Never Make Predictions, Especially About the Future

Villanova BasketballWords of wisdom.

I was misled the other day by an early bracket report.  As I had it the first time, 5th seeded Clemson (24-9) will play 12th seeded Villanova (20-12) in the first round of the Midwest regional on Friday.

So, knowing nothing worth telling about the game of basketball, I fearlessly make predictions.  Don’t try this at home, boys and girls!
Half of the first round is easy.  The #1 team will always beat the #1 team, and sometimes it will happen that the #2 team loses to the #15 team, but not today.  It’s happened only 4 times since the NCAA tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985.  #3 against #14 is a no-brainer, but keep in mind that it’s happened 16 times.  Even #4 against #13 would mean that a major, major upset has occurred in the first round.  Lightning has struck, and it’s happened 17 times since 1985.  Statistically, those last two are a bit too frequent.  “Regression to the mean” would mean that fewer upsets are warranted for the next few years.  Professional gamblers will tell you that that’s no way to gamble.  The separation between men and boys starts here.

So in the midwest, Kansas will beat Portland, and Georgetown will beat UMBC.  After that, it gets harder.  I predict:
#3 Wisconsin is just better than #14 C-S Fullerton, so they will win.
The most interesting game will be, for most, #4 Vanderbilt against #13 Siena.  Many have already written that Vandy is the most overrated team in the tournament, and several have claimed that Siena is the most underrated.  Picking Siena might be the upset pick of the week, and I’m a sucker for picks like that.
Of course, I have to pick #12 Villanova to beat #5 Clemson, but you don’t have to.
#6 USC might fall to #11 Kansas St. according to some of the more knowledgeable predictors, but I would be unwilling to bet against USC in this game.
#7 Gonzaga beats #10 Davidson, because Gonzaga does well historically in tournaments.
#8 UNLV plays #9 Kent St., and I have no idea who will win that one.

In the South Regional:
#1 Memphis will destroy #16 Texas at Arlington.  Memphis has a good chance of winning the whole thing.
#2 Texas will beat #15 Austin Peay.
#3 Stanford will beat #14 Cornell (which will make many people happy)
#4 Pittsburg will beat #13 Oral Roberts. This may be the game to watch, because Oral Roberts is a big team.  They can surprise.  Pittsburg, though, won the Big East, so they are “feeling their oats”, as they say, and expect to do well.
#5 Michigan St. beats #12 Temple
#6 Marquette beats #11 Kentucky
#7 Miami, Fla. beats #10 St. Mary’s (maybe you can tell by this time that I haven’t seen any of the above teams play much this year).
Now we finally get to an interesting game.
#8 Mississippi St. is perhaps the most underrated in this regional. They’ll beat #9 Oregon.
That’s it?  That’s it.

In the East:
#1 North Carolina beats #16 Mt. St. Mary’s.
#2 Tennessee beats #15 American
#3 Louisville beats #14 Boise State
#4 Washington St. beats #13 Winthrop.
#12 George Mason surprised everyone with great runs the past few years, and may get by #5 Notre Dame. I’m going with the upset.
#6 Oklahoma will have its hands full with #11 St. Joe’s, but will pull it out (’cause St. Joe’s has faded badly at the end of the season).
#7 Butler will beat #10 South Alabama (Butler might have been ranked higher with a 29-3 record)
and #8 Arkansas against #9 Indiana is another game I know nothing about.

Finally, the West Regional:
#1 UCLA will beat #16 Miss. Valley St. (and will make it to the Final Four)
#2 Duke will, unfortunately, beat #15 Belmont.  I will celebrate when Duke loses, which I hope will be soon.
#3 Xavier will beat #14 Georgia
#4 Connecticut will beat #13 San Diego, but watch out. San Diego has played great for more than the last half of the year.  They’re stronger than their rating.
#5 Drake beats #12 Western Kentucky and will do well in the tournament.
#6 Purdue will beat #11 Baylor, but I’m nervous about this pick for no reason that I can put my finger on.
#7 West Virginia will have no problem with #10 Arizona
and #8 BYU should beat #9 Texas A&M (but like usual, the contest between #8 and #9 could go either way).

In looking over my picks, the phrase “No guts, no glory” comes to mind.  Hum…

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