The time has finally come, and I could not be any more excited to sit on my couch and watch as much basketball as possible. Once again, if you don’t like basketball (or college basketball at least), now is the perfect time to hop on board, I will absolutely welcome it! If you still have a chance to join an office bracket pool, DO IT! It makes the whole tournament a lot more fun. The tournament is pretty up in the air this year, not one team stands out as a clear favorite, so anyone has a chance to win.
– Want to actually care who wins the meaningless game of American vs Wisconsin? Join an office pool!
– Do you not really like how the NCAA treats its players? Join an office pool to spite them!
– Want to have some forced family fun? Make a bracket challenge within your family for bragging rights (my wife and sister in law have won 2 of the last 3 years…..)!
Whatever you decide to do, make sure to watch a few games this year. There is always a team that steals peoples hearts, and don’t be afraid to hop on their bandwagon for the month.
I have decided to do a small preview of all 67 games this year day by day, along with predictions of who will win the games, and for all of the degenerates out there, my against the spread picks with it (will track my progress to see if I can make it in Vegas or not). Will go in order of the bracket, so top left (South), bottom left (East), top right (West), bottom right (Midwest). If you want to know more about each team, they each have a hyper link on their name.
Not much to say about this game. Florida has dominated the SEC (which I am not sure how impressive that is) but have been by far the most consistent team all year. With a senior loaded team, I will go ahead and say, they will not lose this game.
Interesting position for both of these teams. Colorado was pretty mediocre in the Pac-12. Winning the games they should, losing the games they should. They made a decent run in the Pac-12 tournament, so could have some momentum off of that. For them to have a chance, they are going to need to play extremely tough against this Pittsburgh team. Pitt is one of the more underrated teams of the tournament. They hung in in their first year in the ACC. Unfortunately they didn’t win many big games, which gave them this 9 seed and a tough road. They can hang with anyone with the defense they play.
One of the more interesting first round matchups, Ohio State has a handful with this Dayton team. A player to watch for Ohio State is LaQuinton Ross. If Ohio State were to make a deep run in this tournament, you will be hearing all about him. Ohio State will be on upset alert for this game, but it will be hard to roll against Thad Matta and the Buckeyes. Buckeyes had the best defense in the Big 10, and we all know, defense wins “championships”, or in this case, a first round game in the NCAA tournament.
The MAC champs of Western Michigan are going to have a tough time with Syracuse. Not many people can torch Syracuse’ 2-3 zone, and with Western Michigan not being one of the best 3 point shooting teams, they may struggle. With Syracuse essentially playing a home game in Buffalo, the crowd will be filled with Orange, and I see the Cuse rolling.
Could potentially be one of the trendiest upset picks of the tournament. Bearcats are coming off a tough loss to Connecticut in the American Athletic Conference tournament. They beat Louisville earlier in the year, but there losses are not all that bad, they are from all tournament teams except for SMU (…..we won’t get into that). With one of my favorite players to watch, Sean Kilpatrick, Cincy will have a tough time with this extremely underrated Harvard team. If it wasn’t for my love of Sean Kilpatrick and me thinking PG’s are one of the most positions in a do or die tournament, I would probably roll with Harvard in this one.
Delaware loves to score, but this is an awful match-up for them. If they were put against a slow tempo team they would have a great chance at a first round upset, but Michigan State is playing there best basketball right now, and the seniors on that team will not let them lose this game. Unfortunate draw for the Blue Hens who blew through the Colonial.
Saints Joseph’s made an improbable run in the A-10 tournament to get an automatic bid in the tournament, but I think there luck may run out vs a solid Connecticut team. Shabazz Napier is one of the best point guards in the NCAA, and I will role with him verse a tough Saint Joe’s team. As long as Connecticut isn’t playing Louisville (lost to them 3 teams this year) they have been playing solid basketball. I am also a huge Kevin Ollie fan, and like him to coach well in the tournament. If you need to pick an upset, Saint Joseph’s would not be bad to roll with.
One of the more underrated teams of the tournament, Villanova was a Big East tournament run a way from snagging a #1 seed from Virginia. One of the most efficient teams on Offense and Defense, they have a great chance to make a run (especially since Creighton isn’t in their side of the bracket). They had a slip up against Seton Hall in the Big East tournament, but I think that just gets them more focused on winning. Milwaukee shouldn’t be much of a problem as they squeaked in the tournament with an automatic bid from the Horizon League.
Should be one of the better games on Friday. Oklahoma is coming off a bad loss against Baylor in the Big 12 Tournament, but has played solid during conference play all year. North Dakota State is arguably one of the hottest teams entering the tournament. They are incredibly efficient on offense, and do not make mistakes. This game is going to be close, and as much as I want to take North Dakota State, I just can’t pull the trigger. Would not surprise me at all to see North Dakota State pull this one out for the typical 12-5 upset.
San Diego State is one of the tougher teams in the country. With losses to Arizona and New Mexico (and at Wyoming), they don’t have much to hang their heads about. They are one of the top defensive teams in the nation, but sometimes struggle on offense which scares me in the tournament. I am very very tempted to pick New Mexico State here, especially since they did beat New Mexico, at New Mexico, which is something San Diego State has not done, but have to roll with San Diego State.
This could be a very, very high scoring and entertaining game. Oregon was one of the hottest teams in the league entering the conference tournament, and stumbled against eventual champion UCLA. Very proficient on offense, and very good at the free throw line, they can be a threat to any team they play. BYU squeaked into the tournament with an at large bid thanks to a nice run in the WCC tournament. These teams played earlier in the year with Oregon winning by 4 in OT. Looking forward to this game as it can go either way.
Wisconsin was one of the hottest teams at the beginning of the season, starting off an impressive 16-0 which included wins over Florida, Saint Louis, Virginia, and Milwaukee (and working their way up to a top 3 ranking). This isn’t the same Wisconsin team of years past who is bad come tournament time because of there slow play, they are one of the most efficient offenses in the country and rarely turnover the ball. With a tough loss to Michigan State in the conference tournament, I think they re-focus and make a deep run.
Most of you know my opinions about N.C. State getting into the tournament, which basically means they will probably make a deep run in the tournament (which does NOT justify or discredit the selection). They beat Syracuse in the ACC tournament and eventually lost to Duke, which isn’t a bad way to end a season heading into the NCAA tournament. Saint Louis is one of the best defensive teams in the country, but for some reason just don’t have a good feeling about them.
Everyone knows how terrible of a seed Louisville got, but it didn’t work out that bad for them. Unfortunately for Manhattan, they got the sour end of it. Manhattan got in winning the MAAC, and though I think they will keep in somewhat respectable, their season will come to an end verse the Cardinals. Louisville is too deep, too good defensively, and Russ Smith will not let them lose this game. Louisville has their eyes on bigger things down the road.
One of the trickiest games on the first day (and potential perfect bracket buster) Texas and Arizona State are pretty even. Texas plays in a tougher conference that prepared them for the tournament, and wins verse UNC, Iowa State, Baylor, Kansas, and OSU have not gone unnoticed. Inconsistency has killed both of these teams, especially Arizona State. They don’t have many solid wins, except for a Arizona and if you count Stanford as a good win. They are above average on offense and defense, and the key to this game will be rebounding. Texas has the bigs to beat the Sun Devils, and I think they do (but barely).
One of the least talked about top seeds in the tournament, has to be the Wolverines. One of the best teams offensively, who quietly won the big ten regular season title, will look to make a splash this year, just like last year. But unlike last year, with no Trey Burke (we will skip the soap opera of my love for him), I don’t think they have what it takes to make a deep run. They will get by this Wofford team, who got in winning the Southern Conference, but could run into trouble facing Texas or Arizona State.
Straight Up- Michigan
Against The Spread- Michigan -16
Check back tomorrow for summaries and predictions for the games on Friday.