The NCAA Tournament kicks off in about 13 hours. The media has teased apart the bracket. Everyone from your dentist to your grandmother has made their picks, and everyone agrees they know everything or absolutely nothing about what is going to happen. Let me weigh in and take that burden of ignorance off your shoulders.
1) All 4 number 1 seeds will NOT the Final Four – Still has only happened once in the last decade. This year won’t be any different. My pre-tourney pick last March was Wichita State, which was spot on. This year – stay away from Villanova
2) A 12 will upset a 5 – The committee makes these matchups the marquee upset events on paper. The 12 seeds know the pressure. The 5 seeds know they are expected to be knocked off. It would be contrived if not for the fact that the trends keep holding. For 2 straight years, 3 12-seeds have advanced. Last year it was SF Austin, NDSU, and Harvard (I advised you to pick Harvard over Cincy, for the record.) This year I’m banking on Wofford upsetting Arkansas and Stephen F. Austin doing it again. All Hail the Lumberjacks!
3) A blue blood program will lose to a double digit seed – Someone punk upstart always beats the true contenders through sheer luck/bad officiating/weird lunar cycles. Or, you know, the selection committee underseeds a good small program because they are really paying attention and overseeds a weak power conference team because of brand naming. Last year I called the Mercer upset of Duke (I may have been the only person in the country to do so). This year, there are a couple of really easy picks (habitually overseeded Georgetown falling to a hot shooting Eastern Washington and Wichita State beating a shouldn’t-be-in-the-field Indiana team). If you’re looking for a more rugged pick, look out for Louisville losing to UC Irvine.
4) Good guard play will be the deciding factor in reaching the Final 4 – It is just a fact of the tournament: good gaurds, solid defense, and balance take you to the national semi-finals. Lat year I advised riding Scottie Wilbilken of Florida, who helped push Florida to Arlington. Keep an eye out for Kevin Pangos from Gonzaga
5) A 12+ seed will wreck 70% of the country’s brackets – FGCU 2 years ago made the ultimate Cinderella run into the Sweet 16 as a 15-seed. Last year it was the Dayton Flyers marching all the way to the elite 8 as an 11. While I misfired on North Dakota State last year (they only advanced to the round of 32), it still always happens. I’m betting on Stephen F Austin getting into the Sweet 16 this year.
6) Someone’s draft stock in June’s NBA draft will skyrocket after a magnificent performance in the Tourney – My exact post from last year “4-5 great games under the pressure of March can jump you from mid-second round to mid-1st, and bring the big bucks with it. Over-touted Freshmen need not apply. (Virginia’s Joe Harris).” Ok, so Joe was only the 33 overall choice in last year’s draft, but that was probably 10 spots higher after he put in a gritty performance against Michigan State in a thrilling Sweet 16 game. This year, I’m saying it will be Dez Wells of Maryland.
7) The Selection Committee’s questionable decisions will be completely invalidated – There were some ridiculous bubble choices and seeding issues from the committee this year. UCLA, Texas, and Indiana didn’t even deserve bids. Louisville and Georgetown were vastly over-seeded, and Northern Iowa, Wichita State and Maryland all undervalued. None of those decisions will look good by Monday morning.
8) The 1 seeds will all have closer games than they want going into halftime against the 16s, but all 4 will win by double-figure in the end – Hardly a bold prediction, I know. A 16 has never won. Ever. But the gap is getting closer. Still, this truth is safe…for this year, at least.
9) Defense wins Championships – The old adage is as true as ever. This year’s title will go to a lock down defensive team. Obvious pick is Kentucky, but don’t count out Wisconsin and Virginia, or the sleeper pick, Northern Iowa (but seriously, Kentucky).
10) By the end of Friday night, your bracket will look like its bleeding – There is too much madness to have any real idea what is going to happen. Experts who get paid 6 figures to watch and analyze the sport have about as much a chance to get it right than does someone picking by coin flip or Mascot fight.
If you haven’t already done so, fill out a bracket for the TSP Bracket Challenge to compete with us and see who has the best idea of what is going on. Stay tuned in to our Facebook and Twitter feeds as we semi-like react to the rounds as they proceed, and of course check out the rest of the site and the podcast.
So that’s it. We’re down to the 11th hour. The First Four are all played out, and the madness already started (16-17 Hampton someone how beats Manhatten!?!). It is the best 96 hours of sports in the entire year. Embrace the event, have fun watching, and ENJOY THE MADNESS