If you want to participate in a bracket competition online, Yahoo! is always a great spot for it. I'll probably get a group up and running later on Monday.
Before filling out your bracket, or at least before making any picks that actually require some thought, I recommend penciling-in each team's respective Pomeroy Rating by their names. While Pomeroy's more in-depth scouting data is behind a paywall, you can still see the ratings for free. As I mention every year, this is a good, quick and dirty way to spot some potentially advantageous (and therefore money-making) opportunities.
Since seeding is heavily based on RPI, which is a poor indicator of overall strength, sometimes the seed differentials are misleading. For example, No. 11 seed NC State is 44th in the Pomeroy Ratings, while No. 6 seed San Diego St. is 52nd.
Other matchups to ponder:
-- No. 5 Temple (#36 KenPom) could potentially play No. 12 Cal (#28 KenPom).
-- No. 7 St. Mary's (#43 KenPom) vs. No. 10 Purdue (#24 KenPom).
-- No. 6 Cincinnati (#31 KenPom) vs. No. 11 Texas (#27 KenPom).
This works the other way too. See:
-- No. 8 Kansas State (#22 KenPom) vs. No. 9 Southern Miss (#71 KenPom)
As for NC State's half of the Midwest region--which I have not yet had the stones to project beyond the first round--let's take a look at how the teams stack up in terms of Pomeroy Rating. I also included a quick overview of San Diego State. As I mentioned earlier, NC State compares favorably to the Aztecs, but we're in a tough pod, and that's not even getting to Purdue or Kansas.
(Click to embiggen.)
In the top half, it's hard to see UNC stumbling against anybody before it reaches the Elite Eight. UNC is the only #1 seed that does not have any KenPom top 25 teams in its half of the bracket, and besides that, I just haven't been overly impressed with Michigan, Creighton, Temple, Alabama, or California.
Michigan State, meanwhile, could end up facing the #9 team in the Ratings (Memphis) in the second round. Yikes.
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