Breaking Down the Brackets
Three weeks of intense basketball action. 68 teams all looking to be the last one standing. March Madness is once again upon us and everyone will be making their picks to see who will take it all. Now, if you're trying to figure out who the hands down favourite is to win this thing altogether, I couldn't tell you, as there are a handful of teams that could take it all. And that's what makes this year's tournament very exciting.
Looking back on Selection Sunday, it appears that even the NCAA's selection committee couldn't make up their minds on who the top seeds were. Louisville, Indiana, Kansas and Gonzaga were all named No. 1 seeds, but of course there were arguments for both Miami and Duke who ended up as No. 2 seeds.
Now after looking at the brackets carefully, I can see a number of possibilities, some more likely than others, but heck, I have yet to meet someone who has been spot on with their picks from start to finish. With that being said, here are a few pointers that might help when making your selections.
In the 2nd round, always best to go with the No. 1 seeds, after all there's never been an upset by a No. 16 seed in the tournament's history, and looking at the brackets, I can't see that happening. As for the No. 2 seeds, they're also a safe bet as long as we don't have a repeat of last year where Duke and Missouri were surprisingly bounced from the tournament. But if I had to choose a likely one it would be in the South Region where No. 2 seed Georgetown could be turfed if they take Florida Gulf Coast lightly. As for the No. 3 seeds, the same thing applies so don't be stunned if a few of them are knocked out after the second round.
As for how things may play out in each region:
While I find it hard to pick against the overall top seed Louisville, the Big East champions, there's No. 2 seed Duke that could be a threat to keep them from making the Final Four. But with this being a very tough region, we can't leave out 3rd and 4th seeds Michigan State in the conversation. Looks like the Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight in this region will be hard fought matches and whoever comes out on top will likely be the team to beat. If it comes down to Louisville and Duke, I have to give the edge to Duke, not because they're my team but because they won the only match up when the teams met earlier in the season.
With Gonzaga finally getting its first No. 1 seed, we can make the argument for the strength of the conferences and who should be where and so forth but with the best record overall, this is a ranking well-deserved. Standing in their way is No. 2 Ohio State, No. 3 New Mexico and No. 4 Kansas State, and definitely not to be ignored No. 5 Wisconsin. Now with Canucks Kelly Olynyk and Kevin Pangos playing for Gonzaga, I have to give the Bulldogs the edge in this region.
This region is wide open and anyone could take it but the potential front runners are No. 1 Kansas, No. 2 Georgetown, No. 3 Florida and No. 4 Syracuse. Georgetown's 12 game win streak was snapped by Syracuse in the Big East semifinals and could be looking to get even. Florida has gotten a boost with players returning from injury, but close games as of late has been a struggle for them. Kansas gets the slight edge over Georgetown in this one.
Now this in my view is the easiest region and my pick to win it all isn't No. 1 seed Indiana. While there were arguments that Miami was robbed of being a No. 1 seed, getting the 2nd seed could turn out to be a blessing in disguise after all. With not much competition in the early rounds, Miami should breeze through easily until they get to the Sweet Sixteen where No. 3 Marquette (if they're still in it) might not prove to be much of a challenger. And if Indiana gets by Syracuse, they'll have a tougher time playing to Miami's physical style on both ends of the floor.
So as you're about to make your picks, keep in mind that anything can happen.