14 March 2007

Beware the Ides of March Madness

Tomorrow is the Ides of March, but most folks who are geeked up about it aren't interested in Roman history.

Rather, it's dancing time.

Here are my fearless predictions.

Five Pac-10 teams will make it to the Sweet 16.

Only one team (Long Beach St) seeded worse than 10 will win in the first round (a lack of upsets in itself would be an upset given the usual trend).

Now, on to the brackets.

Midwest 1st round
1 Florida over Jackson State
8 Arizona over Purdue
5 Butler over ODU
4 Maryland over Davidson
6 Notre Dame over Winthrop
3 Oregon over Miami (OH)
7 UNLV over Ga Tech
2 Wisconsin over 15 TAMU-CC

That's right I'm picking every top seed to win, that never happens, but I think in the first round this region will be upset free

Midwest 2nd round

Arizona over Florida
Maryland over Butler
Oregon over Notre Dame
UNLV over Wisconsin

Two upsets in the 2nd round predicted. Arizona is a very talented team, and I believe they'll pull it together tournament time. Teams don't repeat any more, and I think Florida is ripe for a letdown.

Midwest 3rd Round and Regional Final
Arizona over Maryland and Oregon over UNLV, followed by
Oregon over Arizona

Oregon will make it to the Final Four by beating Arizona for the 3rd time in 4 meetings. They're a good team with some talented players, and they showed by winning the PAC-10 Tourney, that they're playing their best ball at the right time. Picking a 3 seed to win a region shouldn't be seen as a stretch, but I think most other folks probably figure Florida won't be challenged in the Midwest, but obviously, I think that's wrong.

West 1st Round

1 Kansas over Niagara
9 Villanova over Kentucky
5 Va Tech over Illinois
4 S. Illinois over Holy Cross
6 Duke over VCU
3 Pittsburgh over Wright St.
10 Gonzaga over Indiana
2 UCLA over Weber St.

I only have two lower seeds winning, Gonzaga and Villanova. UCLA looked awful in the PAC-10 Tourney, but they're more talented than the team that made the Finals last year, and I think Ben Howland will push this team all the way back to the Finals, again.

2nd Round
Kansas over Villanova
S. Illinois over Va Tech
Pittsburgh over Duke
UCLA over Gonzaga

All the lower seeded teams will win in the 2nd round in the West. Gonzaga won't avenge last year's disappointing ouster at the Bruins hands, and Duke isn't that good this year, so expect a 2nd round exit. Va Tech might screw me up, but you got to love the Salukis, just cause they're the Salukis (and they'll play solidly in the Tourney despite being upset in the MVC Finals)

West 3rd Round and Regional Final
Kansas over S. Illinois and UCLA over Pittsburgh setting up UCLA over Kansas

These should all be good games, but expect the UCLA versus Kansas showdown in the regional final to be the best game of the tournament. Could go either way, but I'm leaning on believing in the hometown team, I can't help myself (it worked well last year).

East 1st Round
1 UNC over E. Kentucy
9 Mich St. over Marquette
5 USC over Arkansas
4 Texas over N Mexico St.
6 Vanderbilt over Geo Wash
3 Wash St. over Oral Roberts
10 Texas Tech over BC
2 Georgetown over Belmont

No big upsets in this region either. I think Knight will have Texas Tech playing well, and they could pull off some surprises (like Elite 8 type surprises)

East 2nd Round
UNC over Mich St.
USC over Texas
Wash St over Vanderbilt
Texas Tech over Georgetown

I don't think any of these picks would surprise anyone, except for the most talented team in college basketball getting bounced in the 2nd round. Georgetown just doesn't feel like a team ready to do what they should be capable of doing, and I think Texas Tech is just the right team to make them look bad.

East 3rd Round and Regional Final

UNC over USC and Texas Tech over Wash St setting up UNC over Texas Tech

UNC is good, real good, like making it to the finals good.

South 1st Round
1 Ohio St over C Conn St.
8 BYU over Xavier
12 Long Beach St over Tennessee
4 Virginia over Albany
6 Louisville over Stanford
3 Texas A&M over Penn
7 Nevada over Creighton
2 Memphis over N Texas

My only team worse than a 10 seed winning in the first round is Long Beach St. They are athletic, well coached, and capable of scoring in bunches. They'll play inspired offense for 2 games then get cold and lose, but hello Sweet 16 for the 49ers.

South 2nd Round
Ohio St over BYU
Long Beach St over Virginia
Louisville over Texas A&M
Memphis over Nevada

Two upsets in this round with Louisville beating higher seeded Texas A&M, and Long Beach St shooting lights out for two games in a row.

South 3rd Round and Regional Final
Ohio St over Long Beach St and Louisville over Memphis setting up Louisville over Ohio St.

Ohio State is at times great, other times mediocre, likewise for Louisville, but I have trouble picking against a talented Rick Pitino coached squad. Despite losing to Pittsburgh in the Big East Final, I think they'll put together a good Tourney and make the Final Four. Ohio State has plenty of talent, and might make this pick look really foolish, but I doubt it.

Final Four

UCLA over Oregon and UNC over Louisville

If things pan out this way, two of the most successful franchises in college basketball will meet in the finals. Expect Oregon to put up a fight, but be overwhelmed by UCLA's defense. Likewise, Louisville will play well, but when UNC plays well, not many teams in college hoops can match them. I expect UNC to play well throughout the tournament.


UNC 74 UCLA 56

Another finals disappointment for UCLA, and another game that will end up being kind of a letdown after an exciting tournament. If UNC puts together the kinds of games they are capable, they ought to be able to dominate all 4 teams they eventually face. They may not dominate, but they will win.

Go ahead and laugh at these picks, they're sure to be wrong in spots, but that's what March Madness is about, being horribly, tremendously wrong. . .

. . . and gambling. . .

. . . and calling in sick to work . . .

. . . and actually getting sick while faking being sick, only to have to go into work feeling like death on Monday because you don't want to skip 3 consecutive days from work lest the boss think you are dying or looking for another job . . .

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