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Selection Sunday: Early Thoughts

I don't love the prospect of playing two Big East teams, and I'm worried especially about Syracuse's zone against a Xavier team that has stagnated against zones this year. Of course, X is going to have to get past Marquette before that becomes much of a concern. The Golden Eagles are the 33rd best team in the nation according to Ken Pomeroy. He has Xavier at 37th. The Massey rating have X at 28th and Marquette 33rd. Jeff Sagarin has Marquette 29th and "Xavier-Ohio" 35th. The point is, the two teams are very evenly matched, and it will probably be a tight and nerve-rending game to watch.



Elsewhere, try the Tucson pod in the Southeast region if you're looking for interesting matchups. Utah State is a very good defensive team that loves to grind out opponents by playing at a slow tempo. They also suffocate the defensive glass, allowing opponents to rebound only a quarter of their own misses. They drew Kansas State, who plays an up tempo game and is fourth in the nation in offensive rebounding percentage. K State is going to have their work cut out for them in keeping Tai Wesley off the glass; they only have one player with more defensive boards than Wesley has offensive ones. Whichever team can shape the flow of the game will probably come out on top.

In that same pod, Wisconsin and Belmont face off. Belmont plays up tempo, forces a lot of turnovers, and gets a lot of men to the offensive glass. Wisconsin runs the swing offense patiently and persistently, loves to slow things down, and is first in the country in avoiding turnovers. Their most recent game featured 44 possessions per team; a little quick math tells me that's about as low as you can go in a 40-minute game with a 35-second shot clock. Belmont gets 80 points per game and has seven players getting at least six per. Wisconsin averages 68 points, 42 of which come from three scorers. If Wisconsin hits a hiccup like they did against Penn State or someone from Belmont can disrupt the pace of the game, this one has a chance to go down as an all-time great.

That's about it for now, but there's plenty more where that came from. I'll be breaking down Xavier's pod tomorrow, and Brad will be on here with his unique take on the bracket as a whole. As tip time gets closer, we'll zero back in on the XU-Marquette matchup on Friday. Check back often, as not all of our updates will make it to Twitter right away.