The Field of 64 Goes to 16
All sports fans have their predictions and analysis of the tournament that has become known as March Madness. With this said I want to review how we got from 64 teams to 16 in four crazy days. Here is my explanation of the unexplainable by region.
The West region shaped up much as expected in rounds 1 and 2, unless of course you are Joe Lunardi of ESPN and had UTEP going to the sweet 16. There was also the crumbling of Vanderbilt but that shouldn’t have come of much surprise because when have the Commodores ever done anything in a major sport. They should stick with track and field because I think they are pretty good at that. The Orangemen got a few warm up games before they will actually be tested in their next games. The Wildcats of Kansas St. showed why they were always better than “Rock Chalk Jayhawk”. I had Xavier going through to the Sweet 16 although I thought that the Gophers were on a role and could have made this tournament more of Big 10 domination. The rest of the West was just plug and chug by seedings.
The Midwest region made this tourney interesting. Of course, the mighty Spartans occupy this region giving an instant reason to pay close attention. Another team people were watching was the #1 seed in the entire tournament Kansas, who I uneducatedly picked to win the whole thing. I should have known from years past to never pick against your school. It will always come back to bite you in the butt. This year it has come to bite me twice. I knew Kansas had past history of blowing up yet I still picked them. Well, their gone! They got beat by the farmers of Northern Iowa who beat UNLV before beating the blue birds. Michigan State continued to show why they come to play in March with a win over Maryland which Tom Izzo quoted as “one of the greatest victories in MSU basketball history”. This sounds like a dumb statement based on the basketball dynasty they have created but considering they won with only 2 starters playing and super star Kalin Lukas ending his season with a ruptured Achilles tendon I would say this was pretty substantial. They will move on to play the farmers of Northern Iowa. It seems this is the first year Michigan State and Kansas won’t play in the tournament.
The rest of the Midwest was also a mess as the hot Hoyas were put in their doghouse by a good Ohio team. The analysts seem to think Oklahoma State was going to go far but I had them going nowhere. OSU was put away by Georgia Tech in round one before getting put away themselves in round 2 by yet another Big 10 school in Ohio State. This sets up a good football matchup in the Sweet 16 between the Volunteers and the Nuts. If I was picking based upon fight song I would definitely pick Rocky Top but because we aren’t I expect Evan Turner to continue Big 10 dominance. That pretty much does it for the Midwest region through round 2.
The East region included another one of my teams, the Washington Huskies. The Huskies have unbelievable talent but for most of the season they have been playing as Dick Vitale put it best “mediocre basketball”. They have been inconsistent and horrible on the road. broke the ultimate rule again and picked Marquette. This burned me again because the Huskies are now playing as Dick Vatale would say “Awesome Baby”. UW put on the most dominant performance I have ever seen by a Husky team in their crushing of “Los Lobos” (the wolves) in round 2. Another shocker in this region was Cornell who showed that they can do more than just score high on their MCAT’s. Cornell took out Temple before absolutely crushing Wisconsin. West Virginia and Kentucky both did what they needed to do to advance to the Sweet 16. Kentucky has looked like the best team in the tournament. With the dynamic duo of Cousins and Wall the Wildcats are looking unstoppable. West Virginia has looked good but they are going to need to step it up if they want to beat Washington. I think Washington has a good chance to pull off this upset.
The South was led by Duke who nobody wants to go anywhere except those that went to Duke. If you truly love Duke and didn’t go there I need a valid explanation because you are one of a small group. The rest of the South was much more interesting than Duke’s demolishing of their opponents. Villanova was almost smoked by the brother of Phillip Morris, Robert Morris before falling to St. Mary’s in round 2. Notre Dame who was playing their best ball in years showed why they should never be considered a powerful athletic school in losing to Old Dominion. I must have been watching “Rudy” when I made my picks because I had the Irish getting lucky and going to the Final Four. Instead, Baylor will take their place as they took care of Old Dominion. Another team that I had doing some damage was the Spiders of Richmond who did nothing but lose to St. Mary’s.
In the top half of this region was a good matchup with Louisville and Cal. I thought the Big East was strong so I chose Louisville but Cal proved me wrong. Texas A&M took out the sharp shooting Utah St. team that was thought to be a Cinderella. The Aggies joined the former Michigan State Aggies in the round of 32 but were beat by the Big Ten (Purdue) in the next round. Cal was good for one round but then they met Kyle Singler and the Duke Blue Devils who basically showed Cal how basketball should be played. Coach K is a great coach, he just wines a lot. No question Duke is a great team but I wouldn’t be surprised if they join Kansas on the couch at home before the Final Four comes around.
Well, there you have it. This is my review of how we got from 64 to 16. I will return later this week to give predictions and then review the run to the Final Four. For now, this ends Bracketology with Aaron. Have a great week and Go Green!