The Madness Arrives!

To me Thursday and Friday should be national holidays because we have 32 college basketball games to watch. March Madness is upon us again and while I am still heartbroken about last year’s result, I think this year could turn out better for me.

So yes, I will pick Carolina to win it all in my “heart” bracket, but here’s an alternative view.

EAST- Villanova is a popular choice to repeat, but I don’t think they get past Duke. Duke was maddeningly inconsistent this year, but they are finally healthy and guys like Tatum will be easy lottery picks. This is probably the most talented team in the field and they are peaking.  Ignore them at your peril.

WEST- Gonzaga was a great story for years as an underdog, but they seem to me a team that is overexposed as a favorite. I don’t think they make the Final Four. I think Norte Dame, WVA, and Arizona are all their primary obstacles. In fact, I expect them to get eliminated by the winner of Notre Dame-WVA. I think Florida State gets bounced early too, and give me Arizona as the ultimate survivor.

MIDWEST

No team has ever won the title after losing their first conference tournament game. That’s what stands in the way of Kansas as they look to get through this bracket. I think they won’t buck history and that the biggest game in this bracket will be Louisville-Michigan for a spot in the sweet sixteen. Louisville is incredibly talented. Michigan survived a plane crash on Thursday and went and won the Big Ten title in a big upset.  I think Pitino cools them off and gets Louisville into the Final Four

SOUTH

UNC baby!  Ok, if you want a different pick give me UCLA. They have an amazing point guard and are very talented. Plus, I think Kentucky is going to get picked off by Wichita State which opens that side of the bracket. I picked UCLA to cut down the nets back in December, so I will stick with that.

FINAL FOUR- Duke, Arizona, Louisville, UCLA.

FINALS- Duke-UCLA

Champ- UCLA

But go Tar Heels!

 

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Comments

  • blmeanie  On March 15, 2017 at 9:47 pm

    Final four = Duke , Gonzaga, Kansas, UNC
    Final = Duke over Kansas

  • blmeanie  On March 18, 2017 at 7:53 am

    i missed 4 in the opening round,
    had SMU beating USC, had Marquette beating SC, missed on VCU beating SMC and had Dayton beating WICH.

    Not horrible, glad I believed in URI although I wanted to take them even further, I have them losing to Oregon, wish I had gone with URI in that one. We’ll see.

  • nysportsfanatic  On March 18, 2017 at 10:19 am

    I had SMU too and also missed 4- Seton Hall, Miami, and Creighton. SMU and Creighton were both in my sweet sixteen, so that hurts a bit more.

  • Greg  On March 20, 2017 at 12:02 am

    Peter,

    You might have mentioned this previously . . . but how did you become a UNC fan? Did you attend university there?

  • Greg  On March 28, 2017 at 12:21 am

    Off topic but . . . the Oakland Raiders were given approval by the NFL owners to move to Las Vegas. I believe the NHL will also be establishing a team there. The NFL has always had a love/hate relationship with Las Vegas (they love to hate the city) because of the gambling. A number of years back the NFL swore Vegas would never get a franchise. “Never” apparently doesn’t last all that long nowadays. Anyway, it will be interesting to see if these two franchises can be successful in Vegas, with it’s relatively large transient population — and if gambling-related scandals can be avoided. If so, does MLB come around to the view that Vegas is a legitimate contender for expansion? It will be interesting to see, given MLB’s particular historical sensitivities regarding gambling. Vegas is the 28th largest city in the US by population; San Antonio, Austin, Jacksonville, Indianapolis, Columbus, Charlotte, El Paso, Memphis, Portland and Oklahoma City are all larger. So too are Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Ottawa and Quebec City. Some (but not all) of these cities would appear to be viable alternatives, though many have their issues (no history of affinity to baseball, proximity to other MLB franchises, lack of MLB-ready stadium, self-inflicted political wounds etc.). Of course, there are may cities with populations smaller than Vegas’ that are strong MLB markets (e.g., Baltimore, Milwaukee, Atlanta and Cleveland to name a few). So population alone by no means trumps all other factors. The great thing about Vegas, though, is it provides geographic balance. There are not enough teams in the Southwest (I am excluding California and Texas), which makes rational realignment based on purely geographical criteria challenging. The population isn’t uniformly distributed around the country, but the divisional structure implicitly assumes that it is (East, Central, West). So inevitably, a few teams don’t end up where they truly “belong” from a purely geographical perspective. Granted, Vegas is arguably closer to California than the other Southwestern states, but I’ll take what I can get. Albuquerque and Tucson are the next closest Southwestern cities by population, and I doubt either will be considered a viable MLB location in the near-to-medium term. Big picture, I am thinking about where to put the next expansion teams — MLB needs two more to reach 32 teams, 16 teams/league, 4 divisions/league, and (please, please, please) no more Wild Card.

    • nysportsfanatic  On March 28, 2017 at 11:50 am

      Vegas makes sense, outside of the gambling element. Casinos will probably buy a lot of tickets to use as perks and it is the 29th most populated area in the country.

      Beyond Vegas, putting teams west of the Mississippi probably narrows your focus to three areas: Sacramento, Portland, and Austin/San Antonio. All three are in the top-32 of population and all are growing quickly. But, I wonder if MLB would expand internationally to say Mexico City and Vancouver before adding another US team?

      If MLB went to 32 teams, I would favor scrapping divisions and going with two 16-team leagues. Top four in each make the playoffs. Take a look at the current NHL standings and you can see my biggest problem with divisions.

      • Greg  On March 28, 2017 at 2:42 pm

        I don’t know if MLB perceives Portland to be a viable market. I don’t believe they have an MLB-ready stadium, nor do I believe the city has expressed an interest in spending the money to build one. Additionally, there might be a concern that placing a team in Portland might siphon off support for a still somewhat fragile Mariners fan base.

        I think Sacramento is viable. Austin/San Antonio would likely need to build a dome owing to the summer heat. Although Texas is football country, I think Houston and Dallas/Arlington have demonstrated that fans in Texas will support a competitive team. I certainly think San Antonio merits a team if the interest is there.

        Vancouver is a bit closer to Seattle than Portland, so any concerns about negatively impacting the Mariners could conceivably be even more pronounced. Again, I think the city merits a team if the interest is there.

        Mexico City is problematic for a number of reasons: it is 7382 feet above sea level, higher even the Denver, so concerns have been expressed about home runs flying out of the park. Violent crime is a major concern. The air pollution is awful. The Mexican Peso has historically had numerous bouts of instability against the dollar, which can impact foreign players’ income. Per capita income and hence discretionary spending are considerably lower than in the US. Taking all these factors together, a team in Mexico City might be at a significant competitive disadvantage vis-à-vis teams in the US and Canada. I think MLB expansion into Latin America is a good strategic long term objective because of the passionate enthusiasm for baseball there, but it depends on the economic development of the countries in the region, which will take time (decades).

        My preferred approach would be two 16-team leagues without divisions, where only the league winners advance to the World Series. Just like it was prior to 1969. The approach you described is effectively a wild card approach. I feel strongly that wild cards have no business in MLB. MLB has a long season — ample opportunity for a team to demonstrate its worthiness. I see no reason to reward second best. That having been said, I view two divisions of eight teams each as a reasonable compromise; the division winners play 4-of-7 in the LCS for the pennant. For decades prior to the expansion of the AL in 1961, both leagues had eight teams. Each team in an eight-team division would therefore have roughly the same hurdle to climb in order to win its division that teams used to face prior to 1961 in order to win the pennant. I find there is a nice symmetry to that. However, we both know that MLB is not going to give up the TV and gate revenues that come with four LDS series (nor the LCS, for that matter). It will be hard enough to get them to give up the Wild Card elimination games. So I’ll settle for four divisions. Yes, four-team divisions are not ideal, Having lots of small divisions increases the chances that a weak team (say an 82-game winner) wins its divisions while a 95-game winning team comes in third place in a stronger divisions. The potential for such an outcome always exists when there are multiple divisions. The only way to avoid it is to do away with divisions altogether. Which brings us back to leaving post-season TV and gate revenues on the table. Not going to happen. I find the idea of having four 4-team divisions and no wild cards preferable to three divisions with wild cards.

  • Greg  On March 28, 2017 at 12:24 am

    Of course, there’s still the issue of the Mountain states. These folks (Idaho, Wyoming, Utah) just aren’t populous enough.

    • nysportsfanatic  On March 28, 2017 at 4:34 pm

      I prefer the 4×4 approach to the current but the reason I say no divisions and the top-4 make it is because baseball is never going to shrink the number of their postseason games. Get rid of interleague play and have each team play 11 games against 10 opponents and 10 games against 5, shrinking the season to 160 games.

      Good points on Mexico City and Portland. I think San Antonio/Austin would probably make the most sense followed by Sacramento. The more I think of Vegas, the more unsure I am. I suspect MLB will want to watch very carefully what happens with the NFL and NHL before even thinking of going there, one thing I haven’t seen anything on is what the gambling rules will be I know Vegas casinos do not take bets on UNLV games, but I wonder if that will extend to the new teams?

  • Greg  On March 28, 2017 at 10:56 pm

    I see your point about top-4. I hadn’t thought of that. I’d still rather take my chances with 4×4. I can’t get past having a grueling long season and then rewarding second-place (and third-place and fourth-place) teams. Absolutely agree on getting rid of interleague play, but again, MLB wants to keep the moneymakers (Yankees/Mets, White Sox/Cubs, perhaps Cardinals/Royals, Giants/As). The ironic thing is for decades, MLB had plenty of natural interleague rivalries: Red Sox/Braves, White Sox/Cubs, Yankees/Giants, Yankees/Dodgers, Phillies/As, Cardinals/Browns. WIth so many teams having re-located over the years, there are less natural interleague rivalries today.

    I think you’re 100% correct on Vegas — MLB will watch the results of the NFL and NHL “experiments” long and hard before considering moving to Vegas.

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