Okay, so we've all heard of "Bracketology," the made-up term for professional dorks who spend their lives analyzing college hoops for a living. This is an exciting development for socially challenged dudes who now get out of their parent's basement and onto ESPN. Well, I'm not a professional dork. As a high school superstar, I'm still a dork in training, but let me tell you this, old dude -- I can pick the games with the best of the dorks!
That's true. You did win the office pool last year. Stunned and amazed my coworkers, as I recall.
And I hear they are really bitter about it. Enraged, even. But this time, because I'm such a good and giving person, I'm going to share a little bit of wisdom with the vast Dilettante Nation audience! Why? Because I can. Watch me work!
South Region! This is the region where the University of Kentucky "Cheating" Wildcats are the #1 seed. John Calipari is well known for leaving programs about a half-hour before they go on multi-year probation for recruiting violations. Of course, by going to Kentucky, he can continue a proud tradition of cheating weaseldom, dating back to that old racist dude, Adolph Rupp.
You keep ripping on Kentucky that way and they won't even let you eat Kentucky Fried Chicken any more, young fella.
Oh, I'm not done with them yet, Geritol Fan! This year's Kentucky team has a stellar 32-2 record, with almost all underclassmen playing the key roles. And that is where the problem is. Anthony Davis is a stud. There's no question about that. But can he handle the pressure of leadership with so much youth on the team? And how about their 7-man rotation? Will that be able to hold up against deep teams like the hated Dukies? And look who is waiting for them, potentially, in the second round? An athletic Iowa State team, featuring former Hopkins stud/Dinkytown Police favorite Royce White, with a potential matchup against Indiana following that. You might recall that Indiana dealt the Fighting Caliparis a loss earlier this season. And if they get through all of that, it's the Dukies or perhaps a freakishly athletic Baylor team. Can Kentucky run that gauntlet. The word here is NO. My pick to emerge -- DUKE.
I don't like Kentucky much, either. But I think they have more talent than anyone else in the region. I'll go with Kentucky.
West Region! Hey look, it's our old pal Sparty! And the Spartans are playing very well right now. They steamrolled through the Big Ten tournament and got a #1 seed. There are some tough teams in this bracket, including some teams that will be tough matchups for the Spartans. The #2 and #3 seeds are Mizzou and Marquette, both very tough, guard-oriented teams. The Tigers come at you in waves, with four guys who score in double figures and approximately 7 members of the Pressey family. The old dude tells me that Paul Pressey, the father of the various Presseys who play for Mizzou, was a heck of a player in his day. So you have to worry about the Tigers. As for Marquette, they have the Big East Player of the Year in Jae Crowder and a really tough, smart lead guard in Darius Johnson-Odom. This is the best team that Buzz Williams has had at MU and compares well to the Dwayne Wade team that made the Final Four in '03. Sparty is rock solid, as always, and Draymond Green has been a special player this year, but I'm not sure they match up well enough with my pick. My pick to emerge -- MARQUETTE.
I could see my beloved MU squad pulling it off, too, but I like Missouri in this region. If Sparty has a weakness, it is at guard. Mizzou is loaded with guards. And in the tournament, guards can carry a team to a championship. See Kemba Walker for an example. I'll go with Mizzou.
East Region! The #1 seed here is Syracuse, which has had a very good season while dodging various scandals that mostly relate to events that happened there years ago. I don't think Syracuse can make it out of their region this time, because while their defense has caused problems for most of their opponents this season, the team I favor will have the skills to deal with the matchup zone. That team would be Florida State. I've seen the Seminoles in action a few times this year and I've been impressed. Not too many teams stroll into Cameron Indoor Stadium and face down the Dukies, but the Seminoles did it. Not too many teams beat Carolina. But the Seminoles did that, twice. You might notice some similarities between this team and the team I picked to win it all last year, the UConn Huskies. They both played really tough down the stretch and have a player who is insanely clutch. Last year we saw Kemba Walker own everyone. This year, meet Seminole star Michael Snaer. This dude is a cold-blooded assassin. He shot down the Dukies at the buzzer and had the game of his life against North Carolina. This kid should make every coach shake in their boots. Or at least their really expensive suits. This team is dangerous and I can see Snaer launching a game-winner right over the top of the Syracuse matchup zone. My pick to emerge -- FLORIDA STATE.
This the region where the Badgers play. This is not the best Wisconsin team but I could see a potential run because Jordan Taylor can take over games. The problem for the Badgers is that they run into Vanderbilt early and might not make it past the Commodores. I can see Florida State getting to the regional final, because the #2 seed Ohio State has been up and down this year. In the end, though, I like Syracuse, although the young fella makes a pretty good argument. I'll go with Syracuse.
Midwest Region! This region, to me, looks like the weakest of the four. North Carolina is the #1 seed and is a quality team with a solid front line, but the rest of the top four seeds are suspect. I have not been convinced that Kansas is that good and Georgetown is the weakest #3 seed in the field, while Michigan might be a #6 seed cleverly disguised as a #4. Ordinarily, with a field like that, you might expect upsets in this region, but I'm having a hard time finding them. If you're looking for a big upset, watch out for Belmont against Georgetown. That could happen. I also wouldn't be surprised to see San Diego State get to the Sweet 16. I'd also warn Kansas not to sleep on St. Mary's. But realistically, none of that is going to matter much, because Carolina is clearly the class of the region. My pick to emerge -- NORTH CAROLINA.
Hard to argue with any of that. Carolina is the best team here and it's not close. I'll go with North Carolina.
So here you go -- the Benster Final Four goes like this:
Meanwhile, Decrepit has picked:
We'll come back and take another look at things after the weekend, including actual picks of Sweet 16 games and more wisdom from yours truly. But for now, Ben out!