Oklahoma States Chances in the Bracket of DeathPosted by KoryCarpenter on March 20th, 2013
Travis Ford couldn’t have felt great when the bracket was announced on Sunday. His Cowboys, a #5 seed, were paired with the most under-seeded team in the Dance, the Oregon Ducks. It was obvious that the selection committee had no respect for the Pac-12, as the Ducks finished second in the regular season Pac-12 race and were apparently on the bubble until winning the conference tournament over the weekend. The folks over at Busting The Bracket think Oregon should have been a #5 or #6 seed, as a contrast. The committee didn’t seem to care that four of Oregon’s eight losses came without one of its best players, freshman guard Dominic Artis, who leads the team with 3.4 APG. With Artis in the lineup, the Ducks beat UNLV, Arizona, and swept UCLA.
Nate Silver gives the Cowboys a 60.5% chance of beating the Ducks and Vegas has OSU as a three-point favorite. If Oklahoma State can survive the Round of 64, it will face a Final Four sleeper before the Sweet Sixteen, #4 seed Saint Louis. The Billikens have become a dark horse to make the Final Four during the last month or so. They swept the Atlantic 10 regular season and tournament championships ahead of more nationally-popular programs such as Butler and VCU. They went 5-0 against those teams this year and beat #3 seed New Mexico by 14 at home on New Year’s Eve. The Billikens were constructed well by the late Rick Majerus and have been led by senior Kwamain Mitchell, who averages 10.4 PPG and 3.0 APG. Like Oregon, Saint Louis can discount a few losses while Mitchell was out with an injury. He sat out the beginning of the year and the Billikens still went 8-3. Since his return on December 28, they have won 19 of 22 games. Take out the losses to Santa Clara and Washington without Mitchell and you could argue they should be a #3 seed, more bad news for Oklahoma State.
If the Cowboys can survive the first weekend, they’ll likely be rewarded with overall #1 seed Louisville in the Sweet Sixteen. The Cardinals went on a tear during the last seven weeks of the season, winning 13 of their final 14 games including the Big East Tournament title. Their run included eight wins over NCAA Tournament teams: Pittsburgh, Marquette, Villanova, Syracuse, Notre Dame, and Cincinnati. They’re the hottest team in the country, they have the best odds to win the national championship (22.7%, according to Nate Silver), and they have a hall of fame coach in Rick Pitino. Russ Smith and Peyton Siva are arguably the best backcourt duo in the country. Smith averages 18.1 PPG while Siva dishes out 5.9 APG. If Gorgui Dieng can continue his defensive dominance in the paint, the Cardinals will be tough to beat by anyone in this 68-team field. Dieng had at least four blocks in seven Big East games this season, and at least three blocks in 10 games. It helped Louisville become the top adjusted defensive efficiency team in the country, according to KenPom.
The bottom of the Midwest region isn’t any easier. Duke and Michigan State are the #2 and #3 seeds, with a staggering 17 Final Fours between coaches Mike Krzyzewski and Tom Izzo. As good as Louisville is this season — and they are really good — it wouldn’t shock anyone if Izzo or Coach K came out of this region instead. Duke had a legitimate case for a #1 seed given the absence of Ryan Kelly for a good chunk of the season. Michigan State is always a threat in March, with two Final Fours in the last five years and six since 1998-99. I had Saint Louis as a Final Four team before the bracket was announced and I still might have them upsetting Louisville in the Sweet Sixteen, but either way, I think the rugged Big East Tournament and a tough game against the Billikens will have the Cardinals exhausted heading into the Elite Eight.
- Champion: Duke
- Potential First Weekend Upsets: #12 Oregon over #5 Oklahoma State, #11 St. Mary’s over Memphis
- Final Four Sleeper: Saint Louis