I love the NCAA tourney, I take off the Thursday and Friday every year to bunker down and watch all the craziness.
The committee is very good at picking the 68 teams that should be in, the teams left on the outside mostly have themselves to blame. Syracuse can complain all they want, they lost to way too many crappy teams, stay home. But the seeding and the balancing out of the brackets drives me crazy. They do this for a few reasons, they want to guarantee some high ratings in each round as well as ensure attendance is high in every region. I could go on and on, but here are the most over-seeded teams:
- Florida State
- Michigan State
- Wichita State
So that list wouldn't be so bad, except they put the 2 most over-seeded teams together to meet up in the second round with Florida State and Maryland together. That section will blow up, they could have moved SMU down there or moved UCLA over to that 3. But no, they wanted UCLA to meet Kentucky in the Sweet 16. They tried to give Duke a clean path, but SMU will be a nightmare matchup. I will stop bitching as I could go all day. Just know this, put 5 12 year olds in a room that watch college basketball just a little bit and they would come up with a better bracket.
And don't allow Dickie V anywhere near the process as he would try to give Duke, North Carolina and Notre Dame byes to the sweet 16.
Villanova is not as good as last year. Villanova lost twice to Butler, who is solid, but not good enough to beat a national champion two times. Those are my red flags for Nova so now we hunt for who can win this region.
Duke is the best candidate as they have 3 pros, but I don't love that defense. Coach K will also get the calls in a close game as he did when Duke and the stripes beat the Badgers in the National Title game.
SMU is my darkhorse. Very athletic, swarming defense, under-rated pro who is a transfer from Duke. I feel like the winner of Duke-SMU in the sweet 16 takes the region.
Other Upsets: I could see Wisconsin upsetting Villanova in the second round, if they get there... Big if. I could see Virginia making life miserable for Villanova as well. Everyone has forgotten about Virginia but I think this is a good spot for them as they are not good in the spotlight. It is hard to be a favorite when you cannot score, making Virginia an ideal underdog.
This region is weak. I have no issue with the 1, 2, 4 and 5 seeds. But the committee put the worst 3 and worst 6 in the same region. Arizona essentially has a bye in the sweet 16, although St Mary's will be a challenge in the second round. Also watch out for Xavier getting to the sweet 16 to face Arizona and former coach Sean Miller.
Notre Dame vs West Virginia could decide this region. I think Notre Dame is a terrible matchup for West Virginia as Notre Dame does NOT turn it over and hits free throws. But if West Virginia gets past this game, Gonzaga and Arizona are in trouble. West Virginia is bigger and stronger than both of those teams and can provide a knock-out punch to them. If you had swapped Notre Dame and Florida St in this region, I would put West Virginia in the final four and I still probably will.
It will come down to Arizona and Gonzaga if Notre Dame does get past West Virginia. I would take Gonzaga in that case. But I am going with West Virginia. Bob Huggins is the only coach in this region to make the final four, I think that continues.
Never trust the Jayhawks, they get every call imaginable in their league play, that is why they have won that conference 13 straight times. Its pathetic to watch a Big 12 game involving Kansas. They will be on upset watch in the second round vs Miami, sweet 16 vs Purdue and I give them no shot vs whoever they would play in the elite 8.
In the bottom half I love Michigan, if they can survive Oklahoma State. I don't care for any of the middle teams. I think this region comes down to Louiseville and Michigan in the second round. Not because both teams are great, there just isn't a lot of options in this region.
The South and the East are the loaded brackets. I love the 1, 2 and 3 in the South. Really love those three. This is the region I see it the least likely you get someone below a 3 seed into the final four. Based on each team's path North Carolina is the safe pick as they do not play a team that can legit beat them until the elite 8. UCLA is very fun, but will be in tough games every round. Kentucky has a very tough 2nd round game looming, then UCLA, then North Carolina.
I am taking Kentucky, but that is a nerve-racking path. I love the guards and the speed, you need a differentiator in the tourney and Kentucky's speed is insane. Plus, as tough as this path looks Kentucky did luck out and not have to face a defensive juggernaut, those are the types of teams that normally upset very good Calipari teams. And I see no West Virginia, Wisconsin or Virginia in this path.
Final Four: I'm going out a limb.
SMU - with Duke as my backup.
West Virginia - Gonzaga would be my backup.
Louiseville - Michigan would be my backup.
Kentucky - UCLA would be my backup.