Yes, its that time again when the attention of our country turns from the task at hand at work to the television screen to experience the up and down roller coaster ride that is March Madness. This year, our heads will also turn away from the circus act reality TV show that is our Presidential Primary Race to something that is entertaining and not disturbing. Just like President Obama, every year I fill out my bracket but I go even further to explain my picks through expert analysis in this blog. So, for just a few minutes turn your head away from Joe Lunardi and Jay Bilas and get an expert analysis with a little bit of flavor. Without further ado here is my NCAA Tourney Bracket up through the Elite 8. My Final 4 will be revealed once we are closer to the big stage in HoustonIf you think yours is better, join my ESPN Tournament Challenge group, C If You Can Beat Me and you will have bragging rights for an entire year. JOIN HERE
Kansas (KU) is the #1 seed in the south and deservedly so. Rock Chalk Jayhawk will run Austin Peay out of the gym and make the Governors look kind of like the rest of our politicians, disgraceful! Colorado vs UCONN will be an ugly game that you don't want to watch but UCONN will come out victorious and go on to lose to Kansas in a battle.
The Maryland vs San Diego State game is a tough one to pick because Maryland wakes up every morning and decides either they will be the best team in the nation or they will play like the high school JV team. I am going to predict Maryland rolls out of bed on the right side and takes down SDSU in a barn burner. Hawaii is my sleeper. I think the Rainbow Warriors will be too much for Cal. After all, when was the last time that California made it to or did anything in the tourney? Why should we expect anything different. Hawaii upsets and knocks the Bears off the mountain. Hawaii will get to celebrate their glorious moment but Mellow Trimble and Maryland will send the Rainbow Warriors back to their island in the second round. Maryland will go on to face Kansas and although a Terrapin would beat a Jayhawk any day in a fist fight, Kansas will win this one for a trip to the Elite 8.
In the bottom half of the South Region, it will be a great match up between Wichita State and Arizona. Is it just me or does it seem like Ron Baker and Fred VanVleet are 10th yr seniors? Their veteran experience will get them past Arizona in an 11/6 upset. A game that will not be an upset is Miami vs Buffalo. The Hurricane's will demolish Buffalo and then go on to take out the Shockers. Iowa may go down as one of the biggest bust teams this year. After starting off the year 16-3 including two blowouts of Michigan State, the Hawkeyes stuck their head in a woodchopper and are lucky to be in the tournament. Their confidence must be low and so I say Iowa goes down to Temple. Villanova will do something this year that they have never done in history and that is get by the first weekend, despite always being a top 3 seeded team. NOVA will beat down UNC Asheville and then knock out the Temple Owls to make the Sweet 16. The Glory Ride for NOVA will end there though as Miami will show the kids from Philadelphia how they do it on South Beach.
Will this be the year that a #16 takes out a #1? I don't think it will happen but if it does I predict that Oregon would be the team. the Pac 12 was weak this year and I'm not sure how Oregon got a #1 seed to begin with. Oregon will get by whomever they play in the first round but will be met with a challenge in round 2. St. Joes will get by Cincinnati in the battle of the sloppiest game ever and play Oregon. Oregon will pack its custom designed neon green Nike uniforms in their suitcases after that as they will be the first #1 to go out in a loss to St. Joe's in round 2.
Although Yale is down their best player who was suspended from the team, they will rally to beat Baylor in a close 12/5 match up. Duke will struggle to beat UNC Wilmington but will prevail in a battle of the state of North Carolina. Duke will then beat Yale but go home early when St. Joe's comes in and upsets them in the Sweet 16.
In another interstate collision, Texas will win its game and Texas A&M will win to create the battle of the Great State of Texas. This will be one of the best early tournament match-ups and the LonHorns will prevail. Boomer Sooner will dominate the lower half of this region with Oklahoma and Buddy "Love" Heild leading OU past Cal State Bakersfield and then past VCU to create the basketball version of the Red River Rivalry. Buddy Love's glorious career will be ended abruptly in a deciding game where Texas will prevail. Oklahoma and Texas split their regular season match-ups in conference.
Texas and St. Joe's will battle in the Elite 8 in a matchup that I am sure few are predicting. The winner of this game will be revealed later in this blog in my Elite 8 section. Don't look now or you will ruin the secret.
In my opinion, the East Region is the toughest of them all. North Carolina has a tough 1st round matchup against the once Cinderella team Florida Gulf Coast. The Tar Heels will move on but they may have to work harder than they want to for the win. Providence began the season hot and climbed up in the rankings. they have one superstar that they depend on in chris Dunn but if he's not on than they are done. USC is not a great team but they can play spoiler and will play that role in a victory over Providence in round 1. Carolina will then send the Trojans home to bed back in Los Angeles.
Kentucky may have trouble with StoneyBrook who has some big guys that can play in the post but the Wildcats have been hot and I think they will move on to play Indiana in a battle of the state line. These two historic college programs will battle it out to the buzzer. In 2011, it ended with a buzzer beater by Christian Watford for the Hoosiers. This time Kentucky will be on the winning end of the stick. If this game is anywhere's near as close of a game as that one than we will be in for a show.
Kentucky will then have to play The Tar Heels which in most tournaments is a Final Four game or Championship game. This year it will all go down in the Sweet 16. Kentucky is hot of late but so is UNC. The Tar Heels experience will be too much for the one man Tyler Ulis Kentucky team and UNC will advance.
In the bottom half of the East bracket, I am assuming that the Wolverines will take out Tulsa and will face The Irish. Just like Michigan, Notre Dame can score points but they can't play much "D". Michigan will upset ND with a raining of 3 pointers. Xavier will roll past Weber State and Wisconsin will take down PITT to bring yet another great matchup. Wisconsin has always been clutch in March and they have finished the regular season winning 9 out of their last 11 games. Wisconsin will upset Xavier and go on to face West Virginia.
The West Virginia vs Stephen F. Austin game may be one of the most exciting games of the tournament as both teams play a full 60 minutes of swarming full court press. Huggie's team is more talented at the frantic press and deeper than SFA and they will get by Stephen F. Austin and then beat Michigan to play Wisconsin in the Sweet 16. Although Wisconsin is hot right now and are a good March team to pick, I think West Virginia is too much for them this year. The Mountaineers roll to the Elite 8 to face the Tar Heels.
Last but definitely not least we have the MidWest bracket where the #1 seed is shady. Michigan State should have been the #1 seed considering UNC is already a #1 seed and UVA lost to UNC in the ACC Championship game. Its okay though because the committee put the Spartans close to home and gave them the easiest path to the Final Four. Starting from the top we have Virginia vs Hampton. The Hamptons may be a luxurious place to vacation but its not where you find the basketball talent. Virginia will take down Hampton easily. Buttler vs Texas Tech is a toss up but I would say that Texas Tech was in a much tougher conference and did fairly well so I gotta go with the Red Raiders on this one. Buttler's days as a Cinderella are over. Everyone knows that they are good now. Virginia will then meet Texas Tech. This will be a close game but UVA is too good all around and their star Malcolm Brogdon will help snatch this one against the Red Raiders.
Purdue is loaded with great big men up front and they will roll in the first round to face the winner of Iowa State and Iona. Although Iowa State has been knocked out as a high seed early the last two years and should be hungry this time, I am going with the Gales in another upset. Iona has a star in A.J. English and likes to play fast but Purdue has an A.J. of their own in A.J. Hammonds who is very good and Iona doesn't fare so well against opposing teams with great big men. Purdue moves on to face Virginia in the Swet 16.
In the bottom half of the Midwest Gonzaga and Seton Hall face off in what should be an amazing first round game. Gonzaga is back to their old days of not even expected to make the tourney this year and maybe this means they could go back to their Cinderella days. Gonzaga wins in an upset over a hot Seton Hall team. In the next matchup, I could see Fresno State taking down Utah and I really want to pick them but I feel like I can't rag on every team in the Pac 12 so Utah will get through. Utah will then play Gonzaga which will be another matchup of great big men. Gonzaga likes to the be the underdog and so they will go on to the Sweet 16.
Syracuse and Dayton is a very tough one to pick but The Orange are battle tested out of the ACC and their zone is difficult to get by. Syracuse beats Dayton in a close one. Next up for the "Cuse" will be Michigan State after they man handle Middle Tennessee State. The Spartans have always struggled with the Syracuse zone but not this time. This year the Spartans are loaded with 3-point shooters and the zone will be as weak as used toilet paper. The Spartans roll past Syracuse to face Gonzaga in the Sweet 16.
In the Sweet 16, I could see Purdue taking out Virginia but I want to see a 3-peat of UVA vs Michigan State in the Tourney and so I have Virginia moving on to the Elite 8. In the other Sweet 16 matchup it doesn't take a genius to figure out who I have rolling through here. I will leave all my stats and reasoning for later rounds. Michigan State beats Gonzaga to set up a 3-peat vs Virginia in the Elite 8.
There you have it. That is my bracket through the Elite 8. Stay tuned as we get closer as I reveal my Final Four. Again, here is my elite listed below