The committee released the field of 68 Sunday on CBS and thank god they went back to the normal way of releasing the bracket. Last years setup was just stupid. Now that the field is out, let’s look at the regions, story-lines, gripes, and everything else.
There weren’t many gripes for the majority of people this year. You could make an argument that teams like NC State or Clemson have a bone to pick with the NCAA. The NCAA unveiled the NET this year as a way to rank teams for seeding purposes in the NCAA Tournament, previously they used the RPI. NC State was ranked 33 in the NET while Clemson was ranked 35th. Now let’s look at the final four teams in: Belmont (47), Temple (56), Arizona State (63), and St. Johns (73). Nobody will argue that the ACC is much better than any conference those four teams played in, but NC State and Clemson both had 11+ losses on the year, losing records against Quad 1 teams. Now Arizona St. played in the WEAK Pac 12 and racked up 10 loses, Temple also had 9 losses, while St. Johns had 12 loses. Temple and ASU were both above .500 against Quad 1 teams while St. Johns was 4-7, which is actually worse than Clemsons and NC States 4-6 record. I loved that Belmont got in, I don’t think there is an issue with them, at 26-5 at 12-3 in Quad 1 they deserved to get in. If you’re a fan of Clemson or NC State, I think you can have a n argument you should have gotten in over any of the three teams.
All the other gripes deal with seeding issue, and let’s start with the obvious one in Michigan St. being a 2 seed and in Dukes bracket. By true seeding, Michigan St. was the #6 overall seed yet got stuck with the number #1 overall seed because they’re close to Washington D.C.? What in the world. So Michigan St. wins the Big Ten regular season and tournament, they only ave 6 loses all year, and get stuck with the #1 overall team? There’s an argument for Michigan St. to be the #1 seed over Gonzaga. At the very least, Michigan St. and Michigan should have swapped where they are. Michigan St. probably would have been better off losing in the Big Ten Tournament instead.
Villanova (6 Seed) and Marquette (5 seed) seem like they should have swapped seeds. Villanova and Marquette split on the year, but Villanova won the Big East regular season and conference tournament. Oddly enough, I like Villanova’s draw more than Marquette even with the worse seed. I’d much rather be playing St. Mary’s and then Purdue rather then taking on Ja Morant and Murray St in round 1, then potentially Florida St. in the second round.
Cincinnati. They’re a 7 seed. They wen’t 28-6 on the year, beat Houston in the Conference Tournament championship, and were ranked 25th in the NET rankings. I guess 25th is the correct stop for them, to be a #7 seed but they deserved a 6 seed. I would have moved Maryland off the 6 line and put Cinci there. Instead, Cinci gets Iowa and then Tennessee.
The other issue I have is with this geographic bullshit the committee chair talks about. I mentioned it talking about Michigan St. The committee put them in the East because Michigan St. is closer to Washington D.C. Okay, cool. But then how the hell does putting Tennessee in Columbus, OH an advantage if they have to play Cinci in round 2. The committee says they don’t look at potential match-ups, but they just assumed Michigan St. would get to at least the Sweet 16 so you can’t tell me they don’t discuss it. Villanova as a 6 seed gets to play in Rhode Island in a potential match-up against Purdue, the 3 seed. How is that an advantage for Purdue as the higher seed? Wisconsin has to go out to San Jose to play Oregon. It makes no sense to me when they justify seeding by geographic location. Just come out and say it doesn’t matter and seed each region by it’s true seeds. I don’t know where the cut-off is for seeding where the geographic location doesn’t matter. Is it after the 2 seed? 3 seed? 4 seed? At what point do you not care. We’er nitpicking here but it does annoy the shit out of me for some reason.
ESPN’s Boner (East) Region
Zion. Izzo. Scandals. ESPN would fuck this region if they could. My lord, they might straight up forget this isn’t the whole tournament. We have the Minnesota Pitino’s playing Louisville in the opening round. LSU is in this region also. I don’t know why but I also feel like UCF cheated somehow. Lots of drama for everyone besides Duke, which has a pretty easy route to the Final Four.
The Jackie Moon Player to Watch: Dylan Windler, G, Belmont
All the talk in the OVC is about Ja Morant because he will be a top 5 pick in the NBA Draft. However, the best team in the OVC has an NBA guy of their own in Dylan Windler. A 6’8 senior Guard from Indianapolis, Windler averages a double-double with 21.8 PPG and 10.7 RPG. He shoots 43% from three point range and can go off at any moment. He’s scored over 30 points pretty regularly this year and did score 41 against Morehead State. If Belmont makes a run, it will be because Windler is going OFF. Plus he’s a lefty. We love lefties that can shoot the tits off the ball.
The Ed Monix Runner Up: Elhadji Tacko Sereigne Diop Fall, C, UCF
Best 1st Round Game: #7 Louisville vs #10 Minnesota
Rick Pitino will be coaching this game through an ear piece that his son will be wearing. Louisville has blown leads all year. I didn’t even realize Minnesota was good enough to get in. I feel like if any game will have some real intensity because these two teams don’t like each other, it will be this one even though Minnesota and Louisville have to reason to hate each other. Plus, cardinals with teeth are playing gophers? Animal on animal. What’s not to like.
Best Potential Match-up: #11 Belmont vs. #3 LSU
To me there’s not many potential exciting match-ups. I don’t think anyone has a real chance against Duke besides Virginia Tech. Michigan St.’s second round game against Louisville could be good but I’ll take Belmont playing LSU in the second round as the best potential match-up in this region. Both teams like to go up and down and score, Dylan Windler and Nick Musynzki keep up with the big boys and win.
Game Nobody Cares About: #5 Mississippi St. vs. #12 Liberty
Yawn. They should put this game on at 8 AM. Neither of these teams is going anywhere, neither is entertaining to watch for outside fans. Liberty is a trendy upset pick here, and if either makes it to the Sweet 16 they’re are going to get murdered by Zion Willamson. This game will have shitty ratings.
The Emilio Lopez Sneaky Good Game: #8 VCU vs. #9 UCF
The 8/9 and 7/10 games usually are very entertaining. I don’t think people are talking a lot about this game because it’s already decided that the winner is going to lost to Duke. However, UCF has a 7’7 guy in Taco Falls, and VCU is a very good team. I think this is one of the most entertaining games in the 1st round.
Upset of the Region: #11 Belmont over #2 Michigan St.
Belmont would upset #6 Maryland and #3 LSU on its way here but I think this team can make it all the way to the Elite Eight behind Dylan Windler and 6’8 Freshman big man Nick Musynzki take out the Spartans in the Sweet 16.
Potential 1st Round Betting Upset: #14 Yale (+265) over #3 LSU (-330)
For being a 14 seed that really isn’t the odds you’d like to see but its the most realistic in this region for me, and Yale has better odds than Liberty over Mississippi State. LSU has their head all over the place and didn’t play well in the SEC Championship. I like the ole Ivy leaguers beating the cheaters in the first round.
Betting Lower Seed to Win Region: Belmont (+—)
Was it going to be any other team? Nope. Put some money on Belmont.
Mascot Winner: UCF Knights
Okay first of all, hell is supposed to red so Blue Devils is the worst name in all of college sports. For a smart school, pretty DUMB mascot. Plus, the actual mascot is ugly. It’s obvious what to go with here. The tournament ends in April. What comes on in April, the week after the tournament is done? Game of Thrones. What/Who are in Thrones? Knights. UCF Knights win.
Sweet 16: #1 Duke vs. #4 Virginia Tech, #11 Belmont vs. #2 Michigan St.
All chalk here besides LSU getting knocked off by Belmont. LSU doesn’t have their coach, the scandal is also looming over them, and they lost in their first game in the SEC Tournament. I think Duke has a tougher second round game then they imagined with VCU/UCF, while VT gets to the Sweet 16 relatively easily. I like Michigan St. to get revenge on Louisville in the second round.
Elite 8: #1 Duke vs. #11 Belmont
Duke wins a close one against VT while Belmont keeps going and defeats Michigan St. behind Windler. Michigan St. is a good team but they have another let down here after a great year and lose a game they should have won.
Champion: #1 Duke
Duke gets to the final four behind Zion Williamson. I don’t think this is a surprising pick here, this region is laid out on a platter for Duke to run through relatively easily. Belmont has a nice run but they lose by double digits to Duke in the Elite Eight.
Second Weekend Announcers Guess: Easiest choice here, Jim Nantz, Grant Hill, Bill Raftery, and Tracy Wolfson are going to be calling this region. Duke. Michigan St. East Coast. Tournament Darling. Easy. Jim Nantz already has his hotel booked in D.C. and is currently looking up ties online. Hey Jim, nobody wants your damn tie after they win the national championship.
The Same Damn Region as Last Year (West) Region
Michigan jumped up one spot to the 3 seed, while Montana jumped won one seed and they play each other in the opening round of the second year in a row. Florida State is the #4 seed, they were and 8 last year. Gonzaga was the 4 seed last year, and is now the #1 seed this year. They should just swap Houston and Texas Tech to make it a nice little reunion for everybody.
The Jackie Moon Player to Watch: Markus Howard, G, Marquette
Every body is talking about Ja Morant but I think Marquette has a better chance to make a run than Murray St. Howard has been phenomenal for Marquette all year, although he is a undersized guard (only 5’11) the guy can light up the score board. He reminds me a lot of Steph Curry, a small guard that can pull up from anywhere. He put up 40 in half against Buffalo on his way to 45, he put up 45 against Kansas St. and put up 53 at Creighton. The kid can fucking score. I didn’t put Ja Morant here because everybody and their mom is talking about him.
The Ed Monix Runner Up: Ignas Brazdenikis, F, Michigan
Best 1st Round Game: #5 Marquette vs. #12 Murray St.
Ja Morant. Markus Howard. What not to like here. This should be an up and down, high scoring game. Has potential to be the best game in the 1st round.
Best Potential Match-up: #2 Michigan vs. #6 Buffalo
Clashing styles. Offense vs. defense. Big school vs. small school. Buffalo will be a trendy pick to make a run after Texas Tech got bounced by West Virginia in the Big 12 tournament. Michigan is a team that a lot of people like. This could be one of the best games if we can get it in the Sweet 16.
Game Nobody Cares About: #8 Syracuse vs. #9 Baylor
I mean holy hell, this game just has boring written all over it. Baylor never does well in the tournament, they probably have like 4 guys all over 6’8 that can’t shoot a lick and will lose here. Syracuse seems to always pull bullshit runs out of their ass, I hope that doesn’t happen this year. They do have Tyus Battle whose a good player but YUCK, this game SUCKS.
The Emilio Lopez Sneaky Good Game: #7 Nevada vs. #10 Florida
Nevada was a hot pick at the start of the year, they only lost four games all year, and still have the Martin twins ready to make another run. Florida is always a pretty solid team and has March experience. Not a lot of people are picking either team to make a run to the Sweet 16 but either could beat Michigan in round two. Look for this one to be a close game.
Mascot Winner: Northern Kentucky Norse
We already went the knight route with UCF. Can’t do it twice, that would be lazy. We have some cool ones here, the Golden Eagles, Racers, Seminoles, Catamounts, Norse, Red Raiders – not just Raiders but they’re red, Grizzlies, Wolverines. This might be the most stacked mascot region. However, I’m gonna go with the Norse. Something about Norse being an old way to describe Norwegian/Scandinavian/German people, and connecting that to people from Kentucky makes me giggle. Norse for the win.
Upset of the Region: #6 Buffalo over #3 Texas Tech
By seeding, this is the upset I’m prediction. I think other than this game, the West region is pretty much chalk. There’s always one of those brackets that goes chalk and this year I like the West to be almost unaffected by upsets. I like Buffalo’s offense to get the better of Texas Tech in the second round in a great game.
Potential 1st Round Betting Upset: #15 Montana (+1090) over #2 Michigan (-1980)
Why? These two teams played last year in the opening round in one fucking ugly game. Michigan is just as good, if not better defensively from last year but their offense is much worse and can disappear for long stretches. If there’s any 1 or 2 seed to lose in the first round, I think Michigan as the best chance to get upset.
Betting Lower Seed to Win Region: #10 Florida (+7500)
Florida just had a nice run in the SEC Tournament where they beat LSU. They squeaked into the tournament with that win but they have been playing better basketball as of late. A team that has historically gone far in the tournament, I like them better than any other team seeded 8 or worse.
Sweet 16: #1 Gonzaga vs. #4 Florida St., #6 Buffalo vs. #2 Michigan
Gonzaga and Florida St. will have trouble in their second round match-ups but I like both to advance and play each other for the second year in a row in the Sweet 16. Buffalo wins a hard fought game with Texas Tech and Michigan wins a close one against Florida. Buffalo then gets to play Texas Tech twin in the Sweet 16.
Elite 8: #1 Gonzaga vs. #2 Michigan
The match-up that should have happened last year if Florida St. didn’t spoil the fun. I like Michigan with the full week of game planning to take out Buffalo. The Zags get revenge on Florida St. from last year.
Champion: #1 Gonzaga
The match-up that should have happened last year if Florida St. didn’t spoil the fun. I think Gonzaga just has too much for Michigan and gets back to their second Final Four in three years. The Zags beat Duke, Washington, Creighton, Arizona, Illinois, and Texas A&M. They also lost close games to UNC and Tennessee, they have the experience against the “big schools” that will help them get to the Final Four.
Second Weekend Announcers Guess: Brad Nessler, Steve Lavin, Jim Jackson, and Evan Washburn get this region. Why? Because its the same guys who got the region last year. Everything is the same here for the most part.
The Sloth (South) Region
Virginia, Wisconsin, St. Marys, Villanova, Kansas St., Purdue, Cincinnati, Tennessee. Gritty, grindy, dirty, slow, low scoring region here. Whose ready for nobody to score over 62 in the Sweet 16 or Elite 8 unless Villanova makes it. Eight of the top eleven slowest teams in the tournament, are in this region. So if you have to take a mean shit during the games, make sure its during on these games because you might only miss like two or three possessions.
The Jackie Moon Player to Watch: Payton Pritchard, G, Oregon
Oregon’s resurgence of late has been party because of Pritchard who in his last eight games has averaged 15.8 PPG, 4.9 APG, and 3.5 RPG. Oregon is capable of making a run to the second weekend after barley getting in, but they’ll need Pritchard to keep up his good play.
The Ed Monix Runner Up: Ethan Happ, F, Wisconsin
Best 1st Round Game: #5 Wisconsin vs. #12 Oregon
Badgers and Ducks. Rematch of the 2015 game in Milwaukee where Wisconsin edged out Oregon. Now Oregon gets more a home game by playing in San Jose even though they are the higher seed. Did I mention first one to 60 wins? First one to 55 wins actually. Jesus, this is will be hard to watch.
Best Potential Match-up: #1 Virginia vs. #2 Tennessee
Most people want the #1 v #2 seed in every bracket. This would be a great game if we go it, and I believe we will get it. Great defense against great offense, the location in Louisville should allow both fan-bases to travel well.
Game Nobody Cares About: #8 Mississippi vs. #9 Oklahoma
What? Who? I mean at least these two teams might score more than 70.
The Emilio Lopez Sneaky Good Game: #6 Villanova vs. #11 St. Mary’s
St. Mary’s snuck in after beating Gonzaga but I don’t think anyone believes St. Mary’s can beat Villanova. A whole week to prepare, I think St. Mary’s will keep this game very close. This region is boring as all hell, but this will be a game to watch.
Upset of the Region: #6 Villanova vs. #3 Purdue
Another upset by seeding that really isn’t that big of an upset. Hell if this match-up happens Villanova might be favored. However, for now were going with Nova over Purdue. I don’t trust Purdue at all, love Jay Wright in March and they still have a ton of tournament experience on their team.
Potential 1st Round Betting Upset: #14 Old Dominion (+660) over #3 Purdue (-920)
I dislike Purdue so much. They are boring, they only have Carson Edwards and if you stop him, Purdue sucks.
Betting Lower Seed to Win Region: #7 Cincinnati +1500
Cinci is the team I like here. First two games will be in Columbus, OH for them, basically two home games. They play great defense and nobody in the bracket really scares anyone because nobody and fucking score. Cinci is no different than any other team in this region. Cinci not a bad long shot pick.
Mascot Winner: Wisconsin Badgers
We’re a big pro animal blog here so i like the animal mascots more than anything. Boilermakers? No. Volunteers? Dumb. The Colgate Raiders are kinda cool. However if we put all the mascots in one ring, let them duke it out, I like the Badgers to come out on top here. No other animal in this region scares me, anteaters is unique but they’re just a bunch of pussy’s. I’m not sure what a Gael is and I don’t want to look it up. Monarch would be cool if it was like a mythical Monarch (is that even a thing), but it’s just a butterfly that can’t even move in like 15 MPH winds. Facts. Badgers win.
Sweet 16: #1 Virginia vs. #5 Wisconsin, #6 Villanova vs. #2 Tennessee
I like Virginia to FINALLY make it to the Sweet 16. Wisconsin scores a total of 113 points to make it to there also. Nova upsets Purdue and Tennessee barley gets by Cinci in basically a road game.
Elite 8: #1 Virginia vs. #2 Tennessee
I like chalk here. Virginia and Tennessee are two of the best five teams in the country. Virginia is too much for the Badgers to handle and all the Badger fans write Tony Bennett a love letter after the game to come and coach in Madison. Tennessee beats Villanova in a surprisingly high scoring game.
Champion: #2 Tennessee
The Vols have too much offense for Virginia and make it to the Final Four. Texas fans wish Rick Barnes wouldn’t have left, and Tennessee fans wish they were a better football school.
Second Weekend Announcers Guess: Brian Anderson, Chris Webber, and Allie LaForce get this region because Chris Webber can’t call a Michigan game.
The Stanley Ipkiss Spicy Meatball (Midwest) Region
This should be the most entertaining region this year. A potential match-up of UNC and Kentucky should have fans everywhere licking their chops. You have some other good teams on every line that could make a run with #3 Houston, #5 Auburn, and #6 Iowa State. #7 Wofford is a trendy pick and a very good team that could easily take out Kentucky in the second round. Pac 12 winner Washington as the #9 seed takes on #8 Utah St. Either of those teams could knock out UNC. This region is going to be fun.
The Jackie Moon Player to Watch: Corey Davis Jr, G, Houston
If Houston is going to make a run, it will be because Corey Davis is playing at a high level. After Rob Gray left this past year, there was a huge hole to fill for a scorer on this team and Davis has averaged 16.7 PPG. He put up 31 against Cincinnati, a great defensive team in the final game of the regular season. Davis is apparently dealing with a hip injury, but if he’s healthy and on top of his game, Houston could make a Final Four run.
The Ed Monix Runner Up: Sam Merril, G, Utah St
Best 1st Round Game: #8 Utah St. vs #9 Washington
Love this game. Washington plays a 2-3 zone that will give Utah St. fits for a little bit but Utah St. can shoot the hell out of the ball. They won not only the MWC regular season, but also the conference tournament over Nevada. Utah St. is for real. Whatever team comes out of this game will give UNC a run for their money.
Best Potential Match-up: #1 North Carolina vs. #2 Kentucky
Easy. Two blue bloods. They met in the regular season where UNC lost by 8. This would be the dream match-up of the tournament in the first two weekends, even more so than Duke vs Michigan St.
Game Nobody Cares About: #4 Kansas vs. #13 Northeastern
We’ll talk more about this game later multiple times, but not many people are talking about this game because of how boring Northeastern is, and how bad Kansas has been this year. Plus the winner of this game will likely get an Auburn team who is hot. Combine those factors, not a lot of eyes here.
The Emilio Lopez Sneaky Good Game: #6 Iowa St. vs. #11 Ohio St.
Nobody is talking about this game. Iowa St. was up and down all year and had a chance to win the Big 12. Ohio St. snuck in by winning a game in the Big Ten Tournament. I don’t think anybody thinks either team will make it to the second weekend, but this could be a good battle in the 1st round that nobody is talking about.
Upset of the Region: #13 Northeastern vs. #4 Kansas
Kansas sucks away from home. Spoiler Alert: they aren’t playing at home.
Potential 1st Round Betting Upset: #13 Northeastern (+260) over #4 Kansas (-320)
This line says everything you need to know about Kansas. We just talked about how much I think Kansas is out after the first round. Although the line isn’t as big as you would like for a 13 over a 4, its the best upset pick in the 1st round to win you some money.
Betting Lower Seed to Win Region: #9 Washington (+5000)
Washington did play in the shit Pac 12 but they won the regular season. They play great defense and play a 2-3 zone that everyone outside of the Pac 12 will have troubles with. If they can find some offense, I would’t be surprised to see them make a run and win this region.
Mascot Winner: Houston Cougars
Why wouldn’t I pick the team whose named after hot older women? Discussion over.
Sweet 16: #1 UNC vs. #5 Auburn, #2 Kentucky vs. #3 Houston
Almost chalk here besides Kansas who SUCKS away from home. UNC will have a very tough second round game against either Utah St. or Washington – would not be surprised to see them lose in the second round. I also like Kentucky and Houston to make it to the Sweet 16 over tough second round games too. This region really is pretty loaded and should have nail-biters throughout.
Elite 8: #1 UNC vs. #3 Houston
I like Houston over Kentucky. They play really good defense and because of what happened last year against Michigan I think they have a little fire under their ass. UNC is on a mission, they win a great high scoring game against Auburn. Hey Houston, make your free throws. UNC gets the best of Auburn in teams going up and down the
Champion: #1 UNC
UNC might have the deepest team in the field. They have a great freshman in Coby White, and great experience on this squad. I like them to get back to the Final Four and take on Tennessee. They’ll just be too much for Houston in the Elite Eight.
Second Round Announcers Guess: Jim Nantz and the boys should have picked to go here but Jim fucks up BIG TIME. This should be the most exciting region from the get go, and I think will have the best Sweet 16 games – even when I’m wrong with these match-ups. Kevin Harlan, Reggie Miller, Dan Bonner, and Dana Jacboson get the call here.
Moxies Final Four: #1 Duke vs. #1 Gonzaga & #1 UNC vs. #2 Tennessee
National Championship: #1 Gonzaga over #2 Tennessee