Bring on the Blue Devils
No, not those Blue Devils. The Central Connecticut State Blue Devils, of course!
Just one complaint
The NCAA Tournament Brackets were released this evening, and after Ohio State's thumping of Wisconsin earlier today, it came as a surprise to no one that the Buckeyes were named a #1 seed. However, the Buckeyes missed out on the overall #1 seed to Florida. I do not understand how a team that backed in to their conference tournament, going on a streak in which they lost 3 of 4 to the likes of Vanderbilt (6 seed), Tennessee (5 seed), and LSU (sitting at home); none of which were close games in the least bit. Ohio State's only losses this season came at Florida (1 seed, injured Oden), at North Carolina (1 seed, no Oden), and at Wisconsin (2 seed, have beaten them twice since). This goes without mentioning that Ohio State also has the nation's top RPI, and Florida wasn't even ranked in the top 5 at season's end in either of the two major polls. I suppose I will give the selection committee the benefit of the doubt here, however. In all likelihood, they gave Florida the overall top spot, because the Big 10 Championship game today finished so late, and it would have been too late to reshuffle everything at the last minute.
But instead of getting wrapped up in what didn't happen, lets look at what could happen. When I filled out my bracket, I couldn't help but think that the Buckeyes seem to have the easiest route to the final four of all the top seeds. Central Connecticut should, by all rights, hardly be a blip on the Bucks' radars (but, of course, they aren't to be overlooked). The Buckeye's likely second round opponents, BYU and Xavier, are both teams that can be handled. We squeaked past Tennessee earlier in the season, but it is also worth noting that we are playing much, much better than at that time. The bottom half of this regional, however, does have some potential for terror. Memphis is a team that, despite their strength of schedule, is very capable of making it all the way to the Final Four. Teams that just benefit from easy schedules don't win 30 games two seasons in a row like Memphis has, they are definitely legit. Texas A&M plays some of the best defense in not just the Big 12, but in the entire country. They also sport college's version of Gilbert Arenas in Acie Law. Every time he throws up a shot, no matter how ridiculous it may seem, it has a chance to go in, especially in crunch time. Louisville is an energetic young team with a great coach in Rick Pitino, and Nevada has a Naismith award candidate in Nick Fazekas.
However, it appears that the road to the Final Four will be much easier than a team like Florida, which will potentially have to play Arizona, Maryland/Butler, and Wisconsin/Oregon. Maybe losing the overall #1 seed was a blessing in disguise.
Most likely 12 over 5 upset
Every season, it seems, at least one 12 seed upsets a 5 seed. This year, I like Illinois over Virginia Tech. No team out of the ACC really impresses me this season, and allegiances to the Big 10 were the deciding factors. Watch out for Arkansas against USC, though. If the Trojans play in that game like they did in the Pac 10 championship, then I have no trouble seeing the Razorbacks win it.
3 potential Cinderellas
#12 Illinois - I have them in the Sweet 16 of my bracket, beating Va Tech and So Illinois.
#6 Louisville - I don't know if a 6 seed counts as a Cinderella, but I forecast them to upset a worn-down A&M team, as well as Memphis in reaching the Elite 8.
#11 Winthrop - Honestly, I think they'll lose to Notre Dame in the first round, but they seem to be the sexy pick this year.
2 Final Four match-ups
Kansas over Oregon
Ohio State over Georgetown
1 National Champion
Ohio State over Kansas, of course
By the way, it turns out that I actually liked the uniforms OSU was sporting this weekend. I hope they make a permanent comeback sometime soon.