The mayhem and madness that annually accompany the NCAA men’s basketball tournament will resume Thursday, with experts forecasting an unpredictable field sure to leave more than a few amateur brackets crumpled up in the office wastebasket.
Kansas and Kentucky, No. 1 seeds in their respective regions, lead a small group of favorites, but a strong cadre of teams in the middle of the field could provide some considerable upsets deep into the tournament, according to David Mihm, founder of Bracketography.com, a Web site that predicts NCAA Tournament teams.
“Although the bottom of the field is pretty weak, there are some great teams in the middle of the bracket — like Temple, Marquette and Wisconsin — that could go deep in the tournament,” Mihm said. “I don’t think we’ll see a whole lot of upsets in the first round, but the later rounds could get real interesting.”
One of Mihm’s sleeper picks, Richmond, plays St. Mary’s, which, along with Cal, is one of the Bay Area’s two teams in the tournament. Although Mihm thinks
St. Mary’s has been solid all season, he doesn’t believe the Gaels have the athletes to keep up with Richmond. Mihm is even less sold on Cal, which he expects to lose handily to Louisville in the first round.
Tom Federico, co-founder of TeamRankings.com, a site that predicts the NCAA Tournament field based on a variety of different statistical and performance measures, disagreed with Mihm’s assertions, saying Cal and St. Mary’s have very good chances of advancing to at least the second round.
“We actually think that St. Mary’s is one of the top underseeded teams in the tournament,” said Federico, who’s predicting that both Bay Area teams win at least one game.
Kansas is the prohibitive favorite to win it all, with a 31 percent chance of cutting down the nets in Indianapolis, followed distantly by Syracuse at 11 percent, according to the TeamRankings.com analyses. Sleeper teams include San Diego State, Minnesota and Missouri in the opening rounds, while Kentucky is ripe for an upset, Federico said.
Mihm is predicting Kansas State and Duke will join Kansas and
Kentucky in the Final Four, although he’s less certain about the former two teams than the latter. In the end, Kansas should come out on top, Mihm said.
“I’ve had Kansas from Day 1, and I don’t see any reason to change that pick,” Mihm said.
0.32: percent Chances of Cal winning the tournament*
0.44: percent Chances of St. Mary’s winning the tournament*
Sleeper picks: San Diego State, Missouri, Temple, Xavier, Marquette
Final Four contenders: Kansas, Kentucky, Kansas State, Duke, West Virginia, Syracuse
* Tournament favorite is Kansas Source: TeamRankings.com