Our thoughts on the collegians – this should be one of the most competitive tournaments in recent memory with truly no outstanding or dominant team. The top seeds – Ohio State, Kansas, Pitt and Duke each have their flaws.
Of the four, Pitt might be the best positioned to go the deepest, although keep an eye on fifth-seeded Kansas State. Should the Wildcats face and upset Pitt in the Sweet 16, K-State would be a true threat to win it all.
If form holds up in the West a matchup of top seeded Duke and second seeded San Diego State in the regional finals would be compelling. It would also mean that the Aztecs would have won their first 3 NCAA Tournament games in school history, providing excellent momentum for a team coached by Steve Fisher, who led Michigan to the 1989 title.
Kansas is the top seed in the Southwest but could be ripe for an upset should they face Louisville in the Sweet 16. A real legitimate threat to win the region, however, is Purdue.
Ohio State has been perhaps, along with Pitt, the most consistent team all season, considering quality of opposition faced on a weekly basis. The Buckeyes should make it to the Final Four.
In filling out your brackets note that the tournament has been won by one of the four 1 seeds in each of the last four seasons and in 9 of the last 12. Since Duke won as a 2 in 1991, a 1 seed has won 14 times, a No. 2 twice, a 3 twice and a 4 once.
Three times a 5 seed has made the Championship game, including Butler last season. But each of the 3 has lost in the title game with Butler the only one to cover.
In a typical tournament there will be eight games in the true first round of games (Thursday and Friday) in which a lower seeded team will defeat a higher seeded team. In each of the past two seasons the higher seeded team won 22 of those 32 games.
But in the 26 seasons since the Tournament expanded to 64 teams the 1 seeds are a perfect 104-0 against 16’s. No. 2 seeds are 100-4 against 15’s.
As to the point spread the most successful seed vs. seed match in the full first round has been the 7 vs 10. In these matchups the 7 is 59-43-2 ATS, 57.8 percent.
History suggests the Final Four likely will feature a pair of 1 seeds, a 2 seed and a 3, 4 or 5 seed.
My “formful” bracket will have Ohio State, Pitt, Purdue and Texas reaching the Final Four. My “aggressive” bracket will feature Ohio State, San Diego State, Purdue and Kansas State.
Ultimately the pick is for Ohio State – with its 16-2 record against other teams in the field of 68 – to cut down the nets in Houston.