That time of year again ladies and gents. March Madness is upon us and as I finally write this blog, the first play in game is out of the way. I'm already 0 for 1 as I had Farleigh Dickinson to beat Florida Gulf Coast, but they lost by 31 so that was sick. I didn't watch a lot of regular season college basketball this season so I'll by no means be providing any kinda expertise on these games. I'll probably be a little more biased towards the teams I've seen play more often, but that's about it. A general thing I don't get about this year's bracket is how they lined up the regions with the one seeds. Kansas is dead in the middle of the Midwest, and the Midwest region sweet 16 and elite eight are played in Chicago. Kansas, the number one overall seed of the tournament, is in the South region. The South region sweet 16 and elite eight are played in Louisville. If anyone could explain that to me, that would be great. Because it thoroughly makes zero sense to me why Kansas would be set up in the Louisville region when there's a Chicago region. In fact, the only one seed and region pairing that makes sense is Oregon and the West region. It should be Kansas in the Midwest, Oregon in the West, UNC in the South, Virginia in the East (since Virginia is idiotically a one seed).
Here are my picks that I submitted to my family's bracket pool:
Now with Clemson (outside of Jaron Blossomgame) being a bunch of incompetent dickbags when it comes to basketball, I'm rooting for the home state UConn once again in the NCAA tournament. With that being said, I have no clue how they are going to beat Kansas so I can't realistically pick them past the second round.
A couple upsets I would look out for are 13)Hawaii over 4)Cal which I actually picked in this bracket and many of my others. Do I know anything about Hawaii? No. But do I know anything about Cal either? No. But, there's no way Cal can be that good, I just don't see it. Meanwhile, Hawaii has been murdering everyone in the Big West and could be a tough out. Maryland and Iowa have both been limping into the tourney but I expect them to play to their abilities come tournament time. They still could be on upset alert however. Villanova has always choked in the postseason, and I expect nothing else from them this year. Iowa or Temple will take them out in the second round. Another first round upset to look out for is Arizona vs the winner of Vanderbilt and Wichita State. Either team will be no easy task for the sixth seed Arizona.
Bottomline: Kansas has no team to take lightly (assuming no major upsets advance to sweet 16 or elite eight) and will likely face the Kings of March, UConn, in the second round and for that reason, I don't see them slipping up. I think Kansas will be focused from the first tip against Austin Peay until the national championship. They'll emerge from the South region.
Oregon might have the easiest region of all the one seeds, but then again I don't know too much about Oregon. I've seen them play a couple times but not much. I don't trust Oklahoma even with stud Buddy Heild on their side. No clue how Texas A&M is a three seed. And Duke has their worst team in recent memory, they're a four seed based on their name.
Some teams in the West Region on upset alert are A&M, Duke, Baylor and Texas. 14 seed Green Bay is a great team that I've watched for a number of years get screwed out of the Horizon League championship and they finally pulled through this year. A&M isn't that great and I'm picking Green Bay to beat them. I picked Duke and Texas to win, but they should definitely not take their opponents lightly. Northern Iowa is a force to be reckoned with and Duke, well they just suck. My most confident upset pick in the entire tournament is Yale over Baylor. Baylor sucks. Yale doesn't. Yale hasn't made the tourney since 1962. The NCAA welcomed them back with the worst five seed in the whole damn thing. Yale will return the favor with a W.
Bottomline: Even though I don't know a ton about Oregon, I think they prevail in the West just because the other high seeded teams in the region aren't that special.
UNC is the other one seed that could make a case for easiest region, but I think it's just a bit tougher than the West. Kentucky and Indiana are scary 4 and 5 seeds. Notre Dame can (and clearly I think they will) make a run, as well as whoever wins the Wisconsin vs Pitt 7/10 matchup. I haven't had a chance to watch much of Xavier this year, but apparently they're pretty good.
Some upsets to look out for are Pitt over Wisconsin in that 7/10 matchup, and if Michigan wins the play in game, they could be a tough team for Notre Dame to beat. Moving into the later rounds, I think Notre Dame gets hot, beats West Virginia and makes a run to the elite eight just because the bottom half of that region isn't too strong. I think Pitt/Wisconsin beats Xavier and that will open it up for Notre Dame to the elite eight.
Bottomline: Regardless of how scary some teams may be, as I stated above, it won't matter because UNC is so clearly the best team in this region, and I think Roy Williams will have his boys ready to go. Brice Johnson will be the best player in this tournament.
Virginia definitely has the toughest region in the bracket, just because there's a second one seed in the region. Michigan State so clearly should have been a one seed it's laughable they aren't. Other than that, it's not a frightening region. But I also don't think Virginia is that good.
Some teams on upset alert are Iowa State, Seton Hall, and Utah. I don't really consider Syracuse over Dayton an upset. If Cuse isn't favored in that game then I'll chop my nuts off (just checked the line and its Dayton -1, that will change and the nuts will stay on). But anyway, Iona is a team I don't think anyone wants to play so Iowa State better watch out. Plus, Iowa State is susceptible to big upsets come tournament time (see: last year. Fuck you Iowa State for ruining my bracket on the first day of the tournament). I think Seton Hall is a good basketball team and will win not only their first round game, but also their second round game against Utah, but Gonzaga is tournament experienced so they need to play well. And for Utah, I don't know if they should actually be on upset alert or not, but I can't remember the last time Utah was good at basketball so watch out for those pesky bulldogs from Fresno State. And in the later rounds, Purdue will so clearly beat Virginia.
Bottomline: Michigan State should have no problem making their way to the elite eight. I think they'll face Purdue there which will be a tough game since it's a conference opponent but I think ultimately Tom Izzo and the Spartans emerge from the Midwest.
Kansas will just be too good for Oregon. UNC vs Michigan State will be an epic game, but not as epic as UNC vs Kansas for the championship. UNC wins a couple close ones in the final four and will take down the nets in Houston.