The month of March means squeaky tennis shoes, rims, nets, last-second shots, and a round ball colored orange. Yes, March Madness starts this Thursday around noon time. The Michigan State Spartans tip off at 12:15 p.m. on Thursday and they will play Valparaiso at the Palace of Auburn Hills. Michigan takes the court in the same arena and they take on South Dakota State at 7:15 p.m. How about Michigan and Michigan State both playing basically home games? The NCAA wants to sell tickets! Mission accomplished, as the Palace will be sold out, guaranteed. Let’s break down the four regions and I will share some of my bracket picks.
The West Region and number-one seeded Gonzaga Bulldogs: This is the easiest region, in my opinion, and it isn’t even close. Can Ohio State, as a number-two seed, win this bracket? I say yes they can. They are coming off the Big Ten Tournament as winners and playing good basketball. The guard, Aaron Craft, will have to play well, though. I see two possible upsets—No. 10 Iowa State taking down No. 7 Notre Dame, and also Belmont will surprise Arizona. The team none of you know about is No. 3 New Mexico, a great basketball team. They have not been to a Sweet Sixteen since 1974. That might change.
Two contrasting styles? Grinders Wisconsin vs Up-tempo Ole Miss. Wisky wins and moves on. Sweet Sixteen bound: Gonzaga, Wisconsin, New Mexico and Ohio State.
The East Region and number-one seeded Indiana Hoosiers: Let’s look at two upsets that could happen here. Butler has a tough task in Bucknell. Bucknell has a player in Mike Muscala, the best rebounder in the country. Muscala also is responsible for 32 percent of his team’s offense. Beware Butler! Davidson and Nik Cochran, who shoots 48 percent from three-ball land, will give No. 3 Marquette all it wants. I like Davidson’s offensive power in this basketball game. It will take down Marquette.
How about No. 12 Cal over No. 5 UNLV? Cal, the twelve seed, will play one hour from its campus! Unfair, I say, to UNLV. The track meet game is NC State and Temple. Look for a lot of points in this one. Sweet Sixteen teams: Indiana, Miami of Florida, Syracuse, and Butler, if they don’t lose to Bucknell.
The South Region has number-one seeded Kansas. How about if Kansas and North Carolina win game one? Yes, Roy Williams will face his old team Kansas again. Nice how the NCAA does these nice little side storylines, isn’t it? How about numberthree seed Florida going 0-5 in games decided by six points or less? That scares me.
Michigan is losers of six of its last 12 games coming into the tourney. The
Wolverines better guard Nate Wolters, the SDSU guard, who averages 23 points a game. SDSU better watch Trey Burke, who averages 19 points and shoots 47 percent from the floor. Michigan better play its “A” game or it will be headed home early. Minnesota will upset UCLA in its firstround game. Minnesota rebounds the ball well and UCLA does not. Sweet Sixteen bound: Kansas, Michigan, Florida and Georgetown.
The Midwest Region and numberone seeded Louisville: The NCAA did the Cardinals no favors, as the the number-one seed of the entire tournament. The top four seeds are Duke, Michigan State, Louisville and Saint Louis. Wow! I think a team on upset alert is the Memphis Tigers. They get the winner of a play-in game, which will be a number-eleven seed. Memphis played a weak schedule and is in a very weak conference. How good are they?, is the question. Saint Louis is the best team that nobody knows. It feature eight juniors and seniors on the roster. Duke has Ryan Kelly back and is dangerous. Missouri and Colorado State feature the number-one and three rebounding teams in the country. Creighton, as a number-seven, might lose to number-ten seeded Cincinnati. Michigan State looks good for a Sweet Sixteen bid to me. The other three Sweet Sixteen teams will be Duke, Saint Louis and Louisville. The top four seeds all advance. Let the basketballs bounce and, hopefully, they bounce your teams’ way and your bracket’s way! Sparty On and Go Blue!! firstname.lastname@example.org