Tuesday, March 13, 2012

STOB's 2012 NCAA Bracket Breakdown 2.0: Melo out for Cuse

"Poof!"  Just like that Cuse's title hopes maybe in serious trouble without Melo.


Fab Melo is out for Syracuse.  Just yesterday I posted this Bracket Breakdown and had Syracuse as my National Champ.  No longer is that the case, I think losing the 7 footer in Melo will hurt Cuse not only in the loss of his presence but the outside distraction this now adds to the Orange already dealing with plenty of issues. 


This is my updated Bracket Breakdown -

Buckle up STOB'ers it is time!  Time for the NCAA Tournament to kick off, and if March Madness is about to kick off, you need to know what to look for.  That's where I come in my friend's!  I will guide you through each region, give you an overview of it, review the #1 seed, give you a sleeper, the team(s) with championship potential in the region, player to watch and my pick to go to the Final Four from that region.  Finally I will break down my Final Four and give you my prediction for who will be cutting down the nets when this field of sixty eight is cut down to the last one standing.

Enough blah blah introduction, time for the meat of this Khlav Kalash!

Before I start, a little FYI.  I will be referring to the round of 64, after the play in games, as the first round, play ins mean nothing (yeah VCU was a play in team last year and made the Final Four, I don't care) the tourney doesn't really start until Thursday.  Also, "sleeper" means different things to different people, some think it is a certain seed or lower or whatever.  To me, it is just a team with lower expectations that has a good chance of exceeding those expectations.

Also if any of my "tips" ruin your bracket for your pool...I am not responsible for any lost bets...Ken is.

South Region - 

Possibly the toughest region.  I see depth, the number one overall seed, multiple teams that can possibly make a Final Four run or more.  I think what this region has an abundance of are teams that have underachieved for the talent on their respective teams.  Xavier has been a mess after their melee with Cincinnati, when they were a top ten team and are now out of the top 25 and a 10 seed in the big dance.  Then UConn the reigning champs, had high hopes with Andre Drummond coming in and real nice leftovers from the title team in Napier and Lamb.  Yet, the Huskies haven't been able to put it together, they are a 9 seed.  Right there alone you have two teams that had the capabilities, if things fell their way more this season or different decisions had been made, to be one or two seeds, now being able to take on the one or two seed in their respective second round match ups.  So be wary of this region, it is a scary one and although Kentucky is tough, many could be surprised who comes out of the South.

The 1 Seed -

Kentucky is a team I love to hate.  As much as other college basketball fans love to hate Duke, I love to hate Kentucky.  Calipari is a the only guy to vacate two Final Four runs...at two programs, and I have no reason to believe that now that he is at one of the biggest and best college basketball programs he has all of the sudden cleaned up his act.  This team was likely put together illegally, more likely than almost any other in the field.  I have no respect for him, and will never have any respect for him.  Kentucky is probably the most talented, but I suspect a few years down the road anything they do end up achieving will have to be vacated for some type of scandal.  Calipari will be long gone by then though, off to the NBA or another big college program or somewhere.  Slimy and slick Cal will not be at the program when the NCAA hammer is brought down, just like at Memphis and UMass.  With all of that being said, Kentucky SHOULD win this entire tournament with their talent.  Unfortunately for them, Calipari is a crappy "in game" coach and will probably hold back this stable of NBA 1st rounders with bad in game management, leading to their demise somewhere prior to the National Championship.  When that happens, I will be the guy you hear at the sports bar cheering my ass off at their (more so Calipari's) expense.

Sleeper -

Xavier as a 10 seed is ridiculously scary (especially to a Duke fan).  Tu Holloway and Mark Lyons give the Musketeers the guard play that is so important during the NCAA Tournament.  Both are tough as nails and will be playing with a chip on their shoulder the size of the gash on Kenny Frease's face after a right hook from Yancy Gates.  Look for Xavier to beat Notre Dame and then give Duke all they can handle.  At this moment, I have Xavier upsetting Duke in the second round and I don't see myself changing that.  Xavier has too much guard play for Duke and is the perfect team to beat them in a year Duke isn't the Duke I have gotten to know and love in my 27 years on this earth.

Player to Watch - 

Have to pick Anthony Davis of Kentucky.  Changes the game like no other player in college basketball with his shot blocking.  Also could ruin 98% of America's brackets in any game by getting into early foul trouble and having to leave the court, making the rest of the Cats play defense without him behind them as the security blanket.

Championship Potential -

Kentucky, Duke and Baylor are the only teams I see in this region that you should consider having as the final team you write down in your bracket on the winning side of the title game.

Predicted Winner of Region -

Calipari.


West Region - 

Not on talent, but based purely on playing style, this is a region in which I think you can mark the one seed in the Final Four and work your way backwards.  Michigan State is just too big, bruising and able to impose their will on opposing teams to lose to the quicker, possibly more talented, but small two and three seeds in this region.  Missouri (2 seed) and Marquette (3 seed) are scary good, scary quick, and just overall scary.  Yet, they lack any size and Michigan State would just slow it down and roll all over them if they were to meet in the Elite Eight.  That is all I see in this region, Louisville isn't a threat as the four seed.

The 1 Seed -

Now, after saying what I just did about putting Michigan State in the Final Four in ink now, I will say that they are a team I could easily see falling to Memphis in the second round.  I trust Izzo as much as any coach not named Krzyzewski, but I can never put my full trust in a team making the Final Four that almost lost to the Gophers this year (unnecessary Gopher shot for Kenny...check).  Draymond Green is a stud and a leader, look for him to take over for Sparty anytime things get tough.

Sleeper -

Florida Gators may not be a "sleeper" in a lot of people's minds.  Yet, as a seven seed and going against a very popular pick in Missouri in a possible second round match up, I don't see many people having Florida making it out of the first weekend.  Don't sleep on Donovan and the boys, they are as talented as anyone.

Player to Watch -

Isaiah Cannon, Murray State.  19.2 point per game for the Junior.  A sniper from three and a team leader, Cannon and the 30-1 Racers are looking to make some noise and will be playing to prove they are more than the low six seed they received from the tournament committee. 

Championship Potential -

Michigan State and Missouri.  Spartans can play with anyone, while the Tigers will be at the mercy of bigger teams.  If the right match ups fall their way, the Tigers could make a run all the way.

Predicted Winner of Region -

Michigan State.  Too big, too strong and too well coached by Izzo.


East Region -

Tough region to pick here.  Cuse is historically so up and down in the tournament, I had them coming in and being my title pick...then came the news that Fab Melo was ineligible and I am rethinking everything.  Ohio State has been slumping but is talented enough to beat anybody.  Cincinnati, Vanderbilt and Florida State are lower seeds that are giant killers and are each on fire coming in.  You could make an argument for many to come out of this region, especially with Cuse down their big man.

The 1 Seed -

Syracuse is a team I pegged a while ago as my team this season.  I think they have the talent and style that could win it all.  I think their length allows their omnipresent 2-3 zone to be, at times, impossible to beat and they all have something to prove as the Bernie Fine situation has stained the proud program.  Also the team with the best names of any program, with Scoop Jardine, Fab Melo, Rakeem Christmas and Mookie Jones to name a few incredibly awesome names.  *Insert screeching record noise* Fab Melo, 7 footer who averaged 7.8 points, 5.8 rebounds and anchored the 2-3 zone with 2.9 blocks per game is now ineligible for the NCAA Tournament.  Does Cuse still have a shot at winning it all?  I think maybe, but this hurts big time and reduces the depth that made them such an intriguing pick.  It also throws team chemistry up in the air just days before play starts.  Jim Boeheim's job just got tougher.

Sleeper -

Harvard Crimson.  Vanderbilt is scary in round one and will likely beat them.  If Harvard upsets the inconsistent Commadores though, look out!  Harvard then will match up with either Wisconsin or Montana.  Neither of which scare me at all, nor will they scare the Crimson who beat Florida State early this season, albeit prior to FSU playing their best ball.  Sweet 16 isn't out of the question and in the year of Linsanity, (couple weeks actually, that are now over but...work with me) so as KG would say, "anything is possible!"

Player to Watch -

Michael Snaer, Florida State.  Kid has hit buzzer beaters and big shots all year long.  Killed Duke with a buzzer beater in Cameron, nailed a big one against UNC over the past weekend.  Kid ain't scur-ed and in the tourney, having a guy that wants the ball in crunch time is huge.

Championship Potential -

Syracuse, Ohio State and Florida State.  I don't see Vandy having enough even after beating Kentucky.  Cincy is too inconsistent.  Florida State is a team to watch, their defense is amazing and actually really fun to watch.  Plus they have a big shot taker in Snaer, and experience.

Predicted Winner of Region -

Syracuse Orange.  Too much length and depth.


Florida State Seminoles come in and take the Cuse's spot in the Final Four for me after the Fab Melo news.  


Midwest Region -

A region with two very shaky top seeds in Kansas and UNC.  Both are incredibly talented and I will not be surprised if either wins it all.  Yet, I will not be surprised if it's two other teams in this region, other than the Jayhawks and Tar Holes (sorry..Duke in me talking), playing in the Elite Eight in this region.

The 1 Seed -

Ah North Carolina, how I hate thee.  Not as much as Kentucky and Calipari though...and that is saying something.  At least I respect Roy Williams.  Barnes, Zeller, Henson (if fully healthy) and Marshall are lethal together.  The key to me, as I've said before, is for UNC not to forget about Tyler Zeller.  I think he is the best big man in the country but is undervalued and under utilized by Roy and the boys on the court.

Sleeper -

Temple Owls are a team I have had as a sleeper ever since they beat Duke, and actually even before then.  As I've said previously in this post, guard play is huge in March and the Owls have it.  They also have a pretty easy draw until the Sweet 16 and I currently have them upsetting UNC when they get there, that is why as a five seed I have them as a "sleeper".

Player to Watch -

Thomas Robinson, Kansas Jayhawks.  Best player in college basketball not named Anthony Davis.  Could bring the Jayhawks to the Final Four on his very broad shoulders.

Championship Potential -

Kansas and UNC are it for this region.  GTown and Temple could make the Final Four but would run out of steam there.

Predicted Winner of Region -

Kansas Jayhawks.  T-Rob is too much.


National Championship Prediction -

Syracuse over Michigan State


Florida State over Michigan State


Overreaction to the Fab Melo news?  I am not sure.  That is the fun of the tournament, NOBODY KNOWS!  My freakin cat beat me last year in my bracket.

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