First and foremost, Maybe I sound like a homer, but the Pac-12 absolutely got hosed by the selection committee. Oregon as a 12 seed makes no sense. Are you telling me that if they don’t hold on to beat UCLA in the Pac-12 Tourney final they don’t make it? Sure they struggled the last week of the regular season against Colorado and Utah, but that does’t tell their story of this season.
The fact that the best team in the conference, UCLA, is a six seed tells it all. The committee is saying the conference is made up of a bunch of mediocre teams. Meanwhile Duke and Miami in an ACC that is very down this year get two seeds. Florida who is a team I think might have the best starting five top to bottom in the country, was still not good enough to win the SEC conference tournament, a tournament that only has two teams representing it, and they land a three seed?
I am not saying that those teams don’t deserve high seeds, but in comparison to the Pac-12 and how they were seeded, it makes zero sense. I am sorry but you will lose a debate with me to argue that Belmont, Iowa State, Temple, and Oklahoma had better resumes to be higher seeds than Oregon and Cal. Even Colorado in their own conference doesn’t deserve to be higher than those two!
Now that’s off my chest, lets take a look at the bracket. I am going to give you my two first round upset locks, my favorite “mid-major” team, the toughest region, and amongst all the chaos of this college basketball season, I will give you who the team that is playing the best going into the tournament.
Two first round upset locks:
12-California over 5-UNLV – The famous 12 over 5 upset. Again, Cal got screwed. Guard play and scorers win in the tournament. Allen Crabbe and Justin Cobbs are great. These two faced off earlier in the year which saw the Rebels win by one. I like Cal to get the better of UNLV in this one.
10-Colorado over 7-Illinois – The Big 10 was very good this season. Not doubt about it. However I think Illinois getting a seven seed is a product of how good the conference and not necessarily how good the team was. Colorado is a very tough team and if not for a mid-season lull they had in January, they have had a very solid season winning 10 of their last 15 games. So even though I dog on them for being seeded higher than Oregon and Cal, I still like them with a first round W and guys like Spencer Dinwiddie thrive on stages like this.
My favorite “mid-major” team:
-Is the Mountain West considered a mid-major? I guess it is because isn’t considered a “BCS” conference. If it is, New Mexico is by far and away my favorite mid-major. Yes over Gonzaga. The Zags are the first one seed to be eliminated in my bracket as they have to play a very hot and well coached Wisconsin team potentially in the Sweet 16. New Mexico is unbelievably talented. They almost have four players that average double figure pointe per game. Kendall Williams, Tony Snell, and Alex Kirk do average above 10 and Cameron Bairstow is just below at 9.6 per game. The Lobos go about nine players deep on a given night and all of them know their role on the floor. Their road I think could favor them. Arizona will tough as a potential second round matchup but if they get past the Cats, I think they matchup very well against Notre Dame/Ohio State in the Sweet 16. I already said I think Wisconsin handles Gonzaga, so that means a possible elite 8 of the Lobos against the Badgers. I like New Mexico’s talent there although it would be a very hard fought game. New Mexico in the final four? I think it could happen.
If people respond to me on Twitter (shameless plug: @JaredPros2Preps) saying New Mexico isn’t a mid-major. Then my back-up favorite mid-major is Saint Louis.
The South. You are talking about Kansas, North Carolina, Michigan, Florida, UCLA, Georgetown, VCU and Minnesota. All very talented teams that are capable of making serious runs in the tournament. I think it is the region that will see the most fireworks. I mentioned already that the best starting five in the nation is Florida but they haven’t always played like it. Georgetown has arguably the best player in the nation with Otto Porter Jr. Kansas has maybe the second best player in the nation in Ben McLemore. UCLA with another lottery pick with Shabazz Muhammad. And Michigan with Trey Burke spent some top at the top of the polls for most of the year. This part of the bracket is a total crapshoot in my opinion. If someone tells you they know what is going to happen in this region, you might want to ask them to take a drug test.
The team that is playing the best:
No shocker here. It’s the number one overall seed Louisville Cardinals. They looked great to close out the regular season and were absolutely phenomenal in that Big East Championship game against Syracuse. They had a 24 point swing over the span of 8:30 in the second half of that game. Was a clinic and the best performance I saw from any team in college basketball all season. I don’t know if anyone can beat them the way they are playing right now however my second favorite mid-major (Saint Louis), LeBryan Nash and Okie State or a team that should have a chip on their shoulder from being screwed over by the selection committee (Oregon), will not be tough outs.
Feel free to reach out to me on Twitter with your questions, thoughts or just to talk hoops. This is the REAL Holiday season for me and I love talking about it. I am no expert nor do I think I hold the key to winning your bracket pools, but I love college basketball and am always interested in engaging in a conversation.
Good luck with your brackets!!