Final Four


Bracket Update: Round 1

Through day 2 of this March Madness, I still have a couple of brackets which are doing pretty well. I have different brackets on ESPN, Yahoo! Sports and Facebook. I’ll break each one down but the best of the 3 is a tie with ESPN and Yahoo! Sports both having 26/32 correct picks and then Facebook only one game behind at 25/32 but that might be the one in the best shape.

A couple of things to note before my review:

  • With round one now complete … the ESPN.com Tournament Challenge looks like this:
  • Approximately 4.8 million completed brackets were submitted.
  • There are no brackets that are completely correct.
  • There are 3 brackets that have missed only one game.
  • There are 95 brackets that have missed two games.
  • There are 1,111 brackets that have missed three games.
  • Most brackets, on average, have missed 10 games.

    Click ‘Read more‘ to read the rest of review of my brackets. (more…)


March Madness Historical Data

Before you go out and blindly fill out your bracket, here are some historical information on the seeds and how well they have performed.

First of all, I can’t stand people who fill out brackets and you have all four #1 seeds in your Final Four. People got lucky when all four of them did make it to the Final 4 two years ago as that had never happened in history before. As a matter of fact, 3 #1 seeds have made it to the Final 4 only three other times since 1979 (1993, 1997 and 1999).

Be careful on making bold predictions for teams making a long run though. Everyone knows a 16-seed has yet to win a game in the tournament but be on the lookout for Lehigh and Vermont teams giving Kansas and Syracuse some trouble before bowing out. I am hopeful that the 1/16 upset happens this year (sans the Duke game) but you never know. Did you know no 14 or 15 seed has won a game in the tournament in the past 3 years, and they have won a combined 3 games in the past decade? You should be comfortable in advancing all the top three seeds without much hesitation.

Teams seeded 13th or lower in the NCAA tournament have been first-round “giant killers” 41 times since the field was expanded to 64 teams. Of those surprises, 30 have been decided by fewer than 6 points or in overtime. So if you feel confident about Siena or Murray State, go for it and take that chance.

The dreaded 5/12 upset seems to happen every year. Only twice in the past 20 years (2000 and 2007) has there not been a 12-seed advancing at least into the second round but the furthest a 12-seed has made it is the Elite 8. The only double digit seeds to make it to the Final 4 are LSU (’86) and George Mason (’06) who were both 11-seeds.

The 8/9 games are statistically a toss-up. Since 1985, the 8-seed has won 46 times but has lost 54 times but over the course of the tournament, the 8-seed is 66-99 while the 9th seed are 58-100.

When determining teams for your Final 4, you’re safe to have team that are seeded 5th or higher. In the past decade, only 3 teams seeded 6th or lower have made the Final 4 and it has only happened in 2 years (2000, 2006).

No seed ranked 9th or lower has ever won the Championship. No 5th or 7th seed has ever won a Championship but they have made it to the Title Game 3 times (1984, 2000 and 2002). Unlikely champions are a 4th seed (once – 1997), 6th seed (twice – 1983, 1988) and 8th seed (once – 1985).

Let me know who you have in your Final 4 and your eventual champions. What kind of upsets are you expecting? Do you believe that Purdue will really be that bad and lose to Siena? Which #1-seed goes down first?

My answers: expecting two 5/12 upsets a couple of 10 and 11 seeds winning. Think Purdue will keep the game close but Siena will win it in the end. First #1 seed to go down will be Kentucky because of their youth and inexperience.


Team On A Mission

This is an article I wrote for The Stute prior to the Final Four weekend and certainly I will be writing one about this weekend shortly, but here is the previous one.

“We are 5-3-2 in the NCAA Tournament over the past five seasons, so as a program we are looking to take the next step and reach the national semifinals for the first time.”

Those were the words of Men’s soccer coach Tim O’Donohue (7th season – 132-16-17) in the season preview release way back in August. The Ducks have gone 2-0-2, with 2 dramatic penalty kick wins two weeks ago here in Hoboken to reach that national semifinal for the first time.

Although the season is far from over with the Ducks still having the possibility of playing two of the biggest games in program history, they have already had quite a season. They started things off by defeating Redlands University from California, then ranked #8 in the country, by a 2-1 margin which would be the first of five consecutive wins the Ducks had to start the season. That start would push the team to a #5 ranking of all teams in D-III soccer but that would be as high as they would get as the Ducks because facing Swarthmore, a ranked opponent for the second time that week proved to be a little too much as they went down 2-0.

The loss stopped Stevens’ home unbeaten streak at 62 games going back to a October 2002 loss to United States Merchant Marine Academy. Since the loss on September 13th, the Ducks have lost only one game in their last 19 contests including a stretch of seven straight shutouts – six of which came in either the Empire8 Championship tournament or the NCAA Division III Men’s Soccer Championship. To date, Stevens’ defense has allowed 1 goal in 400 minutes in the NCAA tournament.

Going up against Amherst in the semifinal, the Ducks enter the matchup with an impressive 18-2-4 record and have truly gotten here through a complete team effort. The first round was a lone goal by Todd Sheridan that put the Ducks past Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. The following day it was two crucial goals by Nolan Sandberg that propelled the Stevens squad to the regional semifinals for the fifth time in six years.

Then came the weekend in Hoboken.

It would turn out to be “Pandemonium in Hoboken” as the play-by-play announcer for Stevens Athletics and Empire8.tv Matt Fitzsimmons would proclaim after senior captain Craig Moquin knocked home the final penalty shot against defending national champions Middlebury Panthers. The Ducks were still dancing and the fans had stormed the field on back to back nights in probably one of the most memorable sports weekends for Hoboken in recent history.

The Ducks scored 1 goal in 220 minutes of game time. After keeping the game scoreless and constantly battling off a relentless attack by Johns Hopkins in the sectional semifinal, the Ducks were able to advance on remarkable goalkeeping by sophomore sensation Zach Carr who saved four out of the five penalty shots he faced.

The national semifinal on Saturday, December 5th against Amherst is scheduled to start off at approximately 1:30 PM following the 11 AM matchup featuring Messiah College and Loras College – both of those teams advanced to the national semifinals in 2007. The NCAA Division III Men’s Soccer Championship Final is scheduled for the following day.