KANSAS CITY, MO - MARCH 09: Thomas Robinson #0 and Tyshawn Taylor #10 of the Kansas Jayhawks react in the first half against the Baylor Bears during the semifinals of the 2012 Big 12 Men's Basketball Tournament at Sprint Center on March 9, 2012 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Game-by-game predictions of the Midwest Region of the NCAA Tournament. Including this year's Cinderella.
The NCAA Tournament committee has met in their secret room where they've got RPI statistics and unreleased copies of Star Wars on Bluray in it's original format (I assume,) and the brackets are set. You've printed them out, tried to sort through all the play-in games (how many teams are there now? 75?) and now it's time to make your picks. You don't want to lose to Margie in accounting again, do you?
Let's go to Midwest, as Tech N9ne would say, "It's the best."
16. Lamar v 16. Vermont: It's the Cardinals against the Catamounts. Lamar is located in Texas, while Vermont is located in Vermont. Lamar was the Southland champs, while Vermont won the American East tournament. Southland is a television show. American East might be a clothing brand? When I add up all the numbers, Catamounts to a victory. Get it? Vermont.
12. Cal v 12. South Florida: The Golden Bears and the Pac-12 have to find a victory somewhere in this tournament, right? Despite finishing with a better conference record in the Big East than Louisville, UConn, West Virginia and Seton Hall, the Bulls of S. Florida have one of the least efficient offenses of anyone in the dance. Kenpom has the Golden Bears way ahead of the Bulls, so I'm taking Cal.
The Field of 64
1. North Carolina v 16. Vermont: North Carolina, come on and raise up. Remove your shirts and fashion them around your hand so that you can spin it around such as a helicopter. Tar Heels.
2. Kansas v 15. Detroit: Despite how good Kansas is this season, I just don't see how they can beat the Pistons. I mean, as bad as the Pistons are, they're still an NBA team. Oh. Not that Detroit? The Detroit that finished third in the Horizon? Okay, fine. I pick the Jayhawks.
3. Georgetown v 14. Belmont: I love Belmont. Love, love, love, love 'em. Belmont is a 14 seed but has an RPI of 58 and Kenpom has the Bruins at 23! OVERALL! Every year it's starting to feel like "Looking for a major upset? Look for the Belmont matchup." That's how I feel about Belmont. They are 0-4 in tournament history. :( However, they pushed #2 seed Duke to the brink in 2009. This season they lost 7 games by an average of 3.7 points per loss, including a 1-point loss to Duke and a 4-point loss to Memphis, both on the road. Georgetown is solid this year, ranked 11 by Kenpom. They beat Marquette, Louisville, and Memphis. Sometimes though, you gotta go with your gut. BELMONT!!!!!
4. Michigan v 13. Ohio: The Bobcats of Ohio weren't at all bad this year. But they aren't close to Michigan's class. Wolverines. Adamantium rage!!
5. Temple v 12. Cal: Can the Golden Bears beat Temple? A team that beat Duke and Wichita State? Yup, they also lost to Bowling Green, Richmond, and UMASS. In fact, Kenpom has Cal above Temple. Golden Bears, Pac-12 Represent!
6. San Diego State v 11. NC State: The Wolfpack went 1-8 against the RPI top 50, their lone win over #49 Texas. SD State has built up a solid b-ball program. Aztecs.
7. Saint Mary's v 10. Purdue: The Boilermakers had signature wins against Michigan and Temple but went 3-10 in games against the RPI top 50. The Gaels are a legit contender this March. Saint Mary's.
8. Creighton v 9. Alabama: These teams play opposite sides of the ball and I'm going with defense. Alabama, Roll Tide. Not Roll Bluejays.
The Theoretical 32
1. North Carolina v. 9 Alabama: That earlier reference to North Carolina was to local rapper Petey Pablo, who is often compared to Tupac Shakur. I should say, he is compared to Tupac if someone says, "Name any two rappers of any level of success." That's about it. North Carolina continues to Raise Up.
2. Kansas v. 7. Saint Mary's: How long will the Gael's run last? As a 10 seed in 2010, they beat #2 Villanova to advance to the Sweet Sixteen for the first time since 1959. Can they beat Kansas? No, they Kan not.
14. Belmont v 6. San Diego State: The Bruins are officially the tournament darlings and as what seems to be usual for tournament darlings, they face only another mid-major on their path to a possible Sweet Sixteen appearance. Jamaal Franklin has had a great year for the Aztecs, but the names everyone will be talking about next week: Kerron Johnson, Ian Clark, Drew Hanlen, Scott Saunders and Mick Hedgepeth... because BELMONT!!!
4. Michigan v. 12. Cal: Michigan struggled in it's last few games, but they'll put an end to any hopes the Pac-12 had of making the Sweet Sixteen. Michigan.
The Sweet Sixteen
1. North Carolina v 4. Michigan: The Wolverine make the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1994, but that's as far as they get. Petey Pablo tells them to sit down. UNC.
2. Kansas v 14. Belmont: Cinderella's always have to take down a big dog in order to secure their place in tournament history. Belmont has what it takes to beat a Kansas but it's not likely, that's why it's called an "upset." I want to continue the Bruins run, but I just can't. It was good while it lasted, Belmont. I go with Kansas.
1. North Carolina v 2. Kansas: These teams are neck and neck in terms of standings, talent, ability, etc. They can both play offense and defense at a high level. They're both serious contenders to win the whole thing this year but only one team can advance to the Final Four. The Jayhawks point out that Petey Pablo hasn't been relevant in years and they are indeed the ones to "Raise Up."
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