You can make a case for each team in Houston. No one is playing better than Villanova. Buddy Hield has it going on with Oklahoma. Marcus Paige appears to have found his shooting stroke for North Carolina. Syracuse just keeps finding ways to win and sometimes good fortune is a part of the deal.
So who’s your choice? Before the tournament started, I picked Oklahoma and Carolina to reach the Final Four. Of course, I also picked the Sooners and Tar Heels to lose to Kansas and Michigan State in the National Semifinals. So take the following as a proverbial grain of salt.
Villanova – Oklahoma: It would be easy to look back at Oklahoma’s 78-55 victory over Nova in Hawaii and award the Sooners a quick trip to Monday’s title game. Then again, that game was played almost four months ago. It was also a game in which Oklahoma made 14 three-pointers while shooting 53-percent (14-26) beyond the arc. On the flip side, Villanova made just four treys, shooting a dismal 4-32 (12.5%) from distance. It’s doubtful that type of disparity will repeat itself in Houston. Pick: Oklahoma in a close one. Read more…
Given what we’ve seen this season, we shouldn’t be overly surprised to find a six and ten seed in the Elite 8. We also shouldn’t be surprised to find six power-heavy teams. At various points during the 2016 campaign, Kansas, North Carolina, Virginia, Oklahoma, and Villanova all grabbed spots along the No. 1 seed line. Oregon was among the Top 8 for the better part of February and ended at No. 5 on our list. They were the final No. 1 seed on the NCAA Board, which fits the theme.
If you believe in destiny (or maybe redemption), then you embrace Notre Dame and Syracuse. The Irish needed a miraculous tip-in to beat Stephen F. Austin and a pair of late steals/turnovers to upend Wisconsin. Syracuse was undoubtedly helped by an incredible performance from Middle Tennessee that ousted Michigan State in the opening round. The Orange deserve all the credit for reaching the Regional Final; they beat the teams they faced. We can say that and still acknowledge that reaching the Elite 8 required beating a seven seed, 15 seed, and 11 seed. Good fortune is important in March.
So … heading into the Regional Finals, how would you rank the remaining eight teams? Based on what I’ve seen the past two weeks, here’s my list: Read more…
In three short, dramatic weeks, a familiar anthem will play. You can almost hear One Shining Moment in the background. If our Journey to Houston is as good as Championship Week – buzzer beaters, overtimes, half-court heaves – it’ll be another event for the ages.
By now you’ve likely read hundreds of previews and tossed a couple of practice brackets in the trash. Which upsets to pick? Who’ll reach the Final Four? Will Cinderella emerge? So rather than simply provide you a list of picks (boring at best, wrong at worst), let’s take a peek at the possibilities – first as a whole, and then Region-by-Region. Along the way, I’ll give you my selections for the Final Four. It’ll give you something to throw in my face next November.
Tournament Questions …
Will a 16-Seed win? Start with an easy question. No. Although it would be a fun to go Dunk City after FGCU’s dominant win over Fairleigh-Dickinson, let’s remember that the Eagles finished behind North Florida in the Atlantic Sun standings and that Hampton is the only 16-seed to win its league’s regular-season title. Asking the Pirates to beat Virginia in Raleigh is a tall order. Read more…
For us college basketball fans, there’s still something special about Noon on Thursday. Anticipation. Excitement. The eve of Madness. For me, that will probably never change. The First Four is more like an hors d’ oeuvre. Tasty, but not like the main course. But I digress, quickly.
Whether you agree or disagree with the inclusion of Vanderbilt, Michigan, Wichita State and Tulsa, they should provide some entertaining moments tonight and Wednesday.
Vanderbilt vs. Wichita State … On paper, the Commodores should be a Top 25 team. They have that type of talent. But they were also remarkably inconsistent. Will an NCAA tournament berth be the spark they need? That’s tough to answer. We thought the same might be true at the SEC tournament with a potential NCAA bid on the line. The result? A loss to Tennessee. Meanwhile, Wichita State arrives in Dayton with a chip on its shoulder. When the Shockers have been healthy, they’ve been good. Something tells me that Ron Baker and Fred VanVleet won’t let this team lose before the big bracket begins. Pick: Wichita State Read more…
Every year, you take a step back, look things over, and see how well you fared. After some sleep and a return to somewhat normal life – at least until Thursday afternoon (or maybe Tuesday night) – here are the results of my bracket projection compared to the actual Field of 68 …
- 66 of 68 teams (34 of 36 at-large) correct
- 41 teams on their actual seed line
- 23 additional teams within one line of their actual seed
- A total of 64 teams either on or within one of their actual seed
Given this year’s landscape, I feel pretty good about how my decisions. In the end, the Committee went back to its bread-and-butter … who did you beat? And that’s why, in my opinion, that Michigan and Syracuse made the Field. Sometimes, when the going gets tough – and this year’s bubble was tough – you find a comfort zone, something you trust. Right or wrong, that’s my takeaway. Read more…
Our journey is almost complete. The Madness will be unveiled soon. We’ll all take a breath and begin picking our upsets, Final Four matchups, and preparing for what should be an exciting tournament.
Barring an upset in the AAC, here’s one last look at the Field of 68. There are more questions than answers around the bubble. Dice up it however you want. Some combination of Monmouth, Saint Mary’s, South Carolina, Temple, Michigan, Syracuse, San Diego State, Vanderbilt, Florida, and/or Valparaiso will dance. We might even have a surprise or two. It’s been that kind of year.
Sometimes it comes back to basics. Who did you beat? If that is the ending story, then Syracuse and Michigan hold an advantage over say Saint Mary’s, South Carolina, San Diego State, or even Vanderbilt and Florida. There aren’t wrong answers, just different ones. Here’s a final look at our best guess as to those final spots. Enjoy the Selection Show.
Note: If Memphis wins, I’ll update the last bracket to reflect that. Of course, it’s so late, we’ll all be ready for the real thing.
It’s remarkable how consistent Kansas has been under coach Bill Self: another Big 12 title in arguably the nation’s toughest league. Kudos to the Jayhawks who will lead the 2016 Men’s Basketball Championship Bracket when the actual pairings are announced this afternoon. Fresh off its victory in the ACC title game, North Carolina slides into the No. 1 slot in the East Region. Michigan State and Virginia complete the top line.
We’re still unsettled on the bubble. Those final slots could to a multitude of directions – made that much more challenging by San Diego State losing in the Mountain West final on Saturday night. Then we have Memphis, which plays Connecticut today (mid-afternoon) in the AAC title game. The Selection Committee will be building a contingency bracket if the Tigers win. If they do, one current at-large team will end up outside the Field of 68.
One more update to got this afternoon. Enjoy Selection Sunday.