My brother has put together a rather compelling argument for a good number of teams in this year’s NCAA Tournament. More of his musings can be found at Caberneigh.
If you’re all familiar with the former Life Of Reilly column in Sports Illustrated, welcome to the Life Of Robson: NCAA Tournament Edition 2010. My bracket breakdown with subtle and not so subtle suggestions (and if nothing else, an entertaining read)
IT WON’T BE EASY
By far and away, the Midwest is the toughest bracket and it’s not even close. I mean this baby is absolutely loaded. The Sweet 16 in that bracket could easily read – Kansas, Maryland, Georgetown, Ohio State. Are you kidding me? That could be a Final Four. In fact it was my Final Four before the brackets came out! We could subtract Maryland and add Michigan State… and it would still read like a Final Four! Just incredible. I simply don’t believe in there being “easy” brackets. The parity in the sport is better than it’s ever been. It’s tournament time, everyone comes to play. It’s survive and advance. So those thinking Syracuse has a walk in the park to the Final Four in Indianapolis, Gonzaga and Florida State would have you thinking otherwise
SPEAKING OF THE ZAGS
Everyone seemed to lose hope on Gonzaga after St. Mary’s throttled them in their conference tourney. This alone makes em dangerous. And should they get to the Sweet 16, they’ll be playing in Salt Lake City. Despite the 12 hour drive (I’ve done it, it’s not difficult), they have a loyal and rabid fan base (they play in the Dog Pound remember). So make no mistake, these folks will definitely travel in numbers. Nobody will pick this though (not even me) but if you wanna make a bold prediction and really go against the grain, you may be one of the very few with a deep Gonzaga tourney run. However, if this happens to make you win the pool, I declare 10% of the winnings and be labeled as a college basketball genius
IT WAS 60 YEARS AGO
When Baylor last won an NCAA tournament game. For those lacking basic math skills or lack of comprehension of what year it is, that would be 1950. More than anything else, all I want is to see the Bears take down the Bearkats (And that is NOT a typo, they really do spell cats with a “k”).
WELL, I’D ALSO LOVE TO SEE THIS
How about having 4 vs. 13 turn into the new 5 vs. 12. Sure, we could see a Cornell topple Temple or a UTEP slide by Butler, but a 12 over a 5 always happens. This tournament, 13 may very well be the lucky number. Houston, Murray State, Wofford and Siena all have excellent chances with favorable matchups to pull off a stunner. I wouldn’t be surprised to see all four 13 seeds win and again labeled a college basketball genius.
IF 13 IS TOO HIGH
Not feeling all that brave? 11 is a nice number and all the 11 seeds present strong cases for upsets as well. San Diego State, Minnesota, Washington and Old Dominion all finished the season hot with impressive conference tourney runs and also have favorable matchups
HOME SWEET HOME
I always look for favorable draws with a potential home crowd influence. I’m not talking about an 8 or 10 hour drive, I’m talking about where you could hop in your car, pop in a live OAR CD and be in the arena parking lot before OAR even hits the encore. Nothing stands out in the first two rounds which I believe was done by design by the committee. But should you have any of these following teams make the Sweet 16, you may want to consider these for a potential upset push to the Elite 8. It’s a stretch but I’ll throw these out there: BYU playing in Salt Lake City (Provo to Salt Lake City, under an hour); Cornell playing in Syracuse (Ithaca to Syracuse, 1 hour); Baylor, Texas A&M playing in Houston (Waco to Houston, 3 1/2 hours, College Station to Houston, 2 hours)
PROCEED WITH CAUTION
Everyone seems to focus on who is hot and forget who’s on the opposite end of the spectrum. I really do believe the two “coldest” teams entering the tourney are Wake Forest and Purdue. Purdue is not the same team since Robbie Hummel was lost to injury and they are playing with an unbelievable lack of confidence. Wake Forest is suffering from the same confidence issue. Wake has become known to do these late season collapses lately. Not a good basketball team right now and going in the opposite direction. Seth Greenberg would say you’re certifiably insane to pick them in a first round win.
UM, CAN WE GET A DO OVER
There are two teams in particular really wishing the tourney selection committee would re-seed them cause nobody got screwed over more than Northern Iowa and Butler. Butler, one of the better teams in the country, has a very poor matchup against UTEP exposing their lack of frontcourt depth and power. To make matters worse, it’s also the infamous 5-12 matchup. A real shame cause with the right bracket, Butler I felt had serious ability to make a George Mason-like Final Four run. I felt somewhat similar about Northern Iowa. Instead they were given a likely second round matchup with everybody’s favorite (including mine) to win the whole damn thing. And that team would be Kansas. Thanks for playing UNI, even Kurt Warner can’t save ya now
IF IT WEREN’T FOR OUR CONFERENCE TOURNEY WE WOULDN’T BE HERE… SO WATCH OUT
In other words, these were all teams sitting on the wrong side of the bubble and got hot at the right time with a strong conference tourney run and are playing with some C&C (Confidence & Chemistry). There are three that stand out: San Diego State, Minnesota, Georgia Tech
THAT’S ALL FINE AND WELL BUT NOBODY IS HOTTER THAN WE ARE
And that would be the Mean Green of North Texas. They have won 11 games in a row, their last loss coming on January 30th. I don’t care what conference you are from, that is a serious winning streak
DON’T YOU FORGET ABOUT ME
Ah, those “under the radar” power conference teams. Happens every year when these guys emerge. They are always a bit overlooked entering the tourney thanks to their conference brethren who left em in the rearview, but these fellas all have excellent potential to make a run: Michigan State, Tennessee, Pittsburgh, Texas, Wisconsin, Louisville
FIRST ONE TO 100 POINTS WINS
This would be the Houston vs. Maryland matchup, which will be an incredible offensive showdown, likely the very best of the first round. In fact, you may wanna TiVo this bad boy. Aubrey Coleman of Houston is the nation’s leading scorer by a mile, and as a team, Houston has scored over 100 points three times this season. Maryland was EASILY the best offensive team in the ACC. For the record, Maryland also eclipsed the century mark once this season. Fasten your seatbelts, this could be a treat to watch. And one may I add, that may leave Houston ripe for the upset
AND A FINAL PARTING SHOT
Don’t give in to ESPN and watch their ridiculous three days of non-stop coverage, don’t pour over the Internet or pick up every newspaper you can find (It’s permissible for a USA Today to be lying around with their team-by-team capsules and all). But suckering yourself into the insanity of coverage only lets the so-called experts sway your opinion. If you think Ohio is gonna beat Georgetown, good for you! If you like New Mexico in the Final Four, go for it! All this mindless reading and research and the listening to everyone else simply gets you thinking things you wouldn’t have otherwise. Nevermind it took me two hours to write this. Just take that bracket and let that pen run wild! And most important, good luck to all!
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