Wednesday, March 17, 2010

2010 NCAA Tournament: Playing the favorites

Yesterday, I told you the upsets I liked and why. Today, I'm going to tell you the upsets I could have picked or did pick but changed back, but in all of these, I ultimately went with the favorite.

13 Houston over 4 Maryland

Why I passed: Maryland won 13 games in conference, although in a less-good-than-normal ACC. Greivis Vasquez, the ACC Player of the Year, leads this team well and they've got some good wins. Houston has played virtually nobody this season aside from UTEP, and the Cougars give up a lot of points.

Why it might still happen: Maryland flopped big time in the ACC Tournament after sharing the regular season title. Further, the Terps are slightly overseeded (I would have given them a 5 myself). Houston is hot right now as well, having run straight through the C-USA Tournament. The Cougars also have Aubrey Coleman, the top scorer in Division I.

11 San Diego State over 6 Tennessee

Why I passed: Tennessee is a well-coached team that has dealt well with a few players being dismissed earlier in the year, and they've got two particularly impressive wins (against the potential national championship game) on their resume: Kansas and Kentucky. The Vols won 25 games on a tough schedule and made it to the SEC semifinals. The Aztecs are a very bad free-throw shooting team (335th in D-I) and suck at three-point shooting (T-254) as well.

Why it might still happen: Tennessee got wrecked by Kentucky in the SEC Tournament, and sooner or later, they're going to run out of gas. SDSU is hot with some nice wins along the way; they're arguably hotter than Tennessee right now.

10 Missouri over 7 Clemson

Why I passed: I feel like this game could go either way, so I deferred to the higher seed. That's really all it is. Both these teams went one-and-done in their conference tournaments, but Missouri's loss was more embarrassing, getting blown out by 12-seed Nebraska.

Why it might still happen: Clemson has a habit of flopping in the Big Dance; in fact, they've checked out in the first round 5 out of 9 times. Further, Missouri went to the Elite Eight last year. The Mizzou Tigers won't this year, but the Round of 32 is a definite possibility.

11 Washington over 6 Marquette

Why I passed: Marquette looked very good in the Big East Tournament. Buzz Williams coaches his team very well and the Golden Eagles can bomb threes. Washington won their way through the worst Pac-10 ever and are not far above being mediocre themselves.

Why it might still happen: Marquette is a smallish team that relies on the jumper and can go cold, and Washington scores a ton of points. The Huskies have beaten some tournament teams this season and are talented despite some inconsistent play.

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