I was born and raised in south-central Pennsylvania at the epicenter of the Baltimore, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Washington fan bases. Rather than aligning myself with one of those cities, or worse, rooting for some combination of the four based on whichever was doing the best in each sport at the time, I went outside the box and chose to root against my dad’s favorite teams. To this day, I’m not sure why he chose the Raiders, the Phillies, and the Tar Heels, but I became a Chiefs, Braves, and Blue Devils fanatic; although the baseball allegiance has since shifted from Atlanta to Houston to Washington. Go Nats.
I started writing about fantasy football in 2006 before eventually realizing I had a better chance of winning the lottery than getting noticed for doing exactly what every other 20-29 year old sports fan with an opinion was doing. I shifted gears to college basketball in 2009 and have been obsessively writing about bracketology and bubble watches ever since. If you stick with me throughout the season, I personally guarantee that the odds of winning your local bracket pool will increase by up to 1%.
Dear Mr. Miller,
I recently read your article giving the “Way Too Early Predictions” for the 2016 NCAA Tournament on Bleacher Report. Overall it was an enjoyable read yet while you acknowledge the far-off nature of your predictions, I believe some of them were made too loosely and without proper backing.
First off, one problem I saw in your bracket was your selection of Georgetown as an 8 seed. Coach John Thompson has built a legacy of winning teams that rebound well with the ability to adapt to the talent on their team for offensive purposes. (See Greg Monroe and Roy Hibbert, followed by Otto Porter just a couple years later.) Georgetown had a talented recruiting class last year with Tre Campbell, LJ Peak, Paul White, and of course Isaac Copeland. All contributors last year, they will get even more playing time this year and will be more mature. They will be tested early on which will help them out as well moving forward. Coming out of their nonconference schedule with one or two wins against quality opponents will be key for their confidence and experience when the conference tournament comes around. Most importantly was D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera’s decision to come back. Not only does he bring back 16 points, four rebounds, and three assists but he brings back leadership and an anchor for the perimeter. Marcus Derrickson and Kaleb Johnson are two highly touted incoming freshmen that will benefit from having a star such as Smith-Rivera lead them and take the concentration of defenses. Georgetown’s perimeter makes them difficult to beat and their scoring and young talent makes them a possible top 15 contender.
Next was your choice of Michigan State as a “Stock Up” two seed. MSU loses their two best players and does add two talented freshman, but to say they will be a two seed is different from believing they can make a run in the postseason. The Big 10 will regroup from a down year this year to be more fearsome in the regular season. I also believe they could make a run (Izzo can do anything) but that doesn’t excuse a team led by young players from an 8-10 loss regular season putting them back at a 6 or 7 seed. I think this was a knee jerk reaction to their final four run, and you only cite their star freshmen as reasons for this huge jump from last season’s seeding. Although they can certainly surprise people in the tournament, I think a two seed is an unrealistic prediction for a team losing their two best players without replacing them with more talented recruits. Stock up can refer to their potential at reaching another Final Four, but not quite to being ranked in the top ten during the season.
One baffling selection was URI as an eight seed in your bracket. Initially I thought this was a joke and maybe a reference to their possible seed in the NIT, but alas I was mistaken. URI has been in the tourney 5 times since ‘78 (when seeds were set) and the highest they have ever been is an 8 seed. Last year they were a 3 seed in the NIT and did not make it past the second round (beating only IONA!!!) They bring in only 1 recruit (a 3 star center at that) and lose 3 seniors and a junior to transfer. There is no chance they can improve THAT much to get into the tourney as an 8 seed. Being young and inexperienced and small are this team’s flaws. That does not spell 8 seed.
Lastly, as a huge Duke fan, I tried to stray away from this selection, but your pick for the Blue Devils as a three seed left me stunned. Duke returns Grayson Allen, Matt Jones, Marshall Plumlee, and Amile Jefferson. They add Brandon Ingram, Luke Kennard, Chase Jeter, Derryck Thornton, Sean Obi (Red shirt, transfer), and another 3-star center which now leaves them with the #1 overall recruiting class in the country, surpassing Kentucky. Duke put an emphasis on defense at the end of last year and although they lose Jahlil Okafor’s massive presence on offense, they will be better suited with any of the incoming freshmen at center, defensively. Meanwhile, Duke’s reputation and years of recent success pre-tournament bode well for them come seeding time. Since 1978, the Blue Devils have been a one seed 13 (!!) times, including 3 of the last six years. They play a tough non-conference schedule as always, and will play tough teams like UNC and UVA and could once again have a number of top 10 wins under their belts come tourney time. They’ll play better defense this year and the ACC is not nearly as powerful as it was last year, with most of the talented players leaving for the NBA. Duke’s freshmen will do it again and help to lead the Blue Devils to a once seed once again, come March of 2016.
Overall, I am a college basketball enthusiast and thoroughly enjoy most of your articles, but in this one, I felt you simply threw together a slew of random-ish picks. Obviously, we won’t be able to find out for another year, but I look forward to seeing the seedings come time for the tournament.
Let me know when Coach K wins 88 straight and we will talk about who is the GOAT. Til them, stop being a Homer and use your brain.
You forgot a loser in your latest "winners and losers of march madness". THE OFFICIALS. First half of the championship I got to watch a pretty awesome clean game. 2nd half I watched the point of emphasis "hand-check rule" go out the window in favor of a Duke team that truly got the benefit of the doubt enough to change dramatically affect the game.
Thanks again for all you’ve done for Tyler Harvey (Eastern Washington) and his career . . . what we all know about Tyler as the great person and player he is, the NBA will now get to see as well! Let me know if you ever need anything!
Dave Cook - firstname.lastname@example.org
Kerry - The UCLA bashing needs to stop. Your article indicates that a team's performance in the tournament does not justify it's initial selection appears illogical. I'd love to hear more about your thought process. UCLA, a team roundly criticized, has somehow managed to build double digit leads in two tournament games. Luck? As for SMU, if they were so superior, the game should never have come down to a play in the waning seconds of the game. I would much prefer a congratulatory message for advancing to the sweet sixteen in the face of adversity. The "they don't belong" ship has sailed.
A gift indeed, Mr. Kerry.
Wanted to pass along an article you might enjoy http://www.edsmart.org/ncaa-basketball-coach-salaries/
"As soon as the game ended, we were inundated with articles offering suggestions on how to fix the NCAA tournament for the better—a ludicrous proposition, since it's already the best postseason format in the world."
What is ludicrous about suggestions for improving the tournament. Just because it's the best postseason format among all the postseason tournaments doesn't mean it couldn't be even better. Particularly the selection process.
Record: 20-13 overall; 9-9 in Big Ten
Record in Last 12 Games: 5-7
Comment: “this team has looked pretty awful as of late”
Record: 21-11 overall; 12-6 in Big Ten
Record in Last 12 Games: 9-3
Comment: “It has been a strong finish, but it might need one more exclamation mark.”
And the prediction? “Hoosiers are pretty comfortably in the field. Indiana gets into the tournament and probably even avoids the First Four, despite a pretty dreadful finish to the regular season.” While for Purdue: ”their next game is one that couldn't possibly be considered a bad loss.” But “Lose that game and we'll probably see them in Dayton for the first round.” Beat Wisconsin and the Boilermakers will be very comfortably in the field.
A friend forwarded your prediction for Davidson's first season with the A10 (0-18). Clearly you have a gift.
GO DAVIDSON BABY 0-18 YEAH OKAY