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Thursday, March 16, 2006 

March Madness Bracket Predictions

Here we go, the madness is on us. What follows is my personal trip through the brackets. NCAA hoops, however, are not my specialty, so take this for what it’s worth, and certainly don’t expect the same results I put up for the NFL this year. Nonetheless, if any of you are in a pool with me and I see these picks come up in your brackets, I will hunt you down. Oh yes, I will. Nonetheless, here goes anyway.

First Round Losers

Atlanta – Southern, Pensylvania, Northwestern, Iona, Texas A&M, Southern Ill., NC Wilmington, California

Normally I’m one of those guys who goes hardcore on the first round upsets. Not this year, though, none of them stand out. California is the only one here. All NC State needs to do to stop them is to stop Powe. Seems easy enough for them. Uncle Wilmington is a pretty good 9th seed, if you really want a second upset in Atlanta, but George Washington is a really good 8 seed with only 2 losses on the year It could go either way, but I’m giving this one to the G Dub over the uncle.

Oakland – Oral Roberts, Belmont, Xavier. Bradley, Kent San Diego, Alabama, Arkansas

Again, only one favourite going down, with Arkansas dropping to Bucknell. I know a lot of people are picking Arkansas to make it even to the sweet 16, and they did look respectable of late. Also, my Bucknell favour is lasting from a game way back in November where they beat Syracuse convincingly. For some reason that’s just sticking with me, and I’m taking Bucknell to win a game for only the second tournament in their history. Again, if you need another upset, look to San Diego to take down the Hoosiers. Just don’t count on it.

Washington – Albany, Winthrop, Murray State, Air Force, Utah St., George Mason, Kentucky, Wichita St.

OK, finally two upsets in a region. Again, however, many people are picking Witchita State to make it to the sweet 16, and even the elite 8 on occasion.. I’m sure Witchita was just happy to see George Mason, who beat them earlier this year, ranked a spot below Seton Hall. That happiness won’t last through the game, though, as Seaton Hall rides their winning conference record in the Big East right over the Shockers. UAB Kentucky is a pretty even game. Two years ago, when Kentucky was a 1 seed, UAB took them down, and look to repeat that feat again this year. This is an off season for Kentucky, and will result in a first round loss.

Minneapolis – Monmouth, Davidson, South Alabama, Pacific, Montana, Wisconson Milwaukee, North Iowa, Arizona

In the last region I again am only picking one underdog. I’m really sorry for these picks, only 5 upsets in the first round is something that just never happens. I really can’t see much happening very different. Arizona isn’t as good as in the past, and I really don’t like Hassan Adams on any team. The Badgers have already beaten Iowa and Ohio State this year, and should build on that going into Minnesota. Again, if you need a second upset, look to Wisconsin Wilwaukee over the Sooners, who lost to a non-tournament team in the Big-12 tournament.

Second Round Losers

Atlanta – George Washington, NC State, LSU, Iowa

As a change of pace, half of these results are upsets. McNamara has taken over the Orange, and was the Big 12 tournament MVP. LSU is young (mostly 1st and 2nd year players), and should be no match for Syracuse’s experience. Look for the Tigers to come back strong next March. West Virginia has most of the same team back from last year, and are looking to better their Elite 8 finish. Iowa will put up a good fight, as they did in beating Ohio State the other week, but they will probably come up short in the end. I look forward to that game already, though, it looks to be one of the best.

Oakland – Bucknell, Marquette, Indiana, Kansas

In the upset here, I am taking one of the tournament favourites in Kansas to fall to Pittsburgh. I know that Kansas started slow and picked up their game, and Pittsburgh started 15-0 only to slide in the second half of the year, but Aaron Gray looks awesome, and should be able to guarantee a double-double in this game. The Jayhawks are young, however, and should be a 1 seed next year, and deservedly so. As for Memphis, many people are picking them to be the #1 seed that loses by the second round, but I just don’t know what that’s based on. They have won 19 of their last 20 games, Carney was the C-USA player of the year, and Williams averaged 18 points per game to win tournament MVP. Everything points to these guys being a legitimate #1 seed, and I’m sure their play will give evidence to that.

Washington - Seton Hall, UAB, Michigan State, Illinois

In the only upset here, Washington looked awesome in PAC-10 play this year, just to stumble in their tournament. Illinois also fell in their first round, and the loss of Luther Head and Deron Williams will prove to be holes too big to fill against the Huskies. If Seton Hall can shut down the Volunteers point guards there could be another upset here, but it doesn’t seem too likely.

Minneapolis – Wisconsin, Georgetown, Oklahoma, Nevada

Sorry again, no upsets here. To be fair, though, the top 4 teams in Minneapolis are leagues and leagues above the other 12. I actually wouldn’t be surprised if they managed to go through this entire bracket without an upset. I only picked 2 to happen in total, and I’m not confident in either of those. This bracket really just isn’t any fun for gambling.

Sweet 16 DeathsSyracuse, West Virginia, Pittsburgh, UCLA, Washington, Tennessee, Boston College, Florida

Upsets here include Tennessee falling to North Carolina and UCLA falling to Gonzaga. Starting with Tennessee, this is another one of those games that I’m looking forward to, and hoping will actually happen. The Volunteers lost four of their last six, and bowed out of their tournament in the first round, but that does not take away from the fact that they are stacked at the guard positions. I love teams like that once the tournament comes around. North Carolina is young, strong, and will be able to stay right with the Volunteers. The defending champs take this one in one hell of a fun game.

The other upset is pretty simple. UCLA lives and dies by their defense, and I just cant see them being enough to shut down Adam Morrison and J.P. Batista, who will take it to them for the entire game. The pair will combine for at least 20 points, and will send the Bruins packing early, despite most people sending them to the final 4 in their minds.

As for Syracuse, they and Ohio State are my teams, and I hate to call them out this early. McNamara deserves better in his last go, but they did not get the seed they wanted. Duke is the only team that can put them out, an unfortunately they have to face them in the Sweet 16. My fingers will be crossed, but even Gerry won’t be enough to beat the Devils.

Elite 8 ExitsTexas, Memphis, North Carolina, Villanova

Texas plays Duke. How can you combat that? Duke is coming out of Atlanta, and not even Syracuse nor Texas can stop them.

I know I spoke very well of Memphis in a previous round, but that was in defense against most people picking them out in the 2nd round. A matchup against Gonzaga or UCLA, on the other hand, is a little too much, Morrison and Batista on Gonzaga, in particular, seem to be too much of a pairing for any of the teams in Oakland. I can’t wait to watch them play in some big games, half expecting them to fall apart, mind you, and screw up my whole bracket.

North Carolina is a great team, with a good mix of play makers, scorers, and leadership. Unfortunately for them, the only teams I could imagine possibly beating UConn are Duke and Syracuse, neither of whom they would have to meat until the finals. That statement includes the Boston Celtics and New York Knicks as well, in case you were wondering.

OK, I’ll admit it. I think I just took Ohio State over Villanova because they are my team. Can you really make the final four playing with just 7 people? It’s hard to imagine. But nonetheless, I’m taking the team with the best 7-footer to find it’s way there. And I’m also hoping that Ray Allen sticks around long enough in the NBA to be in a 3-point contest with Allan Ray some day. That would be legendary.

Final Four FlopsGonzaga, Ohio State

These teams have to play Duke and UConn. That’s the extent of what I have to say about that. Sorry Buckeyes.

The Ultimate Final

Could you imagine if this is actually the game that we get to see as the final? That would be sick. I don’t even want to think about it. It would easily go down as one of the best sporting match-ups in history. Villanova, Gonzaga and North Carolina might have something to say about that, but I can still dream. And in my dream, UConn pulls it off with some kind of crazy last second play. Until my dream doesn’t come true, I won’t even speculate on any other possibility. I’m taking UConn to win, and I’m getting ready to enjoy the madness.

what an odd format to do this in. i think i like it.

wtf am i the only one who doesnt care about march madness?

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