By the time you read this, the NCAA tournament will have been tossed around a thousand times. Well, make it a thousand and one times. Here’s my two cents worth.
Syracuse is one of the most schizophrenic teams I have ever seen in my life. The performance against Louisville in the Big East championship game was one for the ages. The Orange turned a 16 point lead into a 17 point loss in less than a half of basketball. They face a Montana team that lost one of their best players but was still able to beat a solid Weber State team in the Big Sky championship.
Just look at Montana coach Wayne Tinkle and you know these kids are tough. The 13 seed has only won 14% of their opening round games, so it’s a tall order for the Grizzlies. But don’t be shocked if they wind up with the win.
The 12 seed is always a popular pick for an upset. This year Oregon is the team most often identified as that upset special. The consensus is they were seeded much lower than they deserved and are playing a vulnerable #5 in inconsistent Oklahoma State.
I agree Oregon is live, but I’m looking at a different No. 12 in Mississippi. What’s the opposite of schizophrenic? I’m not sure, but ‘boring’ is certainly a possibility and that’s what Wisconsin is. Their style is painful to watch.
If you want your kid to leave you alone while you watch the tourney, put on a Wisconsin game tape. He’ll either be asleep or on his I-pad in about 15 seconds.
When Dr. Naismith invented the game, this is probably what he had in mind. But since we replaced peach baskets with today’s hoops I like my offense a bit more up tempo. If Wisconsin goes to the Final Four, and they are good enough where they could pull it off, it will set college basketball back fifty years. I think Marshall Henderson and Ole Miss can get the Badgers off their game and gain the upset.
Bucknell over Butler, Cincinnati over Creighton, and Iowa State over Notre Dame are three more teams I have as mild opening round upsets. Butler and Creighton might have peaked earlier in the season. Notre Dame is poor defensively and Iowa State can shoot as well as anyone in the tournament.
The Western Regional looks like the easiest. Top seeded Gonzaga still has many questioning their credentials. Ohio State, the 2 seed is a popular pick. I’ll go with third seeded New Mexico as my choice in that portion of the bracket.
Louisville is playing as well as anyone in the country right now and deserved their overall number one seed. Louisville plays pressure defense all over the floor. They also foul a lot. Their philosophy is the refs won’t call all of them. If the seeds hold in the South, they’ll play Duke for the right to advance to the Final Four. If you think refs won’t call a bunch of fouls in favor of Coach K’s team then you haven’t watched basketball for the past 30 years. I’ll go with Duke out of the South.
Virginia Commonwealth is a hot pick to advance out of the East. Count me in. Coach Shaka Smart is one of the rising stars among a terrific group of young coaches. They’ll most likely have to get through Michigan and Kansas, which will be anything but easy. Then they’ll have to face either Georgetown or Florida to win the Regional Final. They have one of the best presses and perimeter defenses in the country.
If you have to prepare for VCU in one day, which would happen in the regional final, good luck. I think they can pull it off.
I’ve liked Indiana all season. But they have a lot of trouble in close games. It’s something I can’t overlook any longer. If they can advance to the Midwest Regional Final they are very likely to play Miami-Florida. Jim Larranaga’s Hurricanes are something rarely seen in college basketball these days, a veteran squad. They’ll look Indiana in the eye. I’ll take Miami to win and advance to Atlanta for the Final Four.
So there you have my Final Four. New Mexico, VCU, Miami and Duke. I’ll take Duke to win it all for another year of the college basketball world hating Coach K and the Dookies.
Chris Andrews has over 30 years of experience as a bookmaker in Nevada. You can follow him on Twitter @AndrewsSports. Chris has a dedicated thread in the Pregame.com forums, answering your questions and more. Contact Chris at [email protected].