Hi Jimmy: I've done my brackets (with my son and individually), and our "consensus" is the same as yours in the final game - except that my hunch is that Louisville prevails.
As to the other two regions: I have a much higher opinion of Big 10 basketball than I do Big 10 football (especially since in basketball it is DEFINITELY *NOT* "the SEC and everybody else"). I see Gonzaga going *MAYBE* three games in before they get knocked off by somebody. I've watched about a half-dozen of their games this season, and I don't believe they have the juice to make it to the Final Four. My hunch is that either Ohio State or New Mexico comes out of the West.
As for the South - I have Florida meeting Kansas in the Elite 8, and my hunch (again) is that Kansas will over-achieve against an inconsistent Florida team (that be the team which lost to Kansas State 67-61 on December 22nd). I also wouldn't be surprised if an erratic Indiana team actually shows up and beats Miami in the Elite 8 out of the East.
But it's a great time of year. ESPN.com is running their annual "Tournament Challenge" where you can input up to 10 bracket variations to compete for the "prizes" (whatever they are - I don't even check any more). Last night, I did a *serious* one and filled out nine others basically with my eyes closed. In the end, I'll bet one of my frivolous entries grades out better than my serious one.
...and speaking of hunches and frivolity:
Last year's NCAA Champion (KY) not only didn't make the Big Dance this year - they just got knocked out of the NIT in the first round. (They were my "hunch" pick last year; my son kept telling me I was nuts up until the final buzzer of the Final game.)
For someone like me, who really loves college basketball but despises the NBA, I was sort of glad to see Kentucky struggle. It takes some (albeit maybe not a lot) of the luster off of the one-n-done philosophy of recruiting and winning in college ball. It proves that by and large, most 18-19 year old kids are not ready for the NBA, with some notable exceptions. I would love to see the NBA come to an agreement with the NCAA similar to the agreement that MLB has with them.
Let the kids go straight to the pros if they so choose, but if they do go to a four year college, make them wait 3 years (or reach the age of 21) before they are eligible. While the college game would lose a number of “stars” to the NBA, it would also create stability for their programs. Plus it would promote the “team” philosophy of playing basketball, which is why I have always preferred the college game over the NBA in the first place.
As far as bracketology, I’ve never been one to fill out brackets, but I would have to go with Duke or Indiana to win it all. No scientific method to my conclusion, just a gut feeling…
I agree with you Tiger5 about stopping the one and done and going with year or age requirement.
I'm going with Miami though. Miami's got one 24 year old and two 23 year olds on their roster. Their practically grown men and they have experience, talent and poise. Sebe may be on to something with Louisville tho. If Louisville can get into overtime with them then it will become a pickem situation.
I agree with T5: 3 yrs or 21 and they can go to NBA if they start college. The ones that go "half-heartedly" probably would try to go directly to the NBA, but without that extra year of NCAA experience, they might not show enough to the pro scouts to get them the bigger payday that they all want. But I think it would make for even better NCAA basketball to have more seasoned teams competing year after year. It was a shocker for KY to do it last year with all of those kids, but this year definitely exemplifies what happens when your program is cleaned out and you have to start from scratch.
I do think Miami may be the team to beat, but so often that team doesn’t win it all. I’ve never been a fan of The U, but I do sort of pull for them because of Rion Brown (Liberty County High.)
I think Michigan warrants serious consideration as well because of their guard play. At times, Burke and Hardaway seem unstoppable, whether distributing or scoring the basketball. And I think the Big 10 is an awfully strong conference, this year in particular (still think the Hoosiers are better.)
I, as did Sebekm, took Kentucky from the beginning last year, regardless of their youth. It ain’t quite as easy to pick a horse and ride him this year. But I like it that way.
And you are right Sebekm, this year’s crop of diaper dandy Wonder-Cats were more typical of 18 year old kids than last year’s. And I believe they are a better representation of how it’s going to be in any given year for any team playing 6-8 true freshmen and counting on them to win. Those 23 and 24 year old players at Miami that jmack mentioned are more valuable than some realize.
And the Zaggers prove to be pretenders to the Throne. I shoulda known. Still got my horses in the race and one of them, Miami, is heading into the back stretch at a good pace.
We're still on track for a Final Four of LOU, KS, MIA, and OH State (which I have on most of my bracket submissions). But OSU better mind their business in their ongoing game against IA State, and KS needs to show up with consistency if they are going to make it to a showdown with MIA.
KS first half: stinko; second half: WOW. The second half team better show up next game or MI will send them packing.
Your picks are lookin' pretty good Sebe. I still got three of my horses on the track: Miami, Louisville, and Florida. I do not understand Florida Gulf Coast being able to make it this far. I am just learning that they beat both Florida and Miami during the regular season. They must have talent!!
I guess!!! They are the classic cinderella that inspires. I wouldn't be surprised if they win again. But if they make it to the Final Four, their story will really dominate the news and they just might start to feel some pressure. Up to now - from the interviews I've seen - their attitude is that they're playing with house money and have nothing to lose.
Of all my brackets, my best one has KS and LOU meeting for the crown - with KS winning. Highly unlikely unless they play like they did in the 2nd half of the last game for the remainder of the tournament. Probably no way. My hunch is still LOU.
("My best one" = the one with the highest percentage applied to it in relation to the competition on espn.com. The % is 99.5 - I suppose it's actually a "percentile." I didn't pick LaSalle or Florida GC to get out of the first round; or for Wichita State to make it to the Sweet 16. I guess nobody else did either.)
Oh, well...there goes 'nother bracket. I give the "U" a big F for effort and for execution. At least Ohio State held on.
Indiana gone as well. As they used to say in the days before push-up bras:
My brackets are FLAT BUSTED.
Yep, Sebe, I am dead in the water cept for Louisville and Florida. But I had Miami meeting Louisville in the grand finale and Miami winning. You still got Louisville too, don't you/
Anyway...I am going to watch the Cardinals tonite. I have seen them twice and they are good. Full court pressure with breakaway dunks and alley oops.
Yes - my "hunch" is still Louisville, but Kansas could sneak by if they play CONSISTENT basketball and things fall right for them. But LOU might still be too much in the final game. I think they have the magic.
.....as I said - Kansas won't squeak by because they can't play consistent basketball and the only things falling for them are their jockstraps as they exit the tournament.
LOU is still alive, though. Duke, Michigan and Syracuse looked pretty good also.
I think now more than ever - it's LOU. But the MI - SYR game promises to be a really good one. I saw one stat where SYR was allowing LESS shots than the number of turnovers they forced. Incredible.
I think you are correcto mundo Seeboreeno. Louisville has all the weapons. I am glad Jim Boeheim got his 'cuse team in the final four. He's a class act. Michigan scares me. I think Witchita will Fall (pun intended).
Sooooo: Louisville Cardinals to win the big enchilada. I believe you called it.
...yes - USATODAY.com has published the "Top 10" reasons that Louisville will win:
"10. Last time they lost a game, you were reminding yourself not to forget ordering flowers for Valentine's Day. That was Feb. 9. The other three teams in town have lost 13 times since Feb. 9.
9. Twelve teams were seeded No. 3 or higher in this tournament. Louisville is the only one still standing.
8. Neither Michigan nor Syracuse nor Wichita State have a player who has ever seen the inside of a Final Four. All five Louisville starters scored in last year's Final Four, combining for 46 points.
7. The Cardinals have not been behind in the second half in this NCAA Tournament.
6. Rick Pitino has been busy talking his players into thinking they're playing the Miami Heat on Saturday. "What they have done to Ohio State, Pittsburgh, Gonzaga and La Salle is truly amazing," he was saying of Wichita State.
"He's a great motivational speaker," guard Peyton Siva said. "He sells books on it."
5. There have only been 12 lead changes in their four tournament games – 10 of them the first half against Duke.
4. Michigan might be too young. Syracuse might not have the offense. Wichita State is a dangerous team, but does the following conversation sound like it should come from the locker room of a future national champion?
"I had a couple of guys that work on the concourse ask me where Wichita is, which isn't that out of the ordinary for us,'' Shockers reserve guard Ron Baker said Friday. "I answered them and told them it is in the middle of Kansas, kind of in the middle of nowhere. Everybody knows where Kansas is."
3. They're not running away from the role of favorite, as if it was a skunk. "We feel the bulls-eye," Wayne Blackshear mentioned Friday.
"It's a lot of pressure, but pressure brings diamonds," Chane Behanan said. "We're the team they're talking about. Everybody is expecting us to cut down the nets Monday night. We're hoping that, too."
2. Pitino can't get upset the same week he might be elected to the basketball Hall of Fame. That'd be like fate handing him an exploding cigar and lighting it for him.
And the No. 1 reason the Cardinals can't be stopped: They're not playing Kentucky's 2012 team in this Final Four."
BTW: Check out the video at the top of the page. Jim Nantz hosts the results of a fan poll which picked the greatest all-time NCAA championship team, moment, and players. IMHO - they got the team right: the 1975-1976 Indiana Hoosiers - the last undefeated national champion coached by The General - Robert Montgomery Knight. I was living in Indianapolis from 1974 - 1978 and I had the unforgettable privilege of living that experience - from day to day - as Indiana navigated their way through the regular season and the tournament. The entire state of Indiana was on fire with basketeball fever and the magic of that team during the last few months of college basketball in the spring-summer of 1976 - culminating with Indiana rolling through the tourmanent to a perfect season.
For me - the '72 Dolphins will always come up short when you talk about sports perfection. IMHO, for that honor the '75-76 Hurryin' Hoosiers stand alone.
P.S. Here's the Number 1a reason Louisville will win: As if they didn't have enough motivation, now they're on a crusade to win it for that kid with the shattered leg.
I agree Sebe. The Cardinals seem unstopable. I, too, remember that Bob Knight team and the one before it when they went undefeated during the season then ran into Kentucky during the NCAA Tournament and got upset by the Wildcats. Had that not have happened Indiana would have two in a row of undefeated teams.
Is my memory right on this? I get cloudy sometimes.
No - you are right on the money. I, too, remember that loss to KY, and that made the following season even sweeter. When I got to Indianapolis in 1974, I hadn't paid any attention to college basketball in my life, and I just got caught up in the whole thing - especially the atmosphere of a university town (even though the school was 60 miles south it might as well have been in Indianapolis). For me, the experience was fresh, new and electric.
When they were rolling in 74-75, they seemed to be a team of destiny, and then their hot-shot forward Scott May broke his arm during the regular season finale against Purdue. May played limited minutes during the tournament, but was not effective and Indiana lost to KY 92-90 in the regional final. For some reason we had no TV coverage of that game in Indianapolis (or my TV was on the fritz). Anyway, I remember sitting in my townhouse living room listening to the game on the radio. It was a crushing defeat. That game made USA Today's list of the greatest NCAA tournament games of all time.
The following season - returning all of their key starters - the Hoosiers were focused and had that "we wuz robbed" chip on their shoulder throughout the season and the tournament. When they won the title, I was probably as excited about a sporting event as I've ever been in my life.
Now those were good times!