Monday, March 12, 2012

Sports columnist Aaron McFarling: All you need to know about your bracket

March Madness

Who got in from the ACC?

North Carolina, No. 1 seed, Midwest

Duke, No. 2 seed, South

Florida State, No. 3 seed, East

Virginia, No. 10 seed, West

N.C. State, No. 11 seed, Midwest

Who didn't?

Miami, NIT

Who got the most bids?

Big East 9, Big Ten 6, Big 12 6, ACC 5

First off, the Hokies got hosed.
Now that that annual formality is behind us, let’s advance to the rest of the annual Selection Sunday column, which comes in a handy four-piece package this year.
1. Gator gazing
I know nothing about Florida basketball this year. You probably know nothing about Florida basketball this year. Virginia knows nothing about Florida basketball this year. Florida basketball this year was not all that special.
But given that Florida will be the first round opponent of UVa on Friday in Omaha, Neb., we need to know a few things.
Thankfully, Florida’s athletic department sent along a few quotes from the team, which I hope will shed some light on who these guys are (note: these quotes are not made up):
Coach Billy Donovan: “It’s always an honor to be part of the NCAA tournament, and we’re excited about playing. We know we have a great challenge ahead of us in Virginia and look forward to competing on this stage.”
Senior guard Erving Walker: “We’re all really excited to play in the tournament. We have a lot to learn about Virginia over the next few days, but I know our coaches will do a great job preparing us.”
Freshman guard Bradley Beal: “I’ve watched the tournament for years, so I’m looking forward to the chance to play in it. It’s a special opportunity.”
So there you go — the Gators in a nutshell. Frankly, I’m stunned that they would give away such specifics.
2. Legitimate Gator gazing
OK, so the Gators aren’t giving us much. That’s nothing a little Internet research won’t fix.
Florida scores a lot of points per game: 76.3, to be exact. That’s 27th-best in the country. And how do the Gators get most of those points? By shooting 3-pointers.
The Gators are best in the nation at treys per game — 9.9. The good news is that Virginia is the 13th-ranked team in the nation in opponents’ 3-point field goal percentage, allowing just 29.4 percent.
For the record, Tech is seventh in that category at 28.4?percent.
Hokies got hosed.
3. Snub city
Repeat this sentence along with me: The Drexel Dragons got hosed.
Not easy to say, is it? But that’s the team that has the biggest beef this year, according to the people who do that kind of this-team-got-jobbed stuff for a living. Oral Roberts, too.
Maybe the Drexel Dragons did get hosed. Maybe Oral Roberts did, too. I don’t know. Frankly, I don’t have time to look up the Drexel Dragons and Oral Roberts Eagles and find if that’s true, which tells you a little bit about this year’s bubble. It was weak. And we really don’t want to hear from those who are on the outside looking in.
Except the Hokies. They totally got hosed.
4. The picks
Let’s start with the easiest place for a Cinderella to emerge: the West. Your top seeds are Michigan State, Missouri, Marquette and Louisville. I’m going to go with New Mexico as the surprise survivor of this region.
Best chance for a double-digit seed to advance: No. 10 Xavier over No. 7 Notre Dame.
Easiest path to the Final Four for a No. 1 seed: Kentucky. Sorry, but No. 2-seeded Duke just isn’t very good this year. Baylor’s the No. 3, but the Bears might not make it two rounds. The Wildcats cruise.
Hardest path to the Final Four for a No. 1 seed: Syracuse. No. 2 Ohio State and No.?3 Florida State are both formidable.
That assumes the Orange gets past No. 4 Wisconsin or No. 5 Vanderbilt. Tough road.
My Final Four: Kentucky, New Mexico, Ohio State, North Carolina.
My champ: North Carolina.
My biggest hosed team: Do you even have to ask?

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