Handle the ball with care, young man. (Jim O'Connor-US PRESSWIRE)
Now the fun really begins. The Georgetown Hoyas were selected as a 3 seed in the Midwest Region tonight in front of a mass of fans and 2012 #1 recruit Nerlens Noel. The Hoyas take on the Belmont Bruins on Friday March 16 at approximately 3:15pm in Columbus, Ohio. Personally, I was surprised that Georgetown ended up with a 3 seed considering how much weight is normally put on how a team finishes in their conference tournaments.
Say what you will about Georgetown's performances in the last few NCAA Tournaments, but John Thompson III deserves a ton of recognition for what he has done with this program. Starting in 2005-2006, Georgetown has made six of the last seven NCAA Tournaments, and have been seeded 7, 2, 2, 3, 6, and 3 in each respective draw. For a program that was an afterthought in the Big East from 1999-2004, this is a staggering achievement. To receive a 3 seed a year after losing Austin Freeman, Chris Wright, and Julian Vaughn is the best coaching job in the country besides Bill Self. There will be plenty of analysts on TV and the internet that will predict a Georgetown loss to Belmont, we've already seen Seth Davis and others do so. And frankly, it is an easy and lazy choice because of our recent tournament history. But let's step back for a second and applaud this year's team for a season that has outperformed all of our wildest expectations.
After The Jump, so many predictions that will be wrong.
Enough about Georgetown though, let's get right to the rapid reactions and ridiculous predictions.
This is easily the most loaded region in the tournament, which is funny because it has the best team in the country in it. Kentucky has ripped through its schedule this year, clearly the most dominant team that has laced it up. What do they get rewarded with? A Duke team that has beaten Michigan State, UNC, Kansas, Florida State, and Michigan. Ouch. In addition, Baylor is the 3 seed in this region. Despite their disgusting neon jerseys, Baylor has the talent of a 1 seed, anchored by two potential lottery picks in its frontcourt. Double ouch. Indiana is the 4 seed, the same Indiana team that has beaten Kentucky before, along with Michigan State, Ohio State, and Michigan. Triple ouch. And Kentucky could face the defending National Champion UConn Huskies in the second round. The same UConn Huskies that have two lottery picks of their own. This region is out of control, I can only assume that the NCAA is punishing John Calipari for the TWO vacated Final Fours that he has under his belt.
The Favorite: Kentucky
The Sleeper: UConn
Upset Special: #12 VCU over #5 Wichita State
Elite Eight Matchup: Kentucky vs. Baylor
Final Four Pick: Kentucky
Syracuse is the #1 seed here, and they have themselves a pretty decent draw, particularly getting Ohio State as the #2 seed. Ohio State could cause Syracuse trouble because Aaron Craft is significantly better at basketball than Scoop Jardine, but to beat Syracuse you need to hit shots from the outside, and Ohio State is famously horrific from beyond the arc. Syracuse's 3 seed is ACC Tournament Champion Florida State, who knocked off Duke and UNC in the last two days. Their four seed is Wisconsin. I wish I knew more about Wisconsin, but every time I put the TV on to watch them, my eyes started bleeding and I had to stop. The most intriguing matchup of the first round is Vanderbilt and Harvard, which is hilarious considering the combined academic horsepower between the two schools. While Harvard may have smarter people, Vanderbilt has a SIGNIFICANT edge in attractiveness of females.
The Favorite: Syracuse
The Sleeper: Vanderbilt
Upset Special: #5 Vanderbilt over #1 Syracuse
Elite Eight Matchup: Vanderbilt vs. Ohio State
Final Four Pick: Ohio State
Michigan State is the #1 seed here, coming off winning the Big Ten Conference Tournament over Ohio State. They get Missouri as their #2 seed, who could lose in the second round against an underseeded #7 Florida. The 3 seed is our good friends from Wisconsin, the Marquette Golden Eagles. The #4 seed is the red-hot Louisville Cardinals, who ran through the Big East Tournament with reckless abandon. Louisville's victory over Cincinnati last night in the Big East Tournament championship game most likely made James Naismith regret ever creating the game of basketball. Memphis somehow ended up with the #8 seed even though they are probably one of the top 20 teams in the country right now. Call this bracket "The Criminally Underseeded Region".
The Favorite: Michigan State
The Sleeper: Florida
Upset Special: #12 Long Beach State over #5 New Mexico
Elite Eight Matchup: Michigan State vs. Florida
Final Four Pick: Florida
Georgetown's region. UNC is the #1 seed. A week ago, this would be a terrifying prospect, but without knowing the health of John Henson, who sat out yesterday and today's games because of an injured wrist, UNC becomes much more vulnerable. The #2 seed is Kansas, who probably should have ended up with the fourth #1 seed, but were dinged because they lost early in the Big 12 Tournament to Baylor. Georgetown has faced Kansas earlier this season, losing 67-63 in the Maui Invitational. Kansas is led by Thomas Robinson, who is an absolute beast and my favorite non-Georgetown player in the country. As for Georgetown, we face Belmont in the first round with a potential matchup against San Diego State or NC State in the second round.
The Favorite: UNC
The Sleeper: Alabama
Upset Special: #4 Michigan over #1 UNC
Elite Eight Matchup: Kansas vs. Michigan
Final Four Pick: Kansas
Mark me down for a Kansas vs. Kentucky finale with Kentucky cutting down the nets.
That said, I LOVE this region for Georgetown. When we last played Kansas, we played mostly man-to-man, whereas now we are playing in the 2-3 zone which could help neutralize Thomas Robinson. I think Temple, Michigan, or Alabama could give UNC trouble as well. San Diego State is definitely the weakest #6 seed in the tournament. Over the next few days, we will see damn near every analysis of the tournament predicting a loss for Georgetown against Belmont. Again, this is lazy and easy analysis, which shouldn't be surprising considering the cast of characters that make up the college basketball reporting pool. These analysts will point to Belmont not losing since the middle of January, they will point to Belmont losing to Duke 77-76 in November, and they will point to Georgetown's recent tournament history. Yet, if they have paid any attention to Georgetown this year, they will notice that we have done a much better job containing perimeter shooting, we will be able to control the pace of the game and bother Belmont's perimeter shooters with our length. The biggest key will be, as it has been all year, to limit turnovers. Belmont is going to have a full court press going all game, and it will be on Jason Clark and Markel Starks to take care of the ball.
This is going to be real, real fun.