Wednesday, March 18, 2015

2015 NCAA Tournament Guide: Headed For a Coin Flip...

It's here, my friends. It's finally here! Well, it's almost here. I mean, it can't officially be here until you've thoroughly prepared yourself with the provided pump up music (skip ahead to :44 if you don't want to see John Dennis), and perused my webspace for some last minute tidbits. And that's what I've got for ya. Some tidbits to help you win a tourney pool. No magic bullets, mind you. But some solid advice on where and when you should take your chances...

Because, let's be honest. You're probably taking Kentucky, and you're probably hedging with Arizona. Which are both smart moves. In fact, that would be my recommended strategy, more or less (And the more tournaments you can enter within your bankroll, the better). It's just that it's gonna be a popular train of thought. Which is why you'll need to win a few coin flips along the way in order to bring those beautiful bracket bucks into your virtual billfold. Taking Wisconsin, Duke, Notre Dame or anyone else? Well, that's easy. Fill out more or less whatever you want until you have those teams in the finals, and you'll make money if you're right. Easy game...

But I'm here to help my fellow the coin flippers, who have confidence that the chalk will hold. Well, at least for the most part. So let's head to the tales, my damies (I think that works). And check out some of these 50/50 type situations that you'll have to donk your way through in order to emerge victorious from the year's ultimate showdown...

Good luck...

The Big XII

If there's a theme hidden within this year's tourney advice, it's that I'm sticking with the narratives that I've been shaping throughout the regular season. And when it comes to the Big XII, that means I'm going to continue to tell you that EVERY team in the tournament from the Big XII is as unreliable as they are potentially dangerous. Seems like non-advice on the surface, I know. Saying teams are more or less unpredictable. But they're all extremely talented, too. Which means some of the higher seeded ("lesser") teams are more than capable of making a run, and outlasting their seed. So there's always that to consider, too..

Hey, I'm just sayin' it's a shady conference. Tough to read. Probably because they beat each other up more than any other legitimate conference, this season. Either way, they're tough teams on which to get a good read. And if you think you can get a grasp on one, I say run with it. Otherwise, I'd just run as fast as I could in the opposite direction. It's not very fast, mind you. And I'd probably run into another Big XII team before too long. But it's still a decent strategy. You're probably one of those people that runs marathons through electric mud, anyway. So you'll be fast sketchy bastard. You ARE the Big XII. At least you could pass for one of it's alumni when you're down in that electric mud. Oh! Nah, nah. They're a wholesome people...

Utah & Oregon

Something else I've yet to shut up about has been the likelihood that an underappreciated West coast team will make a run. Happens all the time, doesn't it/ Yes. Yes it does. Or at least it feels like it does. Which is more than enough for me...

Now, Oregon will have to go through Wisconsin. Which, stylistically, is pretty much their worst case scenario. But Utah's road doesn't appear nearly as perilous. And, either way. The point is that these teams will SURPRISE. So the fact that their potential achievement doesn't look likely is half the freaking point!

Oh, and Utah has something else going for them, if you care to read on...  

UCLA & Northern Iowa

I'm always very wary of bandwagons. Probably due to my well honed Pink Hat Radar. I call it, "Phadar". Just never in public. And so far, the two cups that seem to have runneth over the fastest have been the one containing fans of Northern Iowa, and that which contains all of the UCLA haters...

And whether or not the Bruins deserve to be in doesn't concern me. I mean, these were the same people that were rallying against George Mason's inclusion in the 2006 field (they were also right on the bubble). No, seriously. Same dudes. And all of the people pumping Northern Iowa (Seth Davis), are all of the same people that helped flame your bracket with their New Mexico (Seth Davis) advice of years past...

Now, I'm not telling you that either of their bandwagons are necessarily wrong (I'm not on either of them). But I'll go ahead and guarantee that one of them will be proven wrong, and in a big way. That's just how it always goes down. Major swings in narrative and perception are about as common in this thing as a win at the buzzer. And these two polarizing teams are in the best position to serve as this year's latest surprises...

Injured Stars

Injuries are always something to consider, and both Kansas (Perry Ellis) and Virginia (Justin Anderson) have some walking wounded that could hold them back. OR those guys could show up this weekend and look every bit the part of their respective team's leading scorer. Yeah, it's quite the pickle. And you won't really know until you see them play. And even then, who's to say that they won't suffer a setback? Yeah, it's tough. But these injuries are also common knowledge, which will lead many to hold Kansas and Virginia back. Which will in turn create an opportunity in pools, should you choose to accept it...

Great Point Guards

Healthy players are important, too. Especially if they're game changing point guards, like Kris Dunn of Providence or D'Angelo Russell of Ohio St. They can be like a hot goalie in hockey, covering the flaws on their teammates with their outstanding play and carrying the team on their tiny back. Granted, you usually need a lot more to help get the damn thing done. But that's a great start. And in a one-and-done format, it's not the uncommon for the lesser team to come out on top because they had the most dynamic player. Think, Kemba Walker...

And yes, I only used that photo so I could sneak a Syracuse player into my tourney preview. #NEVERFORGET!...

KenPom Specials

And finally, we have the sage advice of Ken Pomeroy. College basketball's #1 stat geek, who comes armed with a ranking system as complicated as his past tourney success is legendary. And it's not that he picks the winners, so much as it is that his ranking system is able to spot value...

Like last year, when (7) UCONN and (8) Kentucky (both in the KenPom top 11, yet neither in the selections committee's Top 25) played for the NCAA title. In other words, this guy has a great rankings system, and you should consult it before making your picks. OR you could just peruse this list I've provided of the relevant teams with the biggest discrepancy. Which is what you'll do. Because why the Hell not?...

Utah: (5) seed / KenPom #8

Northern Iowa: (5) seed / KenPom #12

Wichita St.: (7) seed / KenPom #14

Michigan St.: (7) seed / KenPom #17

Texas: (11) seed / KenPom #20

And that's what I've got for ya, friends. I hope you've found these words of wisdom helpful. Just not so helpful that I spend the next few weeks looking up at you in the pool standings...

Oh, and make sure to enjoy the games, above all else. And if that means you need to join second chance brackets and daily fantasy games (weeeeeee!) to do so, then that's what it means. Because I won't have you ruining my fun just because your bracket is busTed. Especially when you could be getting your degenerati on...

OK, friends. Enjoy the madness, and I'll catch you next week. Be good...



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