3rd round opponents. I think Kentucky has as tough a path as they might face Texas in the 2nd, Temple or Wisconsin in the 3rd, and then West Virginia or Marquette in a regional final.

    Duke and Syracuse are in comparatively weak brackets in terms of teams, but each faces a separate obstacle. Syracuse has to travel to Salt Lake City to get to the Final Four, while Duke might have to play Baylor in Houston which is realistically a road game. Neither of things is enough for me not to pick them to make the Final Four though.

  • jeremy

    Onuaku’s health has to be one of the biggest story lines.

  • ShowKase

    The Drought is Over! Gators back in the Tourney baby!

    And the selection committee must have gotten a nice check from the alumni in Durham. The South is the weakest region I’ve seen in a couple of years and watch Duke still find a way to NOT make the Final Four.

  • Stephen

    That is BS. MSU should have made the tournament. In the books Kentucky beat them twice, but if you watch back both games MSU physically beat them. That most definitely should pass the eye test. We all know that MSU has struggled, but can you honestly blame them after everything the NCAA has put them through this year. I mean John Riek has to sit out 9 games for amateurism status. The NCAA has the ongoing situation with Renardo Sidney. That would put a burden on any team. The NCAA and injuries have ruined Mississippi States season.

  • MoxWestCoastRep

    Here’s another thing to think about….cough cough cough. I think I may be coming down with a cold.
    Thursday and Friday might be the peak of this illness :-)

  • http://dime eyes

    When are we going to be able to view the tournament games in whole. College Pass or something. For a real fan. Seeing snippets ruins the whole thing for me. I don’t want to see spurts. I want to watch & record the whole game. Money Money Money. The games could be spread out evenly like the regular season. Aside from money what does CBS get out of it. It also would help the fake scouts who only watch tv & read reports on players. If all scouts were doing they’re job the league wouldn’t be this bad.

    College is still fun due to it being a sport. Though it’s very much a business the players approach is refreshing. Playing with pride. The stars of today’s college teams couldn’t fare with teams of past. Take Michigan,Duke,NC,even St. Johns on their Elite 8 had more talent than most teams today. Somebody has the correct the regress. It’s ruining the game as a whole.