If you’re like me, March Madness is a lifestyle choice. All work and responsibilities are ignored, dieting consists of pizza and soda (very sports-geekish of me here, I typically choose to avoid beer for big time sporting events so I can actually remember and analyze what’s happening – would you ever forgive yourself if you got too drunk to remember a classic game?), and showering is severely frowned upon.
If you’re also like me, you watched about 5 minutes of bracketology before you made your bracket, then you changed it to match everything Jay Bilas chose, then you talked yourself out of his VCU obsession, then you did the opposite of everything Seth Greenberg chose, then Dick Vitale came on TV and you immediately turned it off, and then you realized your bracket turned out exactly how your first draft started.
So here is the finished product of that very scientific and exact process. I’ll post a picture of each entire bracket region and follow it with some analysis.
First (well second, but that’s just dumb) Round
- The Missouri and Colorado St. game could go either way, but I’m an opponent of any and all things Frank Haith – also I picked Missouri to get to the Final Four the year they lost as a 2 seed, and I haven’t quite recovered from that yet. I’ll take Colorado St.
- It seems like everyone is taking Oregon to upset Oklahoma State, but I really, really, really, like LeBryan Nash’s mohawk game and Marcus Smart’s a stud. I’ll go with the higher seed pseudo-upset here.
- Rick Majerus’ (one of my favorite basketball people ever) masterful recruiting classes are coming to fruition under Jim Crews, and St. Louis is a force. I think they’re the biggest threat to Louisville in this region.
- Say what you want about Memphis’ conference and lack of quality wins, the fact is that you don’t win 30 games by accident. I think they’ll handle either Middle Tennessee St. or Saint Mary’s, but MTSU would be the tougher game.
- Tom Izzo = deep tourney runs.
- Cincy is a popular upset pick here to beat Creighton, but I have a lot of trouble picking against a fellow “Doug,” especially one as awesome as McDermott.
Second (seriously, why don’t they just call the initial round the “prelims” or something?) Round
- Louisville handles Colorado State.
- Jay Bilas called Saint Louis “a team of men” last night. I like it. They should overpower Oklahoma State.
- Tom Izzo = deep tourney runs.
- Ugh. Duke.
- It was really, really tempting for me to take Saint Louis to beat Louisville, but after watching the Cards at MSG last weekend (what a charmed life I lead), this team is just too disruptive to lose right now. Give me Louisville in a tough one.
- Tom Izzo = deep tourney runs.
- As spectacular a job that Tom Izzo has done with this MSU team, I think Louisville’s athleticism will be too much for Sparty to handle. Gorgui Dieng’s development and defensive flexibility is the key to Louisville’s pressuring style, and Michigan State doesn’t have the right style of front court guys to counter him. I’ll take Louisville for another Final Four berth.
Winner of the Region: Louisville
- The UNC vs. ‘Nova game will be one of the tougher ones to call, but I think the Tarheels are playing very good basketball right now, and Jay Wright’s suits won’t be enough to match them.
- Akron just lost Alex Abreu, and VCU’s “havoc defense” only sounds gimmicky.
- Although Nate Wolters is like my favorite player in the world right now, I don’t see him outperforming the combined efforts of Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway Jr., and Glenn Robinson III in a tournament game.
- Everyone’s picking UCLA to lose after losing Jordan Adams, but does Tubby Smith ever win when he’s supposed to? Look for a Shabazz Muhammed takeover game here.
- Florida wins by 30.
- When in doubt, take the team with best player on the floor. Jamaal Franklin will carry SDSU against Oklahoma.
- See last bullet, but replace “Jamaal Franklin” with “Otto Porter,” “SDSU” with “Georgetown,” and “Oklahoma” with “Florida Gulf Coast.”
- Kansas might choke, but not this early.
- I think the winner of this VCU and Michigan game will go to the Final Four. It could honestly go either way, but here’s why Michigan wins: VCU thrives on ball pressure and creating turnovers, but could you ask for a better backcourt than Michigan’s to handle that pressure?
- Florida wins by 20.
- Otto Porter out duels Jamaal Franklin in the battle of do-everything-guys.
- Unless Burke and Hardaway Jr. both play a bad game at the same time, I just don’t see them losing. And remember, this is the same Kansas team that everyone thought SUCKED earlier this year.
- Florida wins by 10.
- Michigan vs. Florida would be an excellent game, but I think the youth of Michigan prevails here. These players aren’t like your typical young guys. They don’t get scared, and instead they thrive under pressure.
Winner of the Region: Michigan
- Pittsburgh is too stingy for Wichita St. to handle.
- Marshall Henderson of Ole Miss is one of the most entertaining shooters in the tournament, but Bo Ryan’s Badgers are the masters of boring basketball. In the NCAA tourney, boring is good.
- I don’t have a great reason for K State to win, other than the fact that I think they’re better than the two teams they could play.
- Belmont shoots the crap out of the ball, and Arizona’s been on a slide since they started 20-2. Give me an upset here.
- Unless Harvard can get Jeremy Lin to come back to them for a game, they can’t hang with New Mexico.
- Notre Dame looked really good in the Big East Tourney, and I think they carry that momentum over to the big dance.
- Iona’s a better team than they get credit for, but they aren’t beating OSU.
- Besides the fact that I’m a huge ‘Zaga fan, they’re just better than Pitt.
- ‘Sconsin is just too suffocating defensively to lose this early.
- Eventually, Belmont will have a bad shooting game, and I think New Mexico will force it to be this game.
- Notre Dame didn’t look THAT good in the Big East Tourney.
- Gonzaga’s size is just too much for Wisconsin to handle. And if Wisconsin can’t stop a team defensively, what chance do they have?
- Aaron Craft is so great at playing the point guard position while under control, and I think his stability will carry Ohio State past New Mexico.
- I know it seems like I’m being biased here, but the Bulldogs just have the easiest region for a number 1 seed. Nobody they would have to play matches up well enough to give them problems.
Winner of the Region: Gonzaga
- Khalif Wyatt is the only player who ever scored more than 20 points on me in high school. For that, I’ll give he and Temple a first round win.
- UNLV is one of the most talented teams in the tournament, and I think they take this game.
- ‘Cuse seems to be peaking at the right time.
- If you didn’t have names on the jerseys, would you be able to tell Butler and Bucknell apart? I think they upset the upsetters.
- Davidson has a great chance to upset Marquette, but I’m not sure their front court is deep enough to make my suspicions a reality.
- I’ll go back to the “best player rule” for the Illinois game, and I think Brandon Paul takes this game for the Fighting Illini.
- Miami’s really good.
- Oladipo takes away Wyatt, and a blowout ensues.
- (See my last Syracuse bullet)
- Marquette’s defensive effort and athleticism match up very well against “Buckler.”
- Miami’s really good.
- Boeheim’s zone could really give Indiana problems, but I just don’t think the Orange have a enough firepower offensively to hang with the Hoosiers.
- Seriously, have you seen Miami play this year?
- Miami’s defensive interior is so great that I don’t think Cody Zeller can really bother them, and as great at Oladipo is, I don’t think he can carry Indiana by himself.
Winner of the Region: Miami
Final Four/National Championship
- As much as I love the Michigan backcourt, Peyton Siva and Russ Smith can give them fits. Louisville takes that game.
- Miami might be the only team in the country that can neutralize Gonzaga inside, and Shane Larkin might be too athletic for Kevin Pangos and Baby Stockton to be effective. As sad as it makes me, Miami should beat them.
- To me, Louisville and Miami both do really similar things, only I think Louisville does it better. Scarface and his Cardinals win it all.
One concern about my Louisville pick: I really think Louisville is the best team in the country right now, but having just won the Big East tourney, can they really win that many meaningful games in a row? I think the only thing that can really beat them is mental fatigue, but that is a legitimate concern.
One Final Thought:
I haven’t won money in a bracket pool since eighth grade. My sisters beat me last year. So if I were you, I’d do the exact opposite of every pick I make. Happy MulchMadness everyone!