Tag Archives: 2013 March Madness

Takeaways and observations from the opening weekend of March Madness

The madness is under way and it is as awesome as ever. Nine lower seeded teams won in the first (technically the second) round. Four more upsets occurred en route to the Sweet Sixteen. Here are some takeaways, observations, facts, and figures about the first three rounds of the 2013 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament:

  • A No. 12 seed has defeated a No. 5 seed in 11 of the past 12 seasons and in 22 of the past 24 years. 2013 was no exception; in fact, it was even more extreme than normal. Three No. 12 seeds (Oregon, California, and Ole Miss) pulled off an upset against a No. 5 seed (Oklahoma State, UNLV, and Wisconsin).
  • For the first time ever, a No. 3, No. 4, and No. 5 seed in the same region lost in the round of 64. New Mexico, Kansas State, and Wisconsin were defeated in the West Region.
  • The Mountain West, which was the toughest conference in the country in the regular season according to RPI, has been completely eliminated from the tournament after a 2-5 showing for its five teams that made the tourney.
  • The Pac-12 may have been under-seeded and is getting hot at the right time. Two Pac-12 teams with No. 12 seeds (California and Oregon) defeated No. 5 seeds and the conference put two teams (Arizona and Oregon) in the Sweet Sixteen. Arizona defeated No. 11 seed Belmont by 17 points and No. 14 seed Harvard by 23. Oregon topped No. 5 seed Oklahoma State by 13 points and No. 4 seed Saint Louis by 17.
  • Teams from the state of Florida are 6-0 and all three (No. 2 seed Miami, No. 3 seed Florida, and No. 15 seed Florida Gulf Coast) are in the Sweet Sixteen. Florida and Florida Gulf Coast will face each other on Friday.
  • Big Ten Tournament Champion Wisconsin is the only Big Ten team that did not win a game in the tournament. The conference is 10-3 and has a team in the Sweet Sixteen in each region.
  • For the third year in a row, there was a matchup between a No. 12 seed and No. 13 seed in the round of 32. No. 12 seed Ole Miss and No. 13 seed La Salle faced off in the West Region. Last year it was No. 12 South Florida and No. 13 Ohio that matched up in the Midwest Region and two years ago No. 12 seed Richmond and No. 13 seed Morehead State played in the Southwest Region.
  • No. 13 seed La Salle is doing its best to model itself after 2011 Virginia Commonwealth, who was a No. 11 seed. The Rams played in the First Four before making a Final Four run, where they lost to No. 8 seed Butler. The La Salle Explorers finished tied for third in the A-10, then defeated No. 13 seed Boise State, No. 4 seed Kansas State, and No. 12 seed Ole Miss to reach the Sweet Sixteen. They will face No. 9 seed Wichita State on Thursday.
No. 13 seed La Salle will attempt to follow Virginia Commonwealth's footsteps as a First Four team to make the Final Four. (Image courtesy of www.usatoday.com)
No. 13 seed La Salle will attempt to follow Virginia Commonwealth’s footsteps as a First Four team to make the Final Four. (Image courtesy of http://www.usatoday.com)
  • Only two of the four Naismith Award finalists remain in the tournament–Indiana’s Victor Oladipo and Michigan’s Trey Burke. Georgetown’s Otto Porter Jr. and Creighton’s Doug McDermott did not make it out of the first weekend.
  • The main color of the past nine NCAA Champions was blue. Eight (Duke, La Salle, Arizona, Marquette, Florida Gulf Coast, Florida, Michigan, and Kansas) of the remaining schools have blue as their main color.

Pre-selection show bracketology tips

The biggest moment of the college basketball season—Selection Sunday—is almost here. While basketball analysts argue over the No. 1 seeds and bubble teams in the final hour before the bracket is announced, here are a few tips to help you have success in your March Madness predictions.

  • Don’t go all “chalk”—Only once, in 2008, did all four No. 1 seeds make the Final Four. With all of the attention focused on the top teams and their respective regions, it is very tempting to lean towards going chalk—choosing the better seed—but stay strong and resist the temptation. Only 14 No. 1 seeds have made the Final Four in the past decade and there were no top seeds in both 2006 and 2011.
  • Don’t pick Gonzaga to advance past the Sweet Sixteen—The Bulldogs are a staple for the NCAA Tournament after making it every season since 1999 but they only one Elite Eight appearance in that span. While Gonzaga has never been a No. 1 seed, the Zags lost in the Round of 32 as a No. 2 and No. 3 seed in 2004 and 2005. The Bulldogs have proven that they can make the Sweet Sixteen, with five appearances since ’99, they have struggled to make a deep run in March.
  • Expect Georgetown to be upset—In the past three seasons, the Hoyas are 1-3 in the NCAA Tournament and were eliminated by No. 11 North Carolina State, No. 11 VCU and No. 14 Ohio. While Georgetown will likely by a No. 2 seed, they don’t have a good recent track record in March.
  • Pick at least one No. 12 seed to upset a No. 5 seed—No. 12 seeds upset No. 5 seeds in 34 percent of the matchups and at 12 seed has defeated a 5 seed in 11 of the past 12 years. Keep in mind that No. 12 seeds have a winning record in Round of 32.
  • Don’t overthink the 8/9 and 7/10 matchups—The differences between these middle seeds are small. Flip a coin, choose the team with the longer name or simply go with your gut because anything can happen in these first round matchups.

Cincinnati and Xavier Move Past Brawl into New Era of Crosstown Rivalry

The producers of the Crosstown Classic on ESPN2 elected not to show the brawl that scarred the 2011 Crosstown Shootout because they wanted to move past the skirmish that has haunted the University of Cincinnati and Xavier University for the past year. On Wednesday night, the two schools did just that and took the first steps into renewing a healthy Queen City rivalry.

The Crosstown Shootout was renamed the Crosstown Classic to give the Cincinnati-Xavier rivalry a new identity after the 2011 brawl. (Image courtesy of http://bearcatsnation.com/2012/06/15/crosstown-shootout-renamed-the-crosstown-classic-lets-give-everybody-a-trophy-too/)
The Crosstown Shootout was renamed the Crosstown Classic to give the Cincinnati-Xavier rivalry a new identity after the brawl in 2011. (Image courtesy of http://bearcatsnation.com/2012/06/15/crosstown-shootout-renamed-the-crosstown-classic-lets-give-everybody-a-trophy-too/)

With a neutral venue, an improved identity of the annual series and five of the eight players suspended from their roles in last year’s brawl no longer playing for either team, the 2012 edition of the Cincinnati-Xavier matchup was played on amicable terms. As part of the efforts to improve the relationship between the two schools, the men’s and women’s basketball teams went to the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center on November 10th. The referees, coaches and players set the tone early that hostility and trash talking would have no place in the game, which let the city of Cincinnati as well as the rest of the country that the teams had turned a page to brighter days.

No. 11 Cincinnati entered the matchup as the clear favorite but Xavier played confidently in the first half, knowing that they had defeated the Bearcats in four of the past five meetings. The Musketeers went into halftime with a 24-22 lead thanks to Cincinnati’s atrocious 2-11 shooting performance from behind the arc. Xavier senior forward Travis Taylor scored eight points before halftime and freshman point guard Semaj Christon scored all six of his points in the first half. Christon was able to penetrate Cincinnati’s defense and dished out four assists.

However, the Muskies’ success was short-lived as the Bearcats started the second half with a 21-6 run, which included 11 points from junior guard Sean Kilpatrick, the team’s leading scorer. Injuries to both of the team’s starting guards, Semaj Christon and Dee Davis, prevented Xavier from going on a run of their own. The Musketeers cut UC’s lead to eight but Cashmere Wright and JaQuon Parker scored nine points in the final five minutes of action as the ‘Cats extended their all-time series lead to 49-31.

If No. 6 Indiana wasn’t playing Mount St. Mary’s on the Big Ten Network and the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets weren’t playing a rivalry game of their own on ESPN at the same time as the Crosstown Classic, then I doubt I would have been able to watch the entire game. It was next to unbearable. Xavier shot 37.7 percent from the field, 15.4 percent from behind the arc and 21.4 percent from the free throw line. Cincinnati’s statistics were not much better–32.8 percent from the field, 20.8 percent from three-point range and 68.4 percent from the charity stripe. In the span of fourteen seconds early in the first half, Cincinnati players missed four shots (three of which were within five feet of the basket) and grabbed the offensive rebound after each one before center Cheikh Mbodj turned the ball over.

Xavier was incompetent against Cincinnati’s full-court press. Dee Davis turned the ball over five times as he made dumb decision after dumb decision when trying to get the ball past half court. But Davis is not solely responsible for their offensive inefficiencies in clearing the Bearcats’ defense. The Musketeers never had more than one outlet option available for the point guard to pass the ball. This resulted in Davis and Christon frequently getting double teamed, which required acrobatic and dangerous passes just for Xavier to set up any offensive sets.

Cincinnati, the nation’s leading rebounding team, killed Xavier on the glass, 42-31, including 18 offensive rebounds. JaQuon Parker, Sean Kilpatrick and Titus Rubles gave the Bearcats opportunities for second chance points throughout the game, which was critical when Cincinnati was having such a poor shooting night.

Xavier lacks a go-to scorer, especially without Semaj Christon on the court. In Christon’s previous six games, he scored 18, 12, 25, 16, 23, and 18 points, but cramping in his left calf limited the freshman point guard to only 23 minutes and for all intensive purposes, ended Xavier’s hopes to win the 2012 Crosstown Classic. Travis Taylor scored 12 points on six for ten shooting but was the only Musketeer in double figures. XU’s offensive woes overcoming the Cincinnati full-court press and having 6’1″ shooting guard Brad Redford run the point prevented Xavier from going to Taylor in the second half. Where Xavier lacks in go-to scorers, Cincinnati thrives. Sean Kilpatrick scored 25 points and Cashmere Wright pitched in 15, as the Bearcats’ tandem of star guards almost scored as many points as the entire Musketeer lineup.

The Crosstown Classic showed that the rivalry can return to the competitive, yet family-friendly nature on which the city of Cincinnati prides itself. Additionally, Cincinnati is very likely overrated as the number eleven team in the country and Xavier still has a long way to go in order to guarantee itself a spot in the field of 68 teams for March Madness.

On a number of levels, it is great to have the first “Crosstown Classic” in the books. The game went smoothly and there wasn’t the slightest hint of animosity or aggressiveness on the scale of last year’s matchup. The rivalry will be played at U.S. Bank Arena next year and then the university presidents will meet to determine the future of the annual game. However, if and when it does return to the school’s campuses, Cincinnati will host the first game back.