March Madness -- The Most "Live" Teams at Each Seed, 1 through 16
Last year, the Final Four made its way to Houston and in a turn of events entirely emblematic of the type of sports year Houston sustained in 2011, we wound up with arguably the most underwhelming collection of four teams ever assembled at college basketball's marquee event.
It's bracket time.
The highest seeded team was Connecticut (a 3 seed out West) and they were joined by Kentucky (a 4 seed), Butler (an 8 seed) and VCU (an 11 seed!). Unless you were a UConn fan (which I happen to be), it was probably one big popcorn fart of a weekend, and if it taught us anything, it's that picking games on your March Madness bracket has now essentially become a series of educated coin tosses.
Therefore, on the cusp of the due date/time for most brackets (early games tip at 11 a.m. tomorrow), I am not going to share with you my entire bracket. A page full of barely 50-50 propositions handed over is overkill and kind of useless. The Final Four is a culmination of these coin-flipper propositions, but where your chances of winning the office pool can be increased by a percentage point or two is in finding those lower seeded teams (the Butlers, the VCUs) that might squeeze an extra round or two (or five!) out of their run above expectations.
So instead of giving you the full field, I'll shave off the two cents that I think may be of some value to you and tell you the most "live" teams at each numeric seed in the tournament field, "live" being my phrase for "possessing the team chemistry/skills/makeup to make a tourney run that belies their seed."
16 SEED: UNC-Asheville (East)
Casper Ware, ready for a run.
A 16 seed has never beaten a 1 seed in the history of this tournament, so my picking a "live" 16 seed is more out of obligation than true belief. So if I have to pick one, I'll pick the one that is playing the 1 seed who just lost their difference-making center due to a suspension for not completing school work.
15 SEED: Detroit (Midwest)
15 seeds beating 2 seeds has happened, but rarely. Of the four 15 seeds this year, I like Detroit and it's as much an anti-Kansas play as it is a pro-Detroit play. Yes, Detroit has an NBA talent in coach's son Ray McCallum Jr., but Kansas is also living with fairly recent tournament skeletons in their closet in upsets to Northern Iowa and VCU. Detroit could do this.
14 SEED: Belmont (Midwest)
This game is only a 3 1/2-point spread for a reason. Belmont is proficient shooting the three, and has enough talent to hang with the big boys for a round or two (witness, their one-point road loss to Duke early in the season). Georgetown seemed to peak about midseason and turnover problems could be huge if Belmont is knocking down shots. (NOTE: LOTS of "live" 14 seeds in the field -- South Dakota State against Baylor and St. Bonaventure against Florida State, too.)
13 SEED: Davidson (West)
Bob McKillop's team doesn't have an NBA lottery type talent like Steph Curry on this squad, but they are balanced, have played a typically tough Davidson schedule (Duke, Vanderbilt, a win over Kansas) and catch a Louisville team that lost in this exact spot (4 seed) to Morehead State last season.
12 SEED: Long Beach State (West)
Ali Farokhmanesh, Gordon Hayward, Stephen Curry...Casper Ware! Ware will be this season's mid-major darling individual player heading into the Sweet Sixteen week. The guard who was offered a scholarship by The Beach and that's it is an NBA-level talent.