Well, here we are one day away from the real start of March Madness (The first four games don’t count! They are merely an appetizer for the main course. Nice, but not filling) and the excitement couldn’t be any more palpable as the hysteria is about to envelop the whole nation. Yes, even your Grandma, who likes Oregon because ducks are cute, will hooting and hollering.
And just like I did for the Big East Tournament, I will be live blogging all day during the NCAA Tournament. (Yes, I have no life. Well, at least not on those two days, as to me they are the best two days of the year!)
However, before we start with that, let’s dissect this year’s bracket as I dispense some thoughts, tidbits and things to watch, with some predictions thrown in as well. This will be a four-part series with a look at each region. We’ll start with the Midwest region.
- Spoiler Alert! Kentucky will win it all. Seriously, outside of the pressure to go perfect with the bright lights shining squarely on them, the Wildcats have no flaws and should easily win this. However, best laid plans often go awry and they say anything can happen. So with that said, I’m picking them to lose to Hampton. You don’t believe me do you…or do you? It’s just upsetting that we didn’t get the storyline of Kentucky alum, and current Manhattan coach, Steve Masiello (yes, he got his degree) going up his former team. And the Selection Committee did not do that on purpose did they? Of course not. I guess we were all foiled in the end.
- Also, I like Purdue to win in the 8/9 matchup with Cincinnati. If there is one team that can matchup well with the bigs of Kentucky, it is Purdue with A.J. Hammons and Isaac Haas roaming the middle. The Boilermakers certainly can play defense but are nowhere near as athletic as Kentucky.
- West Virginia was a favorite sleeper of mine to make the Final Four, but with Kentucky in the way, scratch that. Hopefully we see Juwan Staten healthy, because he can be a difference maker.
- A possible coach on the move? Look no further than Buffalo’s Bobby Hurley, who will give the aforementioned West Virginia Mountaineers all they can handle on Thursday. Byrce Drew could also be on the move and his Crusaders have the intangibles to give Maryland fits, too.
- Overrated team alert: Kansas. I don’t know, but I don’t like Kansas this year, as this isn’t your typical Kansas team. Without Cliff Alexander and no great shooters to lean on, they could be a candidate to be bounced early. And, of course, how cute was it of the committee to put them in the same bracket with another great state of Kansas team in Wichita State (who could go up against each other in the round of 32). Look for the Shockers to go all out in this affir and take down the Jayhawks.
- I heard CBS’s Jon Rothstein say this year’s Texas team will be the new version of last year’s Tennessee’s team (remember they were a first-four team and went on a Sweet 16 run). With so much talent on the Longhorns’ roster and a fresh slate to work with, I tend to agree with Rothstein. Don’t be surprised if Texas has what it takes to go on a Sweet 16 run, despite Bobby Reagan’s claim that Rick Barnes is the worst coach in America.
Winner: Kentucky for all the obvious reasons.