Wednesday, March 16, 2011

NCAA First Round Preview: East Region

12:15 Thursday, Tampa60 possessions
5West Virginia54.9%62.645.520.941.031.5
I'm sure I'm not the first to point out that it's shameful that the NCAA gave Clemson only 36 hours between the end of their First Four game in Dayton and this tip in Tampa. That they've prioritized the players and coaches being available to media on Wednesday by scheduling a 2 A.M. flight from Dayton to Tampa only makes it worse. Would it really have been so horrible to let the Tigers return to a hotel in Dayton for a good night's sleep before embarking for their next site sometime in the late morning or early afternoon? Hopefully next year the NCAA can work it out with their TV partners to ensure that teams in the First Four have at least 48 hours from tip to tip.

2:45 Thursday, Tampa62.5 possessions
This year's Kentucky team is probably a little bit stronger overall than last year's version, but without a signature player like John Wall, they're not getting nearly as much attention as they did a year ago.

2:10 Friday, Cleveland63.5 possessions
8George Mason42.1%67.249.616.428.225.0
Much has been made of the fact that Villanova has lost 10 of 15 games since their comeback win over Maryland on January 15. (I don't know why I felt the need to include Maryland in there. I've been watching too many games called by Tim Brandt.) Over those 15 games, though, the Wildcats have really only played four bad games: the 15-point loss at Providence, the 2-point escape at DePaul, the 13-point loss to St. John's, and the 21-point blowout at Notre Dame. Mostly, though, Villanova has been losing close games to good teams.

4:40 Friday, Cleveland65.1 possessions
1Ohio St.98.3%85.659.314.238.630.8
Or (dot-dot-dot)62.2 possessions
16Alabama St.0.4%
1Ohio St.99.6%80.358.816.240.743.7
No matter how bad things get on Friday afternoon, members of one of these teams will be able to tell their grandkids that they were members of a team that won an NCAA Tournament game. I'm sure they'll probably leave of the "-San Antonio" or "State" part when they say who they beat.

7:15 Friday, Charlotte78 possessions
15Long Island9.2%75.044.819.632.320.2
2North Carolina90.8%93.854.516.840.023.9
After a season and a half of ugly basketball, Roy Williams has the Tar Heels looking like the Tar Heels again. If everything goes according to pattern, this season the Heels will lose to a team they probably shouldn't, and next year they'll win the National Championship.

7:27 Friday, Cleveland65.4 possessions
On December 6, the point at which the TAPE rankings could reasonably pass the laugh test for the first time, Xavier was ranked #115. On January 1, they were ranked #92. The Musketeers kicked off their A-10 season with a 72-45 win at Rhode Island on January 9 and then a 79-50 home win over UMass on January 12, and those two games vaulted them all the way to #62. They just kept getting better over the rest of the season, and now they're ranked #31. If you're looking for a team on an upward trajectory, Xavier might be it.

9:45 Friday, Charlotte68 possessions
TAPE puts the odds of Washington and Connecticut both reaching the Final Four and playing a Huskies vs. Huskies National Semifinal at 1-in-54. The odds of Georgia facing Butler in a Bulldogs vs. Bulldogs National Championship Game are 1-in-104,216.

9:57 Friday, Cleveland64.3 possessions
14Indiana St.15.7%59.443.723.033.322.3

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