Unlike Richard, I'm more of a general college basketball fan than a fan of LSU basketball. Hoenstly, John Brady did all he could to kill any interest I have in LSU basketball, and I grew up rooting for the Terps and the old habits die hard. So I approach March Madness, or the greatest annual sporting event, as more of a fan of the game than the fan of one team. My quick take on the brackets:
I love Pitt. I love Jamie Dixon. This is a tough, well-balanced, experienced team that should be going to the Final Four. So why did they choke in the Big East tourney? Why do they always fail to live up to expectations? I'd hate to jump off the abndwagon the moment they finally break the jinx, but... how is this team any different than every Pitt team that fails in the postseason? Besides, guard play usually decides the tourney, and I like Xavier's guards better (other than Fields). But also, I think the dangerous Villanova team, who gets to play at home for the first two rounds, is a terrible draw for the Panthers. Oh, and Nova beat Pitt this year.
Louisville is awesome. They won the Big east regular season and the tourney. This is a team that can do anything, and they are extraordinarily well-balanced and can actually play defense. Also, their draw is cake. Michigan St dominated a terrible Big 10 conference. Kansas is young and probably a year away. Wake fell apart down the stretch, Hell, Utah might be the toughest draw, though I do love West Virginia lurking. I think this is a weak bracket in which Louisiville towers over the competition.
Ty Lawson isn't healthy. Adjust UNC expectations accordingly. Of course, Blake Grifin isn't right either, and OU faltered down the stretch. Syrcause, I'm convinced, blew their wad in the conference tourney though it's good policy to never overlook Jim Boeheim. Hell, the Zags are the only one of the top four seeds currently playing at their peak. If you believe in Illinois, well, it must be lonely. By the way, LSU got a terrible draw with Butler and then UNC. Who did we piss off?
The UConn-Memphis matchup is the one everyone wants, but I'm just going to throw a team name out there: Mizzou. Do not count the Tigers out. Memphis is the big question mark in the tounrey, remember, they lost to Xavier, and they have a chance to answer those questions against the other Tigers. I'm not a huge believer in Uconn, or maybe I just loathe Jim Calhoun, but Washington and Purdue should pose little to no threat to them.
FIRST ROUND UPSETS
Watch all of the 6-11 games, particularly Utah St and Marquette, I'm a huge fan of betting against the Big Ten, which looked pretty bad this year. The SEC also was pretty down this year, but since they only got three bids, maybe they'll play with a chip on their shoulder. Mississippi St particularly has a draw to make a stunning run to the Sweet 16. And while I don't have the guts to pick it: Stephen F Austin and North Dakota St. Remember those teams. And Robert Morris. Some of those long seeds have a puncher's chance.
CRASHING THE FINAL FOUR?
Here is one team from each reason seeded four or lower with a shot to shock the world:
EAST - #4 Xavier. Experience guard play. That's normally a recipe for postseason success. A brutal draw in what looks to be the most powerful bracket will hold them back, as well as a tough first round game.
MIDWEST - #6 West Viriginia. Great defense and the spread motion offense. As much as Bob Huggins is a scumbag, he can cooach. I love their chances.
SOUTH - #4 Gonzaga. I detest the South regional. UNC and OU are both looking vulnerable. The lower level seeds don't look that powerful. If the Zags are ever gonna make the Final Four, this might be the year.
WEST - #8 BYU. UConn has a history of dropping inexplicable games. Really, this looks like a three team bracket, but if you're looking for an underdog, look for teams with a bizarre style of play. Why not?