Bracketalysis

I'm calling for a moratorium on the term "bracketology" because it's just dumb. And if I had any energy at all, I'd go back and look at any of Lunardi's "predictions" and see if he was even remotely close to getting the brackets right. He often boasts about getting "64 out of 65" right in most years, but I doubt he could possibly have all the conference tourney champs correct. He likely simply says "SEC conf winner will get in" and in his little brain checks that off as a "correct" prediction. Because if he says he had Georgia in the field, he's a filthy, whore of a liar. But I digress.

We're talking brackets today since the NCAA tells us that the tourney "officially begins" tonight. Which is complete baloney, though, since these two teams are playing to get...where? To the first round? That doesn't exactly feel like "advancing," now, does it? The whole play-in game is just a joke. And since we all know the NCAA would never go back to 64 (because they want to keep the same number of at-large bids, the best solution to me is the proposed idea to have FOUR play-in games between eight teams. This way, the Tuesday before the tourney is kind of an event and another nice appetizer and the teams don't feel like they're the two remedial students trying to finish the test while everyone else in the class waits on them. Also, Dayton, Ohio? Why is this the location every single year? I don't get it.

But since we're talking brackets, let me just mention a few aspects of the madness that's about to begin in just about 48 hours.

Toughest Games To Predict

There are always the no-brainers we pick... for some reason, there are always some upsets that look completely obvious and most of the country gets them. So why doesn't the higher-seeded team ever realize this and play inspired ball? Who knows? That's part of the magic.

But which games are tough to call? There are always a handful of those first-round games, where, if you're like me (and hopefully for your wife's sake, you aren't), you kind of flip-flop as you fill out various brackets. I don't like having much variation to mine because I hate having an upset in one place and not in another... but there are always a few. Like...

(5) Drake vs. (12) Western Kentucky -- How do you handicap this? If you've been watching either team all season, you either go to the school or have season tickets. I didn't know anyting about Drake until they popped into the top 15 in the country. From what I do know, though, I could see either team being this year's George Mason and going two rounds in. However, I'm thinking Drake is in trouble because they rely on guard play and zero big men and they have no presence in the middle. This usually doesn't end well for teams.

(7) Miami vs. (10) St. Mary's -- I hate teams like Miami. They're lazy and uninspired. They get up for games against Duke and UNC and yet can't maintain the intensity for other matchups. Will this be one of those? Or will the tourney be motivating? I have no clue.

(6) USC vs. (11) Kansas St. -- Prima donna OJ Mayo versus mama's boy Mike Beasley. Two fairly unlikable guys who have carried their teams. I hear a lot of people jumping on the USC bandwagon but let's not forget that K State beat Kansas this year. So what's that mean? Who the hell knows?

(4) Washington State vs (13) Winthrop -- Don't tell me you're not tempted by this one. Winthrop always seems to be a spoiler. Whenever I see that school name I think of upsets. And Wazzu just looks like one of those teams coasting into the tourney that could get jumped on early and be one of the first to go home. Still, they had a nice season and were ranked for most of it.

Delicious Possibilities

Analysts always like to look ahead -- often way too far ahead -- to see what would seem to be a neat-o matchup. Such as Kansas-UNC in the Final Four, with Roy Williams against his old team. I imagine tears would be shed.

But what about early possibilites? Things that could happen this week to make the fun of March Madness even...funner?

IU and ND losing in the first round -- I'm sure a lot of you grudgingly put these squads at least into the round of 32, but are you sure? I bet not. Arkansas is a solid team that might run IU out of the building. The Hoosiers are sliding and they're essentially a two-man team anymore, with White and out-the-door Gordon. Does he care about this tournament? I doubt it.

As for ND, I know the hype is building for them, which means it's a perfect time for them to take a tumble. Besides, it's ND, and ND basketball never goes anywhere. Also, they got a terrible draw, probably the most experienced, talented, likable 12-seed ever in George Mason. GM still has two starters who played in a Final Four. Not sure what that means, but it could be good fun.

Purdue having a shot at greatness -- I know, this should be it's own post... but I don't want to get my (or anyone else's) hopes up. But if the Boilers play like they are capable and a few breaks go their way, they could make a lot of noise. Baylor is tough, no doubt, but they can be beaten. Xavier is also tough but what if Georgia keeps their miracle going and pulls the upset? Can Purdue then beat a 14? And then what if the next test is against Duke, another team with no big men? It's clearly a difficult road full of mines, but at least the matchups wouldn't be horrible.

A 16 over a 1 -- It's never happened, as we all know, but we also know it will happen soon. I say inside of five years we're going to see a 16 over a 1 simply because there is so much parity in the college game. And I know everyone is high on Memphis, but am I crazy in thinking they're the most vulnerable #1? They're playing a 16 with legit size, great athleticism and three forwards who shoot over 52% from the field. Plus, you know, there's always the fact that Memphis shoots 59% from the line. Get them into a close one and watch them get nervous. Calipari's a very good coach so I doubt he'll allow it to happen, but if it is close, this could be interesting down the stretch. And how awesome would it be to see this?

Okay, enough babble... go join our Tourney Pick 'Em Group.

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