LOUISVILLE, KY - FEBRUARY 13: C.J. Fair #5 of the Syracuse Orange shoots the ball while defended by Gorgui Dieng #10 of the Louisville Cardinals during the Big East Conference game at KFC YUM! Center on February 13, 2012 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
You've printed out your brackets, 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?
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?
I've already made my picks out West, over to the Midwest, and down in the South, let's see what's going on in the East:
The Round of 64
1. Syracuse v 16. UNC-Asheville: It would be stupid to ever pick a 16 seed to beat a 1 seed. There's almost no reward, unless you actually think that UNC-Asheville is going to advance not only past Syracuse, but at least another round or two as well. Nobody should ever pick a 16 seed. That being said, there's nothing wrong with pointing out an interesting matchup! The Asheville Bulldogs played four RPI top 50 teams and hung around UConn and NC State. They ran over the Big South and Matt Dickey and J.P. Primm can score a few points. That being said.. Syracuse, no duh.
2. Ohio State v. 15. Loyola (MD): Not to be confused with Loyola Marymount or Loyola Chicago, the Greyhounds boast a win over RPI #41 Iona, which is better than what most of the Pac-12 can say. The Buckeyes have won at least a share of the Big Ten title in each of the past two years, but didn't get past the Sweet 16. I'm gonna put a weird "Could Be An Interesting Game" alert on this one. Probably not that interesting though because... Jared Sullinger. Ohio State.
3. Florida State v 14. St. Bonaventure: The Bonnies make the tournament for the first time since 2000 after beating Xavier in the Atlantic-10 Championship game and are led by Andrew Nicholson, a senior that averaged 18.8 ppg and 8.2 rpg this season. They're hot... but the Seminoles just won the ACC Tournament. That's enough for me. Florida State.
4. Wisconsin v 13. Montana: The Badgers are an interesting team, having finished fourth in the Big Ten but also losing twice to Iowa. The Grizzlies are trying to build a good mid-major program under head coach Wayne Tinkle. That's a funny word. They did beat Long Beach State. They also lost by 25 to Oregon State. Wisconsin wins.
5. Vanderbilt v 12 Harvard: The Commodores have 15 wins over RPI top 100 teams and come in 25th in the RPI themselves and beat Kentucky to win the SEC Tournament. They also lost to Cleveland State, Tennessee, Arkansas, Indiana State, and Mississippi State. Harvard is making the tournament for the first time since 1946, but this has been a long time coming for Tommy Amaker and the Crimson, with his third straight 20-win season. LINSANITY!!! Harvard. Harvard. Harvard.
6. Cincinnati v 11. Texas: The Longhorns snuck in and have eight losses to the RPI top 10, with their best win coming over Temple. The Bearcats, meanwhile, are 5-3 against the RPI top 15. Cincinnati.
7. Gonzaga v 10. West Virginia: Locally, we've been waiting awhile for Mark Few and the Bulldogs to really break through and make it to the Final Four.... finally. I don't know if they'll make it that far, but the Mountaineers are a beatable first round opponent, having beaten only one team in the RPI top 40. ZAGS
8. Kansas State v 9. Southern Miss: The Golden Eagles of Southern Miss are falling backwards into the tournament, needing OT to beat Eastern Carolina and then losing to Marshall. K-State went 3-4 against the RPI top 10. No doubt, the Wildcats win.
1. Syracuse v 8. Kansas State: Jim Boeheim has been the coach since 1976 and he just finished the best regular season of his career at 31-2. The Wildcats can play, but Syracuse makes the Sweet 16.
2. Ohio State v 7. Gonzaga: You think I don't want to pick the Bulldogs? I do. Let's see if I can reason it. Kenpom has Gonzaga at 32. He has the Buckeyes at 2. Gonzaga has Robert Sacre and Elias Harris and Kevin Pangos. Ohio State has Jared Sullinger and Deshaun Thomas and William Buford. The Zags are "Bulldogs." Ohio State is the "Buckeyes." WTF is a Buckeye? LOLJKLOLOLOL!!! I have to pick Ohio State.
3. Florida State v 6. Cincinnati: The Seminoles beat Duke twice and beat North Carolina twice, including a 90-57 blowout. The Bearcats beat Syracuse, Marquette, Louisville, and Georgetown (twice.) I'll go with the ACC Tournament champions. Florida State.
4. Wisconsin v 12. Harvard: CAN LINSANITY V2.0 CONTINUE? DOES THE LEGEND OF LIN CARRY ON TO BEAT A BADGERS TEAM THAT LOST TO IOWA?? TOMMY AMAKIN ME CRAZY?!? No. Wisconsin.
1. Syracuse v 4. Wisconsin: The Badgers always seem like a team that I pick and then they never make it as far as I thought they would. Boeheim is a great coach, but surprisingly has less Final Four appearances than you would assume. (Three.) Bo Ryan is a 4 seed for the third straight year and he hasn't made the Elite Eight since 2005. Which coach breaks on through in 2012? Syracuse.
2. Ohio State v 3. Florida State: The only time that Thad Matta has made the Elite Eight, he had Greg Oden. Seminoles? Basketball? WHAT? Leonard Hamilton has slowly been building towards this. Florida State.
1. Syracuse v 3. Florida State: The Orange had a great year and grabbed a one seed, but Kenpom had them seventh overall. The Seminoles aren't looking back and Boeheim doesn't have a Carmelo Anthony (or a Fab Melo!) this season. Surprise, surprise...
East Winner: Florida State
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