March Madness is in full effect for college basketball with most conferences beginning tournament play this week to determine the teams with automatic berths into the 64-team bracket NCAA Championship Bracket. The PBA begins its own version of March Madness with the Go RVing Match Play Championship on March 17th, 2010. Whereas I have no clue how the NCAA manages to decide on the 64 teams and their rankings in the tournament, I have a general idea how the PBA does it.
The madness for the PBA begins in this tournament with the lane conditions; which are described under tournament details as mixed. Meaning the left lane will utilize one pattern and the right lane will utilize a different pattern. This adds an increased level of difficulty as players must break down two patterns, adjust to two patterns, and carry equipment for two patterns. It’s pretty much twice as hard as bowling on one pattern.
As for the bracket, all the 56 exempt players on the PBA Tour are seeded into the 64-player bracket based on their current point rankings. Currently, Walter Ray Williams, Jr. is your #1 seed. Then eight at-large bids into the tournament are won through the weeks earlier TQR. Those players are seeded at the bottom of the bracket. Isn’t it nice to know that if you’re the last qualifier in, you get to bowl Walter Ray right from the get-go? I mean, at least in a normal tournament you have a chance to improve your standings with a 14-game qualifier.
The matches for the 64-player field are best of seven matches much like regular tour stops. Unlike regular tour stops though, the finals is a three game total pinfall match. Last year’s tournament final saw Chris Barnes defeat Walter Ray Williams Jr. by a score of 722 to 693 even though Barnes lost two of the three games.
Though a repeat of that final would certainly be thrilling since both players are still at the top of their game, we won’t get a repeat of that 2008-2009 final between Williams, Jr. and Barnes. If do they meet, it will be in the semi-finals and it will be a best of seven match this year as Barnes is the #4 seed and will be part of the same half of the bracket as Williams, Jr.
Other players that stand out as favorites in this tournament are recent U.S. Open Winner, Bill O’Neill, two-time winner this year, Mike Scroggins, and King of Bowling, Wes Malott. Of course, you all will get to choose your own favorites by participating and filling out your own bracket in the PBA Bracket Battle. The bracket will officially go online on March 10th so don’t miss out.
THE BIG FOUR
1. Mike Scroggins at 45 is better than Mike Scroggins at 40, 35, 30, and 25. You get the point.
2. I count three bowlers with exemptions next year that are outside the top 40 in points that barring a victory will not creep into the top 40; which means there are three less exemptions to be handed out at the end of the season based on points. That makes 37th position the cut line with three events to go.
3. A couple weeks ago I did a blog on Parker Bohn and Robert Smith and how they were well outside the exemption cut line. Currently Parker is sitting in 36th and inside the cut line. Smith is in 46th and 11,000 points out of 37th.
4. For my local angle this week, I’m sure many of my friends and family are expecting me to give myself a nice little pat on the back for winning the Alaska 700 Club Tournament and the $4,000 first place check in February. I’m sure you all want me to explain how I had the match in hand only needing a mark to win and then managed to miss the headpin wide right, leaving the 1-2-4-10. Then in a moment of pure idiocy and frustration, not picking up my spare ball and beginning my approach with my strike ball. Then upon realization that I had the wrong ball in my hands, stopping mid-approach, and switching balls. And then converting the spare as if there was never any doubt. But I’m not going to do any shady self-promotional bit on my PBA blog. That would just be ridiculous.
MY TOP TEN: With special thanks to Donnie Layman for filling in for me last week! (Most recent tournament finish in parenthesis)
1. Walter Ray Williams (28th) Here’s the thing, would you bet against him in any tournament during the entire PBA season? He’s the greatest player of his time and when his career comes to an end, I find it hard to believe he won’t be the greatest player of all time.
2. Bill O'Neill (9th) Bill started up top on my list and then had a rough patch falling down all the way to 8th, but never out. Now with a U.S. Open victory to his resume and with four top-10 finishes in his last five events (three of those are top-5’s with the victory at the U.S. Open) he’s got a great chance to win Player of the Year and he’s found that consistency he lacked early in the season.
3. Mike Scroggins (1st) I would have put Mike in 2nd if not for losing to Bill in the U.S. Open final. With that said, hard to argue that he isn’t the best lefty on tour right now.
4. Chris Barnes (22nd) This week is his best chance to win. Another top-10 just won’t cut it for Barnes. He wants to win, he needs to win, and he should win. Now all he has to do is win.
5. Wes Malott (4th) He’s there and always competitive, but has he lost a little luster and some of his fire since his Player of the Year run last year? Once you’ve tasted success, it’s hard to find the motivation to do it again and again. How will he finish out the season? Seven top-10’s in his last 11 events. Best finish of 2nd.
6. Tommy Jones (14th) Tommy Jones is just another example of how hard it is to win on tour with the talent level of the PBA fields. Seventh in points and 5th in average and a 3rd place finish at the U.S. Open. Seems like a season of “almost” for Jones.
7. Jason Belmonte (DNP) One wonders what the tour would have been like had Belmonte not won his exemption last year after sneaking through the TQR round by one pin. Belmonte deserves to be out on tour. He’s proven that.
8. Mike Fagan (11th) Mike is the guy that has every bit of potential to be the #1 player in the World. With his first title now safely secured in his back pocket, he’s on the verge of a Player of the Year run next season. Watch out for Mike Fagan in 2010-2011.
9. Pete Weber (DNP) Pete didn’t play this week, but he hasn’t finished outside the top 20 in his last five events. Including a 5th, 7th and 8th place finish at the last three majors.
10. Rhino Page (19th) – Hasn’t exactly been a model of consistency. Since the tour kicked back into gear in December, finishes of 30th, 39th, 4th, 52nd, 38th, 4th, 52nd, and 19th have Page a long way away from the days he was atop the rankings.