Okay, everyone. Time to start filling out your brackets. I’ve already filled out multiple last night due to my excitement and will then narrow it down to 1 which I think is best to enter in office pools, contests, etc. This is one of the most exciting times of the year for me. The bracket this year seems interesting. There is nothing too outrageous that stands out to me. I found Iona getting in the field to be a little bit of a surprise considering they were listed as “last 4 out” for most of the last week. Even then, I don’t have too much of a problem with them getting in. I won’t go through every game. But I will break down some matchups that I find interesting in the first round. I didn’t necessarily pick these, and we all know there’s always crapshoot games, but I found these to be the most intriguing games first round.
#3 Georgetown vs. #14 Belmont: I think this has upset potential. I really like this Belmont team. I’ve said all year I think they can cause damage in the tournament. I think Georgetown is vulnerable too. Belmont shoots the ball very well. They also have strong, experienced guard play which I think is one of the more important factors in an upset pick. I like Belmont here.
#7 Notre Dame vs. #10 Xavier: I like this game and think it will be a good one. Both teams match up well with one another. Xavier is a tough team to figure out. At one point in the year they could play with and beat pretty much anyone in the country, but they also can lose to St. Bonaventure. Talent is not the issue for this team, it’s consistency. I also think the winner of this game will give Duke a nice run in the second round.
#5 New Mexico vs. #12 Long Beach State: Long Beach is another team I like a lot and am tempted to make this one an upset pick too. Casper Ware is one of the best guards in the country and a great scorer. LBS is also really battle-tested and is just coming off some momentum by winning their conference title. If Ware can go off and score I like this pick.
#8 Iowa State vs. #9 UConn: Which UConn will show up this game? The one that can play with anyone, beat WVU and give Syracuse as much as it can handle, or the UConn that loses to Central Florida and Seton Hall? UConn is really talented and if they show up they can compete with anyone. It’s a shame they drew Kentucky as a second round matchup. In their case I’d almost rather want the 10 seed instead of 9.
#6 SDSU vs. #11 NC State: I would argue that NC State winning this game isn’t even an upset and arguably should be favored. NC State is way more battle tested, they ended their year the right way, and they’re talented enough to go far.
#8 Memphis vs. #9 St. Louis: I don’ think either team is happy to be playing one another. This is the toughest 8-9 match-ups to choose from in my opinion. So much so, I think the winner of this has a chance to take out Michigan State next round. Both teams are certainly dangerous.
Trendy upset picks I will stay away from:
Harvard– I like this team a lot. I don’t like their first round match-up, though. Vanderbilt is coming off the momentum of winning the SEC and just playing good basketball in general. Plus, while Harvard can shoot well, Vandy can shoot even better. I don’t like it.
VCU– Last year’s run was awesome for them. I don’t see them doing it again. Their team isn’t as strong as last years. And Wichita State is a very tough match opening round. I think their season ends there.
Iona: I like this team a lot. I agree that it was a surprise to many people to got in the tournament, but I don’t agree that if they were in, a 14 seed was warranted. They got a tough break playing Marquette. Don’t think they get by them.
My WTF pick to look out for:
#2 Kansas vs. #15 Detroit: Detroit is not an awful 15 seed. Probably the best of the bunch. They might be able to give Kansas a scare.
That’s all for now. Good luck with the brackets. Here’s one of mine.
Click to enlarge: