Something Something March Madness Preview
I haven’t filled out my bracket yet. Let’s walk you through my failure!
The 2016-17 college basketball season was characterized by an absurdly strong commitment by all teams to keep fans not knowing what the hell was going on. I saw the top 25 at some point this season headlined by Baylor, a team who I didn’t know (and still don’t think, FWIW) was good. Kansas, Villanova, Gonzaga, Kentucky, and Duke also spent time at #1, and all five would be pretty good picks to win it all.
There were no Kevin Durant or Anthony Davis performances by freshmen, as the young guys largely (non-Lonzo Ball/Malik Monk division) underperformed compared to expectations. Instead, senior Frank Mason (Kansas), junior Josh Hart (Nova), and junior Justin Jackson (UNC) won conference player of the year awards and each led their teams to #1 seeds.
Basically, you can’t get this right. I know nothing, so here we go.
Favorites: Villanova and Duke, and given Duke’s performance last week could be viewed as interchangeable. If you’ve followed the blog for long, you know that brings me zero joy. As the defending champ, Villanova comes in with more experience, but Duke has amassed an insane amount of talent and finally sat repugnant asshole Grayson Allen in favor of athletic PG Frank Jackson.
Final Four possibilities: I submit #5 Virginia and #6 SMU. Virginia suffered a midseason lull, but almost won at Villanova in a weird late-season nonconference game. SMU is back from last year’s postseason ban, and damn near won the AAC title with what we thought would be a depleted roster.
#3 Baylor, as referenced above, I’m not buying. Florida is the 4, and they played well in the SEC. Take that for what it’s worth.
Potential crazy upsets: #8 Wisconsin over Villanova in round 2, as they’ll at least limit possessions and keep the game close. It’ll be aesthetic hell to watch if they can pull it off. I’ll give #7 South Carolina over Duke a slight nod as well since the game would be in Greenville, SC, where UNC also plays, which means a good chunk of the crowd will be heavily invested in cheering for Duke’s opposition. Finally, whomever wins the play-in between #11’s USC and Providence will have a puncher’s chance to beat SMU and go on a run.
Favorites: Gonzaga is the first mid-major since Wichita State (in 201…2? maybe?) to get a #1, and they actually promise to be a tough out. Wichita State ran into an 8-seeded Kentucky team that nearly won the whole damn thing. #2 Arizona lost to Gonzaga in the regular season, but was without two key players and just won the top-heavy Pac-12. #3 Florida State looks like an NBA team from a size and athleticism POV.
Final Four Possibilities: #4 West Virginia presses like crazy, #5 Notre Dame is good…this one’s tough. Special shout-out to St. Mary’s at the 7-seed as well, they’d be the nation’s top mid-major…had they not lost to Gonzaga three times. Hell, 11 seed Xavier started the season in the top 10-15 in major polls.
Potential Crazy Upsets: Either #7 St. Mary’s or #10 VCU could beat Arizona in Round 2. Same for #6 Maryland and #11 Xavier over Florida St. I’m gonna ride with #12 Princeton over Notre Dame as my 12/5 because both teams play such a slow tempo that it’ll come down to the final two minutes.
I know you’re looking at Vanderbilt/Northwestern’s winner (damn this is an academically-sound bracket, even with Florida St. and Arizona) as a possible Gonzaga-beater…but both teams are hella inadequate to do this.
S16: Gonzaga/WVU/Florida St./St. Mary’s (ALL SUBJECT TO CHANGE)
E8: Gonzaga/Florida St.
Winner: Florida St., who serves as my annual ‘Final Four pick to lose on Day 1’.
***IF YOU ARE WILLING TO SPONSOR THIS WEBSITE FOR FOOTBALL SEASON 2017, I’LL LOCK THIS BRACKET IN AND LET YOU MOCK ME WHEN FLORIDA STATE LOSES TO FGCU.***
Favorites: Kansas is here. Louisville is big and again developed a sick combo guard in Shelton Mitchell.
Final Four possibilities: If I don’t go
rock chalk, there are a bunch of teams that could theoretically have potential. However, #3 Oregon just lost a key player, apparently. #4 Purdue was the best team in the B1G and didn’t win a game in their conference tourney. #5 Iowa State is hotter than most teams, and I didn’t know that until looking at the ‘info’ button on the brackets. #7 Michigan is riding high after the plane derailment/B1G title, and #9 Michigan St. is always a tough out in March because Tom Izzo.
This bracket has nobody I’m actually that confident in.
Potential Crazy Upsets: I mean, pick one. I’ve got my eye on Oregon and Iowa State to possibly both get KO’d in the first round. Literally anything besides Kansas vs. play-in is on the table.
S16: Kansas, Purdue, Rhode Island, Louisville
E8: Purdue, Louisville
Favorites: Uhhh…Carolina, Kentucky, and UCLA are interchangeable as 1/2/3, with Carolina having the advantage of having to play one of them, at most. Butler is the fundamentally sound gym rat squad of the tournament who could give the three aforementioned up-tempo teams fits.
Final Four possibilities: Gonna be a tough road to hoe, but #6 Cincinnati and #10 Wichita State both feel criminally underseeded.
Potential Crazy Upsets: The 12/5’s strike again. Minnesota seems pretty nondescript and Middle Tennessee went 30-4. #13 Winthrop has some dude scoring 23 points a game, and guard play wins in March. Anyone knocking off the top 3 would register as well, and I think Cincinnati over UCLA and Wichita over Kentucky in round 2 should both at least merit consideration.
S16: UNC, Middle Tennessee, Cincinnati, Kentucky
E8: UNC, Kentucky
Winner: Kentucky (let’s…let’s not talk about it.)
Villanova vs. Florida St., Kentucky vs. Louisville: Seriously, Florida State is such a weak pick here. Villanova picks them apart and wins by 17. Hey, the nation’s (second) best rivalry! I think its a Kentucky run year.
Shit. Go SEC, I guess.