The greatest weekend in sports is upon us. Boy do I love me some NCAA Tournament. Imagine if they had one in football? Sounds boring to me too. Here are some thoughts on the upcoming basketball bonanza.
-For those wondering what the schedule of games is, what games you get in your area, and who the announcers are going to be, here is the perfect site.
-Everyone fills out a bracket and no one cares about anyone's but their own so please don't talk about it. We don't want to know. "O, you picked all the 1 seeds. O you picked your favorite team? How original? How long did it take to come up with that, 5 seconds? Let me give you a cupcake."
-Having said that (why can't Curb Your Enthusiasm have Jerry and Larry on all the time), my wife picked hers and it had 2 upsets in the sweet 16, Xavier as a 6 and Michigan state as a 5. The other 14 were seeded 1-4. Her final 8 was all 1 and 2 seeds and the final four was all 1 seeds. She is quite the risk taker. I guess she used up all her risk taking when she agreed to marry me. Doesn't get any riskier then that.
-Here are how I pick brackets. First I take the teams I know to be good because I watched them and put them through. If I see 2 teams I don't know, I look at the conference. For example, Kentucky is good. I hate them but they are good. Move along. Texas and Wake Forest are 2 teams I haven't seen much but I know the Big 12 was above-average and the ACC was below average. Texas moves on. I also look at coaching. Tom Izzo scares the life out of me. Always has. That is why the one team I didn't want my team, Louisville, to play last year was Michigan State. Sure enough they were the 2 and Lousiville was the 1. Things didn't turn out well for the Cards. Other coaches I love are Jay Wright at Nova, Bo Ryan at Wisconsin, Tubby Smith at Minnesota, Jamie Dixon at Pitt, Bill Self at Kansas, and Kevin Stallings at Vandy. These are guys that can win games most coaches can't. On the flip side their are coaches who lose games they should win. Coaches such as John Caliperi at UK, Rick Barnes at Texas, Paul Hewitt at GT, Bob Huggins at WVU, Bruce Pearl at Tennessee, and John Thompson III at Georgetown. These must be taken into account. Another thing I look for is NBA talent on underachieving teams. Georgia Tech is the poster child for this. These are players that could be 1st round picks seeded 4 or higher and they know this could be the last game in front of pro scouts so they better step it up. This works well in College Football Bowl Games but those games don't matter and these do so it isn't as big but it is something I consider.
-Quick breakdown of the Midwest region. Kansas, Kansas, Kansas. Rolls to the final four. They are the best team in the country and have been all year. It would take a total fluke for them to lose before Indy. The only way is if they get a tough game next weekend against Michigan State or Maryland then have to play 48 hours later against Georgetown or Ohio State. Those are 4 of the top 20 teams in the land playing as hard as they can to take down the kings of basketball. Could be tough. Elsewhere I see this playing close to form with Georgetown and Ohio State playing on the bottom half and Kansas and Michigan State on the top. I know the 2 best conferences are the Big East followed by the Big 12 so I have Kansas-Georgetown in the Great 8. You will see this theme again.
-In the West I like a few upsets. Syracuse loses in the Great 8 to Kansas State in another Big East-Big 12 matchup. I like Xavier advancing to play Kansas State in the sweet 16. Why is Xavier overlooked so often? They have won 6 tournament games the past 3 years and should have had more if the refs didn't protect Greg Oden and OSU in 2007. They played in a good conference, certainly as good as the Pac-10 and maybe SEC, and have a few NBA caliber players. Look out for them. On the top half I could see Cuse playing any of the 4 teams from Vandy-Murray St-UTEP-Butler. Those teams are identical. I suspect that will be the site of some upsets. Let's go with Murray St. Western KY did it from that spot a few years ago and Murray is located only a few hours from there. Kansas State should make the final four after beating Xavier and Cuse next weekend.
-The East could also see some upsets because of the level of talent. Kentucky has the best team money can and did buy but are they prepared? They played 2 games against teams seeded 1-5, both against Vandy. In order to win the region they would have to beat 3 teams in a row that are better then Vandy. Tall order for a team starting a bunch of freshman who play emotionally, and know the second they lose they start collecting huge money from sponsors, agents, etc. Not saying it won't happen but don't be surprised if they lose a round or two early. Caliperi has done that a few times. Wisconsin is a good team and should make the sweet 16 and test the University of Memphis at Lexington with physical, intimidating basketball. I see the bottom half as Big East heavy with Marquette and West Virginia both making the Sweet 16. I like West Virginia over Wisconsin in the Great 8.
-My homerism really comes out in the South region. I like Louisville to upset Duke and here is why: Louisville can play with anyone. They beat Cuse twice, beat WVU but the refs blew it(the apology from the Big East officials almost made up for it), had Nova on the ropes and even took a lead against UK in the second half in Rupp Arena. The other reason is Duke will only have 1 day to prepare for Louisville's zone and press, something no other team plays. Duke struggled away from Cameron and got embarrassed when playing Georgetown and their physical Big East style. I like the Cards for those reasons, but then again, I am a homer. For the rest of the bracket I like Texas A&M, another solid Big 12 team, to beat the Cards and make the great 8 against Nova, who dispatches Baylor. Nova then wins to make the final four.
-In the final four, I think Kansas beats K State on the Big 12 side and West Virginia beats Nova on the Big East side. Rock, chalk, Jayhawk in the finals. I know everyone is picking them but I am going with the best team. So sue me.
26 minutes ago