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Maryland Celebrates 10th ACC Title
Devils In Detail - March 2012

DWHoops 2012 NCAA First Look
First Impressions on the 2012 NCAA Bracket
Published March 12, 2012

By Rob Clough

Duke's seeding for the 2012 NCAA tournament is both good news and bad news. The bad news is two fold: first, that Duke must go to Nashville and potentially play seven seed Vandy on their home floor, even as Chapel Hill was available. Second, Duke was shipped west to Fresno instead of being allowed to play in the Raleigh regional. Maryland winning the ACC tournament clinched their appearance in Raleigh, along with their slightly superior RPI. Duke winning the ACC regular season and Maryland finishing third apparently wasn't a factor in this decision-making. I'm guessing Duke was shipped west to make the brackets fit somehow, even though there are oddities in it like Stanford coming east to play a Hampton team located 15 miles away from the site in Norfolk. It is still surprising that the committee is punishing Duke for a single close loss (NC State in the ACC tournament) and rewarded Maryland, despite their much worse loss to Virginia Tech. Duke closed out the year by beating UNC and Miami and finishing 15-1 in the league, so it's not like they limped to the finish. Perhaps the injury to Richa Jackson is playing a factor here.

The good news for Duke is that their NCAA draw is actually reasonable favorable. Vanderbilt will be a brutal game, but it's actually a pretty good matchup for Duke in many respects. St John's is probably overseeded at #3 and will have problems escaping Oklahoma in Norman. Stanford is the #1 seed with which Duke matches up the best. Nneka Ogwumike is a nightmare to match up against, as is her sister Chiney, but their guard play is not at Duke's level, nor have they played as many tough games recently as the Devils. Their non-conference schedule was quite challenging, however. If Duke can get past Vandy, then they have an excellent shot at the Final Four.

With regard to the rest of the ACC, Maryland cleaned up with their #2 seed. Other than a potential Jeff Walz grudge game in round two, I don't see many obstacles in their way until they play #1 seed Notre Dame. The Terps match up pretty well with that team and playing in a venue that's just a few hours away from DC could help pack the house Maryland red. Georgia Tech earned their highest seed in history (#4), and I thought they had earned a #3 seed. They'll get to play in a familiar venue in Chapel Hill on what will be a true neutral court. If they can survive Georgetown's press, then they can win that game because they're every bit as physical as the Hoyas. That would then match them up with Baylor, which would pretty much be the end of the season for Tech. Still, that would be their first-ever Sweet Sixteen appearance. Finally, Miami's loss to Wake put them in a tough spot: playing Gonzaga in Spokane for a second-round game. There will be many points scored in that game, but the Canes have to hope their bench will give them something. The Canes have a puncher's chance at the Final Four.

I expected UNC to be out, but not Virginia. The Heels weren't even one of the last four out, according to the head of the women's selection committee, Greg Christopher. He indicated that what they were looking for were teams that had more than one exceptional wins. He cited Virginia as one of the last four out. Despite an RPI rating of 50 and a Sagarin rating of 28, the fact that the Hoos didn't beat any good conference opponents is what kept them out, despite their win against Tennessee. That overtime loss to UNC is undoubtedly what did them in. The last four in (Florida, Michigan, Kansas, and Texas) didn't have great overall records (they averaged twelve losses apiece), but they had several wins against top 50 opponents in the RPI. I'm guessing that with RPIs in the 80s, UNC and Wake Forest were never serious candidates for the NCAA tournament. One more win in the ACC tournament apiece might have done the job. One hopes that this year's results will be a serious wake-up call for Sylvia Hatchell with regard to non-conference scheduling -- wins over teams with RPI of 300+ can't have helped the Heels.

Maryland Celebrates 10th ACC Title
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