The Official RTC Bracket: Midwest And West RegionsPosted by KDoyle on March 20th, 2013
We released the Official RTC Bracket for the South and East Regions earlier today — be sure to check that out if you need a refresher on our methodology for this exercise — and we’ll save you the fluff this time and cut right to the chase with the Midwest and West Regions. (note: our Final Four selections are after the analyses)
Quick Hitters From the Midwest Region
- Advancing to Atlanta: #1 Louisville
- Round of 64 Upset: #11 St. Mary’s over #6 Memphis
- Later Round Upset: N/A
- Three Most Disputed Games: #5 Oklahoma State over #12 Oregon, #11 St. Mary’s over #6 Memphis, #2 Duke over #3 Michigan State
Four Questions About the Midwest Region
Louisville is the odds-on favorite to not just advance out of the Midwest Region, but win the National Championship. Which team has the best chance at dashing Louisville’s title hopes?
Andrew Murawa: After giving the Cards the nod as the overall #1 seed, the selection committee certainly didn’t do them any more favors, dropping them in, what is to me, the toughest region in the bracket. Once they get out of the Round of 64 in this region, Rick Pitino’s club could be facing nothing but dangerous clubs, from the nation’s best rebounding team in Colorado State, to one of the nation’s hottest teams in Saint Louis, to possibly Michigan State or Duke in the Elite Eight. All of those teams can beat the Cards. But the team with the best chance is certainly the Blue Devils, a squad that has already beaten them this season, albeit without Gorgui Dieng.
The #8 vs. #9 game is usually a coin-flip type of game, but it is a 100% consensus that Colorado State beats Missouri. Are the Rams that much better than Missouri?
Zach Hayes: The Rams are by no means world-beaters, but the consensus opinion probably stems from their ability to compete where Missouri excels: on the boards. Colorado State ranks in the nation’s top two in both offensive and defensive rebounding, a glass-crashing tenacity which should work to negate the rebounding prowess of both Alex Oriakhi and Laurence Bowers. The confidence also resides in how shaky Missouri has been at the tail end of close games despite featuring an elite point guard in Phil Pressey. Most bracket prognosticators would rather go to war with a Rams team starting five seniors over Missouri’s constant unpredictability away from home, where their only scalps came against the dregs of the SEC.
What are we to make of the Memphis Tigers? They are a team, despite having a gaudy 30-4 record, that isn’t getting much respect. Do you see them winning a game, or having an early exit?
Chris Johnson: The fun and games are over. Memphis waltzed its way through a comfy C-USA schedule with a win-inflated record, quality or not, qualifying the Tigers for a decent seed and a manageable opening match-up. The Tigers have more talent than most people realize, and local fans have rightfully griped and groaned about head coach Josh Pastner’s sheer inability to leverage that talent into NCAA Tournament success (Pastner is 0-2 in NCAA Tournament games). This season, bring out the pitchforks and protest lyrics — Pastner needs this win to stave off what’s sure to be an intense Memphian wave of hoops rage. The problem is, Memphis hasn’t beaten anyone all season. Its one win over an NCAA Tournament team, Harvard, came all the way back on January 19, and the Tigers haven’t done much since to inspire confidence that his young charges can make a breakthrough. I picked Memphis in my bracket, for no reason other than a visceral sympathetic tribute to Pastner. Do I really have faith the Tigers can handle Matthew Dellavedova’s sublime pick-and-roll showmanship? Not really.
Surely Duke cannot lose in back-to-back NCAA Tournaments as a #2 seed. Is there a ceiling for this Blue Devils team, or do they have the horses to win the National Championship?
Brian Goodman: Duke’s recent history as a #2 seed and its early exit from the ACC Tournament has led to questions about their ceiling. However, make no mistake that the Blue Devils still have national title potential. Any team with Duke’s potent three-out attack and experience, not to mention its Hall of Fame head coach, can never be counted out, especially in a Tournament that’s as ripe for the taking as this year’s. The recipe for beating Duke hasn’t changed all that much from year to year, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy for any given opponent to do the job. It’s certainly fair to ask what will happen if the Blue Devils go cold, but if this season has taught us anything, it’s that every team has a flaw or two – even the national title contenders.
Quick Hitters From the West Region
- Advancing to Atlanta: #3 New Mexico
- Round of 64 Upsets: #11 Belmont over #6 Arizona and #10 Iowa State over #7 Notre Dame
- Later Round Upsets: #5 Wisconsin over #1 Gonzaga and #3 New Mexico over #2 Ohio State
- Three Most Disputed Games: #11 Belmont over #6 Arizona, #5 Wisconsin over #1 Gonzaga, #3 New Mexico over #5 Wisconsin
Note: The West Region was far and away the most difficult for the group to settle on consensus. Five teams were selected to emerge from this region, but it is #3 New Mexico who gets the nod despite being selected in just 25% of the brackets. It’s interesting to note that Ohio State was picked in three brackets to advance to Atlanta, while New Mexico was selected just twice. However, since the Lobos were picked to beat the Buckeyes in the head-to-head game, they will move on. If there is a region of the four that may have a lot of RED littering people’s brackets, this is the one.
Four Questions About the West Region
There was serious dispute in this region with regard to which team would advance to Atlanta. Part of that may be attributed to not having a truly dominant team such as Louisville or Indiana as the #1 seed, and that there still may be doubt surrounding Gonzaga’s ability to win the region. There were five teams picked to advance: Gonzaga, Wisconsin, Arizona, New Mexico, and Ohio State. Simple question — err, maybe not that simple come to think of it — which of these teams do you have advancing? Only 25% are in agreement with New Mexico heading to the Final Four.
Randy: I have Arizona and I’m not at all confident in it. My feeling on this is that Gonzaga and Ohio State are the weakest and most vulnerable #1 and #2 seeds, though, so I’m predicting that this region blows up during the first weekend. When I looked around at other candidates to slot into Atlanta, Sean Miller’s coaching in the NCAA Tournament and the senior leadership of Solomon Hill, Mark Lyons and Kevin Parrom having been through the wars carried the day for me. But it wouldn’t surprise me to see any of a half-dozen teams come out of this region.
How nervous should Gonzaga be of their opponent in the Round of 32 regardless of whether it is Wichita State or Pittsburgh?
Brian Otskey: Gonzaga should be very nervous about its Round of 32 opponent. I think it’ll be Pittsburgh but Wichita State could pose a challenge as well because it rebounds the ball so well. I felt Pitt was under-seeded. The Panthers went 12-6 in the Big East and are darlings of the efficiency metrics. I learned a lot in college basketball this season, but one thought that stood out to me was Doug Gottlieb saying how Gonzaga struggles against rugged, physical teams. We saw that against Butler and an Illinois team out of the Big Ten, the Bulldogs’ only two losses. Pitt will slow the pace to a crawl, rebound the heck out of the ball and bang you around defensively. This is absolutely Mark Few’s best team in Spokane but I don’t like this match-up for them. I think Pittsburgh advances to the Sweet Sixteen in Los Angeles.
Whether people like Marshall Henderson or not, he is inevitably going to be a storyline this week; it is just a matter if this story ends or is in its opening chapters with Wisconsin. Does Ole Miss have any shot at upsetting the Badgers?
Kevin Doyle: All #12 seeds are supposed to have a shot at upsetting the #5, right? When that #12 seed is the SEC Tournament Champion, this should be a popular upset pick, right? That’s not the case between #5 Wisconsin and #12 Ole Miss. True, the Rebels can get up and down the floor with any team in the NCAA Tournament and certainly will be a storyline if not for their performance on the floor then for Marshall Henderson, but it stops there. The Rebels haven’t faced a defensive team that will slow them down and dictate the pace of this game quite like Wisconsin. Bo Ryan and the Badgers are experts at taking opponents out of their comfort zone, and that’s what will happen on Friday against Ole Miss.
Ever since Belmont nearly shocked Duke in the 2008 NCAA Tournament, they have been a popular pick to win a game. Does Rick Byrd finally get an NCAA Tournament win this year at the expense of Arizona?
Shane Connolly: One thing Belmont does better this year than previous years is defend. They are particularly excellent at forcing turnovers, an area that Arizona has struggled with all year without a true point guard. Belmont converting those turnovers into easy points combined with their usual three-point barrage points to the perfect recipe for an upset.
Lastly, here’s what our Final Four looks like in the 2013 Official RTC Bracket:
Quick Hitters From the Final Four
- Like many bracket projections, we are confident that #1 Louisville (75%) and #1 Indiana (75%) will emerge from their respective regions to reach Atlanta.
- The South Region has #3 Florida advancing to the Final Four after being selected in 50% of brackets; Michigan and Kansas were each selected twice.
- The West Region, as previously discussed, is a total crap shoot with five teams picked to win the region. #3 New Mexico advances after being picked in just two of eight brackets.
- On Monday, April 8, six of eight brackets project the Louisville Cardinals to be the last team standing as they knock of Indiana. The two other brackets submitted have Indiana winning it all.