Ah my favorite sporting event of the year has technically already begun: It's March Madness Time Babbbyyy!!!
How can anyone who calls themselves a sports fan not love this time of the year? A sporting event with 68 teams narrowing its way down to a Final Four clash to finally crown their national champion. Can the favorites survive? Who will be the Cinderella story this year? What is the deal with these 5-12 matchups? Will we see a double digit seed make the Sweet 16? The Elite Eight? The Final Four? And what the hell is UCLA even doing here?
The drama alone surrounding the next month is almost too much to handle. And I love every second of it....
Here are few of my quick thoughts on the bracket before I unveil my picks to the world:
- The Wildcats are coming!! 2015 is the year of the Wildcat people. Look at all the Wildcat teams in this tournament: Kentucky, Arizona, Villanova, Davidson. All of these teams actually have a great shot at going far in the tournament too. Sure Davidson might look out of place but opening with Iowa is a good match up for them and a potential Gonzaga, SMU/Iowa State path to the Elite 8 is not impossible for them. Image if we had 4 Wildcat teams in Indianapolis? Ok, I might be far reaching here but *spoiler alert* I do project three going all the way and an all-Wildcat championship final. Which Wildcat will reign supreme though? Read on....
- Poor Murray State? Not so fast! Yes, as a lover of the underdog story I feel bad for the Racers not being invited into the tournament. I feel even more upset that other teams (looking at you UCLA) are playing and they aren't. However, let's not send Murray State a dozen roses and apologies quite yet. They dominated their weak conference all season so, one would expect, they should be here. Alas, drama unfolded in the conference tournament and they were eliminated. Look at their schedule. Not like the Ohio Valley is loaded with contenders. And ok, they only lost 5 games but look who they lost to: Houston, Xavier, Portland, Valpo and Belmont in the OVC Championship. Three of those teams made the tournament, true, but they lost to all of them. And these were the only tournament playing teams they faced. If you want to be considered at-large, play an at-large worthy non-schedule. Or, do what other mid-majors have done, jump ship to a more competitive conference. I know re-alignment and conference jumping sucks but it is the world we live in now and if you want to be considered a viable tourney team (see Temple), play a stronger schedule. Sorry Racers but you couldn't take care of business at home so NIT you deserve.
- UCL-Ohhhh why are you here? Because you lost by 6 points to Arizona in the PAC-12 semi? Come on. I said Murray State played a weak schedule, well UCLA didn't play that much stronger a schedule really. The PAC-12 was not a huge dominant conference. Arizona sure, Utah at times and Oregon came on strong at the end of the season to play into the tournament...but the Bruins lost to all those teams. Plus lost to Oregon State, Cal and Colorado. Remember the blowout vs. Kentucky? Yup I can see why bubble busted teams are not happy. Plus...UCLA gets a spot as an 11 seed? 11? Really? The committee thought their resume was more impressive than play-in teams Ole Miss, BYU, Boise St and Dayton? This was a berth provided on basis of school name alone it appears. Historical impact perhaps? Regardless, let's all join together and hope SMU destroys the Bruins in the second round. Although, the way March Madness goes, watch UCLA end up in the Sweet 16.
- UK is OK all the way. Kentucky is undefeated. Kentucky is playing better basketball than anyone else in the country. Kentucky should easily win this entire thing. And the selection committee appears happy to see that be the end result on April 6. They sure handed UK a Final Four berth on a silver platter. Let's be honest, no team in the Midwest should...SHOULD...be trouble for Kentucky. Their path to the Elite 8 is basically a given. Once they make it to Cleveland, who can stop them? The survivor of Kansas/Notre Dame/Butler/Wichita State? Everyone is skeptical on Kansas (myself included). I haven't been convinced on Notre Dame all season and don't see them making the Elite 8. Butler could struggle with Texas and/or Notre Dame. Wichita State could be the only team to challenge Kentucky, IF...IF they even survive Indiana and Kansas to make to Cleveland. Can we just not bother giving the Midwest a lot of television time? It seems pointless as all teams are really just fighting to see who will be Kentucky's next victim.
- Weep Virginia! Oh Cavs fans, I feel for you. All season it appeared Virginia would nab a #1 seed in the tournament. Things went south fast. Loss to Louisville to end the season and the ACC tournament loss to North Carolina took an easier path to Indy away from you in the span on weeks. Sure they avoided Kentucky, that was a plus. But being handed Villanova is no gift. On top of that, they were put in a pod where their third round opponent could be Tom Izzo and Michigan State. The Spartans are the worst team for Virginia to face early. Izzo and company have not looked like a dominant team this season but, as they showed in the B1G tournament, when they get in tourney mode watch out. Virginia could very easily be going home this weekend...forget about even the potential matchup with Villanova.
- #BracketBusters. Ok looking for a few bracket buster teams? To qualify as a bracket buster, you need to be a double digit seed I think. Sure 8/9 seeds knock off 1 and 7 knock off a 2 and those wreak brackets but I mean a real "oh damn...shit....i'm f*cked now" kind of upset here. A quick short list of teams that could wreak havoc on your bracket if you aren't careful: S.F. Austin, Eastern Washington, Valparaiso, Buffalo and Georgia State. All of these teams have winnable opening round games. If they can pull the trigger on opening day, the sky is the limit and any of them are capable of making at Sweet 16 run. In fact *spoiler alert* I actually have one of these teams in my Sweet 16. Think you can guess which one?
(1) Kentucky over (16) Hampton
(8) Cincinnati over (9) Purdue
(5) West Virginia over (12) Buffalo
(13) Valparaiso over (4) Maryland
(6) Butler over (11) Texas
(3) Notre Dame over (14) Northeastern
(7) Wichita State over (10) Indiana
(2) Kansas over (15) New Mexico State
(1) Kentucky over (8) Cincinnati
(5) West Virginia over (13) Valparaiso
(3) Notre Dame over (6) Butler
(7) Wichita State over (2) Kansas
(1) Kentucky over (5) West Virginia
(7) Wichita State over (3) Notre Dame
(1) Kentucky over (7) Wichita State
(1) Wisconsin over (16) Coastal Carolina
(8) Oregon over (9) Oklahoma State
(5) Arkansas over (12) Wofford
(4) North Carolina over (13) Harvard
(11) Ole Miss over (6) Xavier
(3) Baylor over (14) Georgia State
(7) VCU over (10) Ohio State
(2) Arizona over (15) Texas Southern
(1) Wisconsin over (8) Oregon
(4) North Carolina over (5) Arkansas
(3) Baylor over (11) Ole Miss
(2) Arizona over (7) VCU
(1) Wisconsin over (4) North Carolina
(2) Arizona over (3) Baylor
(2) Arizona over (1) Wisconsin
(1) Villanova over (16) Lafayette
(8) NC State over (9) LSU
(5) Northern Iowa over (12) Wyoming
(4) Louisville over (13) UC Irvine
(6) Providence over (11) Dayton
(3) Oklahoma over (14) Albany
(7) Michigan State over (10) Georgia
(2) Virginia over (15) Belmont
(1) Villanova over (8) NC State
(5) Northern Iowa over (4) Louisville
(6) Providence over (3) Oklahoma
(2) Virginia over (7) Michigan State
(1) Villanova over (5) Northern Iowa
(2) Virginia over (6) Providence
(1) Villanova over (2) Virginia
(1) Duke over (16) Robert Morris
(8) San Diego State over (9) St. John's
(12) S.F. Austin over (5) Utah
(13) Eastern Washington over (4) Georgetown
(6) SMU over (11) UCLA
(3) Iowa State over (14) UAB
(10) Davidson over (7) Iowa
(2) Gonzaga over (15) North Dakota State
(1) Duke over (8) San Diego State
(12) S.F. Austin over (13) Eastern Washington
(3) Iowa State over (6) SMU
(2) Gonzaga over (10) Davidson
(1) Duke over (12) S.F. Austin
(3) Iowa State over (2) Gonzaga
(3) Iowa State over (1) Duke
(1) Kentucky over (2) Arizona
(1) Villanova over (3) Iowa State
2015 MEN'S NCAA NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP: (1) Kentucky over (1) Villanova
Wildcats vs Wildcats. A championship match up we can all get behind actually. Kentucky should steam roll their way to the Final Four but will receive some trouble with Arizona in the national semi. I actually almost pulled the trigger on the upset and picked Arizona to play in the championship but I think Kentucky is just too strong and, not being challenged, could work for them. This team has the swagger and confidence. But don't count out 'Nova. I don't think these Wildcats are getting enough love from everyone. This is a VERY good team. I honestly feel 'Zona and 'Nova are the only teams that could possibly derail a perfect season for UK. I expect, if I am correct with this final prediction, to see a close championship match up.
So there you have it. My #MarchMadness thoughts and predictions. I should receive bonus objectivity media points for not going with the homer pick and choosing Oregon to run the table. While these are my #TwineTime picks, don't think the fan in me won't be sitting on the sidelines running my #GoDucks cheers the entire time.
Feel free to share your thoughts with me on here or on twitter. I always enjoy a good sports debate.
Enjoy the madness everyone....