gfoster (Geoff Foster, sports activities editor): We have now 52 video games within the books of the lads’s NCAA Event. And there was one prevailing theme: chalk. There was a staggeringly small quantity of bracket busting. Aside from Oregon (a No. 12 seed however a Energy 5 convention winner), the very best seed remaining is Auburn at No. 5! Within the spherical of 32, the favourite gained 100 % of the video games! For those who picked all favorites in your bracket (like my mother in all probability did), you’d be 87.5 % proper. I might go on and on. So, do you assume that is simply an aberration, or is there one thing behind the dearth of Cinderellas?
jplanos (Josh Planos, contributor): FiveThirtyEight’s mannequin was fairly chalky when the draw was introduced. It definitely could possibly be a matter of extra applicable seeding or merely a chance for the committee to pat itself on the again earlier than subsequent yr goes haywire.
jakelourim (Jake Lourim, contributor): I used to be stunned like everybody else by that development. Even given the slim possibilities to succeed in the Candy 16 given to these double-digit seeds, we might anticipate no less than one Cinderella to make it, proper?
sara.ziegler (Sara Ziegler, assistant sports activities editor): It does appear to be the committee did a reasonably good job of seeding this yr, as our colleague Neil Paine wrote.
The seeds adopted what the stats would have beneficial — and the highest groups do appear to be higher than in years previous.
gfoster: So there hasn’t been a surprising upset, with all due respect to Mississippi State, however some groups have had a neater time with their first two opponents than others. Which group has impressed you probably the most within the early going?
jplanos: I feel Gonzaga has appeared fairly robust with two double-digit victories. The 38-point opening-round victory over Fairleigh Dickinson was probably the most lopsided event recreation in two years.
Baylor and Fairleigh Dickinson aren’t robust defensive groups, to make certain, however the Zags have decimated each. In every win, Gonzaga posted no less than 19 assists, was no less than plus-10 on the glass and shot 35 % or higher from three and 53 % or higher from the sector. In line with Ken Pomeroy, two of the staff’s three greatest performances this season in offensive rebounding proportion have come within the event.
Brandon Clarke by some means obtained glossed over for each main award and has gone berserk. Towards Baylor, he joined Shaquille O’Neal as the one gamers in NCAA Event historical past to place up 36 factors and 5 blocked photographs in a single recreation.
sara.ziegler: Kentucky had a difficult draw towards a really gifted Wofford group, however they appeared fairly good. Michigan has appeared good, too. And Purdue has been underneath the radar — my radar, at the very least — however the Boilermakers have posted two convincing wins.
It’s humorous — regardless that the bracket has been so chalky, a number of of the highest seeds have appeared suspect at occasions.
jakelourim: I feel from a efficiency standpoint, I’d should say Texas Tech. I assumed Buffalo performed nice on Friday and would give the Purple Raiders some hassle on Sunday, however Chris Beard’s staff hammered Buffalo and acquired again to No. 1 within the nation in adjusted defensive effectivity. That conflict with Michigan on Thursday goes to be a slugfest.
gfoster: I’ve additionally been impressed by the Texas Tech protection. Northern Kentucky’s Drew McDonald was the convention participant of the yr, and he was utterly erased from the sport within the first spherical, scoring solely 5 factors. Likewise, the Pink Raiders kind of shut down Buffalo’s greatest participant in CJ Massinburg, who couldn’t get a lot going. It is going to be fascinating to see how they do towards Michigan, which isn’t depending on a top-heavy scoring guard like these two are.
jakelourim: It’d simply be my impression, however I feel after UMBC knocked off Virginia final March and Virginia remained such a outstanding storyline all season, each the No. 1 and No. 16 seeds have been on guard Friday — the 1s to keep away from being embarrassed, the 16s as a result of perhaps UMBC introduced new hope. Duke, North Carolina and Virginia collectively have been -2.Three in scoring margin of their first halves. Then all of them recovered and gained by double digits.
jplanos: Fairly typical for groups of all strengths to start out opening-round video games tight, too.
gfoster: OK, so which excessive seed has appeared probably the most weak? It’s arduous to knock a staff for profitable two video games, however let’s do it anyway.
sara.ziegler: I nonetheless assume Virginia might discover itself in hassle due to its sluggish play. The Cavs seemed a lot better towards Oklahoma on Sunday, however nonetheless.
jakelourim: I’d be fearful about Tennessee. That was a near-disaster Sunday towards Iowa, giving up a 25-point result in go to additional time earlier than pulling it out. That’s not a fantastic Iowa staff, both, and Tennessee’s subsequent opponent (Purdue) gained’t be as forgiving.
sara.ziegler: Jake, I feel Tennessee ought to be nervous, too. Although how a lot of that recreation was the Volunteers getting up a lot, then taking their foot off the fuel?
jplanos: And what was up with Admiral Schofield requesting to not play in OT?
jakelourim: Very bizarre, Josh, relating to Schofield. Throughout, it was a really bizarre option to finish a recreation during which the Vols led by 21 at halftime. I do assume a number of that was simply diminished depth within the second half, however even that was a priority. Purdue, against this, was up by 19 at halftime after which constructed that result in as many as 35 earlier than profitable by 26.
gfoster: I additionally agree that Tennessee’s days are numbered. The Vols’ offense is meant to be the third-most environment friendly within the nation, however that isn’t what we’ve seen up to now. Colgate’s protection is objectively dangerous, one of many worst within the event. Solely scoring 77 factors there’s kinda a letdown, regardless that it’s a good quantity.
And Iowa’s protection is way from stellar, too.
jplanos: I by no means thought UCF might compete with Duke — and the Knights happened as near an upset victory as attainable. Granted, it was in Orlando. However Duke’s incapability to regulate at halftime appeared problematic. Plus, it wasn’t just like the Blue Devils had an off capturing night time. Going 10-for-25 from Three-point vary is a very good efficiency for Duke, and it resulted in a 1-point win.
sara.ziegler: Agree. And it wasn’t simply Tacko Fall who was an issue for Duke!
(Although his absence on the finish of the sport definitely helped the Blue Devils.)
jplanos: Little question, Sara. I’ve a tough time believing Duke snags that last-second rebound for the put-back bucket with him within the recreation. To say nothing of the a number of fouls on that play.
sara.ziegler: ^^^ THIS
jakelourim: Completely, Tacko fouling out was a game-changer. Even when the rebound does nonetheless bounce to Duke, he in all probability blocks any put-back try if he’s there. It’s loopy to me that UCF was up by Three with what ended up being one possession left and misplaced in regulation. That’s virtually unimaginable!
sara.ziegler: Take a look at the loopy swings in our stay chances on the finish of Duke-UCF:
jplanos: Most video games are full of tens of what-ifs, nevertheless it virtually makes it worse for UCF that Aubrey Dawkins, who performed a masterful recreation, missed the alley-oop late that in all probability would’ve put it away (after which the tip within the waning seconds).
sara.ziegler: That sequence was a 5-point swing in Duke’s favor.
gfoster: All this stated about Duke, I haven’t been that impressed by Virginia Tech. Each of the Hokies’ wins have been ugly affairs towards lesser groups. The Saint Louis recreation was a completely brutal free-throw contest. So I don’t assume Duke goes anyplace simply but. Do you disagree? If not, what different excessive seed might be on upset watch?
jakelourim: I undoubtedly thought getting into the event that Virginia Tech had an excellent (and underrated) probability to upset Duke within the Candy 16. The Hokies beat Duke in Blacksburg final month, and whereas Zion didn’t play in that recreation, neither did Virginia Tech star Justin Robinson. However now, after watching the primary weekend, I do doubt Virginia Tech’s possibilities towards Duke. It simply doesn’t look like Robinson has eased again into the lineup as seamlessly as Tech had hoped.
gfoster: He looks like he’s enjoying harm, to be trustworthy.
jplanos: I agree with you, Geoff. I’m not excessive on the Hokies. I principally anticipate chalk to play out within the Candy 16.
jakelourim: The flip aspect of the primary weekend missing upsets is that it arrange some superior matchups for the Candy 16, together with 4 No. 2-vs.-Three seed matchups (three of them between top-12 groups in KenPom).
sara.ziegler: The West area could possibly be enjoyable — Florida State has an actual shot towards Gonzaga, and I like Texas Tech over Michigan.
jplanos: I feel the perfect factor that would occur for Texas Tech is for Jordan Poole to drill two threes to open the sport. For my cash, there isn’t a extra inconsistent Overconfident Man left within the area.
gfoster: I feel Oregon has a official shot towards Virginia. The Geese are by far the bottom KenPom staff, and it’s not shut. However that doesn’t converse on to how nicely they’re enjoying proper now. Level guard Payton Pritchard is a person on hearth.
sara.ziegler: I refuse to consider in Oregon.
jplanos: I refuse to consider within the Pac-12.
And for good cause.
gfoster: Each that recreation and the Michigan recreation shall be full rock fights: 60 to 65 factors can be sufficient to win both.
jakelourim: Whereas this perception burned me within the bracket’s first weekend, I simply assume the Pac-12 has nothing to point out for itself this weekend. How did Oregon lose so many video games out of that league? The Geese additionally skated by towards a lesser second-round opponent — appeared just like the mighty Anteaters used up all their juice in upsetting Okay-State on Friday.
sara.ziegler: The Geese have the 74th adjusted offense within the nation, based on KenPom. That’s not the way you beat Virginia.
gfoster: Gardner-Webb was beating Virginia for a half. I simply really feel just like the Cavs tighten up when they’re enjoying from behind. Oregon is the other — they’ve been enjoying with nothing to lose for weeks.
sara.ziegler: I agree, Geoff — I simply don’t assume Oregon is sweet sufficient offensively to get a lead.
jakelourim: I actually like Virginia’s path as a result of the Hoos play a No. 12 seed first and are 26-Zero towards groups outdoors the KenPom prime 15 this season. An underrated half about that area: Virginia will play in Louisville’s residence area, which is as acquainted to the Cavs as you possibly can hope to be at this stage within the event. The Hoos have performed and gained in that constructing in every of the previous 4 seasons, together with an inconceivable comeback final season from down 5 with lower than 7 seconds left.
gfoster: So Josh, you wrote about Murray State. Jake, you wrote about Wofford. It’s actually unhappy that the mid-majors are all however gone (relying on the way you outline Gonzaga and Houston). Which one have been you most disenchanted to see exit the event?
jplanos: Wofford, however solely as a result of Murray State would’ve gotten waxed by Gonzaga within the Candy 16 had the Racers superior. With Wofford’s perimeter capturing, they could have had a puncher’s probability towards Houston. Liked the offensive move of their recreation(s).
jakelourim: I’d say Wofford, too, due to how the Terriers misplaced to Kentucky on Saturday. Watching the tiny SoCon upstart hold with Kentucky, solely to observe Fletcher Magee clank shot after shot off the rim, was painful. It’s a must to really feel for Magee, who’s now probably the most prolific Three-point shooter in NCAA historical past however simply went chilly on the worst time.
gfoster: That was terrible.
jplanos: I do know the parable of the recent hand might be argued for eternity, however at what level do you inform a man to cease capturing? Particularly when the man’s offensive output appears to virtually solely include inefficient jump-turn-and-figure-it-out jumpers.
gfoster: The reality is, he needed to hold capturing. He’s an enormous cog of their scheme, they usually don’t have sufficient expertise to only let the opposite 4 to 6 guys decide up the slack. Individuals have been evaluating him to Steph Curry at Davidson! So I, like everybody else, was shocked that NONE of these dropped, even the loopy off-balanced shot makes an attempt.
sara.ziegler: Stay by the three, and so forth.
However Magee did set the Three-point report once more Seton Corridor, which was cool to see.
gfoster: I truly assume Belmont might have made some noise if the Bruins might have gotten previous Maryland. (They misplaced on the wire.) They’re an electrical, up-tempo group, and I feel they might have crushed LSU after which been a enjoyable check for Sparty.
And they might have prolonged the First 4 streak!
sara.ziegler: Would have liked to see extra from the Bruins.
jakelourim: I agree, Geoff. I feel Belmont might have made some noise. LSU was not the dominant, unflinching No. Three seed that Houston, Texas Tech and Purdue proved to be, so Belmont might have hit sufficient threes to make it a recreation on the finish. After which as soon as that occurs …
jplanos: That was a troublesome matchup for Belmont. Maryland coughs it up continually, however Belmont doesn’t drive turnovers. Whenever you’re already working at a expertise deficit, and you may’t even rely upon further possibilities, it’s virtually unimaginable to beat until you shoot the lights out.
That recreation was Maryland’s season-best efficiency when it comes to turnover proportion, in response to KenPom.
jakelourim: That’s why I feel this chalk-heavy first weekend was a one-year deal — only a assortment of momentum swings that went towards the favorites. If that backdoor cross from Belmont goes by way of, Aubrey Dawkins’ tip rims in and Magee makes even, what, two of 12 Three-pointers, this can be a completely totally different event.
gfoster: So, which convention has impressed probably the most? I do know who it isn’t: The Huge East. Fairly unhappy effort from the convention that has gained two of three titles (granted, that’s simply Villanova, so a beneficiant method to reward the convention).
jplanos: Agreed, Geoff. When your second greatest staff will get dusted by almost 20 by a staff from the Ohio Valley Convention … yikes.
sara.ziegler: The Massive 12 has been fairly pathetic. Texas Tech has the entire convention on its shoulders now.
jplanos: The SEC has been probably the most spectacular. However how concerning the Massive Ten getting three groups into the Candy 16? Maryland and Iowa have been about as shut as you will get to advancing, too.
gfoster: Is there any staff that has utterly defied what you considered them getting into the event?
jplanos: Purdue. Mark me down as having by no means believed within the Boilermakers all season. All too typically it appears to be Carsen Edwards or bust, with the latter profitable out.
Purdue misplaced two of its final three video games getting into the event, together with an opening-round loss to Minnesota within the Huge Ten event. However after two double-digit victories, together with an 87-61 thrashing of defending champion Villanova, nicely, I’m nonetheless not able to consider of their possibilities shifting ahead. However I’m able to eat crow.
I wasn’t all that stunned that the Wildcats have been eradicated earlier than the Candy 16, however I’m stunned that the Boilermakers decreased them to rubble and are nonetheless standing.
gfoster: Mid-majors or non-mid-majors, which group has allow you to down probably the most?
I do know Sara’s.
*cough, Cyclones, cough*
jplanos: For my part, the most important disappointment is Nevada, by a substantial margin.
Most of this roster reached the Candy 16 a yr in the past, and the Wolfpack ostensibly have been primed for an additional deep run within the event. As an alternative, Nevada did not win its convention event after which received bounced within the opening-round of the NCAA Event by a reasonably common Florida group. They allowed the Gators to dictate the tempo and performed on the slowest tempo of any recreation this season, in accordance with KenPom. Not solely that, they posted the second lowest efficient area aim proportion of any recreation this season and the very best turnover fee of any recreation this season.
I even talked myself into Jordan Caroline smashing a fireplace extinguisher as a galvanizing second for the workforce! Turned out it was only a illustration of their irritating season.
jakelourim: Even given every thing that occurred this season, can I nonetheless say Kansas? I do know, I do know — the Jayhawks performed the season underneath the cloud of participant eligibility points, misplaced Udoka Azubuike early, ended The Streak and usually appeared very un-Kansas-like. However this was nonetheless imagined to be a very gifted group. Watching them not simply lose however get run off the courtroom by a soccer faculty within the second spherical was very odd to me.
sara.ziegler: I feel that loss is what they deserve for being positioned within the Kansas Metropolis regional.
sara.ziegler: STOP GIVING KANSAS SUCH A GOOD REGION
jakelourim: And in addition, Cincinnati was despatched to Columbus and collapsed towards Iowa within the first spherical. That’s like whenever you draw a nasty foul name and go to the road and miss the free throws.
gfoster: Mine is Buffalo. I had the Bulls within the Candy 16 in all of the brackets I crammed out. And felt vindicated once they completely steam rolled their former coach Bobby Hurley. However Texas Tech completely closed down store from the tip-off on. They didn’t even make a run.
jakelourim: Nevada is one other good (dangerous?) one, Josh. I might have been very apprehensive for Michigan if Nevada have been on the opposite aspect within the second spherical. That’s no seventh-seeded roster. However Eric Musselman’s group by no means put it collectively prefer it did in final yr’s event.
gfoster: That’s one other factor about this event: There actually hasn’t been a lot drama, Duke and LSU apart. Of the 16 winners within the spherical of 32, solely three didn’t cowl the unfold: Tennessee, Duke and Gonzaga (they usually gained by 12 factors).
sara.ziegler: My disappointment is definitely that Oregon made it this far. I hate it when major-conference faculties that performed like crap for a lot of the season make it to the Candy 16. Appears unjust.
gfoster: Would you want them higher if that they had Bol Bol?
(Sure, the reply to that’s sure.)
sara.ziegler: Sure, in fact. They’d even be means higher.
jplanos: I feel if Auburn had dropped that opening-round recreation, we’d be speaking about this event wayyyyyyyyy in a different way. That may’ve given us two all-timers within the opening weekend.
sara.ziegler: Oh, yeah — I forgot how shut that recreation was!
jakelourim: New Mexico State might have gone on and dealt with Kansas, too, no?
jplanos: Yeah, my evaluation is that Kansas is dangerous.
sara.ziegler: ENDORSE, Josh.
gfoster: Earlier than we get to our up to date Remaining 4 picks, let’s speak concerning the ladies’s tourney, which has been objectively higher from an leisure standpoint. What’s your largest takeaway to date?
sara.ziegler: There have been three additional time video games within the first spherical alone!
jplanos: I’m glad offense is profitable out on the ladies’s aspect, as seven of the highest 10 groups this season in factors per possession stay within the hunt, in line with Synergy Sports activities. I for one am happy that we get extra alternatives for Sabrina Ionescu to do loopy issues on the courtroom, like deliberately lacking photographs for triple-doubles
jakelourim: Completely, the ladies’s event has been extra entertaining, I feel.
gfoster: Based on our mannequin, that is nonetheless a two-team event. Baylor and Notre Dame mix for a 60 % probability of profitable (32 % and 28 %, respectively). Though Louisville and UConn look like mutually hurting one another’s possibilities by simply being in the identical area.
sara.ziegler: Although a lot of the prime ladies’s groups have all superior, we’ve seen nearer video games than we’ve got up to now.
No. 2 Iowa had all it might deal with from Mercer. And No. 10 Buffalo acquitted itself properly towards UConn.
jakelourim: Sure, Buffalo performed nicely, and didn’t even should kidnap any gamers!
sara.ziegler: OMG, Jake. That’s superb.
jakelourim: Mercer took Iowa to the wire in an effort to supply what I consider would have been the primary 15-2 upset within the historical past of the event.
sara.ziegler: That recreation was nice. I liked the chart for No. 7 Missouri towards No. 10 Drake, too:
Take a look at that pleasure index!
jakelourim: That may be a loopy recreation.
gfoster: All proper, let’s shortly replace our males’s Ultimate 4 picks. This isn’t like a bracket pool — you’ll be able to simply change from what you picked beforehand. Nobody will decide you. (Somebody might decide you — it’s the web.)
Let’s go lightning spherical via the areas, beginning with the East.
I had Michigan State, I’m staying with Michigan State.
jakelourim: Had Duke, staying with Duke. MSU doesn’t have the dudes to take them down.
sara.ziegler: Yeah, I’m sticking with Duke. There’s simply a lot expertise there.
jplanos: I had all No. 1 seeds as a result of I’m not enjoyable at events. So I’m sticking with Duke.
gfoster: OK, West. I had Gonzaga in my bracket, I stated Michigan on our podcast. I’m going with…..
sara.ziegler: Texas Tech. BIG 12 REPRESENT
jakelourim: Had Michigan, staying with Michigan. Joyful to die on this hill.
jplanos: Permit me to re-plug Scorching Takedown and say that I’m lastly able to go together with my coronary heart. The Wolverines have been tenacious all through the event, as greatest showcased by a Michigan tuba participant operating down the Gators mascot.
gfoster: Solely as a result of I feel they’re displaying once more that they’re the best-coached group within the nation. They don’t do any of the issues that value groups video games: flip it over, foul hassle, dangerous photographs, and so forth.
jakelourim: Sure, I feel they’ve the perfect coach in that area. That’ll be sufficient.
gfoster: OK, within the South. I had UVA. I may need stated Nova on Scorching Takedown, however that was clearly me being an fool.
sara.ziegler: I consider that went one thing like, “Jay Wright is superb, he’ll clearly win.”
jplanos: You probably did certainly say that, Geoff. I’ll withhold my opinion on that decide.
gfoster: That was a product of me not liking ANY group within the area. And I nonetheless don’t!!!!!!
sara.ziegler: Wait … that was the area I didn’t like, Geoff.
You didn’t just like the Midwest.
gfoster: I like that extra, now. I’ve a solution there.
I nonetheless don’t like anybody within the South. I’ve Tennessee … which I don’t really feel nice about.
jplanos: I’m nonetheless going with UVA. Whoever reaches the 20-point mark first is deemed the winner.
jakelourim: Had Virginia, staying with Virginia. Nonetheless assume Tony Bennett’s staff is probably the most constant within the nation — NCAA Event demons however.
gfoster: OK, let’s do the Midwest.
jplanos: Tar Heels. By no means a doubt.
sara.ziegler: Keep in mind once they have been trailing to Iona at halftime of that recreation? That was enjoyable.
jplanos: I stated by no means a doubt, Sara!
I nonetheless like Kentucky.
jakelourim: I’ve obtained Ol’ Roy and UNC.
sara.ziegler: You guys are BORING.
jakelourim: This event began it!
gfoster: Solely as a result of I want to select one thing that may be mocked later, I’m taking Auburn. Bruce Pearl’s workforce is right here to offer the insanity of 2019. The Tiger offense is so spectacular. I really like these groups (like some Beilein groups) the place each man on the courtroom can knock down the three.
jplanos: HAHA, Geoff. Come on now.
sara.ziegler: What a decide.
gfoster: You assume there might be no surprises in any respect? We’ll see.
*checks bracket pool standings, sees self in 90th*
Take a look at our newest March Insanity predictions.