Bracketeering 3/10/10: Sun Belt Shuffle, Requiem For UConn
I don't have a personal interest in the UConn Huskies. My cousin went to school there as an undergrad and I have been familiar with their program since watching Big East basketball in earnest in the mid-80s but whether they succeed or fail doesn't affect my mood. That being said, I was borderline ticked with their "effort" against St. John's in the first round of the Big East tournament.
Up until recently some of my fellow bracketeers actually had the Huskies dancing. I couldn't see it with their 17-14 overall record (7-11 in the Big East) but they do have some talent left over from last year's Final Four team plus a monster schedule. They could have gone on a deep run this week and made a case for inclusion in the Big Dance.
Instead, they let a St. John's team which hasn't been relevant in a decade get every 50-50 ball, drive past them in the lane like they were turnstiles at Grand Central, and failed to take Uncle Mo out for lunch after a first-half technical on the Johnnies. In the end they got pounded by 21 but asked for the peace treaty long before the final buzzer.
If you're somebody who has their backs against the wall but still has a chance to come out of the end of the tunnel you would fight with every ounce you have and some you don't. UConn was in that situation. Instead they let an enemy who wasn't armed to the teeth and wouldn't scare many teams on the Big East playground push them over. They became one with the wall.
Some pundits call North Carolina this year's biggest disappointment. I call them overrated but they did rely a lot on unproven freshmen. UConn had returning players from a team that nearly won it all last season. Aside from Jim Calhoun's hiatus they have no excuse for their failings.
I won't speculate on Calhoun's future. I think it's in poor taste to predict whether someone will lose or quite their job, especially in this economy(though Calhoun won't be hurting financially if he does leave). But this is a program in transition that needs to get players who have a sense of urgency.
Today's bracket doesn't change much. I switched North Texas and Weber State. North Texas has been playing really well lately and gets off the 15-line (which is a certain kiss of death) to a 14-seed (where they have a slightly better chance at pulling an upset).
1 Duke(ACC) v. 16 Lehigh(Patriot)
2 Kansas State(Big 12) v. 15 Vermont(America East)
3 Michigan State(Big 10) v. 14 Sam Houston State(Southland)
4 Temple(Atlantic 10) v. 13 MURRAY STATE(OVC)
5 Tennessee(SEC) v. 12 Arizona State(Pac-10)
6 Georgetown(Big East) v. 11 San Diego State(MWC)
7 Northern Iowa(MVC) v. 10 Virginia Tech(ACC)
8 Oklahoma State(Big 12) v. 9 Notre Dame(Big East)
1 Kentucky(SEC) v. 16 Jackson State(SWAC)
2 West Virginia(Big East) v. 15 Morgan State(MEAC)
3 Ohio State(Big 10) v. 14 WOFFORD(Southern)
4 Texas A&M(Big 12) v. 13 SIENA(MAAC)
5 Brigham Young(MWC) v. 12 Rhode Island(Atlantic-10)
6 Gonzaga(WCC) v. 11 OLD DOMINION(CAA)
7 Florida State(ACC) v. 10 Missouri(Big 12)
8 Clemson(ACC) v. 9 Marquette(Big East)
Midwest Region(St. Louis)
1 Kansas(Big 12) v. 16 Play-In Winner
2 New Mexico(MWC) v. 15 Weber State(Big Sky)
3 Villanova(Big East) v. 14 OAKLAND(Summit)
4 Maryland(ACC) v. 13 Kent State(MAC)
5 Wisconsin(Big 10) v. 12 Memphis (Conference USA)
6 Richmond(Atlantic 10) v. 11 Utah State(WAC)
7 Texas(Big 12) v. 10 Ole Miss(SEC)
8 Louisville(Big East) v. 9 ST. MARY’S(WCC)
West Region(Salt Lake City)
1 Syracuse(Big East) v. 16 Quinnipiac(Northeast)
2 Purdue(Big 10) v. 15 Pacific(Big West)
3 Pittsburgh(Big East) v. 14 NORTH TEXAS(Sun Belt)
4 Baylor(Big 12) v. 13 CORNELL(Ivy)
5 BUTLER(Horizon) v. 12 Georgia Tech(ACC)
6 Vanderbilt(SEC) v. 11 California(Pac-10)
7 Wake Forest(ACC) v. 10 Nevada Las-Vegas(MWC)
8 Xavier(Atlantic-10) v. 9 Texas El-Paso(Conference USA)
Play-In Game: ETSU(Atlantic Sun) v. WINTHROP(Big South)
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