Viewer’s Guide to Picking a Winner


The viewer’s guide series on Dan’s Take began with the 2006 Winter Olympics and will serve as a way of previewing the beginning of each and every major athletic event that will take place over the course of the year. In most cases, it will be filled with predictions, analysis and any entertaining stories to follow. Enjoy.

Let’s face it. It’s nice to see the full field of 65 teams in the NCAA tournament, but only between eight and twelve teams have a legitimate chance to win the whole thing. The key to winning your office pool is obviously to pick the champion, but also to pick the majority of the elite eight correctly. If you get six teams in the regional finals right, and your pick to win it all goes on to do so, then you’ll be in good shape.

The teams that have a shot: Ohio State, Kansas, North Carolina, Boston College, Texas, Michigan State, Duke, West Virginia, Memphis, UCLA, Villanova and Connecticut.

To find the winner, it is important not to focus on why a team can win the title, but instead on the reasons why a team cannot. With that being said…

Ohio State: When the best player currently affiliated with your program is still in high school, your chances of the winning it all is slim. The Buckeyes are a year a way from having on the elite teams in college basketball.

(Side note) While choosing a ton of upsets early could end up hurting your bracket more than helping it, you do have to pick a few. It’s a given that at least one 13, 14 or 15 seed will prevail in their first round game. Watch out for Ohio State to go down to Davidson early. The Wildcats made more than 260 three pointers this season and were one of the best free-throw shooting teams in America.

Kansas: Always assume the Jayhawks will choke. With all the talent they’ve had over the last decade, they have very little to show for it. This young team is not even one of the five best teams in the last fifteen year at Kansas. Expect Memphis to take them out in the Sweet 16.

North Carolina: Freshmen make mistakes. The talent is there, the experience is not.

Boston College: One of the toughest teams in the country. I just don’t see a player that can take over the game down the stretch. Like UConn, I wonder who would take the shot down one with five seconds to play for the Eagles.

Texas: It’s usually a good bet that a Big 12 team will make the final four. It’s an even better bet they will fail to win the championship. This year, I think of the Longhorns as one of most inconsistent teams in the country. Going on a six game winning streak will be difficult for them.

Michigan State: Like Texas, Michigan State is terribly unpredictable. However, they know what it’s like to play in big games and are capable of beating anybody, including UConn, the top seed from their region. The problem is I don’t see them making it to the regional final.

Duke: Duke has everything you could ask for in a team except depth. The lack of any bench will be the demise of the Blue Devils.

That leaves us with five teams. West Virginia, Villanova, Memphis, UCLA and UConn.

Rule: Always choose at least two of your pre-season final four to make the elite eight out of respect and the chance to claim that “you called it.” In this case, three of my picks are in my final five, but two (UCLA and Memphis) will meet in a regional final.

West Virginia:
Using the three pointer, the Mountaineers can put you away early or come from behind no matter the deficit. I think that will get them to the final four.

UConn: As deep as any team in recent memory, the Huskies only lack a true finisher. Rashaad Anderson can’t create his own shot and Rudy Gay seems like he doesn’t to. On talent alone, they will make the final four, but that’s as far as they will go.

Villanova: Kyle Lowry is one of my favorite players. You have to love a four guard offense that mixes nearly unmatchable speed with lockdown defense. The Wildcats will play for the national title.

The national champion will come from the Oakland region. From the beginning, I’ve picked Memphis and I will stay with them. The Tigers will top UCLA and go on to win it all.

Forget any of the professional playoffs. Forget the Olympics. Forget the World Cup. The NCAA tournament is the best month in all of sport. From the drama of one and done games to the mystique of Cinderella, this tournament never gets old.

I for one can’t wait until Thursday.


twins15 3:32 AM, March 13, 2006  

3 Big East teams? It is the best conference in America, I guess.

I have to disagree about West Virginia. Their 3-point shooting is really overrated, I think. Other than Gansey and Pittsnogle, they really don't shoot good percentages. They also do not play good defense and are not a good rebounding team. Which isn't to say they can't go far, because obviously they showed last year that they can, but I don't like their matchups up. I haven't made my picks yet, but I'm going to look long and hard at that West Virginia/Southern Illinois game in round 1, because I really think that is a type of team the Mountaineers struggle with. The Salukis are physical and play very good defense. If West Virginia advances, they get more of the same. After that, potential dates with Texas and Duke loom. I really don't like their matchups this year.

But in March, anything can and usually does happen. :)

Anonymous 2:08 AM, March 15, 2006  

simple analogy
Dick Vitale is to the ACC as Dan McGowan is to the Big East

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