Congratulations to the UConn Huskies for winning the NCAA National Championship last night! My bracket was completely busted and never stood a chance after last week!
For NBA fans, the tournament is always a fun introduction to some of the rookies you'll see next season in the league. For Wizards fans in particular, the playoff-drought years have driven us to pay keen attention to the tournament: which one of these stars can turn their One Shining Moment into a vital piece of the Washington core? Which player will we covet, only to see him replaced by a guy with a decent Eurobasket highlight reel? Where will the Wizards pick in the lottery? Will the Wizards' pick make out with his girlfriend in front of millions of people?
But this year... we don't have to. Not just because the Wizards a playoff team, but because they won't have their first round draft pick. They'll have one in the middle of the second round (they have another from Philly, but it probably won't get conveyed because of the restrictions), but those picks don't usually make or break a franchise.
No, instead, Wizards fans have to settle for the playoffs.... oh wait, the Wizards are going to the playoffs! That's awesome! Plus, with Otto Porter barely seeing floor time this season, his place in the rotation next year will basically be like adding a top pick in 2014. I can get down with that.
But just in case you need a little bit of NCAA flavor in your NBA fandom pie, I've taken a page out of literally every NCAA Tournament-related book and made a fun little Sweet 16 playoff bracket for NBA teams. Grantland did something like this a little while ago, but they used it as a proposal to remake the playoffs and never went through round-by-round.
For me, I'm just doing it because it's fun. And I "simulated" (aka, picked) each winner based on their season series to date. In the event of a tie, I picked the team that scored more over the series. Fun fact, even though Chicago and Indiana tied their season series 2-2, the Pacers managed to outscore the Bulls by 1 point (359-358) over four games.
You'll be happy to know that the Wizards make it into my fake NBA sweet 16 as the 15th seed, and they play the Thunder in the first round. Guess what? Remember that whomping the Wizards gave the Thunder? Well, the point differential in that game became the tiebreaker (thanks to the missed-layup OT loss), and the Wizards beat the Thunder in the first round!
The Wizards also see a tiebreaker in the second round when they face the Phoenix Suns. But I actually had to introduce a second arbitrary tiebreaker because the Wizards won in Phoenix by 6 and then lost at home by 6! The tiebreaker was their record against who their future opponent (Houston) beat in the same round as WAS-PHX, which wound up being Brooklyn. Washington swept their season series against Brooklyn 3-0, while Phoenix got swept by Brooklyn 2-0. Washington advances!
Alas, Washington faces Houston in the semifinal game, and Washington was swept by Houston this season. Sad trombone. There is some solace in the fact that in this bracket, Houston wins the championship (based on season series versus their opponent, San Antonio). There's not so much wrong with losing to the eventual champion, I say.
Anyway, that was pretty fun, even if it doesn't mean anything.
Would you change the way the NBA playoffs are structured? If so, how would you do it?
- So according to Draft Express, the Wizards are projected to pick Shabazz Napier with the 46th pick in the 2nd round. That same rank (not necessarily who Washington is projected to pick), per ESPN's Chad Ford's big board, would be Russ Smith from Louisville. As Ben Standig notes, this far out, mock picks mean very little. But still fun to note.
- Hey guess what? Nene practiced and is coming back soon. Yay! After the whomping Chicago gave the Wizards on Saturday, he will be very welcome back.
Trevor Ariza had the flu yesterday, so he wasn't available for the Wizards team photo. Awvee Storey filled in for Ariza, and he'll be photoshopped in later. Now that's some teamwork.
- Former Bullet Rex Chapman "reports" or something that Coach Cal is leaving Kentucky to coach the Lakers next season. Speculation speculation speculation! What does it all mean?!
- Former Wizard Mitch Richmond and Former Hoya Alonzo Mourning are two of this year's Basketball Hall of Fame inductees. Congrats to them!
- In Mitch Richmond's three years as a Wizard, he scored 17.8 points per game on 44% shooting from the floor, 35% behind the arc, and 88% from the charity stripe.
- Oh, and one other thing about the NCAA tourney: UConn's men and women are apparently pretty good at it.
Crazy stat of the day: UConn men's (4-0) & women's (8-0) improve to a PERFECT 12-0 in National Championship games.— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) April 8, 2014