NCAA Basketball

Bracket Racket: Talking The NCAA Tournament

John WallAh, March! As reliable as lights and decorations at Christmas or costumes on Halloween, it is NCAA March Madness time again. Attention all bosses or managers etc., let’s not give Bill from accounting a hard time today, he has brackets to fill out, like just about every other red-blooded American does this time of year. 65 college hoops teams have come forward once again to take over our lives, for a few weeks anyway.

Okay ladies and gentleman, grab your pens, your papers, your notes and get ready. I will give you some “Yes” and some “No” ideas for your bracket and will also break down each region to share some possible upsets, big boys and some Cinderellas for you to consider on your way to a championship. We all know there is all sorts of players who step up to the plate and fill out their tourney wish list. From the die hard sports guy who watches every game, to the “eh why not” guy who just wants to join in. To the hot girl in the office who flirts with all the guys to learn the difference between a 1 seed and a 16 seed, to the guy who will crunch numbers to give everyone his law of averages as to who to pick. March makes the best of friends and the worst of enemies out of “Bracketologist” everywhere! So let’s take a look at my notes, despite the fact that I dropped out of “Bracketology” and do not have a degree on my wall.

Here are some Yes and No bracket fill out ideas:
Yes: Pick at least one number 12 seed to advance. A 12 seed has beaten a 5 seed at least once in the tournament all but twice since 1980. If you search hard enough you can find a decent match-up worth trying. The 4 to choose from this year:
Michigan State vs New Mexico State
Butler vs Texas El-Paso
Temple vs Cornell
Texas A&M vs Utah State.
The betting man would say Texas-El Paso over Butler.

No: Do not pick a team to pull off a series of big upsets just because it has in the past. Don’t get all geeked out over a team like Siena or Murray State because of things they did 4 or 5 years ago. Stay within your means and know the opponents they are about to face.

Yes: Let some history repeat itself. Do not be afraid to advance some teams further then expected with good March history. Michigan State may not be the best team on paper but they usually have a good March run in them. Also despite how bad Villanova has looked, they have been decent the last few Marchs.

No: Do not try and be the office hero by picking a bunch of upsets just to be the guy that says “Yeah I had that”. Yes it would be sweet to predict that 14 seed Ohio could upset Georgetown, but it does not mean you have to pick all 13’s and 14’s just for one “I told you so”.

Yes: Make sure you get a number 1 into your Final Four. Okay so your work colleagues or friends may call you a “Homer”, but isn’t this about winning?

No: Do not put a team ranked higher then 9th in your Final Four. It simply does not happen. In fact the highest seed to ever win an NCAA Tourney was an 8 seed.

Yes: Like some of the new big boys from the big conferences with high seeds. West Virginia as a 2 and Ohio State also as a 2 come from big time conferences and have good squads. Don’t be shy of them because they have not been highly touted by the media.

No: Do not fall in love with success stories from schools who have never been seeded so high. 3 seed Baylor is kind of a miracle to me. Also New Mexico as a 3 and Vanderbilt as a 4 worry me very much. These are some high seed teams just begging to be upset.

Some teams that may find that late season magic to not ignore:
8 seed Texas, who spent time at number 1 this season.
11 seed Washington who can very easily (in my opinion) upset 6 seed Marquette, take down a 3 seed like New Mexico and give a 2 seed like West Virginia all it can handle. This is a decent club when on, but a disaster when off.
10 seed Florida. Billy Donovans team is not like his championship teams of the past, but they are a Billy Donovan team. If they get past BYU, Donovan may be able to out-think a newer powerhouse like 2 seed Kansas State and make it interesting.

Now we break down the regions:

East region:
Top 4 seeds: Kentucky, West Virginia, New Mexico, Wisconsin

It looks as if the powers-to-be in the tournament committee want to see big things out of John Calipari and Kentucky. The other top seeds do not seem to be nearly as talented or be as storied as Kentucky. In the middle, teams like Temple, Marquette and Texas are all good names but not big time opponents. However a second round match up with Calipari’s Kentucky team vs Rick Barnes’ guys from Texas would make for an interesting match-up. The Cinderella of this bunch is Washington. Over the past few years the Huskies have had decent clubs and usually show up for a game or 2 come March. When this team gets hot it can be dangerous. The highest seed expected to exit quickly is New Mexico. Not a great track record coming in and after a 3 vs 14 showdown with Montana they would have to face 2 bigger conference opponents from the winner of the Clemson vs Missouri game, both of which can handle what New Mexico brings.

Predicted Winner: Kentucky

South region:
Top seeded teams: Duke, Villanova, Baylor, Purdue

Is Duke back to its prime time form? “Coach K” is bringing in a better, more relaxed team in this years tourney, but it won’t be total smooth sailing. 2 seed Villanova has struggled of late but still has a stellar team. Middle seeds like Texas A&M and Notre Dame have been bracket busters in the past, plus Duke could be in for a tough second round game facing the winner of Cal and Louisville. Could be interesting to see Pitino vs Coach K. As for Cinderellas, most experts will tell you that Siena is a tough team to face, but for me Lousiville as a 9 seed can wreak havoc. Yes they would have to play Duke if they win, but knocking down giants is what being a Cinderella team is all about. The highest seed expected to exit early would be Baylor. As much as I love seeing new teams go far for a change I just do not feel this is the team. The first round game does not look so tough, but possible 2 round opponent Notre Dame could be a killer. Being a Philly guy id love to pick with my heart, but feel Villanova just does not have it in them to make a big run.

Predicted Winner: Duke

Midwest Region:
Top seeds: Kansas, Ohio State, Georgetown, Maryland

Some good programs lead the way here in the Midwest. A lot of experts call Kansas the best team in college hoops, but there is a fine line between great and cocky. Kansas at times looked shaky in conference tourney play while Big 10 Champ Ohio State looked brilliant in pounding Minnesota in the title game. Plus when it’s March, you never count out the Hoyas of Georgetown. The middle seeds are a real tough bunch, with March dandy Tom Izzo’s Michigan State team, Tennessee, Oklahoma State, and the reborn UNLV Runnin Rebels. Survival will take perfect outings from any one of these top 8 seeds here. Cinderella has its work cut out for themselves here, but Georgia Tech is a team that merits paying attention too. Playing in the ACC means they know how to handle big time teams, and they can beat up a few along the way. The highest seed expected to exit early would be Maryland. The Terrapins are usually an enigma come March, and despite a good season, I think there is too many question marks to expect big things here. This region is filled with tough clubs and I feel we will lose our first 1 seed come Final Four time.

Predicted Winner: Georgetown

West Region:
Top seeds: Syracuse, Kansas State, Pittsburgh, Vanderbilt

Very strange region, perhaps the most interesting region ever assembled. A lot of teams here are fan favorites and tourney reachers, with Syracuse leading the way as a tough to choose 1 seed. Kansas State has looked great at times as has Pitt and a quietly climbing Vanderbilt team. The middle seeds are tourney staples, but also-rans such as Xavier, BYU, Gonzaga and everyone’s chic’ spoiler choice Butler. Cinderella is a tough customer in the form of Florida. Billy Donovan always gets his teams ready for March and a win over 7 seed BYU can set up a tough match up for the 2 seed Kansas State. Florida is looking like the toughest double digit seed in the tournament. The highest seed expected to exit early is Vanderbilt. Many, like myself, feel that Murray State has an upset in it, and they will be the ones to end Vandy’s run early. Number 1 may have another tough road here and a possible Big East clash should spell the end of Syracuse’s run at the Final Four. The winner here could be quite a surprise to some.

Predicted Winner: Pittsburgh

Yes, so here is my very rough Final Four. We all know how quickly this can change,and most likely will between today and Thursday when this all gets rolling. As of now my Final Four of Kentucky, Duke, Georgetown and Pittsburgh is even drawing my own personal criticisms, but hey, that’s why they play the games. Good luck Bracketologist, this season you’re going to need it!

If you’d like to hear anything else from me on topics or ideas I can be reached at [email protected].

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Eric G.

Eric is the owner and editor-in-chief of the Camel Clutch Blog. Eric has worked in the pro wrestling industry since 1995 as a ring announcer in ECW and a commentator/host on television, PPV, and home video. Eric also hosted Pro Wrestling Radio on terrestrial radio from 1998-2009. Check out some of Eric's work on his IMDB bio and Wikipedia. Eric has an MBA from Temple University's Fox School of Business.

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