Rapid Reaction: NCAA Tournament Seeding
Who had Iona in their bracket? The Gaels are certainly talented and have one of the best point guards in the nation leading their attack in Scott Machado, but as a team, they had zero wins over RPI Top 50 opponents. By losing to Fairfield in the MAAC Tournament, it seemed that the regular-season champions were destined for the NIT. Apparently not.
Memphis was one of the hottest teams entering the NCAA Tournament, winning seven straight games by an average of 20 points and they were rewarded with a No. 8 seed. Will Barton, Tarik Black and Joe Jackson should be no matchup for the Billikens of Saint Louis, but the next round matchup with Michigan State is one of the West bracket's potential highlights.
New Mexico and Long Beach State were both favorites amongst mid-majors to make a run in this year's Tournament. New Mexico has a dominant force in the paint in double-double machine Drew Gordon and Long Beach State played anyone and everyone in their non-conference and has legitimate Sweet 16 talent. But one of the two is going home before the first weekend is over.
The matchup pitting Virginia and Florida should be an interesting one- UVA is the 11th best team at defending the 3-point arc, holding opponents to 29.5 percent, while Florida is clearly one of the prolific shooting teams, making the most 3s in the nation this past season. There is also an interesting individual matchup of Mike Scott of UVA against Florida's Patric Young on the inside.
Murray State deserved a higher seed than a 6 after a one-loss season. Maybe not. But that potential next round matchup with Marquette, another guard-oriented team will have Isaiah Cannan going head-to-head with Darius Johnson-Odom.
A third round matchup of Ohio State-West Virginia should be interesting. Kevin Jones and the Mountaineers offer the interior toughness and versatility that has troubled the Buckeyes late in the year. But it's the potential Sweet 16 matchup of Florida State-Ohio State that is really intriguing. That Seminole frontline against Jared Sullinger, Deshaun Thomas will be the one that NBA scouts have a keen eye for.
SEC Tournament champion Vanderbilt has Final Four-caliber talent with John Jenkins, Jeff Taylor and Festus Ezeli and quite some experience. But at the same time, Harvard is a team that spent most of the year in the national Top 25 and could spell a fourth straight first-round loss for the Commodores.
If Vanderbilt does indeed make it past the Crimson, Wisconsin, the nation's top overall defensive team, including one of the leaders in 3-point defense, will trouble Vandy. Vanderbilt has often-times been way too reliant on the perimeter-jumper, but Festus Ezeli has a huge advantage inside on the Badgers.
Cincinnati is a team that has really been on the rise as of late, eventually losing in the Big East Tournament finals. Out of the Big 12, Texas is a team that fell just short of a marquee several times- losing to Baylor (twice), Kansas State, Kansas and Missouri by less than five points.
Kentucky was done no favors by earning the top overall seed in the field. This bracket is the toughest of the four with defending-champion UConn looming as a potential third round matchup. Not only that, Duke, Baylor, Indiana, Wichita State, UNLV, Notre Dame and Iowa State were all in last week's Top 25.
As the 4-seed in this region, Indiana could set up a Sweet 16 re-match of this season's marquee game against Kentucky. However, Indiana first has to get past Wichita State-VCU, which certainly will not be easy.
Don't sleep on Wichita State; the Shockers are one of the nation's most offensively efficient teams as they shoot 48.5 percent from the field and they can make free-throws late in games. With a 7-footer Garrett Stutz anchoring the middle, WSU does not allow many second-chance opportunities for opponents.
UNLV deserved the 6-seed that they were awarded, but are one of the team's truly slumping in this field, losing 5 of their last 10. With a versatile frontcourt of Mike Moser and Chace Stanback, the matchup with Colorado will be entertaining, but a potential third-round matchup with Baylor's athletic and versatile frontline will be challenging.
This bracket has plenty of teams that found themselves on the bubble during the selection process: Cal, USF, Alabama, NC State.
Creighton spent most of the year in the Top 25 behind the stellar play of Missouri Valley Player of the Year, Doug McDermott. With the right match-up Creighton could have been Sweet 16 bound, utilizing McDermott to score on the inside and outside, but North Carolina will easily handle that task with their frontcourt.
Despite losing in their first game of the conference Tournament, Temple earned the 5-seed in this bracket and should make it by the Pac-12's Cal or Big East's South Florida depending on who wins that play-in game. The Owls should be Sweet 16 bound for the first time under Fran Dunphy by taking down Michigan in the third round.
14-seed Belmont and 3-seed Georgetown will be one of the second-round's better game with each team's style of play and success throughout the year.
By President Corey Ruff - 3 - 11 - 12