I will go on record and say that we are in for a wild tournament this year. There is so much parity in college basketball that anything is possible. This will be the year of the upset. And when I say upset, I’m not talking about the Valparaiso’s and Hampton’s of yesteryear. I’m talking about solid teams seeded between 4-9 that will wreak havoc upon the upper echilon tourney teams.
When the bracket first came out, the 8-9 match-ups made my jaw drop. Every number 1 seed will be challenged in the second round (and yes, I’m calling it second round because that play-in BS doesn’t count). Ohio State will meet the winner of George Mason and Villanova. Now I know that Nova has struggled mightily as of late, but the potential to beat a team the caliber of Ohio State is there. And George Mason is capable of beating any team in the field- not because they made a final four several years ago but because they are a senior laden talented team who knows how to win and does everything well.
Duke will face the winner of Michigan and Tennessee. Tim Hardaway Jr. is an absolute beast but not even he could lead Michigan past Duke. However, a talent rich Tennessee team that has underperformed all season with a coach looking to regain good standing after being suspended could prove quite dangerous.
Pitt will get the winner of the bloodbath that will be Old Dominion vs. Butler. Two very physical teams that play as tough as Pitt. Of all the possible foes the number one seeds could face, I believe Old Dominion to be the most difficult. They are a mirror image of the Pitt style of play but are even more brutal. ODU will outrebound and pound teams into submission with their gritty play. They do not need to score 60 points to win a game… too bad they don’t play Wisconsin in what would be dubbed “The most boring game in the world ever”.
Kansas probably has the easiest 8-9 possibility. Illinois is terrible. Bruce Weber has lost control of that team. They will have no chance at beating a well coached UNLV squad. UNLV cannot combat the twins at Kansas but if they get hot from 3 they certainly could make life difficult for a Jayhawk team that has a knack for blowing games (see last year).
My Upsets: Old Dominion over Butler, Utah St. over Kansas St., Gonzaga over St. John’s (R.I.P. DJ Kennedy’s knee), Mizzou over Cincy, Richmond over Vandy, USC over Georgetown, and as much as I want to take Wofford over BYU I can’t bring myself to do it! I do think Wofford will push those wild Mormons to the brink though. I also look for Oakland to make life miserable for the Longhorns, but in the end Texas’s size and athleticism will take over. UCSB vs. Florida will also go this route.
MY SWEET 16:
East: Ohio State vs. UK, Xavier vs. UNC
West: Duke vs. Texas, Missouri vs. San Diego St
Southwest: Kansas vs. Louisville, USC vs. ND
Southeast: Old Dominion vs. Utah St., BYU vs. UCLA
East: Ohio St. vs. Xavier
West: Duke vs. San Diego St.
Southwest: Louisville vs. Notre Dame
Southeast: Old Dominion vs. BYU
Ohio St. vs. San Diego St, Notre Dame vs. BYU
Ohio State vs. Notre Dame
Winner: Notre Dame