Add this fine blog to the legions of sites out there running March Madness projections as our very own house statistician kicks things off with a breakdown of the Southeast regional and the Panthers’ chances of doing some serious damage this year in a bracket that is weak at the top but surprisingly tough at the bottom.
Say whatever you want to about the strength of this particular bracket but no one can deny that it is an incredibly evenly matched group with a lot of potential for really close and compelling basketball, especially in the first round. Four of the top six teams in the region are stuffed into the top half of the draw so the most likely outcomes all involve a street-fight in the top half while Florida and BYU cruise into the Sweet 16 in their half before eventually losing to the victor of that top half brawl. I feel particularly bad for Utah State since if they had been a 10 or 11 seed on the bottom half of the bracket then their numbers would not have been too far off of what BYU is looking at…going through Kansas State, Wisconsin and Pitt isn’t much of a reward for a 30-3 record.
From a Panther perspective, Pitt won’t have any issue easing out of the second round and has a near 80% chance of handling Butler or Old Dominion in the third round once they do. A matchup against the Monarchs won’t be anything resembling a picnic and should be down and dirty basketball but a Panther win is very much a likelihood there. The winner of the pod of doom (downside to the pod of doom? Reggie Miller has the color commentator seat for those games on TruTV) awaits in the Sweet Sixteen and the victor of the Wisconsin/Kansas State/Utah State/Belmont grouping will definitely be battle tested going into that game. Even so the Panthers still have a near 2 out of 3 chance of winning that game and an aggregate chance of near 1 out of 2 of moving on to the regional final.
First Round Matchups:
1 Pitt v 16 Play-in winner: PITT 96.0%
2 Florida v 15 UC-Santa Barbara: Florida 89.5%
3 BYU v 14 Wofford: BYU 79.5%
4 Wisconsin v 13 Belmont: Wisconsin 66.2%
5 Kansas State v 12 Utah State: Utah State 51.8%
6 St John’s v 11 Gonzaga: Gonzaga 50.3%
7 UCLA v 10 Michigan State: Michigan State 57.1%
8 Butler v 9 Old Dominion: ODU 53.4%
Lots of drama in the first round matchups here as the 5, 6, 7 and 8 seeds are all slight underdogs in their games (which makes you question the committee’s seeding decisions a little bit) but all of them are so close as to fall under coin-flip territory. Add in a stronger than average 13 seed in Belmont and a very solid 14 seed in Wofford and you have the potential for some serious weekday anarchy, especially in the Tuscon and Denver games. So start hunting for TruTV now because that is where you can watch those crazy Tuscon games and you are going to want to be all over those.