The best Monday of the year happened yesterday. Now, some may disagree, especially with the time change and losing an hour just one day before, but Bracket Monday is the only, non-holiday, Monday of the year.
“That’s not what it’s called,” says some no-name.
“Well, it is now,” says I.
Bracket Monday is a day that, no matter what I am supposed to be doing, I am totally focused on the bracket. Who will make the Final Four? Which team is this year’s Cinderella? Will a 16-seed finally defeat a 1-seed? These are questions that my feeble, fandom-soaked, mind is only partially successful at deciphering. Regardless, I thought it worth sharing, so here we go.
Lets start with the group of death, the South Region. I am super biased here…and that doesn’t really stay within their region, but I’ll get to that later. I like my Bearcats! Frankly, I feel like they are the better team in all their matchups, except for the Elite Eight when they find a way to beat Virginia, but there is more there than just the seeds. I, admittedly, do not know much about Nevada, but I can see Mo Bamba and Texas making it to round two. The Bearcats will be able to neutralize Bamba, forcing the rest of the team to step up, something they aren’t that adept at doing. Then, in the Sweet 16, UC will be able to slow Tennessee down to a crawl and make enough shots to get to, what I regard, as a dream matchup in this Tournament. I am so excited at the prospect of a UVA vs UC game in which the winner may score just 40 points, so I will totally pick it…because I really want it to happen.
Good spot to put a disclaimer, I like to fall back on picking matchups I want to see.
Other than the Longhorns, I feel good about the other two upsets I picked. Seth Davis, from the Athletic, is all over Buffalo over Arizona…but he still picked Arizona to win. I am taking it one step further and taking the Bulls. The other upset, Loyola-Chicago over Miami (Fla.), is more about what a story I could see it being. LC hasn’t been to the Dance in a long time, so I don’t see them bowing out to get some punch before the music kicks in. For what it’s worth, I am a fan of Kentucky…but this year has been so un-Calipari that I could almost see them losing in the first round to Davidson. I don’t think it enough to pick it, though, as you can see in the image above.
Now on to the West. Again, my bias is showing. Putting X through to the Final Four is pretty bold, according to most pundits, but they have been really good all year. Take away their mandatory pair of games against Villanova, and they’re practically flawless. I think they can overcome the popular pick out the West, Gonzaga, in the Sweet 16 and overtake Michigan to get to San Antonio.
Only two upsets made it in my bracket for this region. Providence has a great coat and a good resume this year, which is why I think they take their 10-7 matchup and get out of round one. San Diego State is a literal dart throw…though I can see Houston being dejected after falling just short in the American Conference Championship game to Cincinnati. Michigan over UNC will be a trendy pick, and I’m in. UNC is a better version of Kentucky…which still means they’re shaky. Hot take here, but I think the Tar Heels are the weakest 2-seed.
Next is the East Region where I have succumbed to peer pressure. Everyone is picking Villanova…everyone. I wanted to take Purdue, but I thought about it and they don’t have the stuff to stop Nova’s crazy shooters. Texas Tech kind of sparked my interest, but they are without a key player and you need all hands on deck to beat the Wildcats. Jay Wright has the best scoring team in this tournament and I do not see anyone in this region slowing them down.
Speaking of Texas Tech, I have St. Bonaventure beating them in the second round. I just really like the Bonnies. I think they have that fire of having just barely made it in to the tournament, and their guards are pretty solid, so I can see them being a nice Sweet 16 pick. Don’t think the Bonnies make it out of the first round, you say? Meh, I say you’re wrong. They’ll beat the Ball-less UCLA and then upset the boring Gators. On a Side note, I wanted to pick Wichita State over Villanova. I really enjoy watching Landry Shamet and Shaq Morris play basketball, but they just don’t have enough to push the Shockers to the Elite Eight.
That brings us to the Midwest and final region on the bracket. I am going to take some heat for this call, but. I got New Mexico State being this year’s Cinderella…until they meet up with Tom Izzo and Michigan State. Sparty is on a scorched earth campaign as they have been hounded about Larry Nasser and sex abuse within the athletic department for most of the season. Probably the most exciting player in college basketball, not named Trae, Miles Bridges will lead his teammates to the Final Four. Meanwhile, Kansas will play victim to another Cinderella story as Mew Mexico State will bounce them in the Sweet 16. This is where I balance my college basketball fan-know-how with total nonsense because I just want this to happen. Tell me anything about New Mexico State. I do apologize if, for some reason, this is being read by someone who went there, or is there, but here in Ohio, knowledge of New Mexico State is as follows: they are in the tournament and are a 12-seed. That’s pretty much it. Nonetheless, I got em being awesome this year.
So that leaves us with the Final Four and Champion. If you know me, you’re rolling your eyes.
“Cincinnati and Xavier are NOT meeting in the Final Four, Frederick!” Shut your pie-hole. Again, this is where the wishful-thinking, fan-minded side in me comes out, but Southwest Ohio would literally collapse in on itself from sheer excitement if this were to happen…so bring it on. Xavier and the Bearcats to see who faces Villanova, and oh, wait, it’s UC! The Bearcats make their first Championship game since, like, the 50’s, or something, and then shock everyone and win the whole dang thing.
There you have it, ladies and gentlemen on the readership. Go ahead and disagree with me…I know you will.