Say it with me now: It’s the most wonderful time of the year!
Well, it is for me, anyway. Outside of the U.S. Open in late August this is as excited as I get about a sporting event. Yes, it’s time for March Madness, baby! Sixty-eight teams had their name called on CBS between 6-6:30 p.m., and now we all get to pretend we know what we’re talking about so Ted from human resources will call our names in a few weeks and tell us we’ve won the office pool.
As I try to do every year, I will try to guide and help you, dear reader, with your office pool or ESPN pool or CBS Sports pool or whatever pool you’re into, since, while I don’t watch nearly as much college basketball as I used to, I still watch a lot and read a lot about it. (And I’m sure I’ll have much more to say about my beloved Duke Blue Devils, their insanely non-human star Zion Williamson, as we go along here.)
So without further ado, some quick-hit thoughts on the bracket, which I have to say, is pretty damn good. Usually me and other college hoops fans spend an hour or so on Selection Sunday evening complaining about this team’s seed, how come so and so got left out, and other mistakes. But they did a really, really good job this year.
OK, onward to some first-round upsets you should pick, some dark horses who may go far, and some great matchups I hope happen. As always in this Monday column, I’m not sure I’m ready to pick a Final Four yet, I need at least 24-48 hours to study the bracket some more.
–OK, first off, all the No. 1 seeds are outstanding, and three of the four got very tough brackets, I think. The easiest region is the Midwest, where North Carolina has a cakewalk to the Elite 8, where they’ll play Kentucky, giving me yet another game where I wish both teams could lose, mutually assured destruction and all that. But the other three regions are incredibly difficult.
— First-round upsets I really like: Belmont as an 11 seed will beat Temple and then take out Maryland, a very young team. I really like No. 13 UC-Irvine over a Kansas State team that might be missing its best player (go Anteaters), and I might be crazy enough to pick Yale over LSU, because LSU’s coach Will Wade is suspended right now, Yale is very very good, and I’m scared to death LSU might beat Duke.
I definitely like New Mexico State, who’s won 30 games and is crazy-experienced, to beat Auburn.
One more upset I like but I’m not sure I can bring myself to pick yet: No. 12 Liberty over Mississippi State. Not because I don’t think it’ll happen, but I’m not sure if I can ever possibly pick Jerry Falwell’s school to win something. I hate him so much.
— A team you absolutely, positively should root against? No. 15 seed Bradley. Why? Just read this. Disgusting and disgraceful.
— Lower-seeded sleepers who could make a run: The afore-mentioned Lobos of New Mexico State, who will beat Auburn and then Kansas to get to the Sweet 16; No. 6 seeded Buffalo, who will take out either St. John’s or Arizona State, then possibly beat Texas Tech (I know, I’m wavering on that one, because I love Buffalo’s team but Tech is really, really good).
I like Wofford, too, as a 10 seed, but beating Kentucky in the second round is going to be very, very tough.
— First-round games that’ll be super fun to watch:
1.Marquette-Murray State should be terrific, with two amazing guards in Markus Howard (Marquette) going up against Ja Morant of Murray State. (Thursday, 4:30 p.m. EST, on TBS)
2. Wofford-Seton Hall will be all kinds of fun; the Pirates from Jersey are playing extremely well right now. (Thursday, 9:40 p.m. EST, CBS,
3. Utah State-Washington will be fascinating; the Aggies from Utah State are an outstanding, veteran team and the Huskies have slumped at the end of the season after being regular-season champions of a putrid PAC-12 conference. (Friday, 6:50 p.m. TNT)
— Best games we hopefully will see in the Tournament: Duke-Michigan State in the Elite 8 (if anyone got screwed in the seedings, it’s the Spartans, who could’ve made a strong case for a No. 1 seed) would be epic. Kentucky-UNC, as I mentioned earlier, would be a classic. Virginia-Tennessee in the Elite 8 would be tremendous, I have no idea who’d win that one.
Gonzaga-Florida State would be a rematch of last year when FSU drubbed the Zags; both teams are better this season.
–OK fine, best guess at a Final Four, if you made me choose right now: Duke in the East (duh), Michigan, maybe? in the West, Tennessee in the South, and the Tar Heels of North Carolina in the Midwest. But I don’t feel good about those at all.
Happy bracketing, y’all!
**Finally today, this gave me a good laugh Sunday. Not sure what city this is (looks like Asia based on the store writing) and some people on the Internet are saying it’s fake or staged, but I’m choosing to believe it’s real.
Because people who litter and throw shit out their window deserve to have what happened to this driver, happen to them.