Wednesday, March 16, 2011

March Madness Begins 2011

Let the Craziness begin. This year is going to be harder than ever to figure out who is going to make it in the Big Dance and because of this extreme difficulty I have called in a Sports Professional my good friend Patrick to help us sift through the top teams and figure out who is overrated and who is going to possibly win it all. I have a feeling that he may be onto something with these picks.  Enjoy!

The Ides of March is upon us and most are becoming anxious for the start of spring.  People are thinking about the weekend getaways to the beaches, the nice boat rides while enjoying the beautiful sunset, but most of all the warm weather.  Yes, we all love when the frigid temperatures and terrible winter weather is behind us.  Though, let’s not forget the real excitement that accompanies the month of March and the madness that is about to ensue in the world of sports.  It’s the month that is College Basketball’s grand stage.  An event in which so many people want to participate in filling out a bracket that they make their picks based on which mascot is better, or which color uniform they like the most.  When the word “Cinderella” is heard all over the city and everyone knows you aren’t referring to the folk tale.  Every alumni packs their local bars to cheer on their alma mater in hopes their team survives to live another day.  A time when office pools are popping up everywhere and work production hits its lowest point of the year.  CBS offers every game in live streaming over the internet with the infamous “boss button."  Let’s all be serious though, your boss is probably not going to come check to make sure you aren’t watching because he/she is too busy watching it themselves. That’s right ladies and gentleman, MARCH MADNESS is finally here!  

A lot of you have been researching teams and studying the brackets the minute they were released on Selection Sunday.  Some of you might think that your picks are golden and you are confident you have the winning bracket. You probably have the traditional #12 over #5 seed upset that occurs every year, even some have #13 over # 4, #14 over #3, and MAYBE a #15 over a #2. I am going to go through each region and give you some possible upset picks as well as possible Cinderellas, and of course my winner for each region.  This will lead me to my final four and eventual 2011 National Champion!

When CBS released the brackets on Sunday, they first started with the East.  I didn’t even have to look at the other brackets to know the East was going to be the most difficult.  Ohio St., North Carolina, Syracuse, and Kentucky are the top 4 seeds.  Ohio St has been hot all year long, and North Carolina has turned it around since mid – January with the presence of Kendall Marshall at point guard.  Kentucky is riding high after defeating Florida in the SEC championship game, and Syracuse is always a danger with the zone defense. 
Possible 1st round Upsets-

Clemson over West Virginia: Fatigue might be a factor for Clemson after playing in the opening round against UAB on Tues Night…but with a forceful defense and the way they are shooting as of late, Clemson very well could win.
 Marquette over Xavier:  A very popular upset pick from what I've been reading and what people around me are saying…but Xavier has proven they can play come tournament time..if you are going to go with this one…do so with extreme caution…I believe Xavier could knock out Syracuse in the 2nd round.
Possible Cinderella: #7 seed Washington.
East Regional Winner: Ohio St over North Carolina - I believe the experience of Jon Diebler and David Lighty…along with the great post play of the freshman Jared Sullinger is going to be too much for a young North Carolina team….Should be a fantastic Elite 8 matchup.

Possible 1st round upsets –
Oakland over Texas: Yes, Texas has been one of the top teams in the country throughout the year, but they have shown recently with losses to Nebraska and Colorado, that they have vulnerability.  Oakland has played seven teams in that are in the field this year.  This very well could be the upset that have people talking.)
Missouri over Cincinnati: The Tigers have a very athletic team with a Coach that has experience in the tournament.  They have a very aggressive defense that will allow them to shut down the Bearcats offense.
Possible Cinderella - #5 seed Arizona.
West Regional Winner – Duke over UConn -  Let me set the record straight.  Connecticut is a very good team, as they showed by winning five straight games in the Big East Tournament.  Duke is returning two starters, Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler, and if the Freshman guard Kryie Irving is healthy, this team has a shot to win it all.

Possible 1st Round Upsets –
Richmond over Vanderbilt: Richmond beat Purdue at the beginning of the season which showed people that they can compete with powerhouse schools.  Vanderbilt played in a weak SEC conference this year.
Florida St over Texas A&M: The Seminoles have a great defense and it will be interesting to see if Chris Singleton can rebound from an injury in mid – February.  If he comes back to play, this team could be a dark horse in this region.
Possible Cinderella: #10 seed Florida State.
Southwest Regional Winner: Notre Dame over Kansas -  Ben Hansbrough is the Big East Player of the Year and the three point shooting of Notre Dame has been lights out coming into post season play.  The leadership and intensity within Hansbrough will surprise most and lead this team to the Final Four in Houston.

Possible 1st Round Upsets –
Utah St over Kansas St:  Kansas St has played erratic over the course of the entire season and Utah St. has only lost three games.
Belmont over Wisconsin: The Badgers inability to score as was seen in the Big Ten Tournament when they scored only 33 points spells trouble for this team.  Belmont has five seniors that average double digit points and only lost four games the entire season.
Michigan St over UCLA: Don’t bet against Tom Izzo when it comes time to play in the tournament in March.  They have made back to back Final Fours, including the championship game in 2009. I know they had 14 losses during the season, but the experience of Kalin Lucas and Draymond Green could lead this team to a 3rd consecutive final four.
Possible Cinderella: #10 seed Michigan St.
Southeast Regional Final: Pittsburgh over Michigan St - The Panthers have a well balanced team and might be one of the most complete college teams in the nation.  Jamie Dixon is a great coach and is trying to get over the hump and finally make a Final Four.  Brad Wanamaker is a senior guard who will lead this team to Houston.

Ohio St over Duke
Notre Dame over Ohio St
Notre Dame over Ohio State -  Yes, they will be celebrating a championship in South Bend, Indiana, BUT NOT FOR FOOTBALL!!  Ben Hansbrough will join his brother Tyler, as a National Champion!

Patrick Warco
Guest Columnist 


Anonymous said...

Is this guy a joke? Notre Dame/Pitt? Must have been drunk when he wrote this article!

Jeff said...

Hi Anonymous,

Well not everyone can have the obvious for-sight that you have. Given that you are making your comments after the games were completed. There are a lot of people that had Pitt and Notre Dame going all the way. They are certainly good enough but you know what, this is why it's called March Madness. I'm sure you had Louisville going out in the first round and Marquette and VCU going to the Sweet 16. Anyone can have a bad game and both of these very good teams had bad games. Also lets not take anything away from Florida State and Butler. Both played really well. No one was giving the ACC teams any love at all, with some good reason, they were down this year. But Florida State is really good they boast the best defense in the NCAA's so I wouldn't be so quick to criticize someone unless your willing to show your own bracket for comparison.