So epic and dramatic, Shakespeare couldn’t write it. So statistical and impossible, Newton couldn’t solve it. It’s a mythical beast no human can conquer or figure out. It, is March Madness.
Sure more people watch the Super Bowl and the Olympics are worldwide, but there is no better sporting event than the next three weeks. If there is one thing College Athletics has gotten right in its long history of doing the wrong thing, it’s this tournament. Every year something happens that shocks the nation. Dunk City, Kevin Ware’s leg and some team from Wichita, Kansas were a few to name last year that no one saw coming. And every year as Selection Sunday passes and Bracket Monday begins, we try to predict what will happen in the coming weeks. The beauty of it: your sister who hasn’t watched a game all year has the same chance as the guy who has been studying college basketball religiously all year. Welcome to the Big Dance.
Now, what I’m about to say, may or may not help you with deciding your bracket, just keep in mind that I said that Florida Gulf Coast has a good chance of doing some damage last year before the tournament, of course if you can’t believe it, look at last years post.
Secondly, I must say that a month ago I had to make a couple of premature predictions for my school newspaper. I though SMU
was going to do some serious damage in the dance behind underrated coaching legend Larry Brown. They were ranked 18th at the time, they’re not even in the tournament. I also believed that Wichita State would be the most likely to repeat on reaching the Final Four, and while as a one seed that still makes sense, that is until they got stuck with Louisville, Michigan and Duke. All three were in the Elite Eight, two (Louisville and Michigan) played for the title. Oh, and if Wichita State ends up with Kentucky in the round of 32, that’s five lottery picks for a team that hasn’t played a team in the Top 25 all year.
Luckily for me most school newspapers end up on the hall floors rather in the hands of fellow classmates, so I should get by without much stick being tossed my way. Overall, my guess is as good as yours, but if push comes to shove, roll with mine. Unless your my father, who seems sure he’s winning the Billion from Buffet.
Everyone has their own distinctive style of picking their bracket. A lot of people who are casual watchers of College Basketball usually go with ‘Chalk’ or picks all the favorites. Statistics show that’s usually the safest and best bet. Conventional wisdom says to pick your upsets and Cinderella’s with the No. 11, 12 and 13 seeds because if they shock a team in the round of 64, they don’t have to play a #1 seed in the following round. In pretty much any other year, I’d keep that in mind filling out my bracket. Until Louisville, Michigan State and San Diego State all turned out to be No. 4 seeds.
Every ESPN analyst has Sparty winning it all or at least the Final Four and Louisville is always in the Elite Eight. So my suggestions for Cinderella’s lay with the No. 7, 10 and 11 seeds. St. Joe’s have a decent chance to take down UConn and then would probably/most likely face crosstown rivals Villanova. You don’t think they have that game on their minds? The Hawks are Senior dominated and stroke if from everywhere past half-court, so basically the recipe for seemingly every Cinderella in the past ten years.
Also keep in eye on the New Mexico Lobos. If you may recall and refresh your memory from a year ago, the Lobos were being picked by many as an underrated team destined to be heading to the Elite Eight and even Final Four. That is until they were bounced in the first round by the Crimson of Harvard and nerds across America rejoiced. The Lobos are hungry and might have caught a break if they win their first game and face likely opponent Kansas who without Joel Embiid are beatable. Speaking of Harvard, they only got better in a year and have a fighters chance against Cincinnati, the Crimson possess no weakness offensively with five double-digit scorers. But hey, if it doesn’t work out, most of those guys will be CEO’s of Fortune 500 companies anyways.
If you haven’t noticed yet, I’m doing my best not to give away my picks, because I’m not even sure at this point. What I am sure of is the undervalued Baylor Bears. Sitting at a 6th spot in the West, these Bears got off to the worst start possible this season (1-7) but have rebounded nicely since lead by Center Isiah Austin and Cory Jefferson. A likely round of 32 match-up with No. 3 seed Creighton is where many seem to have the Bears being bounced, but in the words of the great Lee Corso, “NOT SO FAST!” Creighton’s tallest player is Doug McDermott listed at 6’7″ who happens to do everything else for the Blue Jays. And you’re telling me he has to guard 7’1″ Austin too? I don’t care how many McBuckets you ordered for Creighton that’s a tall task for anyone to handle. Don’t awake a sleeping Bear…if that’s how the saying goes.
My final note, or piece of advise or whatever you want to call it comes solely from what I deliriously think about every NCAA Tournament, so reader beware. 3 teams always seem to be in the Elite Eight. Florida, Louisville and a tossup between Michigan State and Syracuse. Consistently these teams make it to this round which I find to be the most crucial because if you win, you have another week of survival and in the Final Four, anything can happen. Ever since I knew what a bracket was, I’ve picked Michigan State to go far, Tom Izzo got to me. Something about Louisville and their guard play always has them deep in the tournament, and Florida is flat-out the best team in the land. Of course, let’s give some credit to the guys who have coached all these teams, all headed to the Hall of Fame, all know how to win this thing.
But if you need help on your Final Four the most, keep this one last thing in mind: Only three other times in the past 20 years have two teams occupied the top two spots in the AP poll (in the same order) for eight or more consecutive weeks, and all six of those teams made it to the Final Four (Via Bleacher Report.) Those two teams happen to be Syracuse and Arizona. I’m not saying, I’m just saying.
Don’t second guess yourself on these brackets, go with your gut, not your favorite team. Enjoy not working or not paying attention in school on Thursday and Friday as you watch the games on your phone. But most of all, get a little mad. Because we’re all mad for March.