College Basketball Tourney Breakdown
Its tourney time and I will break down all four regions and talk about who I like and why
Its March, and the madness has already begun as the teams from small conferences won their way into the tournament, and brackets busted for some of the bubble teams. I am going to break down each bracket and pick who I like to advance and win it all. I would like to say in advance that all my picks are probably going to be wrong, but thats the fun of the madness. A team could beat anther team 1 out of 100 times, but if that 1 time is in the tournament, then we all look like we don't know what we are talking about. So here we go:
Long story short I really like Virginia in this bracket. I think this bracket is the most overrated. Many people have talked about how you have all of these league and conference champions in it. Well first off you don't have to play them all. For instance, they don't have to play Arizona AND Kentucky. Its one or the other, so its not that big of a deal. So when I make brackets, I take a lot of favorites because the favorites mostly win. And trying to decide which of the little guys is going to upset a big guy is a crap shoot. So its smarter to pick a lot of favorites and win a lot of games, instead of picking a bunch of random underdogs and hoping to get lucky. Having said that, the guys who get those right win the bracket. Anyway, I think that Kentucky or Arizona will lose in the first round but I don't know which so I picked them both to win. I don't know enough about either opponent to pick them over these big schools. But the fact of the matter is that I don't think either of them are that good this year. I think Kentucky is peaking right now, but winning the SEC tournament is a joke. Arizona beat a weak Pac 12 and I don't think they are good at all. I think they just are better than the bad opponents they had to play in the Pac 12 tournament. I think Virginia emerges from the top half of that bracket. On the bottom I have much less conviction because I have seen these teams play a lot less. I like the way Tennessee looked in the SEC tournement. They are big and athletic and attack you. I literally have not seen Cincinnati play once this year but if they are a #2 seed I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt. The tough game to pick is Nevada/Texas in the #7/#10 game. Nevada is a good team, but Texas has size and strength and should control the glass. Shaka Smart also has much more tournament experience than Nevada. I ultimately have Cincinnati coming out of the bottom half of that bracket which I think is my weakest portion of the entire bracket. I then have Virginia beating them rather handily to go to the Final Four. The rap on Virginia is they don't score enough points. Well here is a fun fact. They have not given up 70 points once this year. 67 was the most they gave up against VCU like the third game of the season. Thats insane defense. And I watched almost all of the ACC tournament, and they can score. I think their defense will lock up Arizona or Kentucky, with Arizona being more of a challenge, but Kentucky is so young and undisciplined, I think Virginia could blow them out. I don't think you need to score a ton of points to win a game. People think well if one team gets hot and you can't score then your out. But don't you think that would have happened at least once this year? I mean playing Duke, UNC, Miami, all these ACC powerhouses and no one can do it, I don't see why it will be any different. If anything, teams play slower and try and control the game in a do or die format. I like Virginia a lot.
So I'm not sure how it works with regions but there are only two teams from the West in the West bracket. San Diego State and Gonzaga. And the first two rounds are literally not located in the West. The locations are Nashville, Boise, Wichita, and Charlotte. So maybe it refers to the next weekends venue being in the West, I have no idea. Anyway, Xavier is a good team, but I admittedly only saw them play a couple of times. I have seen UNC play a bunch and the other teams a couple times each. The hardest first round game to pick in this bracket is the #8/#9 game with Florida State and Missouri. We don't know what Missouri is with Michael Porter Jr. And we never know what Florida State is. Well we do know actually. They are going to be really long and athletic and really undisciplined. And probably not shoot the ball that well from the perimeter. So who knows with them. I have the top 4 seeds all making it to the second weekend with my only upset being South Dakota State over Ohio State. Then we have a really intriguing matchup of Michigan and UNC. I think UNC is just a little too good for Michigan. Michigan, like UNC, is a tough matchup for teams because of their guard play. Well when you match up two guard oriented teams, it takes away that edge for Michigan. I think UNC wins that game and wins the region.
I think this is the easiest bracket to come out of. I like Villanova because I just think they are better than everyone else in that region. First of all, I like Virginia Tech over Alabama. Alabama is part of the "put young stars on TV and get viewers." Well I think they are a fun team, but not a really good team. I think the defense of Virginia Tech will cause them problems. I even think Virginia Tech could give Villanova a tough game if they get there. They have some big upsets this year and Buzz Williams has a ton of experience in the tournament and being the underdog. He embraces it. The other part of that bracket is tough to call. I like West Virginia a lot. They have the same press team, but they have some guys who can score now. Before it was attack the basket or shoot and chase offensive rebounds. Now they got guys who can hit the 3 consistently. I think Murray State and Marshall are both teams who can cause problems in the first round and I wouldn't be shocked if West Virginia or Wichita State went out in the first game. But again, since it would be a guess, I took both favorites. I then have West Virginia advancing to play Villanova. On the bottom half, I like Butler to beat a way overrated Arkansas team, with no other upsets there. Texas Tech versus Purdue is a toss up for me, but I took Purdue as I think they are a really complete team. I think Villanova beats West Virginia very easily and I think the match-up with Purdue or Texas Tech will be a good one, but I think Villanova's experience gets them into the Final Four.
To me this is the most interesting bracket because you have all the big name teams in the same region. Now as I have said in previous years, don't forget, the tournament is a TV show. They want match-ups of big teams which will get fans to watch the games. So, like they did when they put UCLA, Kentucky, and Duke all in the same bracket, they like to do that to make sure they get these marquee match-ups. Think about it, people will watch the Final Four no matter who is in it, right? So then you don't care if the match-ups are great or not. If you have the big names, people will watch if you have a Cinderella story, people will watch. So its getting more people to watch the earlier rounds. So how do you do that? You put Duke, Michigan State, and Kansas all in the same bracket. Therefore you almost guarantee they will play each other and get those big match-ups that you would traditionally have in the final four. People have already said that they could see all three of those teams in the final four playing each other if the bracket was done properly. But it isn't, so they will play before that. And then we have Oklahoma. Oh Oklahoma, how much hate you have gotten in the last few days. Lets start with this, get mad at the committee, not at Oklahoma. They didn't do anything, including win games, so its not their fault they are in. And if your reading this then your into sports and I don't need to repeat all the reasons Oklahoma State should be in over Oklahoma. But here is what I don't get. Why are they a #10 seed. Or why aren't they in a play in game. Writing this, UCLA lost last night and is out, but compare the resumes. UCLA won more games, UCLA won bigger games including beating Arizona on the road, and UCLA is in a play-in game to get to be an #11 seed. So Oklahoma not only has a higher seed, but also doesn't have to play a play-in game. Makes no sense to me. I took Rhode Island to beat them out of spite. The game I have no clue about in that region is the Seton Hall/NC State game. Wasn't watching a lot of Seton Hall this year so hard to pick. I ended up going NC State and Kansas, with New Mexico State upsetting Clemson and Auburn getting through. On the bottom of the brackets I have the two big boys, Duke and Michigan St. meeting in the elite 8 with Duke winning that game. I am a Duke fan, so there is my bias and fandom. I have Kansas somehow getting to the Elite 8 despite Bill Self's problems in the tourney. I have Duke beating Kansas and making the Final Four.
So hopefully I get a couple of these right and don't look a complete idiot but if somehow I get all 4 this is how I think it will go. I think Virginia is just better than UNC and they have already beaten them twice. Go ahead and tell me its hard to beat a team 3 times. Go ahead. Well if my team plays the Lakers I'm pretty sure they would beat us the third time. I know its an extremist example, but if a team is just better, why aren't they just better? On the other side, much to my chagrin, I have Villanova beating Duke. I think Villanova is the best team in the country and they have a ton of tournament experience from the last two seasons. So I think they outlast Duke and make the Finals. In the Final I like Villanova over Virginia. Again I think Virginia is just a hair better and will find a way to get it. So thats it. Still trying to make that perfect bracket and win the billion.