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March 19, 2008
Bracket Breakdown
South and West

by Ken Pomeroy


Part two of my bracket breakdown continues where I left off yesterday, with the South and West regions. Before we get started, how about a few more propositions. Yesterday, we established that the chance of every one-seed making it to the Final Four (the Doomsday Scenario) was 3.5%. There are plenty of unusual things more unlikely than the Doomsday Scenario. The chance of no one-seed advancing that far is 8.5%. The chance of no one- or two-seed making it is 3.9%. Finally, the chance of a double-digit seed going to San Antonio is 7.7%.

Now back to the brackets.

South Region

                   2ndRd  Swt16 Elite8 Final4  Final  Champ
1  Memphis         98.86  84.43  65.53  44.36  26.94  12.87
2  Texas           97.54  79.16  46.29  21.96  10.63   3.84
3  Stanford        94.31  53.65  27.03  11.21   4.74   1.46
6  Marquette       79.98  41.28  20.43   8.31   3.44   1.04
5  Michigan St.    79.25  49.80  16.46   7.20   2.70   0.73
4  Pittsburgh      78.88  38.78  10.66   3.93   1.23   0.27
8  Mississippi St. 51.43   8.15   3.20   0.89   0.21   0.03
9  Oregon          48.57   7.35   2.79   0.75   0.17   0.03
10 Saint Mary's    50.20  10.37   2.64   0.51   0.10   0.01
7  Miami FL        49.80  10.23   2.58   0.50   0.10   0.01
11 Kentucky        20.02   4.57   0.99   0.16   0.03   0.003
12 Temple          20.75   6.75   0.87   0.15   0.02   0.002
13 Oral Roberts    21.12   4.67   0.48   0.07   0.01   0.0006
14 Cornell          5.69   0.50   0.04   0.00   0.00   0.000003
15 Austin Peay      2.46   0.24   0.01   0.00   0.00   0.0000001
16 Texas Arlington  1.14   0.07   0.00   0.00   0.00   0.00000002

Memphis is the favorite to win the region, and they've steadily improved over the past three seasons. Their nearest competition in Conference USA also improved a bit this season. No, there isn't an at-large representative from this conference, but the mid- to upper-level teams in the league provided better tests than they did the last two seasons, which should prepare Memphis at least a little better for their postseason odyssey. Still, the most recent time the Tigers took on tournament-level competition away from FedEx Forum was the first week of December, and they never played a true road game against a tourney-bound team. These aren't disqualifying factors, for sure. Nor is the fact that they get little offense from the four and five positions. Arizona proved that wasn't a necessary qualification for a national title in 1997. However, these things should put doubts in people's minds. Like the other one-seeds, Memphis has its vulnerabilities.

Texas may own the best offense in the nation due to a combination of unreal ball-control and excellent offensive rebounding. They have committed turnovers on fewer than 20% of their possessions in every game since January 5. This isn't against a schedule of directional schools--they've done it in 19 contests against Big 12 teams plus a nonconference game against ten-seed Saint Mary's during that time. On the other side of the ball, the Longhorns vie with Louisville among teams with realistic Final Four chances as the one that plays the most zone. This presents a "situation" for a poor three-point shooting team like Memphis that has historically struggled against zone defenses.

Stanford is the only team in the field that has not one, but two seven-footers that are skilled on both ends of the floor. Inevitably, one of the bigs will get in early foul trouble at some point in this tournament, but Trent Johnson can at least stay big with the Lopez who doesn't have to sit.

Marquette is the strongest six-seed in the field and gets the weakest 11-seed in the first round. Tom Crean's three-point defense has been outstanding (third lowest three-point percentage, 62nd-fewest attempts), but unfortunately that won't come in very handy in a potential second-rounder against Stanford.

Pitt versus Michigan State is a possible second-round matchup featuring ugly but effective offenses that rely on second and third shots for success. Neither team is skilled in making shots or is as effective preventing putbacks.

West Region

                   2ndRd  Swt16 Elite8 Final4  Final  Champ
1  UCLA            99.85  77.86  62.09  43.78  27.01  13.20
2  Duke            97.41  67.35  47.43  23.58  11.91   4.57
3  Xavier          82.69  49.22  19.92   7.00   2.47   0.63
9  Texas A&M       71.70  18.67  10.90   5.08   1.90   0.52
4  Connecticut     88.81  50.88  14.08   5.83   1.90   0.44
5  Drake           74.66  39.79  10.69   4.32   1.37   0.31
6  Purdue          62.32  31.76  11.40   3.54   1.10   0.24
10 Arizona         50.05  16.27   8.46   2.73   0.88   0.20
7  West Virginia   49.95  16.23   8.43   2.71   0.87   0.20
11 Baylor          37.68  14.88   3.81   0.84   0.18   0.03
8  BYU             28.30   3.47   1.26   0.33   0.07   0.01
12 W. Kentucky     25.34   7.56   0.89   0.17   0.02   0.002
14 Georgia         17.31   4.14   0.54   0.06   0.01   0.0005
13 San Diego       11.19   1.77   0.09   0.01   0.00   0.00002
15 Belmont          2.59   0.15   0.01   0.00   0.00   0.0000002
16 MVSU             0.15   0.00   0.00   0.00   0.00   0.0000000000002

No surprise, UCLA is the favorite here. They rank third in the field by chance of winning it all, but first in the eyes of the wagering public. Part of this is surely due to the competition in the West Region. The two- through five-seeds are viewed as relatively weak. In my continuing series of shots at the number ones, keep in mind UCLA needed minor miracles to stave off Cal and Stanford in Pauley Pavilion, and that Cal is not in this field.

There's a fair amount of possible fun in this region if UCLA bows out at some point. Duke has the ability to go deep but isn't close to being upset-proof, being heavily dependent on three-point shooting and lacking size up front.

Xavier drew the toughest 14-seed. If they happen to meet UCLA in the regional final, you'll have a center matchup featuring arguably the best offensive rebounders in the country, and they both happen to be named Love.

Texas A&M, should it appear in the second round on Sunday, will make UCLA's life interesting. The Aggies' defense is every bit as good as it was under Billy Gillispie, but Mark Turgeon's team has cut down on the fouls. Bryan Davis is a mean person, and while I hear Joseph Jones is nicer, he too will become angry if an opposing cager attempts to put the ball in the basket using one of those lay-up type shots.

Drake has a 1-in-25 chance to get to the Final Four. This is an unbelievable statement given the Bulldogs' history in hoops. Their games will feature many three-pointers. Drake plays at a slow pace, yet their games still had an average of 46 three-point jacks.

Not that it matters, but Mississippi Valley State's chance of a title is one in 600 trillion, which is slightly worse than your chance of winning the office pool. Good luck, and enjoy the games.

Ken Pomeroy is an author of Basketball Prospectus. You can contact Ken by clicking here or click here to see Ken's other articles.

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Around the Rim (03/19)
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Game Reax (03/19)

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