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The 2009 Bracket Insta-React

Heart's still racing. Man do I love this day.

The Final Four Will Be: Michigan State, Memphis, Pitt, North Carolina.

The Atlantic 11 Report: As expected, five teams got in from Maryland/D.C./Virginia: Four via automatic berths (Radford, Morgan State, American, VCU) and one with an at-large (Maryland). That's down from 2008 (six teams) and 2007 (seven teams), but up from 2006 (three teams) and 2005 (two teams).

And while the seeds are all low this year (16-15-14-11-10, in that order), both 2005 entries were 12 seeds (Old Dominion and George Washington). So this isn't unprecedented by any means.

Easiest High Seed to Pick Against: It seems too easy, but it's got to be Duke. I mean, we've seen that game before, and VCU and West Virginia won it, the latter while mocking the Blue Devils. Take Texas in the second round and into the Sweet 16.

Most Insufferable Site: Greensboro. UNC, Duke, Hook 'em Horns and Kornheiser's alma mater all in one building? Make mine a double.

ACC-Big 10 Challenge, Again: There are two Big 10-ACC matchups in the first round (Clemson-Michigan, and Florida State-Wisconsin). There could easily be two more in the second round (Duke-Minnesota, and BC-Michigan State). The ACC has never lost the challenge, and went 6-5 head-to-head this year.

I'm Uncollegial, Part I: Did anyone see Eric Prisbell's Maryland blurb in this morning's paper, where he picks the field? "No coach could have done better," he wrote

Really? There's not another coach in America that could have pulled off one legitimate upset (UNC), one moderate upset against an unmotivated team (Wake), one win against a great team missing its leading rebounder (Michigan State), and a grand total of one road win against a team with a winning record? Not one coach could have done that while avoiding a home loss to a MEAC school?

(And this is what I originally had here, though I deleted it for space: If this REALLY was something no one else could have done better, well, a lot of ink was spilled this season asking if this guy was still up to his job. And now, no one could do it better? Not meant as a cheap shot at Gary or at Prisbell; I just think Gary's somewhere in between those two extremes.)

Lock It: Michigan over Clemson.

Upset Watch: As I wrote last year, many of the best upset nods are low-seeded major conference teams, especially those that can shoot the three. (6th-seeded Vanderbilt in 2007, 6th-seeded West Virginia in 2006, 10th-seeded N.C. State in 2005, 7th-seeded West Virginia in 2005, 12th-seeded Missouri in 2002.) Candidates this year? 10th-seeded Michigan, 13th-seeded Mississippi State and 6th-seeded Arizona State. I'll take Arizona State to the Elite Eight, I think.

I'm Uncollegial, Part II: I'm Uncollegial, Part II: Quoting Feinstein: "Will the world truly be a better place because the Big Ten, which has one truly quality team (Michigan State) and one other pretty good team (Purdue), gets eight bids as the experts say it will? Shouldn't Illinois and Penn State have been sent immediately to the NIT the very minute their 38-33 debacle came to a merciful conclusion last month?"

Uh, would San Diego State's inclusion have truly made the world a better place? And are teams not allowed to win postseason games with defense? Should the Super Bowl Ravens have not been invited to the playoffs due to a low-octane offense and ridiculous defense? Also, mid-major favorite Northern Iowa scored 43 against Marquette, 46 against Iowa and 46 against Iowa, all losses.

Mid-Major Gripe: That being said, check this out. San Diego State, which didn't make the tournament, won by 30 against Hampton on a neutral court. THIRTY. (Ok, 29.) Hampton swept Morgan State. And we all know what Morgan State did to the Terps.

More Advice: For nine years in a row, and 12 out of 13 years, the eventual national champion has made at least one recent Final Four appearance. ("Recent" meaning "within the past seven years.") So don't take Pitt, Missouri or Wake Forest to win it all, and I'd be leery of Oklahoma. (The Sooners made the Final Four in '02.)

Best Foreshadowing: The American pep band played the theme song from "Rocky" sometime during the school's Selection Show party, well before the Eagles' trip to Philly to face Villanova was announced.

Ignore Me: Here are last year's Final Four picks. I didn't do so hot. (Only UCLA was correct.) Though I have won a bunch of pools in my day, and got 75 percent of the Final Four correct in '07. My comprehensive advice last year was mostly abysmal, but I still stand by it.

A 6-11 Pick: VCU over UCLA. Duh. Eric Maynor to the Sweet 16 this time, with assists from the Larry Sanders Show. Find me another 11 seed toting a championship belt and maybe I'll reconsider.

Best Sites for Atlantic 11 Fans: American and VCU both head to Philly. Maryland and Morgan State both head to Kansas City.

Game Most Likely to Involve Vomit: Maryland-Cal, of course. Jahvid Best in the house? Also, so much for Maryland being on the bubble. The Terps were nowhere near the bubble. Make more buttons.

I'm Uncollegial, Part III: Ok, Michael Wilbon's column last week ended up arguing that conference tournaments are still relevant, despite his doubts. But I can't believe he even doubted. Last week is, without question, more of a rip-roaring good time than this week on the sporting calendar. Last week, every team in the country--or nearly every one--still had a chance, and there was drama day and night for seven days. By this week, strange as it sounds, things are a bit more chill. And trust me, many fans still care very much about conference tournament titles--a lot more so than first-round NCAA wins.

National Championship: Memphis over Pitt.

Your thoughts?

By Dan Steinberg  |  March 15, 2009; 6:41 PM ET
Categories:  Atlantic 11 , College Basketball  
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Next: Digger Makes Some Interesting Picks

Comments

C'mon all of you FOG's ("Fans of Gary" acronym with an apostrophe for some reason), let's hear about how the Terps are going to win one or two in the ACC.

Don't bother to make your MSG reservations. They won't get that far in the NIT.

Posted by: petecard | February 18, 2009 11:05 AM


Let's face it. We are toast.

Another disappointing season with a team that just doesn't measure up.

We aren't even a factor in the ACC, much less nationally.

Missing the tournament for the 4th time in 5 years is simply unacceptable.

Our program is a real disappointment and I am disgusted.

Let's hear it Koolaid drinkers.

Posted by: petecard | March 9, 2009 6:30 PM


Gary should use the game against NC State to get ready for the NIT.

Maryland plays in the NIT so often it should consider becoming the title sponsor.

Turtle Soup, brought to you by Gary Williams. Simply warm and serve.

Posted by: petecard | March 9, 2009 8:56 AM


Barno,

We ARE toast. You think beating NC State means anything?

Why not just deal with the bottom line: We are going to miss the tournament this year for the 4th time in 5 years.

Unacceptable.

Gary's responsibility.


Posted by: petecard | February 19, 2009 10:32 AM

Right now we have a mediocre program.

The FOG's think Gary should be able to write his own ticket.


Posted by: petecard | March 1, 2009 10:22 AM

Gary's contract will be up in 2-3 years. That's where the focus should be.


Posted by: petecard | March 13, 2009 10:33 AM

Why not just deal with the bottom line: We are going to miss the tournament this year for the 4th time in 5 years.

Unacceptable.

Gary's responsibility.

Posted by: petecard | February 19, 2009 10:32 AM


making the NCAA is not a worthy goal in and of itself

Posted by: petecard | February 28, 2009 12:17 PM


Even if we make it, that is NOT the benchmark we should have for our program

Posted by: petecard | March 3, 2009 2:18 PM

Posted by: Barno1 | March 15, 2009 6:48 PM | Report abuse

Correct me if I am wrong this is the 3rd season that Gary and Grevis have been together. They have combined with great admiration for each other and led the Terps to 2 NIT's in those 3 years barring a miracle this week.
You would think that they had won a National Title together or at least made the tourney more than 1/3 of their great years together geez...

Posted by: jadams5214 | March 12, 2009 11:16 PM

Posted by: Barno1 | March 15, 2009 6:51 PM | Report abuse

Hey Dan, can you ask Steve Yanda and Eric Prisbell where they think Georgetown, George Mason, UVA, VA Tech, and George Washington will be seeded? I assume they had a better season since I did not read any 3 part series in the Post about the crappy state of their program.

Hey Dan, Please tell Steve Yanda to Eat a Wang!

Thanks!

Posted by: skins1110 | March 15, 2009 7:05 PM | Report abuse

Do you really think that Binghamton is going to take Duke?! As someone who grew up there, I cringed when their name came up! Saw them play against UMBC on Saturday - no way they beat Duke (but hey, if I am wrong - I will be delighted!)

Posted by: suzannepdc | March 15, 2009 7:11 PM | Report abuse

"I'm Uncollegial Part I: Did anyone see Eric Prisbell's Maryland blurb in this morning's paper, where he picks the field? "No coach could have done better," he wrote

Really? There's not another coach in America that could have pulled off one legitimate upset (UNC), one moderate upset against an unmotivated team (Wake), one win against a great team missing its leading rebounder (Michigan State), and a grand total of one road win against a team with a winning record? Not one coach could have done that while avoiding a home loss to a MEAC school?"

Find me another coach who could do that with players like Dave Neal, Cliff Tucker, and Adrian Bowie. To say this is not Gary's finest coaching job is completely idiotic. Maybe some of that terrapin wang needs to come to you too. OPEN WIDE DAN!!!

Posted by: skins1110 | March 15, 2009 7:11 PM | Report abuse

We all know that the upcoming Maryland first round NCAA loss is going to prove that there is nothing wrong with Turtle basketball -- it is as mediocre as it ever was.


Posted by: wahoo2x | March 15, 2009 7:15 PM | Report abuse

HAHAHAHAH says the UVA fan!!! When was the last time your team was relevant?

Posted by: skins1110 | March 15, 2009 7:16 PM | Report abuse

That was the MOST DIFFICULT BLOG TO READ. JEEZ, try not to write like a 15 year speaks!!

Posted by: Kartolfelsalat | March 15, 2009 7:18 PM | Report abuse

Steinz--I am pretty surprised by the cheap shot against Gary. You know Dave Neal is the starting center right? They earned their bid, and will prove it beating Cal.

I know Prisbell and Yanda have it out for GW, I didn't think you were in that club as well.

Posted by: jpfterps | March 15, 2009 7:20 PM | Report abuse

Oops - mis-read your post! Texas is going to take Duke and NOT Binghamton! :)

Posted by: suzannepdc | March 15, 2009 7:21 PM | Report abuse

CHEESEBOY!!!!

Posted by: edsmit1 | March 15, 2009 7:23 PM | Report abuse

Maryland scores an "upset" over Cal, Morgan loses by 15 to Oklahoma after a close first half.

Posted by: StetSportsBlog | March 15, 2009 7:34 PM | Report abuse

What were your picks last year? Have a link?

Posted by: monkeyonkeyboard | March 15, 2009 7:34 PM | Report abuse

I simultaneously feel that Maryland was given a gigantic, undeserved gift as a 10 seed and, having said that, that it will win its first round game.

Also, AU got shafted with a 14 seed at another team's home.

Posted by: KCinHD | March 15, 2009 7:43 PM | Report abuse

Barno, what's the point. Do you have anything original to add, or are you just going to continue posting other people's comments?

Posted by: CDon | March 15, 2009 7:57 PM | Report abuse

What a disgrace.

The Terps should've gotten a #1 seed. I mean right?

Gary Williams coached this team up and they should've been rewarded w/ a #1 seed.

Terps were robbed.

Posted by: Poopy_McPoop | March 15, 2009 8:01 PM | Report abuse

CDon laying the smack down.

Posted by: Poopy_McPoop | March 15, 2009 8:02 PM | Report abuse

Hey, I had a line in there about Gary, "no coach could have done better," and a certain three-part series, but I snipped it for space. Just added it back for context. I still think the Terps had a limited number of high-quality wins, but I think today is a genuine addendum to that series.

Hey KC, shoot me an email, I have your book but not your address.

Posted by: DanSteinberg1 | March 15, 2009 8:06 PM | Report abuse

I'm going with Cal. Montgomery is a slightly better coach and Cal will be the hungrier team. I expect super-frosh Jorge Gutierrez to come off the bench and wreak havoc on the Terp offense, providing the slight edge in a close game.

Posted by: oski1 | March 15, 2009 8:07 PM | Report abuse

You have to take Louisville.

Posted by: LegallyMurphy | March 15, 2009 8:25 PM | Report abuse

Where are we taking Louisville?

Posted by: Poopy_McPoop | March 15, 2009 8:31 PM | Report abuse

To the Cheesecake Factory.

Posted by: B_A_ | March 15, 2009 8:42 PM | Report abuse

mmmmmmmmm good choice.

Posted by: Poopy_McPoop | March 15, 2009 8:44 PM | Report abuse

Memphis won't make it out of the West region.

Posted by: CliffClaven1 | March 15, 2009 8:46 PM | Report abuse

Michigan State over Louisville?!?!? Have you actually watched any basketball over the past 6 weeks?

Posted by: adrock67 | March 15, 2009 10:16 PM | Report abuse

Hey adrock if it's gonna be that type of party I'm gonna have to stick my d*** in the mashed potatoes.

Posted by: Poopy_McPoop | March 15, 2009 10:50 PM | Report abuse

My thoughts?

I was flabbergasted by the notion that Tony K has an alma mater....

Posted by: tgrahame1 | March 15, 2009 11:00 PM | Report abuse

How could you possibly pick Michigan State? The Big Ten is terribly over-rated. I wouldn't be surprised to see them get swept out in the second round.

Posted by: dillon74 | March 15, 2009 11:06 PM | Report abuse

GO TERPS!!! We needed this! I love the seed, and we can defintely take down Cal with a good game. I'd love a shot at Memphis in Rd 2!

The Big 10 teams will chump out of the tourney early and often.

Posted by: msveasey | March 15, 2009 11:08 PM | Report abuse

"Really? There's not another coach in America that could have pulled off one legitimate upset (UNC)..."
It depends on what players you have and where they were at the beginning of the year.

"one moderate upset against an unmotivated team (Wake),"
Yes, unmotivated, but look how many Maryland players scored in double figures in that game. Was it a fluke because Wake was unmotivated? Too early to tell yet. But look at how Maryland progressed in the next game against Duke after it's earlier losses to the Blue Devils.

"Not one coach could have done that while avoiding a home loss to a MEAC school?"
Why call Morgan State a MEAC school instead of the MEAC champion? Are you downplaying the skill of Morgan State players and its coach, Tad Bozeman(whose brother use to coach at Cal)?

Perhaps that loss to Morgan State shows the parity in college basketball this year.

Good for Maryland playing Morgan State early on. Says something about their body of work, not using the game as a preseason warmup.

Or put that Morgan State game on a timeline...going from that loss early in the season to upsetting UNC and Wake and giving Duke a run for their money late in the season.

That's good coaching in developing the ability of players and the team. (imho)

Posted by: Instructor5 | March 15, 2009 11:29 PM | Report abuse

I think Maryland played out of it's mind to get to the NCAA's they could win one, but not 2. Morgan will be out of it early against Oklahoma. In fact I wouldn't be leery picking Oklahoma to win it(contrary to the editor's colum) didn't a Big XII school win it all last year? Thumped UNC in the process. Don't be surprise to see Oklahoma pop the Cuse and UNC to the final 4. Pitt hasn't been past the sweet 16 in forever. I don't plan on them getting to the Final 4 either. Probably a toss up year, there's no clear cut team. to win it all.

Posted by: bootleg2km | March 15, 2009 11:42 PM | Report abuse

Oh yeah screw all this big east bias! DIDN'T LOUISVILLE LOSE AT HOME TO UNLV, UNLV!!! AND WESTERN KENTUCKY!!! YES MICHIGAN STATE CAN BEAT LOUISVILLE!

Posted by: bootleg2km | March 15, 2009 11:45 PM | Report abuse

Wooooo! Who called it! I told you all that 4.6 local teams (with rounding) would make the tournament! Ain't nobody touch me when it comes to math!

Posted by: MaxWass | March 16, 2009 3:11 AM | Report abuse

If MD meets Memphis they will upset them.

Posted by: waterboard | March 16, 2009 6:59 AM | Report abuse

Some of you Terp fans are absolutely insane...

Steinberg didn't say anything negative about Gary Williams in this blog post. He merely stated that "No other coach could have done that" was hyperbole, and then presented a convincing case of that beign true.

To say that he therefore "has it out for Gary" makes you look like a raving lunatic, seriously.

Posted by: VTDuffman | March 16, 2009 8:57 AM | Report abuse

I don't think DS has it out for Gsry, I was just surprised at the need for the cheap shot in this post. It seemed out of character, leave that to the bitter beat reporters.

Posted by: jpfterps | March 16, 2009 9:51 AM | Report abuse

Again, is it a cheap shot at Gary? It's taking issue with a description of his accomplishments by another reporter.

I never thought that my fellow Terps would be so thin-skinned about media inquiry until this season.

Posted by: Lindemann777 | March 16, 2009 10:09 AM | Report abuse

"I don't think DS has it out for Gsry, I was just surprised at the need for the cheap shot in this post. It seemed out of character, leave that to the bitter beat reporters."

Which part was a "Cheap Shot?"

Seriously please inform me.

You people consider any post not extolling the virtues of Gary Williams as "zOMG teh gr8test coach evar!!!!111!!1oneeleven" as a "cheap shot." There was not one single negative opinion about Gary Williams in that post.

Posting Facts like "one road win against a team with a winning record" and "lost to MEAC school" by vitrue cannot be "Cheap Shots" because they are *Facts*.

Saying "Gary Williams has a bad haircut and he sweats profusely" is a "cheap shot."

Posted by: VTDuffman | March 16, 2009 10:27 AM | Report abuse

"That was the MOST DIFFICULT BLOG TO READ. JEEZ, try not to write like a 15 year speaks!!

Posted by: Kartolfelsalat | March 15, 2009 7:18 PM"

WTF does that say? When ripping someone for their writing, it's best to ensure the clarity of your own writing.


Saying "Gary Williams has a bad haircut and he sweats profusely" is a "cheap shot."

Posted by: VTDuffman | March 16, 2009 10:27 AM

Those are also facts. Saying GW is an @$$h0le to his assistant coaches is a cheap shot. Wait, no ... that's a fact, too.

Oh, here we go: Writing a three-part series and not putting in a coach's complete quotes, and instead just cherry-picking statements like, "It's not my job to recruit," IS A CHEAP SHOT. There ... much better.

Posted by: Incredulous2 | March 16, 2009 12:03 PM | Report abuse

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