The Non-Billion Dollar Challenge Cheat Sheet
I heard of a study recently that over one BILLION man-hours of productivity are lost in offices each year due to March Madness, but managers are okay with it due to “employee morale”.
REALLY, AMERICA? In a country where I owe more in student loan debt than I could realistically earn this year, we’re cool with paying some $20 billion in wages for no work? I love March Madness. As a new AT&T U-Verse subscriber, I cannot wait until Thursday to watch FOUR games at once, on the same screen. So much happy.
A lot of people I know are in some kind of transition in their life right now, and can’t find a good bracket challenge to join. We at DudeYouCrazy have that solution RIGHT HERE. Since there is no financial gain at stake in the DudeYouCrazy bracket (I call it the 1,000,000,000 points in DYC Street Cred Bracket, which is totally a thing), I’m also going to give you some free advice, or at least what I’m looking forward to on the first weekend of the Madness*.
* I finished DFL in the bracket I entered last year, but ran off a pretty mean streak of wins prior to that. It’s easier when Carolina is good.
PLAY-IN GAMES- Tonight and Wednesday
I refuse to call this the ‘first round’. These games are play-in games because the big conferences didn’t want to lose at-large bids and the NCAA wanted two extra nights of programming. Rarely do these games matter, as evidenced by the fact that they don’t even count in any bracket pools. The 4 16 seeds’ combined record playing in the ‘first round’ (like, seriously, they get credit for an NCAAT win if they advance to get slaughtered by Florida or Wichita) is 66-61.
However, the most controversial team in the tournament, N.C. State, has one of the most exciting players in the Dance. T.J. Warren averaged a cool 25 per game this year, and is probably college basketball’s current version of Kevin Durant. He scores on 3’s, dunks, floaters, drives, pull-ups…you name it. When Palmer and I do NBA Draft stuff later this year, I will be kicking and screaming for the Bobcats to draft him (which means they won’t). They play Xavier tonight. SEC-priders, one of your three chances to beat your chest takes place on Wednesday as Tennessee tries to out-mediocre Iowa.
A lot of people are calling this the toughest bracket, with Florida, Kansas, Syracuse, and Pac-12 tourney champ UCLA taking seeds 1-4, respectively. However, Florida ran roughshod over a terrible SEC, Kansas has played like garbage without Joel Embiid, and Syracuse lost to B.C., Georgia Tech, and N.C. State (see, I wasn’t going to continue to compliment them) down the stretch.
Best first-round matchup: Got to be Ohio State/Dayton. Thad Matta has refused to schedule the Flyers, and this is one of those pairings that the selection committee placed in the bracket
by accident to whip at least one Midwestern state into a frenzy.
Best player: Without Embiid, Andrew Wiggins has begun to live up to his ‘next LeBron’ hype, averaging over 30 in his first 3 games without his top-5-lock running mate. He could blow this thing up solo a la Stephen Curry in 2008, or…
Cinderella: …he could lose to #7 New Mexico in the second round. They won the Mountain West, beating San Diego St. 2 out of 3 times (a San Diego St. team that won at Kansas, mind you). Cameron Bairstow and Kendall Williams are both seniors, and I have them advancing to the Sweet 16 at least (note, I haven’t filled out my bracket yet).
Winner: It’s hard to pick against Florida here, although I hesitated to pick them over a tempo-controlling Pitt team in the 2nd round. Any of the teams seeded 1-7 with the exception of VCU could emerge, in my opinion.
Yeah, Virginia won the ACC regular season and tourney, but played each of the other top-four teams (Syracuse, Duke, UNC) once in the regular season. They also lost to Tennessee (by 35!), Green Bay, and tourney teams Wisconsin and VCU. I am going to watch their first-round matchup with Coastal Carolina closely, as it is as close to a 16-over-1 upset pick I’ve ever come. Michigan State and Iowa State are the hot teams coming in, and have favorable draws to reach the Elite Eight. Then there’s the Jekyll-and-Hyde Tar Heels, and unpredictable Villanova and UConn. Basically, I KNOW NOTHING!
Best first-round matchup: The winning team probably won’t break 60 points, but Ivy League rep Harvard is playing its 3rd straight NCAA Tournament, and squaring off with an unpredictable Cincinnati team in the dreaded 12-5 matchup.
Best player: This is a bracket devoid of top-tier NBA talent, so I’m going to list a few: Adriean Payne and Gary Harris at Michigan State, Marcus Paige from UNC, DeAndre Kane and Melvin Ejim of Iowa State, and do-it-all Shabazz Napier at UConn, who won a championship two years ago in the second-most forgettable NCAA Tournament of the shot-clock era (trumped only by 2010’s Duke title, which I may have just blacked out).
Cinderella: #13 Delaware has 3 guys who average 18 points per game, which is unheard of at any level of basketball. Two of them get hot, and they could knock off the people’s national champ Michigan State.
Bonus: Best second-round matchup: A UNC/Iowa State game is the exceedingly rare “both teams play at a ridiculous tempo” game, where the winner should break 90 points.
Winner: Michigan State is a 4-seed. They’re also easily the best, most balanced team in this bracket. If not them, good luck picking between a Villanova team who has to stay hot from 3 to have a chance (they take 25 a game), a ‘meh’ 1-seed, and a bunch of wild-cards.
This is the world’s most boring bracket. Wisconsin, Creighton, and SDSU are all a pain to watch, and none of the first-round games are particularly intriguing. #12 North Dakota State, #13 New Mexico State, and #14 UL-Lafayette make the upset seeds the most directional-school heavy group ever. Arizona is an entertaining team, but not one I particularly trust since the loss of Brandon Ashley.
first-round second-round matchup: Not to confuse y’all with the NCAA’s definition of first and second round, I mean the games played on Saturday and Sunday after teams, yanno, win a game in the first round. There is just nothing compelling in the first, but an Arizona matchup with Marcus Smart and Okie State, a potential Nebraska/Creighton rematch, and the whitest game in modern basketball history between BYU and Wisconsin could all happen.
Best Player: In 2009, I would’ve taken Oklahoma’s Blake Griffin over Carolina’s Tyler Hansbrough in a ‘best player’ debate due to NBA potential, and I am doing so again: Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart over Creighton’s Doug McDermott, who is a monster but an annoyance to watch.
Cinderella: North Dakota State has won three straight FCS championships in football, and they get a nice draw of feast-or-famine Oklahoma followed by a mid-major in San Diego St. or New Mexico St.
Winner: I’m taking Wisconsin, based on the fact that they played in the nation’s best conference this year, and, as I said, I don’t trust Arizona.
WE COULD GET LOUISVILLE/KENTUCKY IN THE SWEET 16! PLEASE! Wichita State is the second-most ‘meh’ #1 seed in recent memory, Louisville is the best 4 not named 2014 Michigan State in recent memory (seriously, those teams were ranked 2 and 3 to start the season), and then you have Duke and Michigan both capable of cutting down the nets. Pretty damn good bracket. Regardless of who advances from the first weekend, I will be compelled by the talent and my irrational hatred of Duke as I won’t rest easy until they’re eliminated.
Best first-round matchup: Texas/Arizona St., for the sole reason that there is no potential matchup in the tourney that will have better-looking cheerleaders.
Best Player: With apologies to DangeRuss Smith at Louisville, who was the best player on the 2013 National Champs, Jabari Parker is just insane.
Cinderella: The lower-seeded teams in this bracket are as weak as the high ones are strong. But Kentucky as a #8 is a pretty solid hedge here. I have the Wildcats ‘shocking’ Wichita State.
Winner: Duke. /slams head into keyboard dkjlaefhgewhaiug. Really, they don’t play anyone until a potential matchup with Michigan in the Sweet 16, they have an absurd amount of talent on the wings, and upperclassmen in the backcourt.
And, in the words of Andrew Hall, that’s all I’ve got. I’m not picking the Final Four for you unless you plan on cutting me WAY in on Warren Buffett’s billion dollars.