It's March Madness again, so once again I publish my bracket choices for you all to make fun of. In the past I have submitted only one bracket for your approval, however this year I have made two sheets. The first is with Syracuse winning the National Championship, with a bit of some Big East homerism thrown in. The second below is a more realistic bracket with Syracuse losing to Kansas in the Final Four, and how it could unfold without the East Coast Bias in effect. However, both have virtually the same upsets with only minor tweaks here and there. In the top, main bracket the teams with orange next to them I have seen in person this season. The teams I blue I have watched on television at some point. Teams with nothing are probably automatic qualifiers that no one saw but students of that school. I only enter one pool for money and these are the two sheets I entered with my money where my mouth is. It's with a bunch of politicians, current and former Connecticut State workers, and lobbyists. Your CT government at work. TO THE BRACKETS!
Both brackets are the same on my sheet here. I have Kansas the winner heading to Indy. The Lehigh Mountain Hawks (Engineers!) will get destroyed by Kansas. I like UNLV against Northern Iowa. Despite the Aggies looking good this season Michigan State is just better so no upset there. Maryland will continue to be good as well. San Diego State is my first big upset pick, as I think Bruce Pearl's squad will just simply run out of good fortune. Georgetown will beat the Bobcats of Ohio. Oklahoma State will continue to be a fun, scrappy team to watch and should beat Georgia Tech. And THE Ohio State will also win as the 2 seed. Kansas will beat UNLV of course. Michigan State and Maryland should be a good game, but Vasquez will be better than the State defense. Maryland will advance to play Georgetown. That won't be a game. Okey State is gritty, but just not as talented as Ohio State. They will advance to play G'town. Kansas is too talented for Maryland and Georgetown will have the inside game working against Ohio State's shooters. It comes down to Georgetown and Kansas and Kansas will end Georgetown's improbable run.
The only difference in my SU bracket and the one below is the winner. I have KU coming out below, while I have West Virginia at the top. Texas will out power Wake Forrest, but will be done after taking the biggest fall of the season, only bigger than Connecticut. Temple will beat Cornell despite all that upset talk. Temple is one of the best teams in a good A-10 league and they'll beat the shooting of Cornell. Wisconsin is a tough team at home but not as much on the road. However they should get just by Temple to lose to Kentucky. Marquette was an interesting Big East team. They have been hot lately though and are tougher than several other lesser conference teams. I have they making the Sweet 16. New Mexico advances over Montana and loses to the tougher Marquette. Then I have Missouri pulling the upset over Clemson. Gotta call some upsets people. Then West Virginia making the Championship with Syracuse in the top, Kentucky below. I think West Virginia is tougher and their multiple defenses would confuse Kentucky. However Kentucky is talented so they could catch fire in shooting or dominate inside with Cousins. You decide.
In both brackets I have Duke making the Final Four from this bracket. This is an easy road for Duke so sadly they advance. Louisville, while they played well at the end of the year, will run into Duke's guard play and outside shooting, and will barely lose. They will beat Cal as the Pac-10 is an absolute joke. I'll be honest, didn't see Texas A&M or Utah State this season. No one is picking Utah State over A&M though so I'm sticking with it and the numbers. Siena is one of those trendy upset teams and Purdue's biggest scoring threat has been out for about a month now. I'm picking Siena for the one round upset to lose to A&M. Though my good friend from law school went to Old Dominion, I have to pick against Ol' Dirty here and go with the Big East and Notre Dame. Baylor is one of those difficult teams to pick as they were the fourth best team in the Big XII. I have them losing to Duke in the Sweet 16. I think Richmond and St. Mary's is a toss up as well. But I will go with St. Mary's for being 9-2 on the road versus Richmond's 7-6. They have the pleasure of losing to Villanova. While they haven't been great in a while, this bracket plays right into their hand as they should meet up with Duke in the Elite 8. Scottie Reynolds should get them there alone.
Syracuse advances out of this region in both of my brackets. Despite the injury to Arinze Onuaku they should make it through the first two rounds and have him back for the Sweet 16. Meanwhile they have favorable possible draws save for Pittsburgh looming. A lot of people are picking Florida State over Gonzaga, but I see Gonzaga just eeking one out to lose to Syracuse, despite the fact that it will be harder to beat Gonzaga for Syracuse than Florida State. I have UTEP as the 5/12 upset in my bracket. This is the biggest difference in my brackets. I have Vandy advancing in my main bracket advancing to take on Syracuse in the Sweet 16, where as in my second bracket I have Murray State beating Vandy in an upset in the first round and losing to UTEP. Then UTEP loses to Syracuse. In both I have Xavier beating Minny. I also have Pittsburgh advancing to the Sweet 16 because Pitt, despite losing in the BET, they were one of the top four in the league. I also have BYU over Florida. I just don't see them catching fire over a good shooting BYU team. And finally Kansas State should advance. Pittsburgh and K State should meet up in the Sweet 16 and Syracuse should confound K State with their zone defense. Teams in the Big XII just can't play well against that zone.
In my main bracket I have Kansas meeting up against Syracuse again and West Virginia meeting up with Duke. In the second I still have Kansas and Syracuse, but then I have Kentucky and Duke. In one bracket I have Syracuse beating Kansas ala 2003. I like our team using the zone over Kansas again. They have pretty much one great player and the rest can shoot here and there, but I think we match up pretty favorably. In the next I have West Virginia using similar varying defenses and clutch shooting over Duke as they just have the shooting ability, which West Virginia can disrupt. Finally I have Syracuse beating West Virginia again in the National Championship. In the other I have Kansas just simply being the #1 team in the land and outplaying Syracuse like Georgetown did in the BET. Then I have Kentucky playing Duke and Kentucky showing that they are in fact a bunch of just talented freshmen. They lost to Duke, who gives Kansas a decent game, but Kansas walks away with the crown.
So there you have it. Click on the brackets to see them full size. We here at Orange::44 believe in being open and transparent with our calls, so we'll either be right or fail in the public eye. Either way we'll have our eye on Syracuse in the quest for another Championship.
Also, in case this floats your boat, my NIT bracket. There are already some differences from last night, but hey I didn't put too much thought into the NIT. Have fun UConn! Almost losing to Northeastern at home must have been pleasant.