Bracket O' Death.
Since UNC is in Ohio State's region it can reasonably be assumed they are the #8 overall which is about right all things considered. On paper this region looks really tough. If the brackets holds UNC would face the Pac 10 Tournament champion in Washington, Syracuse who has never lost to UNC in the NCAA Tournament and oh yeah, plays a zone which will befuddle UNC and then possibly the best team in the country in Ohio St. The good news is brackets never go according to plan so this should be the same with the hope UNC losing is not a part of the bracket falling apart. Just for fun here is the East Regional and the Ken Pomeroy rankings:
[table id=104 /]
I have not done this for the other regions but this looks pretty tough if you trust Pomeroy. The one that really jumps out at you is Washington being one slot behind UNC in the rankings. Kentucky is the #4 seed and will give Ohio St. all they can handle assuming they both make it to East Rutherford. The NCAA Tournament is about matchups. UNC's first round opponent, LIU, is ranked #4 in tempo. The Heels' potential second round opponent, Washington, is ranked 16th in tempo. For UNC, the two games in Charlotte could be played exactly how Roy Williams likes UNC to play. After that....we will talk about after that if the Heels get there. Playing Syracuse is possibly the worst team UNC could face and the #1 team in the country? The price of being the #8 overall. In the end, all UNC can do is show up and play hard. The bracket will take care of itself.
C.Michael: I always think back to 2005 before I make comments of how strong I perceive a region to be. That year, I thought UNC had a murderous draw. Then KU and UConn lost, and I thought UNC would walk to the Final Four, only to get pushed to the hilt by Villanova and Wisconsin. The bottom line: the games still need to be played. That being said, I think that on paper, the Heels have a very difficult draw, as both Syracuse and Washington are ranked in KenPom's Top 15, Syracuse has the best zone in the country, and UNC does not have a good NCAAT history with guards named "Isaiah Thomas". The good news for UNC is that their first two games should be against up-tempo teams (LIU is #4 in adjusted pace, UW is #16), so that should help the Heels and Kendall Marshall get their "mojo" back. All in all, I like UNC's chances to win their two games in Charlotte and make it to the Sweet 16. Anything beyond that is gravy, in my opinion, though I do think Xavier will beat Syracuse, so I run beyond the S16 is certainly a possibility.
Doc: On UNC: Very strong bracket. LIU has best record of all the 15-seeds at 27-5; all other 15 seeds have double-digit losses.Lots of potentially strong teams, but the good news is that UNC only has to beat three of those good teams to go to Houston. UNC has a good opening two games as LIU is not a pack-it-back team, nor is Washington. Washington is a worry given their Pac-10 tourney run and Georgia was a surprise to make the field, much less as a 10-seed. After that it gets dicey. Syracuse is UNC's worst nightmare but Xavier might not be much better. Survive that and the #1 team in the country possibly awaits. The NCAA tourney is all about matchups and I am not thrilled about Carolina's. On the other hand, lots of teams in this region have tough matchups, so who knows. It is curious that, according to the S-curve, San Diego State is the 1st #2 seed, then Florida, Notre Dame, and UNC is the 4th. Hard to believe that Notre Dame and UNC were supposedly in contention for a #1 seed before today.
As for the rest of the field, I think the selection committee did a lot of funky things. Ohio St. AD Gene Smith chaired the committee and based on some of the comments he has made to the media, he may have be one of the worst chairs ever which is saying something considering Lee Fowler was once put in charge of the tournament. Smith could offer no specifics for committee decisions, said UNC was never in consideration for a #1 seed which would have been interesting had UNC won today and said something about "style of play" being a criteria. Yeah, that makes zero sense. Ohio St. got a tough draw and so did Kansas which is odd for the top two seeds. Duke ends up with a weak #2 seed but there are enough teams in that region who could give the Devils trouble. In fact Texas could take Duke out in the Sweet Sixteen except this is Rick Barnes we are talking about here so it might be a shock if Texas is still in the tournament at that point.
As for snubs, I think Virginia Tech got hosed. 20 wins, 11 versus ACC teams and a win over #1 Duke was not enough but UAB whose best win all season according to Pomeroy was over #65 UTEP? In fact UAB only decent game against anyone was versus Duke who they got throttled by. The SEC got five teams in but not Alabama who won the SEC West but somehow the ACC only gets four teams? Just weird stuff but the good news is there is a lot of parity in college basketball which means this could be as crazy a tournament as we have seen in awhile.
C.Michael: In general, I think the only #1-seed who can really be happy with their draw is Pitt. Duke's bracket is loaded with athletes and I could see them losing to any of Tennessee, Arizona, Texas, UConn or SDSU in the first two weekends. OSU's draw is obviously tough, with UNC and the teams they have to go through, plus a hot an talented Kentucky team. And Kansas' bracket is just loaded, as Purdue, Notre Dame, Louisville, Illinois and UNLV are all in KenPom's Top 25. I actually think the winner of the Illinois/UNLV game will beat Kansas. I have not gone through and made my picks yet, but I would not be surprised if only one 1-seed makes the Final 4.
Doc: On the tourney in general: Hard to follow the committee's thinking. Ohio State and Kansas were done no favors as the top seeds. If they make the Final Four, they will have earned it. Can't believe the bottom of the bracket. Gene Smith said head-to-head means nothing, which must enrage Alabama, who didn't get in while Georgia did. Speaking of Alabama, they won their division in the SEC and didn't get in, but the SEC got 5 bids while the ACC only got 4. Virginia Tech has a real gripe this year. Usually they are left out and trying to explain how they should have been picked over someone more deserving. This year, there are 5 or 6 dogs with similar records or worse that got in. The NCAA must really hate Seth Greenberg.
I will have the Tournament Pick'em ready to go tomorrow and no we won't be picking the first four.