Ok, I’ve reviewed the brackets and I’ve entered a few pools and I have come to one conclusion….
Now don’t get me wrong, I watch a lot of college basketball. Probably more this year than usual since I usually watch whatever game is on ESPN while I’m on the treadmill at the gym. All that viewing leads me to believe that there are at least 8 teams who could legitimately win the title. Truthfully there’s probably more. I would consider Georgetown or Villanova winning it all to be only a mild surprise. Same for Pitt, Baylor, and Kansas St. Ohio St., Kansas, Kentucky, West Virginia, Syracuse, and Duke are the really serious contenders for the title. So, since everyone else is doing it, here’s my advice for your picks:
There’s ALWAYS a 5/12 upset in the first round. I think there’s two this year. UTEP over Butler and Cornell over Temple. Butler historically doesn’t perform well as a 5 seed. I think that’s an unfortunate side effect from being far and away the best team in their league. They can coast through conference play every year and I think it leaves them a bit unprepared for the challenge you get in the tournament. Not really their fault, it just is what it is. Plus, I think UTEP’s a solid team that can win some games in the tourney. Same for Cornell. Solid, solid team.
NEVER trust the Big 10 unless the team is hands down the best team (see: Michigan State, 2000 and Illinois 2005). My advice as a guy who watches a lot of Big 10 basketball is don’t take anyone other than OSU past the 2nd round. I’m serious. I think the Big 10 was the 2nd best league behind the Big East this year, but Ohio State was the ONLY team I saw that didn’t lay a complete stinker all year. You catch Wisconsin, MSU, and Purdue on the right (or wrong depending on your rooting interests) and it’s over. I like Siena over Purdue by the way. I didn’t think losing Robbie Hummel would hurt them THAT much until Minnesota schlacked them.
Don’t put all four #1’s in the Final Four. I think it’s only happened once. Find a 2 and a 3 you like a lot and ride them.
Trust your gut. Every year I over think and that’s where things fall apart on me. This year, I’m just trusting my gut. And my gut tells me this:
FINAL FOUR: Kansas, Syracuse, West Virginia, Baylor
TITLE GAME: Kansas/West Virginia
As I tried to figure out who I like, I just kept coming back to Kansas. You can make excellent arguments for any of the teams I listed above, as well as a few others. I get that. But like I said, trust your gut and mine said go with the team that was never ranked lower than 3, that won’t be affected by the pressure of being the #1 overall seed and favorite to win it all, and a coach who has been there before. I like Kentucky, but I think their youth will trip them up. I like Syracuse, but if Onuaku isn’t healthy, they’re in trouble. I like Duke, but I don’t think they have the talent to win it all. I like West Virginia, but I think they’re a little nuts and that’s not good. I like OSU, but they only play 6 or 7 guys so if they’re in foul trouble, they’re in flat out trouble.
Kansas just makes sense to me, so there you go.
As always, I will hope for the impossible of dream of going 32/32 in the opening rounds. If the trend from the last few years holds, I’ll get 30 or 31, then lose it all in the second round. In other words, sorry Kansas fans, I just ruined your season.