First Impressions of the 2013 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament Bracket
Added by Greg Rappaport on March 18, 2013.
Louisville earned the No. 1 overall seed after winning the Big East Tournament.
Finally, the day has come. Last night, the 2013 NCAA Men’s Basketball bracket was released, and all of the arguments as to who should be number one and which bubbles teams deserved a spot in the Big Dance are now over. Agree or disagree with the job that the selection committee did (they did fine), you can now click your pen, and begin to make your picks.
March Madness is truly an amazing time. For one week, employers tacitly accept that their employees will spend a decent amount of their “working” hours following the tournament on their computers while screaming in their cubicle, “I NEVER SHOULD HAVE PICKED A 14 OVER A 3!”
Office pools, Cinderella runs, supernova performances, double overtimes, free throw chokes, Mike Krzyzewski’s nightmare-inducing scowl —all of these are inseparable from the latter half of March, a time wrought with guessing, second-guessing and the tantalizing prospect of having a bracket that tops all of your friends and coworkers.
So now that the bracket is finally here in all of its glory, let’s take a look at a few aspects of this year’s tournament jump off the page.
Big East Bubbles
In the final season of the Big East as we know it, the selection committee gave the famed conference a generous going-away-present; eight teams from the Big East made it to the Big Dance, more than any other conference (the Big Ten was second with seven teams). The most surprising to me was Villanova, whose mercurial play netted them a few colossal wins, but some inexcusable losses in the process. As a 9 seed, they will square off against a dangerous UNC in the first round—an unenviable task.
Another Big East team that just made it into the bracket this year is Cincinnati, whose late season downturn did little to support their entrance into the tourney. They are the highest seeded Big East team as a 10, and will face off against No. 7 Creighton in the first round in what should be a winnable game for the Bearcats. However, if they survive past Creighton, their next task will likely be No 2. Duke, (doubtful that Duke gets upset by a 15 seed for the second consecutive season) a game that Cinci has little chance of winning.
Number 1 Seeds
I’m just gonna go ahead and point out that I correctly projected who the number one seeds would be on Saturday night.
My No.1 Seeds: Gonzaga, Indiana, Louisville, and Kansas. IT HAS BEEN WRITTEN.
— Greg Rapp (@G_rapp08) March 16, 2013
So there’s your cold hard evidence right there. Why didn’t I major in bracketology again?
Anyways, I agree 100% with this year’s number one seeds. But which number one is the weakest? The answer most people would give is Gonzaga, whose 32-2 record is the best of any team in the tournament, but some observers have reservations about their strength of schedule. But keep in mind, this is a team that embarrassed Kansas State (a 4 seed) and Oklahoma (a 10 seed) earlier this season. Their only two losses were to a respectable Illinois squad, and Butler. It’s not necessarily Gonzaga’s fault that they don’t get national attention, tucked away in the far left corner of the US, but they have essentially bulldozed their way to a number one seed; easily brushing aside their competition en route to the first number 1 seed in their program’s history.
Truth be told, I am torn as to which number 1 I find the weakest. This season has been defined by up-and-downs and a lack of what we would normally call a true number one team. Every single squad this year has some unsightly blemishes on their resumes. But if pressed, I would have to agree with the general consensus that the ‘Zags are the weakest of the 1’s. But hey, I normally write about the Big East, what do I know about the west coast?
How the West Was Won
Imperative in picking a winning bracket is looking at the path a team must take to the final four. Often times you can be gifted with an easier road the finals (which are in HotLanta this year, if you were wondering) than your competition—no such luck for teams seeded in the West region this year. It features Gonzaga (the great unknown for most of the country); Wisconsin and Ohio State (who just faced each other in the Big 10 tournament championship); and an Iowa State team that was a blown call away from toppling the freakishly athletic Kansas Jayhawks. 12 through 1 all have serious potential to make a deep run this year. I have to think Ohio State, whose offense is run deftly by junior point guard Aaron Craft, has the best chance to escape this region. But however it plays out, the West will be a good old fashion shootout—especially if Ole Miss’ Marshall Henderson has anything to say about it (and he always does).