March Madness is Here: Initial Reactions

It’s been two very long years, but we finally have a bracket and March Madness is here. Even though Florida State has stumbled into the tournament, they have to really like their bracket. I won’t go into too much depth this article and will save that for the game previews, but this will be just initial reactions.

Here is the bracket.

And then here is a zoomed in view of FSU’s side of the bracket.

First thoughts: You’re not in in Gonzaga or Baylor’s region, which is a blessing. We really did not need a third straight tournament playing Gonzaga, who is going to win the tournament, and Baylor has been one of the better teams all season. Illinois even, they’ve played as well as anyone down the stretch. Michigan is our 1 seed, and that’s the one you’d want to have. They just lost Isaiah Livers to a stress fracture in his foot, and he’s out indefinitely. That’s a huge blow, he was arguably their best player. Now, you’re looking at a potential Sweet 16 against them, a team we owe one to, and you like your chances if you can make it out of the first weekend.

You also don’t have to face any of the 3 early matchups I were scared for: Texas Tech, Abilene Christian, or Winthrop. You get to avoid those stylistically bad matchups, and now look at a very unusual mid major in UNC Greensboro. UNCG doesn’t shoot the ball well, they don’t score a ton of points or play a really fast tempo, their main challengers in their conference just lost early in the tournament and they coasted to a tournament win. The Southern Conference was down in general compared to where they’ve been in the past, but that’s what happens when their two best coaches at ETSU and Wofford leave for ACC jobs.

UNCG shoots just 42.4% from the floor, 30% from 3, just 68% from the FT line, and is one of the worst teams in the country at getting to the free throw line (335th out of a possible 347 in terms of free throw rate). How they’re even as high as 129th in offensive efficiency is incredible. UNCG is a one-man army offensively, with Isaiah Miller scoring 19.3 PPG and no one else in double figures. And despite being just 6’0″, he’s only taken 47 3s on the season. 54% of his shots have come within 6 feet of the rim. They have guys that take a lot of 3s but no one that makes a lot of 3s, no one on the roster is above 34% from 3. Miller leads the team in points, rebounds, assists, steals, and free throw attempts. You’d think he’d have issues with our length, considering they’ve played no power schools all season, and the last time they did it was December of 2019. Miller has played well in the past against bigger teams with 19 against Kansas and 26 against NC State last season.

Defensively is where they win games though. They score 15.9 PPG off of turnovers, forcing 14.9 turnovers per game, and are 60th in forced turnover rate. If they’re going to pull an upset, it’s going to be because of turnover since FSU is notably loose with the ball recently. Their 41.4% oFG% is 67th in the country, as is their overall defensive efficiency.

As for Colorado and Georgetown, they’re very similar teams. Colorado is 17th in offensive efficiency and 29th in defensive efficiency, but they beat up on a really bad PAC-12 team. They are elite from the free throw line at 82.2%, yet are towards the bottom in free throw rate. They don’t get there a ton. but when they do, they make them. Are also 36.7% from 3, and are really efficient in pick and rolls, in the top 3% in the country in scoring efficiency on the pick and roll. This will either by thwarted by FSU’s switching scheme, or it’ll heavily outclass FSU’s scheme.

Georgetown somehow won a bad Big East tournament, with Villanova losing their lead point guard to an MCL tear right before postseason play (hammer Winthrop). They shoot the 3 well at 36.6%, but are one of the worst teams in the country both in getting to the free throw line and forcing turnovers, so you’d have to like that matchup if you’re FSU, granted we all know what happened in 2017 when we faced a low seeded Big East team.

Once you move past that, you’re looking at Michigan, who as mentioned earlier lost Isaiah Livers, LSU who plays big teams tough but can really lose focus, or St Bonaventure who is a really sneaky mid-major. Then the other side othe bracket… we’ll worry about it when we get there.

If I’m Florida State, I have to feel good about my bracket given the options available. If FSU can get out of the first weekend… which who knows given the inconsistencies recently.

But this is March, and we sleep in May. It’s a new six game season, and we’ll see if Florida State is up to the challenge.

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