NCAA tournament thoughts and picks

dshirley@macon.comMarch 18, 2013 

For the second straight year, I decided against taking part in an NCAA tournament bracket challenge (for years, friends of mine and I had one with points based on teams' seeds, and it was a lot of fun, but I decided against it last year and this year). Last year, it turned out great as I just sat and watched the games with no rooting interest (my alma mater Clemson wasn't in the tournament, after all, and isn't again this year).

That said, here are my thoughts on the field, some picks for the Final Four and my picks for the first two rounds (and the others will come as the tournament progresses).

Overall thoughts

* I was stunned that Miami wasn't given a No. 1 seed. I just assumed after the Hurricanes beat North Carolina for the ACC tournament title Sunday that they would get a top seed. After all, we've never seen a team win the ACC regular season and tournament titles and then fail to get a top seed. The Hurricanes deserved a No. 1 seed but were dropped to a No. 2.

* The SEC only has three teams in the field, and the ACC only has four, but there really was no uproar about the conferences deserving more because they didn't. Think about it this way: Mississippi was considered a bubble team and won the SEC tournament but only got a No. 12 seed. The Rebels would not have been in the tournament without winning that conference tournament. Sure Maryland and Virginia (ACC) and Tennessee and Kentucky (SEC) could have had arguments for a tournament berth, but they weren't really strong ones.

* The Midwest Regional certainly looks like the toughest, which is odd considering that Louisville, the No. 1 seed in the regional, is the No. 1 overall seed. But standing in the way of the Cardinals could be Duke (No. 2), Michigan State (No. 3), Saint Louis (No. 4), Oklahoma State (No. 5), Memphis (No. 6), etc., etc.

* For years, Gonzaga has been the program seeded lower in the bracket that none of the favorites wanted to play. It will be interesting to see how the Zags do with a No. 1 seed. They have been terrific all season and should be able to handle that pressure (see more below).

* Watch out for (double-digit seeds that could make a run): Oregon (No. 12 in Midwest), Colorado (No. 10 in East), Middle Tennessee State (No. 11 in Midwest), Belmont (No. 11 in West), California (No. 12 in East), South Dakota State (No. 13 in South).

* Under the radar (seeds three to nine that are dangerous): Saint Louis (No. 4 in Midwest), New Mexico (No. 3 in West), Marquette (No. 3 in East), Butler (No. 6 in East), N.C. State (No. 8 in East), San Diego State (No. 7 in South), VCU (No. 5 in South).


Final Four picks

 My Final Four would be made up of Duke, Gonzaga, Georgetown and Miami with Gonzaga beating Georgetown for the championship.

First two rounds picks

 Midwest Regional

First round

North Carolina A&T over Liberty

Middle Tennessee State over St. Mary's

Second round

Louisville over North Carolina A&T

Colorado State over Missouri

Oregon over Oklahoma State

St. Louis over New Mexico State

Middle Tennessee State over Memphis

Michigan State over Valparaiso

Creighton over Cincinnati

Duke over Albany

West Regional

First round

Boise State over La Salle

Second round

Gonzaga over Southern

Pittsburgh over Wichita State

Wisconsin over Mississippi

Kansas State over Boise State

Belmont over Arizona

New Mexico over Harvard

Notre Dame over Iowa State

Ohio State over Iona

South Regional

Second round

Kansas over Western Kentucky

North Carolina over Villanova

VCU over Akron

South Dakota State over Michigan

Minnesota over UCLA

Florida over Northwestern State

San Diego State over Oklahoma

Georgetown over Florida Gulf Coast

East Regional

First round

James Madison over LIU Brooklyn

Second round

Indiana over James Madison

N.C. State over Temple

California over UNLV

Syracuse over Montana

Butler over Bucknell

Marquette over Davidson

Colorado over Illinois

Miami over Pacific




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