COMMENTARY – With only days remaining before selection Sunday, it’s time to get my predictions off the floor and in the hoop. Rejected by many, these predictions are always good from inside the key, and off target from behind the arc. I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist.
Based on Seed: Florida Gators. Figured to be the No. 1 overall seed in the South bracket, the Gators are in prime position to run the table in Orlando, then Memphis, on their way to At&t Stadium in Arlington for the National Championship. Number one-seeds have won the tourney 19 times, the highest of any seed. The Gators also have four Final Four appearances, and two titles, in 2006 and 2007.
Based on Big Data: Sure to be No. 1 seed, Villanova ranks on all three of Peter Tiernan’s data-driven champ statistic lists for 2014. A CBSSports.com contributor and scientific superhuman, Tiernan runs Bracketscience.com, a truly in depth – and mostly free – web site that offers statistical analysis of the tournament, but is a bog for gut-driven, pickmeisters like myself. Anyway, Villanova stands a decent shot at winning the big game, Tiernan says among other reasons, because they score more than 73 points per game, play in a power conference, and made the tourney last year. The Wildcats have precedent, too. Villanova won in ’85, as an eight-seed.
Star Power: Creighton and super-sleeper-stud Doug McDermott have underdog power. Fourth-year starter McDermott passed Oscar Robertson and Larry Bird this year for points scored in NCAA history. “You’re no Larry Bird,” his dad told him recently, as reported in Sports Illustrated. Really? He must be close, judging by the Bird SI cover recreation this week. Plus, the Blue Jays are likely to be a three-seed, which has won the NCAA title five times, most recently coming with Connecticut in 2011.
Based on Being Duke: Coach K’s team is also among Tiernan’s eight teams in 2014 who have all the tournament ‘champ credentials.’ Likely to be a number two-seed this year, Duke has won the big dance four times in an amazing 10 tries. Even more amazing is their 15 Final Fours and 19 Elite Eights. To put this into perspective, in the last thirty years (the last time the Blue Devils failed to qualify for the post season), Duke starts the season with a 33 percent chance to make the Final Four.