March Madness 2014 Recap

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Hindsight is always 20/20, but looking back at my predictions for the 2014 NCAA tournament was pretty disappointing. Here’s how my projections made out.

One month ago this website published a series of articles on March Madness, many of which made predictions on various outcomes including which team would win the tournament and which player would win the Most Outstanding Player award. I humbly come forward to admit that most of my predictions were crap, and I’m willing to go back and analyze where I went so terribly wrong.

Bubble teams to bet on

The bubble teams which I gave the highest chances of advancing deeply into the tournament were Baylor, Oregon and Oklahoma State, with Baylor in particular a team to bet on in March Madness. I gave them a chance at making the Sweet Sixteen and Oklahoma State a good chance of advancing to the Sweet Sixteen at least, if not farther. I gave Oregon a decent chance of winning at least one game.

In hindsight, these projections didn’t come out all that bad. Baylor actually made the Sweet Sixteen, losing to #2 seed Wisconsin. Oregon won its first round game before losing to those same Wisconsin Badgers. As for Oklahoma State? Well, I missed on that one. They lost to Gonzaga in the first round. And as I predicted, my beloved Minnesota Golden Gophers missed out on the tournament altogether. Well, maybe next year….

Most Outstanding Player Award

The winner of this award is especially difficult to predict because it depends on two factors: which teams advance far enough in the tournament to showcase their best players, and which players play well enough to showcase themselves.

• Most Outstanding Player Shabazz Napier was not even on my list of finalists

• Among the Final Four Teams Florida, Connecticut, Wisconsin and Kentucky, only Florida was high on my list

• Bubble teams Baylor and Oregon advanced past the first round of the tournament, while Oklahoma State lost in the first roun

One without the other disqualifies otherwise great players from the running. My pre-Madness finalists: Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, Doug McDermott, Tyler Ennis, C.J. Fair, Russ Smith and Melvin Ejim, with Parker the favorite to win the award.

Who won the award? Shabazz Napier of Connecticut. I didn’t even put him on the list. Not because he isn’t a great player, but because I didn’t expect his team to advance past their second round matchup with Villanova. Napier dominated throughout the tournament, averaging 21 points per game and leading Connecticut to its astounding fourth championship in the past fifteen years. I feel pretty stupid now, but not many analysts predicted that the Huskies would advance far enough to showcase Napier’s talent.

As for my picks, Parker laid an egg while his Duke Blue Devil’s fizzled out in their opening round matchup with Mercer. Ditto for Wiggins. He didn’t impress anybody in Kansas’ second round upset loss to Stanford. McDermott, Ennis and Fair also didn’t advance far enough to draw positive attention to themselves. Well, here’s hoping I have better luck next year.

March Madness winner

If you thought my Most Outstanding Player predictions were bad, take a look at my finalists to win the tournament: Florida, Syracuse, Kansas, Duke and Wichita State, with Kansas the predicted winner. To be fair, I made these predictions based on who online sportsbooks in the US were giving the best odds. But of those five teams, only one made the Elite Eight. That’s pretty terrible picking on my part.

Kansas lost in the second round, unable to overcome the injury of star center Joel Embiid. And Duke, well, you heard the story about Duke. As it turned out, the Final Four contestants were Florida, Connecticut, Wisconsin and Kentucky. Florida was the only team which I had going far in the tournament, and I predicted that Connecticut would lose in the second round.

Connecticut is where I really had things wrong. Despite featuring all-world guard Shabazz Napier, I just didn’t think that this pesky bunch had enough talent to compete against powerhouses like Villanova, Iowa State and Michigan State. Most analysts agreed with me. Whether this highlights my lack of foresight or the unpredictable nature of March Madness or both, I hope you didn’t place bets according to my predictions.

Barack Obama’s picks

Enough about my ill-fated selections. Let’s see where Barry’s picks ended up. Every year the filling of his bracket makes gambling news, as basketball bettors across the country try to absorb a bit of his presidential wisdom. He chose Michigan State to win the championship. Not a bad prediction actually, but they lost to Connecticut in the Elite Eight. His Final Four included Florida, Michigan State, Arizona and Louisville, with only Florida actually advancing that far.

Where did Obama go wrong with Connecticut? The same place I did. He had them losing to Villanova in the second. And as for Kentucky, both of us had the Wildcats losing to Wichita State in the second round. For both me and Ol’ Barry, we just aren’t creative enough. Doing things by the book

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