What a terrible weather weekend here in the DC area. I get so angry when it rains on weekends now, because I am cooped up in an office with little to no exposure to the outdoors five days a week. On top of that UNC lost early in the ACC tournament and Duke ended up as the champion. In saying this, I really like the decision to hold out Lawson for the tournament and hope he is full strength for the NCAA's. UNC is a totally different team without him out there leading the charge. Despite the weather and sports scores from the weekend, I can't help but smile as I lay here on my recliner watching the Selection show. There truly is no greater sporting event then March Madness.
First to analyze the Midwest Region. I like Louisville as the overrall #1 seed, though I had hoped UNC would take the spot. They won their conference tournament and the Big East is arguably the best conference in the nation. The first surprise of the bracket came with Arizona getting in. Does anyone else feel like Arizona would practically have to go winless not to make it into the tournament? If I was a fan of a bubble team I would be very upset at that choice. I like the West Virginia-Dayton matchup. That could be my upset special for that region, but we'll see.
Now to the West region. UConn looks to have a relatively easy way to the sweet sixteen. I like Northern Iowa in a 5-12 upset and Mississipi State in a 4-13 upset. I agree with Maryland getting in and think they will probably beat Cal in the first round. UConn looks to have it pretty easy up until the Memphis match up, but you never know in this tournament. This region looks to be ripe for a lot of upsets, but I see UConn and Memphis facing off in the end.
The next region to cover is the East Region. Again, I agree with Pitt being the the #1 seed even though they lost first round in the Big East. I think conference tournaments are overrated and it could actually benefit teams to lose early in those tournaments. Another questionably bubble team is Wisconsin getting in. More on my opinion on bubble teams later. Duke getting a 2 seed in Greensboro is very beneficial for Duke(kind of bitter about that.) VCU-UCLA will be an interesting matchup.
Now to the region I have most interest in because of my beloved Tarheels, the South. I don't like the fact that Oklahoma is in UNC's bracket. Oklahoma has the best player in the nation and could definitely beat UNC on a good day. Clemson is also a very dangerous team in the bracket and along with Syracuse and Gonzaga makes this probably the toughest region of all. The potential Oklahoma-Clemson secound round match up is very intriguing. This region will come down to Ty Lawson's injured toe. If he is at 90 percent or above I see UNC getting to the final 4. If not it is anyones game. I have many more opinions on this bracket that I will discuss tomorrow.
Now to my rant on the bubble teams. What needs to be made clear by the selection committee is what exactly the criteria is for the 34 at large bids in the tournament. Are they based on who is the best team, who has the best record, toughest schedule, etc. If you are looking for purely the best teams, Virginia Tech should have made the tournament. Now, admittely I am biased as my good friend goes there and I have kind of adopted them as my second team, but they almost beat UNC twice, lost countless times at the last second and had wins at Clemson and Wake Forest. In saying this I'm glad teams like St. Mary's and Penn State didn't get in because those are clearly teams that benefited from weaker schedules. The argument which will probably be made over the following days will be the lack of mid major at large bids. I would have liked to see maybe one or two more mid major teams make it in in place of Arizona and Wisconsin, but ultimately I think the selection committee was right in leaving teams like San Diego State and Creighton out.
I have a ton more to talk about and analyze concerning the NCAA tournament, but need some time to collect my thoughts and analyze the matchups. I will post my final 4 picks tomorrow, and further thoughts about who I thought should and shouldn't have been put in the tournament. What I do know for certain is that March Madness is the best sporting event of the year by a wide margin. I will be spending the first weekend of the tournament in Boston with college friends, conveniently taking off Thursday and Friday to watch the games. Let the Madness begin!