Our Team of NCAA Gurus Chats With Readers About March Madness

The stadium scene.
March 14 2012 7:04 PM

Up the Creek Without a Melo

Our team of NCAA gurus chats with readers about March Madness.

(Continued from Page 2)

Josh Levin: I don’t give Harvard much of a shot. And here's John's analysis from ESPN Insider: “Harvard, goodness knows, is an unusually strong Ivy representative, and if Festus Ezeli is thinking he'll have an easy time against these scholars from Cambridge, a few possessions against an interior beast like Keith Wright will correct that impression. But the last time we saw the Dores, they were beating Kentucky and, not to put too fine a point on it, the Wildcats are better than Harvard.”

John Gasaway: The tough thing about being an Ivy is that you have one of the best teams the league's ever produced and the reward is an opponent that just beat Kentucky.

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Whit Alexander: Any chance WVU, led by Big East POY-snubbed Kevin Jones and essentially playing at home in Pittsburgh, can get through Gonzaga and then OSU?

Josh Levin: Whit, I like West Virginia's chances against Gonzaga and do not like them much at all against the Buckeyes.

John Gasaway Whit, the 'Eers can absolutely get by Gonzaga but I wouldn't call it a sure thing. I do like the Buckeyes coming out of that foursome. A lot.

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Ben Wiles Belmont coach Rick Byrd said the biggest concern he had about Georgetown was “their ability to defend 3s” (opponents shoot about 27 percent against them). Should your findings about 3-point defense give Belmont fans even more confidence going into Friday?

Ken Pomeroy: Yeah, I think 3-point-percentage defense is an overrated stat. Maybe the most overrated. The Hoyas were merely average in that category the last two seasons, and now suddenly lead the nation. The good news for Belmont backers is that the Hoyas give up a normal amount of three-point looks, so the Bruins will have opportunities to score from beyond the arc.

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Josh Levin: Ken and John, can you guys talk about what makes Wichita State such a great team? John, you've been high on them all year, and Ken's log5 system has the Shockers with the ninth-best shot to win the tournament.

John Gasaway: One thing I like about the Shockers is that they are almost equally mighty on both offense and defense. Often a hot mid-major specializes at one of those. Gregg Marshall's team can beat you even on a bad shooting night or even if a star has a great offensive game against them.

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David Seitz: Am I crazy to think Creighton has the potential to go on a Butler-esque run this year?

John Gasaway: No crazier than you would have been last year, David, to say, "My hitherto listless 9-9 UConn team is going all the way!"

Josh Levin: Creighton plays no defense and seems likely to get blitzed by North Carolina if they can beat Alabama in Round 1.

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Brian Shea: I like Kansas State in a matchup against Syracuse because they are great on the offensive glass and a solid defensive team.

Ken Pomeroy: A great offensive rebounding team against a historically bad defensive rebounding team sounds like a recipe for an upset. However, Syracuse will enjoy a similar, though less pronounced, advantage when they have the ball.

John Gasaway: Brian, that's a fair "like," the question I'd have would be whether even with those offensive boards the previously average K-State offense could score enough points against a D that doesn't foul very much.

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Josh Levin: Ken and John, let's wrap this up with your Final Four predictions, if you'll indulge us ...

John Gasaway: ESPN already pried Final Four picks out of all of their scribes on Sunday night (pre-Melo!), so I am on the record for better or worse: Kentucky, Michigan State, Ohio State, North Carolina.

Ken Pomeroy I'll go with Kentucky, Missouri, Kansas, and Ohio State. I'll take the Buckeyes to win the whole thing.

Josh Levin: And I'll pick Wichita State, Missouri, Ohio State, and UNC. Someone has to back the Shockers!

John Gasaway: I like the spirit, Josh. After last year, Ken and I look way too conservative, you're right.

John Gasaway writes for Basketball Prospectus and ESPN.com.

Josh Levin is Slate's executive editor.

Ken Pomeroy has been providing analysis of college basketball at kenpom.com for eight years. You can follow him on Twitter.

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