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March Madness / My bracket, with explanations

UPDATE 1: A cou­ple of changed picks; UPDATE 2: Some eerie resem­blances my brack­et and those of SI writ­ers; UPDATE 4: Sur­vey­ing the car­nage: Thoughts after the first two roundsHere's the brack­et that I made on the Mon­day after the seed­ings were announced.

my 2007 bracket - ideal version

UPDATE: Since Mon­day, I've been spend­ing a lot of time read­ing up on the teams I don't know/care about — in SI.com and its Tour­ney Blog, sta­tis­ti­cal ana­lyst Ken Pomeroy's blog, the NYT Brack­et blog, and the ever-unfriend­ly ESPN.com which must hide a lot of its use­ful stuff behind its sub­scrip­tion ser­vice, Insid­er. In any case, the more you read about the first round match-ups, the more con­fus­ing it all gets. I've seen many of the teams play at some point dur­ing the sea­son, but I'm total­ly in the dark on pret­ty much any team from the Pac 10 (even though I live in Cal­i­for­nia, I just real­ly can't even force myself to care about it) and almost all of the mid-majors. One brack­et change came out of this — I can't believe I'm say­ing this, but Duke seems less like­ly to get upset by VCU. Duke has been crit­i­cized a lot for being soft, slop­py, and gen­er­al­ly unin­spired, and they're com­ing off a sting­ing loss in the ACC Tour­na­ment. How could they not be hun­gry? They've got a bunch of tal­ent­ed play­ers, and it just seems real­ly unlike­ly that they won't be able to pull off a win against a VCU team that has only played one team in the tour­na­ment (Old Domin­ion). While I've only changed one out­come, my read­ing did pro­duce many doubts in my brack­et, which I detail below. (It also caused me to cre­ate three more ver­sions of my brack­et to account for the dif­fer­ent sce­nar­ios that the pun­dits high­light­ed — What if Ore­gon can't play defense? What if Oden explodes on the scene and dom­i­nates every­one? What if North Car­oli­na is as good as they appear to be in 3‑minute stretch­es?)

Some second thoughts

UPDATE 2: Inci­den­tal­ly, SI writer Grant Wahl's brack­et is almost exact­ly the same as mine. (Actu­al­ly, same with Seth Davis). Same Final Four; same final game; same out­come. The only big dif­fer­ences are that he has Texas beat­ing UNC (UPDATE 3: Now, so do I), and Creighton beat­ing Mem­phis, where­as I have both UNC and Mem­phis get­ting knocked out in the next round. (I also have more first-round upsets than him … Oral Roberts over Wash­ing­ton State, etc).UPDATE 4 (in the week fol­low­ing the first two rounds): After two straight years in which my brack­et burst into flames dur­ing the first week­end, I was just hap­py to emerge with 15 out of 16 teams still alive. Most­ly, I got burned by my late changes — Texas beat­ing UNC and Duke beat­ing VCU — and by the fash­ion­able upsets that I stub­born­ly decid­ed to stick with — Geor­gia Tech over UNLV, Creighton over Neva­da, and Oral Roberts over Wash­ing­ton State, each of which found their own ago­niz­ing way of dri­ving a spear through my heart. Crxp.As usu­al, there were a cou­ple of teams that I was total­ly, total­ly wrong about: (1) UNLV. Obvi­ous­ly, these guys can play. I dis­count­ed them because (a) who did they beat? and (b) the coach's son seemed to play an inor­di­nate­ly impor­tant role. Both seemed like big-time red flags. I ignored the fact that they were expe­ri­enced, and that they were clear­ly pissed off by their #7 seed. Who would have thought that the team that rose to the occa­sion would be com­posed of hard-nosed guys led by jour­ney­man coach Lon Kruger (UNLV), and not com­posed of McDonald's All-Amer­i­cans and led by the saint­ed Coach K? Seemed unlike­ly before it hap­pened, but oh how sweet it is in ret­ro­spect. (2) Texas. Dur­ing the two Kansas games, they were dan­ger­ous­ly weak at guard. Both games would like­ly have been blow-outs if Durant hadn't total­ly gone off in the first 15 min­utes of each. Abrams is a ter­ri­ble ball-han­dler who needs mul­ti­ple screens to get his shot going, and Augustin is com­plete­ly dom­i­nant one moment and out-of-con­trol the next. USC forced these guys to play a big­ger role by tak­ing away Durant's drib­ble; good call, Tim Floyd. (Didn't real­ly think I'd be say­ing those words any­time after 2002). On the oth­er bench, Rick Barnes made no dis­cernible adjust­ments. Again, not that sur­pris­ing, in retrospect.The next round looks most­ly bor­ing to me, though I guess half the games could be excit­ing — UNC-USC, if USC is able to hang on while UNC goes on its peri­od­ic runs, A&M‑Memphis should dis­play some good offen­sive fire­pow­er (unlike Pitt-UCLA, which almost cer­tain­ly will be a grind-it-out snore-fest), and KU-SIU which could be excit­ing if KU has a hard time run­ning its offense against the defense-mind­ed Salukis. Let's hope that it's not excit­ing in this way.