Last year, I crunched a lot of numbers before the Madness begins, pertaining to the performance of power-conference teams that win or are runner-ups in their conference tournaments.
Favorite team based on profiles -
In 2007, I started doing profiles of the top conferences before the tourney begins.
In 2007, I adopted Maryland as my favorite statistical profile... and they lost in the 2nd round.
In 2008, I adopted Notre Dame as my favorite statistical profile... and they lost in the 2nd round.
In 2009, I adopted BYU (lost in 1st round) and West Virginia (lost in 1st round).
So... this year? I'm adopting Baylor. I hope it's not a death sentence! But, they have a manageable draw at least.
Best 1st round matchup -
Oklahoma State vs. Georgia Tech - The NBA scouts will be at this game for sure with Ok State's James Anderson (projected #20) and G-Tech's Derrick Favors (projected #4 pick) and Gani Lawal (projected #29). The NBA scouts will love to stick around for the 2nd round game against Ohio State and Evan Turner (projected #2 pick).
Most anticipated 2nd round matchup -
So far, only 3 of my 7 anticipated matchups have happened.
In 2009, my anticipated matchups were Syracuse vs. Arizona State (which did happen), and West Virginia vs. Kansas (which didn't happen, because 11-seeded Dayton knocked out West Virginia).
In 2008, my anticipated matchups included two: Indiana vs UNC (where Indiana lost badly in the 1st round to Arkansas) and Notre Dame and Washington State (which actually did happen).
In 2007 my “anticipated” matchup actually happened [Boston College vs. former Big East rival Georgetown], but 2007’s 2nd round matchups were relatively weak.
In 2006, my matchup [Mich. St. vs. UNC] never happened as George Mason wiped out Mich. St. then UNC.
In 2005, I didn’t specifically anoint one matchup, but I alluded to the Kansas-Wisconsin game, but Bucknell took out Kansas in the 1st round to prevent that from happening.
This year, I've got Georgetown vs. Tennessee as the matchup to see. Tennessee has beaten Kentucky and Kansas this year, so they are capable of playing at a high level.
Darkhorse - BYU - A 7-seed this year... last year I also listed them as a darkhorse. This year, I like their chances even more. As proof of their potential, they are ranked #9 in Sagarin ratings (compared to only #23 last year). They are also ranked #7 in Ken-Pomeroy ratings.
Ok. St/G-Tech winner - See above
Texas A&M - I don't know much about them, but I do know if they get out of the 1st round, they probably draw Purdue (missing their best player) and a Duke team (susceptible to good PG play?). A&M has been missing PG Dash Harris. His healthy return could spur a huge run.
Region of Death- No doubt, it's the Midwest region (Kansas's). It's just vicious. As said OkState and G-Tech have NBA players. Ohio State has Evan Turner. Maryland and Michigan State can meet in the 2nd round... as can Georgetown and Tennessee. 2 of the mid-majors that have been ranked this season (UNLV and Northern Iowa) meet in the 1st round... and then get a crack at Kansas! I have no idea what to do with this region. Too bad the NCAA doesn't check that their "S-curve" doesn't screw over the top overall seed... like it did this year!
Cinderella Final 4 Team - I'm historically bad at this... (2009 - W. Virginia - lost in 1st; 2008 - USC - lost in 1st; 2007 - Maryland - lost in 2nd; 2006 - UCLA - 2-seed, made Final 4; 2005 - Utah - 6-seed, made Sweet 16).
This year, I'm going with: 3-seeded Baylor. It's kind of a cop-out because Duke sucks and Villanova has been on a slide the 2nd half.
Rule #1: All (4) 1-seeds will NOT make Final4 -
Duke will not make it this year. I could see the other (3) 1-seeds making it... or absolute carnage happening.
Rule#4: A 12-seed always beats a 5 (except in 2000 and 2007)-
As has become the norm, the NCAA would much rather let mid-majors battle each other as opposed to having a bigger school get taken down. This year, Butler-UTEP and Temple-Cornell are 5-12 matchups where anything can happen. It's really scary, because UTEP was ranked this past week and still landed a 12-seed. Cornell is the best 3-point shooting team in the country (43.4%), which I assume will also translate to the tourney.
Rule#6: There always is one conference w/ multiple teams in the final4 (except in 2007 and 2008) – My favorite options:
Kansas, Syracuse, Kentucky, Baylor (Big 12)
Kansas, Syracuse, West Virginia, Duke (Big East)
Georgetown, Kansas St, West Virginia, Duke (Big East)
Tennessee, Syracuse, Kentucky, Baylor (SEC)
Ohio St, Syracuse, Wisconsin, Duke (Big 10)
Rule#9: If you win your power conference tourney, you won't do well in the NCAA tourney. (Exception: top 10 teams):
In 2005, one team lost in the 1st round, the other in the 2nd round
In 2006, all 3 that qualified got bounced in the 1st round.
In 2007, one team qualified [Oregon], but they made the elite 8. I still say Oregon had an easy draw though.
In 2008, Pitt (Big East) and Georgia (SEC) are the only teams that qualified. Georgia only had a 14-seed and got bounced by Xavier. Pitt got a 4-seed and was upset by Michigan State in the 2nd round.
In 2009, 4 teams qualified: Purdue (sweet 16), Missouri (elite 8), USC (2nd round), and Miss St. (1st round loser as 13-seed).
This year, we have: Washington (PAC-10). They are an 11-seed and I expect them to lose to Marquette.