Loyal citizens of The Manoverse might know that your humble Potentate of Profundity isn’t a big fan of winter. As a matter of fact, as I write this I am suffering with my annual bout of bronchitis which I’d thought I might actually escape. Alas it arrived with just a few days left in the season. At any rate, I grab onto any indicator of brighter, warmer, happier days like Tiger Woods gravitates toward hot, blue-eyed blondes. I thought Groundhog Day provided some hope this year but I have learned that putting one’s faith in a rodent is about as wise as trusting Lindsay Lohan to show up to court on time. At any rate there really is no better or more reliable harbinger of springtime than the annual NCAA Basketball Championship Tournament, aka March Madness. The brackets have been released and the time has come for me to dive in head first with my picks. As usual I need to offer a few reminders about my methods:
- I do not analyze, study, and stress out about my brackets. I print it out and fill it out on the fly. My picks are based on my knowledge as an average fan, a cursory listen to various talking heads, and on my vibes. My choices have no basis in scientific investigation of any facts or figures.
- Will there be upsets?? Yes. But don’t go crazy. The first round has 32 games. Out of those there might be a half dozen upsets. The 5/12, 6/11, & 7/10 games are where to look for upsets. #1 seeds never…ever…lose in the first round, and #2 seeds very rarely lose. Atleast one #12 beats a #5 each year…I don’t know why. 8/9 games are pretty much dead even, so a #9 beating a #8 isn’t really that much of an upset.
- After the first round it’s a free for all, although that 11, 12, 13, or 14 that got thru one game is unlikely to make it much further. Still though, there always seems to be atleast one. The trick is picking the right one.
- I don’t pick play-in games (or as they now call them the “First Four”).
- I am usually a sucker for the underdog, but in all honesty power conference teams will beat a small conference team the overwhelming majority of the time. I put major weight on being battle tested. A team that won 25 games during the regular season but did it against mostly weak competition is like blood in the water for a team from a power conference that might have won only 19 or 20 games and rode the bubble into the tournament.
- I take into consideration where the games are taking place. If a team is playing close to home and has a bunch of fans in the stands that is important. But it’s not that important, so I consider it yet don’t nuts about it.
Although most everybody would probably agree that this has been a crazy & unpredictable year for college basketball and that should translate into a wide open tournament with lots of parity, the truth is that when I completed my brackets I saw a lot more chalk than I assumed I would. I am predicting 10 first round upsets, with four of those being a 9 seed over an 8, which of course isn’t really an upset. I only have one double digit seed making it to The Sweet 16, and my Final Four consists of one #1, two #2s, and a #4 seed. If my vibes are on the right path a lot of folks will be praising the tournament committee for just how accurately they put everything together considering the fickle randomness that has surrounded the entire season.
So without further ado let’s take at peek at each region:
1 Indiana vs. 16 LIU or JMU
2 Miami, Fla. vs 15 Pacific
3 Marquette vs. 14 Davidson
4 Syracuse vs. 13 Montana
5 UNLV vs. 12 California
6 Butler vs. 11 Bucknell
7 Illinois vs. 10 Colorado
8 NC St. vs. 9 Temple
For some reason Bucknell is getting a lot of love from the “experts”. Now I do recall that they pulled a first round upset over Kansas a few years ago, but that’s all the more reason why the Butler Bulldogs won’t take them lightly and should get the win. Having said that, this is the region where I am predicting the most upsets. I have #9 Temple over #8 NC St. (not that big of a deal), #10 Colorado over #7 Illinois, #12 California over #5 UNLV, and the biggest shocker…#14 Davidson beating #3 Marquette. After that it’s all chalk, with Syracuse upending Miami to get to The Final Four.
1 Gonzaga vs. 16 Southern
2 Ohio St. vs. 15 Iona
3 New Mexico vs. 14 Harvard
4 Kansas St. vs. 13 Boise St. or LaSalle
5 Wisconsin vs. 12 Mississippi
6 Arizona vs. 11 Belmont
7 Notre Dame vs. 10 Iowa St.
8 Pittsburgh vs. 9 Wichita St.
The first round is unlikely to provide all that much drama, but business should pick up after that. I’ve seen a lot of talking heads predict that Pitt might give Gonzaga a run for their money in the 2nd round, but funnily enough I have the Panthers getting upset right off the bat by Wichita St. The 2nd round should see a matchup of #3 New Mexico vs. #6 Arizona, but whereas several of your pundit types seem to have developed a crush on New Mexico…going so far as to prop them as a potential Final Four team…I have the Wildcats getting the upset. In the regional final I have Ohio St. beating Gonzaga to make it to The Final Four.
1 Kansas vs. 16 Western Kentucky
2 Georgetown vs. 15 Florida Gulf Coast
3 Florida vs. 14 Northwestern St.
4 Michigan vs. 13 South Dakota St.
5 VCU vs. 12 Akron
6 UCLA vs. 11 Minnesota
7 San Diego St. vs. 10 Oklahoma
8 North Carolina vs. 9 Villanova
This bracket doesn’t seem like all that much fun to me outside of the top heaviness of the four best seeds. However, at the bottom of the bracket I have predicted three mild upsets. #11 Minnesota over #6 UCLA would feel like more of a ballsy choice if everyone else wasn’t picking it as well. #10 Oklahoma over #7 San Diego St. is a result of my battle tested philosophy, although I suppose I am showing a lot less respect to the Mountain West Conference than most. #9 Villanova over #8 North Carolina would be a lot more of a marquee game if this was the late 80’s, but in my heart it’s still bigtime. The top four should all make it thru to the regional semis, with Georgetown pulling the mild upset over Kansas to reach The Final Four.
1 Louisville vs. 16 NC A&T
2 Duke vs. 15 Albany
3 Michigan St. vs. 14 Valparaiso
4 St. Louis vs. 13 New Mexico St.
5 Oklahoma St. vs. 12 Oregon
6 Memphis vs. 11 St. Mary’s
7 Creighton vs. 10 Cincinnati
8 Colorado vs. 9 Missouri
Most “experts” are touting this as the toughest region, but I am only predicting a couple of upsets. I have #9 Missouri over #8 Colorado (again not a real upset), and #12 Oregon over #5 Oklahoma St. Everyone is in almost unanimous agreement that Oregon, which won the Pac 12 tournament, was grossly underseeded, and after the 1st round upset I have them pulling off another surprise over #4 St. Louis to reach the Sweet Sixteen. Other than that I have 3 of the top 4 seeds reaching the regional semis, with Louisville upending Michigan St. to reach The Final Four.
So my Final Four is Louisville, Ohio St., Georgetown, & Syracuse. There is definitely a Big East flavor to that group, ala 1985 when Georgetown, St. John’s, & Villanova all made it that far. Maybe I am a bit biased since I live in West Virginia and my Mountaineers competed in the Big East for many years, or maybe I’m just a little sentimental since the conference in its traditional form is being blown up. Whatever the case may be, this would be a fantastic Final Four. I picked Louisville to beat Ohio St. and Georgetown to defeat Syracuse. That means that the National Championship Game would pit the Louisville Cardinals versus the Georgetown Hoyas, and I think Louisville wins that battle and cuts down the nets in Atlanta, GA.
- Posnanski: Sixty-eight seconds to Madness (nbcsports.msnbc.com)
- 2013 March Madness Bracket Picks from Touthouse.com (touthouse.com)
- Pete Thamel: 2013 NCAA tournament: Will Indiana fall to surging Miami in the East? (sportsillustrated.cnn.com)
- Tom Oates: Predict the predictable in NCAA tournament (host.madison.com)
- 10 Lower NCAA Tournament Seeds Nobody Wants to Play (bleacherreport.com)
- 2013 March Madness Bracketology: East Region (sidelinemob.com)
- 2013 NCAA Tournament Cheatsheet: A Scout’s Take on All 68 Teams (bleacherreport.com)
- No. 6 Butler vs. No. 11 Bucknell: March Madness Preview (bleacherreport.com)
- America starts filling out March Madness brackets (timesleader.com)
- Blog Post: Current March Madness Odds, Lines and Point Spreads (pregame.com)