Saturday, March 17, 2012


Today begins the round of 32, when everyone starts to shun their bracket and just root for the underdog in every game. By now, nobody has a perfect bracket (the best brackets on ESPN and Yahoo! Sports have 2 picks wrong at the least). Norfolk State and Lehigh took care of that for us. For me, my national champ lost in the first round. And I've gone 21 of 32. I'm definitely out of the running here.

But what I am happy about is the fact that my post about my bracketology prediction method for the most part worked. All the #1 and #3 seeds advanced just like I said. Yes, two #2 seeds were upset, but that's a once in a blue moon occurrence. 3 of the 4 #4 seeds advanced (Michigan lost to Ohio, start of a new rivalry?). There were two #5 vs #12 upsets, one of which I predicted correctly. And then the rest of the games are tossups, of which the wrong side of the coin came up for me. I am ashamed of the Gonzaga pick, but the rest bode no shame.

So where do we go from here?
The tournament just got a lot more interesting, with two #2 seeds losing. This gives the #1 seeds in those regions, Kentucky and Michigan State, easy paths to the final four. In the South region (Kentucky's region), #3 Baylor looked shaky against South Dakota St, and then #5, 6, 7, and 9 are out. The biggest tests for Kentucky will be #8 Iowa State and then presumably #4 Indiana. The Indiana game would be the biggest challenge, seeing as Indiana already beat Kentucky earlier this season. If Kentucky doesn't falter there and then gets past the winner of the bottom half of that region (which is expected), the Wildcats are Final Four bound.

As for Michigan State, it probably has the easiest path of any of the four #1s. I honestly believe that St. Louis presents the toughest matchup for them in the region. Marquette and Louisville don't match up well with Michigan's versatile big man, Draymond Green. Therefore, unless New Mexico or Saint Louis can knock of the Spartans, they'll be off to the Final Four. And watch out for Norfolk State; they definitely have the talent to beat the Kenny Boynton-led Florida Gators.

Syracuse is the weakest of the #1s, and also has the toughest road to New Orleans. Not a single upset took place in that region, with all the higher seeded teams getting the first-round victory. Syracuse will have to face K-State today, then Vanderbilt or Wisconsin (I think Vanderbilt) next week. Vanderbilt is very hot right now after winning the SEC championship and we saw how much damage hot teams can do when UConn won it all last year. It's almost a foregone conclusion that Syracuse will lose somewhere along the way, especially since they don't have star Fab Melo to crash the boards. Even if Syracuse beats the winner of Wisconsin vs Vanderbilt, they'll have to likely face Florida State or Ohio State, two very strong teams that are hotter and more talented than the Orange. My prediction: Florida State comes out of this region tested but unscathed.

North Carolina got lucky, there's no other way to put it. If they beat Creighton, then they will face the winner of the game between #12 South Florida and #13 Ohio. That sounds like a walk in the park. Then, in the Elite Eight, unless Kansas loses to Purdue, Georgetown, or NC State (don't see that happening), the Tar Heels will face the Jayhawks. I picked Kansas to win this one, but it really could go either way. I'm sticking with my Kansas prediction, but I do think UNC has a great chance to make it to the Final Four.

The first day of the tournament was boring, but then a ton of upsets made it interesting on Friday. The scarcity of #2 seeds has great implications on the Final Four and have added great intrigue to the tournament. This should be very interesting today, tomorrow, and next weekend. Hope your bracket stays intact and good luck. The tourney never ceases to amaze!

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