So, arguably the best sporting event of the year takes place this week in the "Big Dance", the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament. An even that has produced and crushed more dreams than possibly any other sports championship in history. I'm not gonna break everything down because you can find roughly 23097823509 other blogs/sites that discuss this in much greater detail, but I'm gonna give you some of my feelings as the tourney starts up.
How many REAL upsets will there be?
This is pretty intriguing. For me, upsets stop in the sweet 16, unless its an obscene difference in seeds, and the 8-9 matchup is never an upset. Also, these are the potential upsets I see by seed, not by point spread. Listed in the order of likeliness.
1. Davidson (10) over Gonzaga (7)
2. Siena (13) over Vanderbilt (4)
3. St. Mary's (10) over Miami, Fl. (7)
4. Baylor (11) over Purdue (6)
5. Kansas St. (11) over USC (6)
6. Temple (12) over Michigan St. (5)
7. St. Joseph's (11) over Oklahoma (6)
8. South Alabama (10) over Butler (7)
The big one on my sheet will be Siena over Vandy. I think Vandy is over-ranked, and in reality, I think they aren't that good. They were crap on the road, and Siena plays well away from home. Cheering for OSU, I saw way too much Big 10 basketball for any human being this year and it was horrendous. That being said, I like Tom Izzo as a coach, but if you shut down Neitzel, they struggle from the perimeter. Purdue is good but another team that doesn't play well away from home. Oklahoma got shellacked and you just never know how a team will bounce back from that, plus St. Joe's is getting a lot of support. Butler got shafted in this seed and then has to play South Alabama IN Alabama. Just has trap written all over it.
Which of the #1-3 seeds has a chance to lose before the first weekend is out?
So taking a look at the four #1's, 2's and 3's which might lose in the first two rounds. Again, listed in an order of likeliness that I think it could happen.
Stanford, I just don't know about them. I mean, all I've heard is about the Lopez brothers, but I just don't see them as a powerhouse. Lone benefit to me for them is they are playing in Cali. If Marquette is knocking down the jumper they are dangerous, and whoever Stanford plays in the 2nd round will be bringing their defense to Anaheim.
I can't say this enough but Tennessee is undependable. Last year they choked down the stretch to OSU. This year they've looked mortal since beating Memphis, losing on the road at Vandy, and should have lost to Kentucky. Then bounced by Arkansas (an 8) who got run off the floor by Georgia (a 14) in the SEC championship. I just don't like em and a pissed off Butler would have all the non-Tennessee fans cheering them on in rival SEC country.
Wisconsin. You won the Big 10. It's comparable to getting dumped but getting the last scathing remark in. In the long run, it didn't do anything for you, but at that time, you felt much, much better. They play defense. That's all I can say, they have no go to scorer or dependable shooter in my opinion. I watched them in the game hold Michigan to 34 points, but the scarier thing to me was they didn't hit a shot for nearly 8 minutes in the 2nd half! I like Kansas St. matching up bodies, and if it's against USC, the PAC-10 schools are just stronger, period.
I like Xavier a lot actually. But they play a potentially hot Georgia team, and then a potential trap against Purdue-Baylor. Both have shown good things through the year, and you just hope they hype of "walking to the sweet 16" doesn't go to Xavier's heads.
Which teams look like they could win it all, but are too terrifying to trust?
This one is simple for me. Scariest teams (in my opinion) rated first.
1. Kansas (1)
2. Texas (2)
3. Memphis (1)
4. Georgetown (2)
I love Kansas. LOVE. Rock Chalk Jayhawk. And I think Bill Self is a real swell guy. But I do not trust Bill Self one bit in a big game. I just can't do it. Just too scary.
Texas, well, I don't like Texas to begin with. But they are one helluva team this year. The problem is, Rick Barnes coaches them, and he might be worse than Bill Self. No bueno for me.
Memphis...if I was up by 2 possessions against them with a minute to go, I might just foul them. Not even let them run their offense, just let them go and shoot their 62% from the line.
Georgetown can definitely win it all, but Roy Hibbert NEEDS to be on the floor. If they get in foul trouble and he has to spend time on the bench, thats Barney Rubble for them.
So smart guy, who is going to the Final Four and who is winning it all?
Here is my Final Four: East - UNC, Midwest - Georgetown, South - Pitt, West - UCLA
Yes Pitt. I watched them play a few times and now that they are healthy, they are hitting full stride. I mean, this is a team that can play with ANYONE in the country right now and they are full of confidence. The rest can't be that surprising.
I have UNC beating Georgetown and UCLA beating Pitt, with UNC taking home the title.
UNC is just too strong, and too good. They run the floor exceptionally, can handle any defense you throw at them, with playing some tough defense of their own. Rebound the ball better than most, and have outstanding shot blockers. They also have guys that can knock down the 3 with consistency and inside presence even with others on the bench. Just can't see anyone beating them at this stage as long as everyone stays healthy.
Last one, what teams are good enough to win it, without getting as much love from the public?
Here is a quick list of teams, in no particular order and ranked #3 or higher, that can win it all.
U Conn (4)
We'll find out in a couple weeks how everything turns out, but no matter what, it makes March a wonderful time of year.