One (kind of Two) Round(s) Down: How are the Conference’s Fairing?

An all too common site last night for the Johnnies

Well, its March Madness and its always exciting. Yesterday was exciting, but a bad day for my teams. Today, wasn’t nearly as good. Almost every higher seed won, and there were no last second heroics.

As the round of 64 comes to a close, I thought I would examine how each of the conference’s have fared so far. There has been a lot of talk about conferences this year, so I thought it’d be appropriate. Who’s choking and who looks good?

I’m going to list the conference’s record, and a plus minus for the amount of games they pulled an upset or got upset. The higher the better for the conference, and I’ll give a small write up on what I’ve concluded so far.

A10- (2-1, Even) Richmond was the big winner here as they upset Vanderbilt, but lets be honest, who hasn’t upset Vanderbilt in the NCAA tournament lately? God they are bad in tournament play, and that was an easy pick for me. Temple won at the buzzer over Penn State, which was nice. Xavier though got upset by Marquette, and pretty handily too. Overall the A10 has actually disappointed my expectations slightly. Now its easily possible Richmond and Temple both advance to the sweet 16, but neither will have beaten a big time big conference school in the process. The 110 is a strong conference and deserved the three bids it got, but we might have learned that Temple and Xavier were overseeded a bit, and Richmond we all know clearly was underseeded (even before the upset).

CUSA (0-2, Even)– Conference USA started its campaign with UAB on Tuesday night, a team that got a lot of flack for making it. They won the regular season in conference and looked to be perhaps the best of the group of bubble teams there. Too bad the Blazers got smacked by Clemson, looking really bad in the process. UAB looked to outmatched badly at every position and only lost by 18 because they had one of their betting 3 point shooting performances. Memphis had a chance to make up for it today against Arizona but fell just short. I felt all year that Memphis was overrated and not worthy of an atlarge, and they didn’t neccessarily do anything to change it. Arizona is another team that got a little too much credit and perhaps it will show as the tournament goes on. Overall CUSA did nothing to prove it was worthy of any atlarge consideration this season.

Colonial (3-1, even)– George Mason pulled the magic out of hat again today, as they sqeaked by Villanova. GMU is a solid club, but I don’t expect them to matchup with Ohio State on Sunday. It was a solid win, but lets not forget Nova has been playing like a team that didn’t belong in the NIT for the last month and a half. Old Dominion really disappointed me because I thought they were for real. Butler didn’t deserve a 9 seed and I thought for sure that ODU would win and then give Pitt everything they had, but instead they fell short. ODU probably still is the best team from the conference, but they showed us that maybe they weren’t quite the team we thought. VCU first “upset” USC in the play-in game and then took it to Georgetown. Very impressive. Unlike UAB, VCU played like they belong in this tournament and they might not be done yet. VCU is very well coached by Shaka Smart, another guy you’ll see get a very good job in only a matter of time. Overall the Colonial exceeded my expectations because of VCU and GMU, but seeing ODU go down was upsetting.

MWC- (2-1, -1)- The Mountain West was tabbed by some folks this year as the 4th best conference in the country. To those who said that, I say you’re a bunch of idiots. Yes, the MWC is good and the best of the non-BCS conferences, but lets not go overboard. Three bids is all they could muster up still and the bottom of the conference is garbage. San Diego State and BYU faced very favorable matchups in the first round and performed alright. Wofford gave BYU alot to handle, while San Diego State fared a bit better. Meanwhile UNLV got the crap beaten out them by Illinois. I picked UNLV to win that game, so that was surprising. I thought the rebels were a solid club, and could easily take care of Illinois, who hasn’t played well in a while. Instead they looked bad. Overall I’m a bit disappointed so far, and I could see San Diego State or BYU going down tomorrow. I don’t think either club has what it takes to get past the sweet 16, which would further prove that they did not belong in the top 5, like they were for the last few months.

SEC- (2-3, -1)- The SEC might have only lost one game to a higher seed, but the conference has looked the worst so far in the tournament. Tennessee got beatdown by Michigan, Vandy got upset yet again, and Georgia lost to Washington as well. Then throw in Kentucky needing a buzzer beater to beat Princeton, and it appears the only team worth a damn is Florida who looked good. I’ve been all over Kentucky this year and I don’t expect them to go far. Florida has a chance to do something, but it wouldn’t shock me if UCLA beat them. Florida shouldn’t be a 2 seed and are in the easiest of all brackets by a large margin. Meanwhile the performance by Tennessee and Vanderbilt are really embarrasing for a league that was begging to get a 6th team, in Alabama in. Sorry SEC, stick to what you know best, that is Football.

Big 12- (3-2,-1)- When the bracket came out I expected the Big 12 to advance every team past the round of 64, but today they lost two of those games. I won’t give Missouri too much flack, but I’ve been disappointed in how that team has played this year. They had all the ingredients to be very successful but instead were a barely better than bubble team and got ousted by Cincinnati handily. Texas A&M I really expected to beat FSU because the Noles are without their best player Chris Singleton. Instead they looked lost against the great defense of Florida State and lost. Kansas, Texas and Kansas State all advanced and all looked pretty solid in doing so. Clearly Kansas is the team to watch here for a big run, while maybe Kansas State and Texas can surprise us and make a nice run now too. The Big 12 disappointed this round, but they have a chance to make up for it by performing well from here on.

ACC (4-1, +1)- The ACC got alot of bad press this year for being down, and I thought it was exaggerated a bit at times. Clearly the conference is down compared to usual but hearing folks on ESPN and other places flatly say the ACC sucks was a bit much. Over the first couple of days the conference has done well. FSU pulled a surprising upset of Texas A&M, while Duke and UNC coasted to first round wins, especially the Blue Devils. Clemson meanwhile beat UAB in the playin game before falling in a close one to a good West Virginia team. The ACC might prove us wrong down the road with early exits by UNC and/or Duke, but for now the conference looks like its off to a good start in the NCAA’s and might be validating my thought that the conference isn’t that bad.

Big Ten- (5-2, +1)- The Big Ten has performed quite well over the first couple of days as well. While Penn State and Michigan State lost as lower seeds, Michigan and Illinois both looked impressive in wins in 8-9 games. Purdue and Wisconsin played great too avoiding upsets by solid teams, and Ohio State is obviously the top seed and advanced easily as well. The Big Ten does get crap sometimes, but this year they are clearly one of the two top conferences. There is still room for error, so lets keep watching how they do, but so far so good for the Big Ten.

Big East (7-4, -2)- The almighty Big East had 9 teams seeded 6 or better this year, while the other two seeds were an 11 and a 9. I predicted before the tournament that the conference would perhaps struggle in the tournament, and so far I think it has a bit. Louisville, St. John’s and Georgetown all looked bad in upsets, meanwhile Villanova continued to play horrible. Marquette was a bright spot as they beat Xavier, but that wasn’t shocking because the Golden Eagles were better than an 11. Otherwise everyone else has held their end of the deal, but most of those wins came against very inferior competition. The second round will be interesting as their will be two Big East matchups (which is disgraceful selection committee) and some other good challenges. Obviously two more Big East teams will be gone by default this weekend, and lets see if any others fall. Notre Dame and Pitt are the top two teams, but looked sluggish in their first games. They get matchups they should win, and we should see them both in the Sweet 16. I like UConn to beat Cincinnati and Syracuse to beat Marquette but you never know with those teams. Otherwise West Virginia has a good matchup with Kentucky that they could win. Probably 4 or 5 Big East teams will be in the Sweet 16, which is far less than what some of the experts predicted when the field was annouced. The Big East isn’t doing terribly (like last year), but I do believe the difference between it and other conferences is overstated at times. The Big East has numbers and benefit of some really really bad teams at the bottom to beat up. This year their isn’t an elite team, just a bunch of real solid ones.

Ok, so that’s the conference rundown, now I’ll re-pick the winners of Saturday’s and Sunday’s games to see who is headed for the Sweet 16.

Ohio State over George Mason

Kentucky over West Virginia (Should be very close)

Syracuse over Marquette

UNC over Washington (watch out UNC, this could be a good one)

Duke over Michigan

Texas over Arizona

UConn over Cincinnati

Temple over San Diego State (I’m torn on this one)

Kansas over Illinois

Richmond over Morehead State

Purdue over VCU

Notre Dame over FSU

Pittsburgh over Butler

Wisconsin over Kansas State

Gonzaga over BYU

Florida over UCLA

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