Tag Archives: NCAA tournament

Sweet and Elite

Wow. What a slew of games that we saw last week as a 1 and a couple of 2 seeds fell in this NCAA tournament. Villanova, Duke and Louisville all packed their bags early, heading back to their schools disappointed and ashamed.

Wisconsin, South Carolina and Michigan all have crashed the party and they did it in both dramatic and convincing fashion. We also have a clash of the titans in the south region, as seeds 1 through 4 all made it to the Sweet 16.

So let’s break down these sweet 16 games, and I will also give you my new picks for the final 4, since I had Duke in my final, my bracket is a bit busted. Here we go, let’s start up in the East.

654915236.jpgEAST

(8) Wisconsin vs (4) Florida

This is a great game that we would see in the Capital One Bowl during the college football season. Wisconsin led by Seniors Bronson Koenig and Nigel Hayes have brought Wisconsin back to the big time with their play in the first two games.  The Badgers have beaten Virginia Tech in a close one, and upset Villanova by 3 in a thriller.

Florida beat ETSU by 15 then smoked Virginia by 26. The Gators have been led by Junior forward Devin Robinson. Robinson has been a big time player for the Gators in this tournament. It’s an awesome matchup, and a tough one to pick. But I like Wisconsin in this one, that Senior leadership of Nigel Hayes is what will do it.

Screen Shot 2017-03-22 at 10.11.15 AM.png(7) South Carolina vs (3) Baylor

I had neither of these teams in the Sweet 16, my matchup was USC-Duke. Boy I was wrong. Let me say this, I am not a Baylor Bear believer, but Jonathan Motley has been a force this year for the Bears. He is making me contemplate changing my mind about them. Baylor walked by NMSU by a bunch and squeaked by USC by 4.

South Carolina smoked Marquette by 20, and then took out Duke by 7. The Gamecocks led by Senior guard Sindarius Thornwell, had plenty of scoring in their game with Duke. The Gamecocks had 5 fellas in double figures, 4 with fifteen points or more. I like South Carolina, they’re coming off the impressive win against Duke, and I think if Thornwell gets hot early, then it will be a long night for the Bears.

So the Elite 8 game would pit (7) South Carolina vs (8) Wisconsin, let’s stick with the Badgers to the Final 4. Hayes and Koenig led them back to the kingdom and they’re back as one of the prime teams in the Big 10.

EAST WINNER: (8) WISCONSIN

655329402.jpgWEST

(4) West Virginia vs (1) Gonzaga

Gonzaga is in this game because the NCAA didn’t want them bowing out early again. That game against Northwestern was officiated horribly . I think Bob Huggins will coach West Virginia and put Gonzaga coach Mark Few’s mind into a pretzel. The duo of Jevon Carter and Nathan Adrien are what will put the Mountaineers over the top in this one. The Zags aren’t as good as people think they are. If I am wrong, I will admit that. But give me WVU and convincingly.

654271336(11) Xavier vs (2) Arizona

I give Xavier all the credit in the world. They have beaten elite teams night in and night out. The Musketeers first took out Melo Trimble and Maryland then Dwayne Bacon and Florida State, now they get Arizona led by Allonzo Trier. Arizona has blown out North Dakota and slipped by St Mary’s. But this game could be a big one, if Xavier plays to their true potential, then I think they put up a fight. But then again, led by Trier and Lauri Markkanen, the Wildcats could blow this game into the stratosphere and it’ll be over at halftime. I like Arizona by at least 10.

My winner of the Elite 8 game of WVU and Arizona is going to be Arizona. I think Nathan Adrien will get into foul trouble early, and that could crush the hopes of WVU. They’ll close the deficit but Trier and company will be just too much.

WEST WINNER: (2) ARIZONA

Screen Shot 2017-03-22 at 10.13.26 AM.pngMIDWEST

(5) Purdue vs (1) Kansas

Kansas may be the most complete team in this region with Frank Mason and Joshua Jackson. Jackson has had big tournament with big play after big play. Kansas should get their first true test with the Boilermakers on Thursday night.

Caleb Swanigan and Vince Edwards are the duo who I think could give the Jayhawks their toughest match-up in the tourney thus far. Swanigan has at least a double-double a game and Edwards has dropped 20. This could mean Landon Lucas and Devonte Graham will need to be huge for the Jayhawks.

Who’s my pick? I like Kansas by 7 or 8, much closer game than the 2 previous match-ups for Kansas, but I do reserve the right to say if Josh Jackson heats up early, this one could be a double-digit blowout.

Screen Shot 2017-03-22 at 10.14.35 AM.png(7) Michigan vs (3) Oregon

This game is the biggest one in the career of Dillon Brooks. This game is the legacy game I think for the guard. Brooks and company will face a Michigan team that will have overcome basically every obstacle in their way.

But do the Ducks have someone that can stop Moritz Wagner? I don’t think so, it will be one of those big man on one side and a guard on the other side games. Brooks got help from the other guard Tyler Dorsey against Rhode Island, and he will need all the help he can get in this one. Michigan on the other hand has won a majority of their games in the second half, if they wait that long, they will be blown away. I just flipped a coin and I like the Ducks by 2.

I think Kansas walks out of the Midwest. They boast way too much firepower. Jackson and Mason will eat the Oregon duo alive.

MIDWEST WINNER: (1) KANSAS

654641386SOUTH

(4) Butler vs (1) UNC

I won’t lie, I think this game comes down to the possible match-up of Kelan Martin for Butler and Justin Jackson for UNC. I think Jackson is most likely the most underrated player in the entire country and Kelan Martin is the most unnamed good player in the country.

Butler needs Martin to take over this game from buzzer to buzzer.  Then again, the starting five that UNC trots out is arguably the best in the nation. After a scare from Arkansas, I don’t think the Heels fool around with Butler, and escape with a 5 or 6 point win.

Screen Shot 2017-03-22 at 10.16.17 AM.png(3) UCLA vs (2) Kentucky

The rematch we did not think we would get to see. Bruins vs. Wildcats was a thriller earlier this season, with the Bruins leaving Rupp Arena with a win. The Monk-Fox tag-team will have to be at its utmost best from start to finish. This could be the game of the tournament, a true matchup of stars that could give us another rematch. My big pick was Kentucky and I’m sticking with it. The Cats win by 8 as Lonzo Ball has an off game, and TJ Leaf gets into early foul trouble.

I am sticking with Kentucky, no other way to put it.

MIDWEST WINNER: (2) KENTUCKY

 

 

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Let the Madness begin

It’s that time of year again, the NCAA Tournament has arrived. Fans filing into arenas ready to cheer on their team, others are sitting at home tinkering their brackets to the last possible second; Favorites, Upsets, Cinderella teams, and future NBA superstars, all these things to consider while making the perfect bracket. Here are the most important things you need to look out for in this year’s NCAA tournament:

Favorites

Every year there are the teams that always seem to be there in the end or at least in the conversation of being National Champions. This year, we have our number one seeds as Kansas, Oregon, Virginia, and North Carolina (UNC). Having all four one seeds reach the Final Four has only happened once, in 2008, and this year it looks like the streak will continue as each one seed has multiple games that could bounce them from the tournament.

Kansas, considered the top team in the Nation, arguably has the toughest road to the finals for a one seed. First round is basically a guaranteed win as a 16 seed has never beaten a one seed in tournament history. After the first round, Kansas has projections to play American Athletic Conference champion UCONN Huskies, Big 10 powerhouse Maryland Terps, and Villanova. All these games could be seen as potential traps for the top seeded Jayhawks.

Oregon is on fire coming into the NCAA tourney winning 8 straight games, capped off with a 31 point victory over Utah in the Pac-12 championship game. The Ducks, however, have a tough second round matchup against the Cincinnati Bearcats or St. Joe’s, both teams I could see upsetting the number one seeded Ducks. The Ducks don’t have any glaring issues on either side of the ball, but their defense is not spectacular and their rebounding is subpar. If they can get by the second round, it only gets harder from there, having possible matchups against Duke and Texas A&M. I don’t expect to see the Ducks making a deep run.

Virginia is a team that has always been a mystery in the NCAA tourney. They have gone into the tournament the last two years as a high seed, only to be bounced by the Michigan State Spartans (MSU). Unfortunately for Virginia, their foes have returned in their side of the bracket again. The Spartans finished the year ranked second in the country in the AP poll, but did not get selected for a number one seed. If Virginia makes it to the Elite Eight and is facing Michigan State, expect the “upset”.

The last, but certainly not least, number one seed are the UNC Tarheels. UNC looks to make it to the Final Four for the first time since 2009 when they won the tournament. This yea, UNC led the NCAA in 2 point field goal percentage at 52.7%, but were a less than spectacular 28.3% from behind the arc. The only bright spot for UNC is they probably have the easiest road to the Final Four having probable matchups against Kentucky, West Virginia, or Xavier. Kentucky is a shell of itself from last year and has found little to no success away from home. West Virginia’s defense is easily one of the best in the country, but their offense is very lacking and if they go cold, they could be in a lot of trouble. Xavier has been near the top in all statistical categories all year, but when it comes to playing defense, they struggle allowing over 70 points per game.

Upsets

March Madness has always been a time for Cinderella stories, everyone loves a good underdog. This year, like many others, there are quite a few. Each side of the bracket has potential for huge upsets, maybe even our first 16 seed over a 1?

Let’s start with the West. Since the 64 team tournament has started, at least one 12 seed has upset a five seed in all but 5 tournaments. This year it could come from the West. The 12th seeded Yale Bulldogs taking on Baylor, a team which is reeling and has lost 3 of its last 4. Yale playing at the Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence, RI in their first round matchup could almost be a home atmosphere. Yale led by senior forward Justin Sears and sophomore guard Makai Mason have won 17 of their last 18 and are one of the top rebounding teams in the nation.

In the South, there are multiple first round upsets that could shake everyone’s bracket, unless you are doing your homework. Number 13 seed Hawaii, winners of the Big West, come to the tournament for the first time since 2002, led by senior guard Roderick Bobbitt. Bobbitt has been known to show up during big games with his best performance coming in Hawaii’s 3 point loss to Oklahoma where Bobbitt put up 32 points. Hawaii’s first round matchup against Cal could be a huge upset victory for the boys from the Pacific. The West also features another potential upset number 6 Arizona Wildcats and the number 11 Wichita State Shockers. The Shockers are led by senior guards Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker, both of which have tourney experience since their freshman year. This experience poises the Shockers for a run to the sweet sixteen.

In the Midwest, there are no blatant upsets. One might say number 11 Gonzaga versus number 6 Seton Hall, winners of the Big East. But when you look deeper at the numbers, it’s not really a huge upset as Gonzaga is ranked higher in the BPI polls. The other potential upset on this side of the bracket is the 13th seeded Iona and the 4th seeded Iowa State Cyclones. Iona’s defense will be the key to this upset if they are able to shut down the potent Cyclones offense and get solid scoring from one of the nation’s top scorers, A.J. English; then we could see another major upset.

Finally, in the East, the upset everyone has been waiting for since the 64 team tournament’s inception in 1985. A 16th seed over a one seed. Could this be the year? Well, Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) hopes so. “Dunk City” is returning to March Madness looking to make a splash as a 16 seed. They are playing the UNC Tarheels, one of the most complete teams in this tournament. Led by Marc-Eddy Norelia, the high flying FGCU offense will rely on their inside game to take down the top seeded Tarheels, but will have to beat their season averages in free throws and three pointers made if they want to make history. Disclaimer: It’s highly unlikely that this upset will happen, but we all can dream, right?

This year’s tournament should be as exciting as ever with games starting on St. Patrick’s Day. So grab an adult beverage, sit back on your couch, and enjoy watching the Madness unfold.