MARCH MADNESS 2013:
EXPERT BRACKETS & ANALYSIS
BEAST DOME NATION.
This March Madness we have Expert Advice from Two Experts that really do not need any introduction at all. Both E.P. Bignon and Matthew L. Lofton are March Madness Experts on BEAST DOME in 2012. E.P. had a bracket that was over 82% correct, Matthew L. Lofton called the Final 4 and Championship team of Kentucky in Day 1.
They are both generous enough to offer you their BRACKETS with analysis so you can win your Office Tournaments. There will be plenty of opportunities for V.I.P Packages if you want to play some individual Games during the tournament, especially the V.I.P. #4 Bookie Package that will be 50% off during March Madness.
No need to introduce them more, below you will see how knowledgeable these two Experts are to win you your leagues.
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E.P. BIGNON BRACKET & PREDICTIONS
Impact Players by Region
Russ Smith/Peyton Siva, Louisville– Possibly the best backcourt combo in the nation. Their relentless pressure defense forces opponents to speed up and turn the ball over at alarming rates. Smith can score with the best of them averaging more than 18 a game. Siva is not quite the scorer Smith is but is a stat stuffer in the steals, assists & scoring categories. Louisville will go as far as these two take them.
Otto Porter, Jr, Georgetown- The 6’8 swingman causes nightmares for opposing offenses with his long wingspan. Rebounds and defends as well as anyone in the nation. When the Hoya’s offense stalls it’s Porter who can put the team on his back and carry them, had a career high 33 against Syracuse February 23. Big East Player of the Year averages 16.7 points a game and 7.5 rebounds.
Victor Oladipo, Indiana- The Sporting News National Player of the Year, Oladipo burst on the scene this season in the shadow of All American Cody Zeller. Purdue Head Coach Matt Painter called him the best defender in the league. Oladipo averages 13.7 points a game and 6 rebounds, shoots an unbelievable 59% from the field including 49% from three-point range. Truly a game-changer, if the Hoosiers are to make it to Atlanta Oladipo will play a big part in it.
Aaron Craft, Ohio St- Probably the Big 10’s second best defender behind Oladipo Craft is the glue that holds the Buckeyes together. Fresh off the Big 10 Tournament Championship that saw Craft dice up Michigan St for 20 points, 9 assists Ohio St may be peaking at the right time and it’s because of the play from the junior guard. Craft averages 10 points, 4.7 assists per game
Oregon– No love for the Pac 12, a 12 seed for a major conference champion? The Ducks have beaten UCLA (twice) Arizona and UNLV this season and will definitely have a chip on their shoulder. If they can get past Oklahoma St in the first round watch for the Ducks to make some noise.
Villanova- Jay Wright’s team ran into a buzz saw in the Big East Tournament falling to Louisville. But ‘Nova has beaten Louisville, Syracuse & Georgetown who were all ranked in the Top 5 at the time. Kansas does not want to see the Wildcats in the second round, don’t be surprised to see ‘Nova advance to the Sweet 16.
Butler– Cinderella only by the 6th seed they were given. We all remember Butler’s back-to-back national title appearances and Brad Stevens seems to work his magic in March. The Bulldogs knocked off Marquette and #1 Indiana earlier this season. Expect a Sweet 16 or Elite 8 for Butler.
Boise St– A tough regular season road schedule that included a win at Creighton will have the Broncos battle tested. A tough match-up with Kansas St in the first round Boise has the horses to pull this off and move on.
Kansas– The Jayhawks will have a nightmare match-up in the 2nd round with either Villanova or North Carolina. If they survive the 2nd round Michigan and Georgetown could still be waiting on this brutal road. The committee didn’t do the Jayhawks any favors with this region.
Ohio St– Even though the Buckeyes have to be considered as a title contender their road to the Final Four may end up being a stroll through the West Region. An upset or two in the top half of this region the Buckeyes may not get tested until Atlanta.
MATTHEW L. LOFTON’S BRACKET & PREDICTIONS
The tournament is wide open this year and I can go on about the brackets and what the committee got wrong, but all that does not mean anything. While we normally have brackets blown up after the round of 64, the pundits still offer their hard and fast rules. The popular one this year seems to be that the Big Ten will bow out as it has not won a title since 2000 Michigan State.
Ignore history, to an extent. What happened in years past is not indicative on the outcome on this year’s tournament, although it is fun and hard to ignore when it comes to picking possible winners.
One trendy pick for the final four is Miami. This is the one instance where history (or lack thereof) should not be ignored. The Hurricanes have not played one second of NCAA Tournament action. While it should not affect on-court play per se, the whole package of the big stage and the attention and praise can get to Miami. And remember, the Hurricanes lost to Georgia Tech and Wake Forest down the stretch with close calls against Boston College and Clemson. Miami got off to a hot start when not many people were paying attention and slumped a bit when people started looking. I am not saying Miami loses in the round of 64 or 32 (but I personally am), but I would be cautious picking this team past the sweet 16.
A lot of people are dogging Georgetown for its lack of offensive punch. And the Big Ten traditionally lacks offensive firepower. Well this is the tournament and for the most part, officials let teams be more physical. Back the physical teams (Louisville, Georgetown, Michigan State, etc…) while finesse teams (see Duke) are bad selections.
But for all of my suggestions, the most important thing is look at the bracket game-by-game. Everyone is talking about how hard the Midwest bracket is, but what should be noted is the best punch is the bottom half of the bracket. I personally have my national champion coming out of this bracket (and it is not Louisville), the bottom half could easily beat each other up and Louisville cruises to the final four.
Enough talk, here is a region-by-region breakdown:
Obviously, the bracket begins and ends with Louisville. And not to brag too much, yours truly had Louisville in the final four last season. However, Rick Pitino is better when much is not expected of his team (see Kentucky 1992, Louisville 2005 and 2012) then when much is expected (see Kentucky 1996 and 1997. They had underwhelming championship games as heavy favorites).
What helps the Cardinals it that it is a relatively unimpressive top half of the bracket. A lot of publicity is placed on a round of 32 match-up between Missouri and the Cardinals. Missouri has the offense to hang with the best of them, but its defense is still not up to par from Mike Anderson’s run-and-gun style. For future rounds, the key is to watch how the Cardinals play. In their loss to Duke, people are playing up Louisville being without the services of Dieng. However, the Blue Devils took care of the ball and forced Louisville to play more as individuals than a cohesive unit. If Saint Louis survives to the Sweet 16, watch out because the Bilikins take care of the basketball.
At the bottom of the bracket, people are already salivating at a Duke-Creighton round of 32 game. Do not buy the hype; Creighton and Doug McDermott will not get past Cincinnati’s defense. Remember, the whistle is a little bit tighter in the tournament, which favors Big East squads. Memphis will advance past St. Mary’s in the quick turnaround, but will run into an experienced Michigan State squad and fall by the wayside.
I have Michigan State getting by Duke in the Sweet 16, but keep an eye on the Blue Devils. Duke has, arguably the best parts but never puts it all together. If Ryan Kelly, Seth Curry, Mason Plumlee, Quinn Cook and Rasheed Suilamon all are hitting, it could be one of the best offensive performances in recent tournament history. The problem is, Duke has not put this scenario together since before the calendar turned. I have an experienced team in Michigan State knocking out Duke and meeting Louisville. With balanced scoring and stifling defense, I have Michigan State advancing.
MVP: Adreian Payne, Michigan State.
Individual sleeper player: Any player from a team playing Duke. There is an established history of players having the game of the season against Duke. I would start with Jacob Iati from Albany, who shoots 41 % from downtown.
If you are not a big fan on the Big Ten, this is not the bracket for you. Could we see a rematch of the B10 Conference Tournament final? The first round is ho-hum with just two upsets. I think Belmont gets the best of Arizona. Ian Clark is third in the nation and three-point shooting and could have a big game against the Wildcats. The Pac-10 is known as a higher scoring league with little emphasis on defense. 12-6 against a league not overly impressive, including a highly controversial win over Colorado does not impress for ‘Zona. Iowa State against Notre Dame is a pick-em, but both teams are fodder for Ohio State. I chose Iowa State because of Mike Brey’s limited success in the tournament at Notre Dame. The fireworks occur at the top of the bracket. Wisconsin and Bo Ryan have experience against Bruce Weber and will take out Kansas State in round two.
This is where things will get interesting. In the battle of under-achieving teams, Pitt will down Gozaga as the first one seed goes down. Pittsburgh has one of the best defenses and will stop a Zags team who has beaten the few good teams on its schedule with major hiccups. Tray Woodard will get his points for the Panthers while Steven Adams will make Gonzaga’s life miserable in the paint.
Ohio State is coming together at the right time and downs New Mexico while Wisconsin slows the pace down and knocks out a Pitt team who lacks depth. Like the B10 Tournament Final, Ohio State wears down and takes out Wisconsin.
MVP: DeShaun Thomas, Ohio State. Putting up nearly 20 points a game during the season, he will run over a bunch of teams that will try to slow the Buckeyes down.
Individual sleeper: Ben Brust, Wisconsin. He had a huge game at Indiana and hits big shots.
Beware the 11 and 12 seeds here. UCLA took an injury in the PAC 12 tournament and falls to a Minnesota team. Meanwhile Akron has learned to play without its starting point guard, as evidenced by a big win in the MAC finals over a decent Ohio team. Zeke Marshall for Akron could be a sleeper pick here for a good bet in round one. He is an experienced 7-footer who had eight blocks in the semis of the MAC tournament against a pesky Kent State team.
Villanova will beat North Carolina. A team that uses a four-guard line-up all the time against a team that brought it out near the end of the season? Give me Jay Wright’s club. Plus, UNC has not beaten anyone of particular note since changing its line-up.
The round of 32 in the south will be ho-hum until the 3-11 match-up. Florida is just not that good of a team. They throw up threes with reckless abandon but are prone to go cold (see Arizona, Kentucky and Ole Miss games). Kenny Boynton will get his for the Gators so he is a safe bet. Seeds one and two advance with ease and Michigan should make the sweet 16, but Akron has the chance to give Michigan a game. I would still go with Big Blue.
In the least eventful bracket of the tournament, we have a 1 vs. 2 Elite 8. Kansas and superstar Ben McLemore takes out an offensively challenged Hoyas squad.
MVP: Ben McLemore. Kansas advances with relative ease. Bill Self is a heck of a coach and can recruit and develop to another level. His disappointments against the likes of Bucknell and Northern Iowa: a distant memory.
Sleeper: Zeke Marshall, Akron. Again, the Zips will have a tough time because of the suspension of their starting point guard, but Marshall is a safe pick no one talking about. An experience, 7-0 center that blocks shots with reckless abandon, has star written all over him. Akron is a tough call to go to the sweet 16, however, that I am taking.
Oh Indiana, a perplexing number one seed coming into the tournament not even playing that well. The Hoosiers should get to the sweet 16 with relative ease, but an experienced Jim Boheim squad takes them out in the region semis. But, Syracuse’s failure to hold big leads in the Big East Tournament is a bit disconcerting.
In the bottom half, Buzz Williams’ squad cruises to the regional semis. But who meets them? If you survived my diatribe above, I can tell you it is not Miami. Illinois will upset the Hurricanes on the round of 32. Jim Groche runs a very free-wheeling offense and has shooters that are willing to shoot it from anywhere. Miami has been quite underwhelming down the stretch. Everyone jumped on the Missouri bandwagon last year (not me) and Missouri got embarrassed in the first round. I have Marquette beating Illinois in the sweet 16 with Syracuse surviving the all-Big East regional final.
MVP: You cannot go wrong with the two-headed Syracuse monster of C.J. Faire and Brandon Triche.
Sleeper: Any Illinois guard (Brandon Paul and D.J. Richardson). Again, Groche lets the offense flow freely. Groche has the magic touch in March and it will continue.
I like the balance of Michigan State and the strength and zone defense of Syracuse to win the National Semifinals. Tom Izzo and the Michigan State Spartans cut down the nets.
MVP: Michigan State is balanced and it will obviously come from them. But there balance will kill you from a fantasy standpoint. Not a very good “superstar” Final Four.
I guess this is cliché as many people are predicting this, but Tubby Smith and Minnesota make the Sweet 16. Minnesota did well non-conference and got battered in a deep Big Ten. Everything sets up perfectly to be a depleted UCLA squad and an overrated Florida team.
Wisconsin. Look, they are not the prettiest team to watch. Bo Ryan personifies ugly basketball. But defense mixed in with timely offense equals success. And then the NCAA throws them a bone by playing Kansas State, coached by for Illinois coach Bruce Weber. Wisconsin can beat Pitt or Gonzaga and then should come up short to Ohio State.
Better Luck Next Year
The PAC 12. Look, I am not a PAC 12 fan. But the seeding they got was borderline criminal. And a tough first round, coupled with UCLA’s injury, will spell doom for the conference. I really do not see anyone else playing “below their seeds.”
More March Madness content coming all week..