Today is Selection Sunday. In approximately 8 hours, we will see the real brackets and scramble to complete them for our office, friends and online pools.
I know I am jumping the gun, but let’s take an early look at the tournament using Joe Lunardi’s predictions on Espn.com.
East – IMHO:
- Miami is the type of team that can make a run. Good, quick guard play from Larkin is the key to their success. Their #2 seed is earned and it would not be a surprise if they made it to the Final 4.
- Wisconsin is battle tested having gone through many wars in the Big 10. While somewhat inconsistent at time, they have the tools to make a run.
- Never count out Tom Izzo and Michigan State. Many of their losses in the Big 10 could have gone either way. Yesterday Izzo commented he is ready to play non-Big-10 teams. If he gets this far, he may be facing Miami and then Wisconsin again.
- Louisville has had an up and down year. They seem to be on the upswing. This type of athletic, pressing team is built for this tournament. Throw in Rick Pitino and watch out. I would not want to play them. You need a solid, smart, well-coached team to break their press and force them to back off. Who is that?
South – IMHO:
- This is the most unpredictable bracket. Duke and Michigan are inconsistent.
- Duke. Duke. Duke. Ryan Kelly is back. Now they are supposed to be a great team. They can get to the Final 4. They will try to “out score” you. Defense is not great. The do not box out and give up way too many offensive rebounds. If their offense is hot, they will go far. Of not, they won’t.
- Kansas is strong. McLemore and 7 footer Withey will be tough. They have 4 players averaging in double-figure points. I am unsure of them. I can picture them getting to the Final 4. I can also picture them getting knocked out by the likes of Michigan or Arizona.
- Which Michigan team will show up? That says it all.
- Regional and time-zone advantage to Gonzaga. The #1 ranked team in the country. Olynyk and Harris have good point and rebound numbers. I have not seen them enough to contribute to the “weak schedule” argument. The first few games will really tell the story. If they win this bracket, they will have certainly earned it by facing the likes of The Ohio State, Kansas State, and Syracuse.
- The Ohio State is a tough team that finds ways to win. Thomas and Craft get all the attention. Smith is hot and cold. Watch out for Ross and Thompson. They are long athletes who can put the ball in the hoop. If they play well, they can make it to the Final 4.
- Syracuse is for real. They have 4 players in double-figure points. Long players in a tough zone defense. Syracuse versus The Ohio State could be a great game. I have no idea how that game would end.
Midwest – IMHO:
- Indiana deserves the top seed in this bracket. Zeller and Oladipo, NBA first-rounders, are the leaders of this team. Players like Watford and Sheehey greatly affect games and spread out the court. On paper, I do not see how they lose. But, of late, they have been losing. It seems like Oladipo gets distracted and is not always on the top of his game. If Zeller and Oladipo are on the top of their games, and everyone else plays average games, they will be hard to beat.
- Georgetown is long, lean, and athletic. They are coached well and will be hard to beat. They play good defense. IF they get by UNC, they will get to the Elite 8. An Indiana v. GTown game would be fun to watch. I would venture to say GTown could take Indiana out of their game.
- North Carolina has had 2 seasons; the 1st half and the 2nd half. They have that “Carolina Talent” and, if they play well, can get by GTown and Florida. I doubt they can beat Indiana.
- I have only seen Florida play twice this year. Obviously they are a balanced team on the offensive side of the court. Can they beat a UNC or GTown? Can they beat a well-coached VCU? We’ll know soon enough.
IMHO: Of course this not even using the actual brackets, but…
- Final 4: Louisville. Kansas. The Ohio State. Georgetown.
- Final game: Georgetown. Louisville.
- 2013 NCAA Mens Basketball Champion: Louisville