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Brackets: Initial Reaction

The time has come.  The Brackets have been announced and March Madness is in full swing.  Here’s my initial reaction to the brackets.

Chris Chambers, Getty Images

First, the selection committee made a great call – and an obvious one, making Ohio State the overall number one seed.  In a  year that features parody, Ohio State is the only team that COULD be considered a ‘great’ team.  They will cruise to the sweet sixteen in the East Region, then get tested after that, having to face – most likely (dangerous words in this tournament) Kentucky, then North Carolina, two teams that have a lot of potential in this tournament.  I would expect to see Ohio State playing either Syracuse or North Carolina to win the region.

Duke represents the number one seed in the West regional.  A controversial decision to be sure, having lost two of it’s last six games.  But Duke was ranked as the number one team in the country more than once this year and did crush their rivals to win the ACC Championship.  If Duke can shoot well and play defense like they did today their path should be clear until a possible meeting with Texas in the sweet sixteen.  But the potential matchup of UCONN and San Diego St in the sweet sixteen is what is particularly exciting about this region.  This region will be tough to figure, with Texas, UCONN, SDST and Duke all having a chance to represent it in the Final Four.

The Southwest region is topped by Kansas with Notre Dame representing the number two.  It’s a tough bracket to figure with Purdue and Louisville lurking in the region as the number three and number four.  Though each of these teams could lose early.  I’m confused.

Jamie Squire, Getty Images

The final region seems even more confusing.  At first glance it looks like Pittsburgh has a bit of an easy road.  Though Kansas State is sitting deep as a five seed and when at it’s best can play with any team in the nation – I also wouldn’t put it past Frank Martin to scare an opponent into losing – that guy’s terrifying. St. John’s sits as the sixth seed, with BYU at the three.  The seeding sets up to have the Davies-less Fighting Jimmer’s of BYU playing the Kennedy-less St. Johns.  It’ll be a very interesting battle of the handicapped teams in round two (provided they both survive).  Florida represents the number two of the bracket and I see them as a little soft.  Though they’ve played well lately, I think they can be beat.  The problem is, without Davies playing for BYU and without Kennedy playing for St. John’s, I don’t know who beats them.  Look for Wofford to make a huge run?  I just don’t know.

It’s clear to me when looking at the brackets that I don’t know what I’m doing yet.  It’s incredibly confusing.  I feel that the NCAA is filled with an abnormal amount of parody this year.  To me this sets up for an amazingly fun tournament.  I think upsets will be everywhere and it may be the year that a number three or a number four seed slips in to win the championship game.

5-12:  If you’re filling out your brackets you’ve got to have a 5-12 upset.  If you don’t, you’re wrong.  At first glance I could see the A-10 champion Richmond take out Vanderbilt, Clemson (if they win the first round game) take out West Virginia and Memphis take out the recently upset Arizona Wildcats.  If I had to bet on one, I’d say Richmond to take out Vandi.

I’d like to give a nod to the selection committee for moving toward using the last at-large teams in the play-in or ‘first round’ games.  For years I’ve lamented the fact that you can win your conference tournament and get slated for the play-in game.  To me, this tournament is for teams that earned their way there – and the play-in games should be left to the teams that left that up to the selection committee.

In conclusion, this bracket is one of the hardest to break down in years.  A lot of these teams could win the tournament, or get bounced in the first weekend.  It’ll be a long couple of nights with the brackets until I finalize mine. But when I do I’ll upload it and walk through my selections.  Look for that column, it’ll be a lot of fun.  Happy Brackets, everybody! Good luck!

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