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Monday, March 17, 2014

TFD Opinions: 2014 NCAA Tournament Team Rankings

1. Florida- perfect record in conference is a tough and unmatched feat but they're also a weak favorite given the SEC is pretty bad, they have a good offense and top 5 defense though and a good point guard
1. Louisville- no team is playing better in the last 5 but UConn has really been their only recent test and it seems like they struggle when they go cold from 3, their anticipated game vs. Wichita State seems like a toss-up
1. Virginia- common wisdom is they play too slow and their offense isn't good enough but they're offensive efficiency rating is #25 in the country combined with a top 3 defense, 5 top 50 wins but 10 top 55 wins and one of the hottest teams in the country
1. Wichita State- bad luck to get matched up with Louisville in the sweet 16, hard to judge though given their lack of quality opponents, their conference isn't great but they mostly steamrolled Missouri State and Indiana State, the top 2 other teams that are decent

2. Michigan State- they're healthy and looked good in the Big 10 tournament but the Big 10 also seems to underachieve in the tournament of late and this same healthy team lost at home to Illinois on March 1, they're also being massively jinxed by the pundit groupthink at ESPN which has already handed them the title, their computer numbers aren't nearly as good as Louisville
2. Iowa State- the Big 12 seemed like the top conference in the country and they survived the gauntlet and won the tournament, strong offense and a team that doesn't make a lot of mistakes
2. Oklahoma State- preseason top 10 team, since Marcus Smart's return they've beaten Kansas and blown out middling competition and only lost in OT to Iowa State and Kansas, they're not a true 9 seed and Arizona gets unlucky having to play them assuming they don't lay an egg against Gonzaga
2. Arizona- really strong computer/stat numbers but they lost one of their better players and are 9-4 (including 3 wins that were closer than they should've been) since, great defense but offensive efficiency in the 30s which is worse than every team above it on this list

3. Kansas- wild card team, it's hard to say how they'll play with or without Embiid, they certainly have the talent to win the title but a loss to New Mexico this weekend wouldn't be a big surprise either
3. Wisconsin- lots of good wins but while they allegedly came out of their midseason funk, their last 6 games were fairly uninspiring
3. Duke- at times they seem unstoppable especially when Jabari Parker takes over the game but their defense is suspect and they've blown games vs. Clemson, Notre Dame, and Wake Forest and haven't done much away from Cameron Indoor
3. Baylor- Big 12 is strong and they recovered lately to make the big 12 title game, they're also somewhat erratic though, they have mediocre defensive numbers but are playing better D lately

4. Creighton- sometimes a star player can carry you but it seems like it's too much to ask Doug McDermott to take over every game and it's hard to see them getting through Baylor, Wisconsin, and Arizona/Oklahoma State unscathed when they took a number of losses in a weakened Big East lately
4. Villanova- very good computer numbers but they got blown out by Creighton twice and Syracuse once and have few impressive wins so it's hard to think they can beat a team like Iowa State when their last good win was in November 
4. Michigan- they were in the Big 10 title game but barely escaped both Illinois and Ohio State, granted this also seems like last year's team that entered the tournament looking weak only to make a deep run so who knows
4. Pitt- so many wins left on the table, they played UVA close twice, should've beaten undefeated Syracuse, had Cincinnati beat, unfortunately they run into Florida but they're much better than their seed, hard to consider picking them to get beyond Florida but they're certainly due for something to break their way after this season and past tournament disappointments

5. Syracuse- another hard one to predict, even at 25-0 they seemed a little soft but they have a lot of talent so it's not clear why they're still deflating despite having their center back, they get lucky that they're playing near home and against a fairly weak pod, they could definitely make a deep run if they put it all together again
5. UCLA- won the PAC 12 but they play inconsistently and Florida doesn't seem like a good matchup for them
5. UConn- they did well against teams not named Louisville and beat Florida earlier in the year so they have potential, oddly a lot of people have St Joes beating them though
5. VCU- they've become like Gonzaga where the Cinderella story is over and people expect them to be good, it seems like they're underachieved a little this year though, with St. Louis falling apart, it's hard to judge their recent games given their opponents are suspect, their offense also isn't particularly well-rated

6. Kentucky- they finally played well against Florida late in their 3rd try but that was also both teams' 3rd game in 3 days and a short sprint at the finish doesn't make up for weeks of poor play, but they're obviously talented, I don't see them knocking off Wichita State but it's somewhat unfair they're an 8 seed to begin with
6. Oregon- nice win over Arizona late in the season and they seem to be peaking at the right time
6. UNC- they were a hot team until recently when Duke and Pitt let the air out of the balloon, even during their streak though it didn't actually seem like they were playing at a very high level other than Marcus Paige
6. New Mexico- they beat SDSU and win the MW and get seeded 3 spots below SDSU in the actual bracket, seems odd, it's tempting to pick them over Kansas but the Mountain West feels like it's been quite bad in the tournament the last few years and Kansas already blew them out earlier in the season, I think I've trusted them previously and gotten burned

7. Cincinnati
7. Ohio State
7. San Diego State
7. Tennessee- strong computer #s and stuck with Florida, blew out UVA by 35, they just haven't been able to close out important games but could see them making the Elite 8 in the right circumstances...or losing in the play-in

8. Gonzaga
8. St. Louis- definitely peaked at the wrong time, they've been terrible lately without any real explanation
8. Memphis
8. North Dakota State- blessed with 2 weak top seeds in their pod and the kind of team that could definitely go to the Sweet 16

9. Oklahoma
9. Harvard- took down New Mexico last year, could definitely take down Cincinnati this year
9. St Joe's
9. GWU

10. Stanford
10. UMass- terrible computer numbers relative to their seed, not seeing any recent evidence to support them succeeding in the tournament
10. Nebraska
10. Kansas State

11. Providence
11. Texas
11. Dayton
11. Arizona State

12. Colorado
12X. NC State vs. BYU
12. SF Austin- upset potential but don't see them beating VCU, not impressed by them rolling up victories against bad teams
12X. Xavier vs. Iowa

13. NC Central- tempting to pick them but Iowa State is really good, too bad they're not getting a shaky team like Syracuse
13. Tulsa
13. Mercer- also tempting to pick them over Duke but after their 2-15 loss to Lehigh it seems like Coach K would know not to ignore them and Jabari Parker is too good to not take over the game if needed
13. Delaware

14. ULL
14. NM State
14. Manhattan
14. W Michigan

15. E Kentucky
15. Milwaukee
15. American
15. Wofford

16. Weber State
16. Coastal Carolina
16X. Albany
16X. MSM
16X. Texas Southern
16X. Cal Poly

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