Fresh off my brilliant performance prognosticating the ACC Tournament, I sat down this evening and dug up all those e-mails inviting me to various tournament challenges [*] and began filling out my brackets like every other schlub. Unlike last year, I'm cutting back on the number of these things I'm doing, sticking to two friends' and the SBNation backchannel one, and I'm only using two brackets, because it just got to confusing last year. The two brackets are pretty similar - one has UNC beating UConn, the other UNC over Louisville in true homeriffic fashion - and both were filled out on the fly, but here are some quick thoughts.
- I'm still down on the ACC. I have Southern Cal beating Boston College, California taking out Maryland and Michigan over Clemson all in the first round, as well as Wisconsin beating FSU in my more serious bracket. (Pomeroy's magic numbers back me up on FSU and BC, for what its worth.) Wake, I condemn to lose to Utah come the weekend, and Duke doesn't get out of the Sweet Sixteen, at the hands of either UCLA or Villanova. Maybe it's just that I've seen more of these teams than anybody else and I'm down on basketball as a whole; maybe I'd just rather not be seen as an incorrigible homer. I don't know.
- And then there's the fives and the twelves. I'm not big on the "a twelve seed always beats a five" factoid that gets thrown around every March. In fact, I usually pick against that rule just out spite. Five seed solidarity! Except this year, of course, where I've already thrown Florida State to the wolves, and picked Northern Iowa and Western Kentucky as Sweet Sixteen teams in separate brackets. Intellectually, I know that's too many twelve seeds, but I like the overall message I'm sending, which is "Arizona is really, really, bad."
- Virginia Commonwealth can't do it again. Really, they can't. UCLA is horribly underseeded, and have too potent an offense to go the Duke route. I have them losing to Villanova once (more likely, with the home court advantage) and clawing their way to Howland-Pittsburgh reunion in the other bracket.
- I believe in the Big East. Well, parts of it at least. Pittsburgh and Louisville are definite Final Four teams - Pitt's just too strong and I don't think anyone in the Cardinals bracket is very good - and with Connecticut, it's a toss up between them and Memphis to see who advances. West Virginia either loses to Kansas or makes it to the Elite Eight. Syracuse has a decent chance of getting there as well, if Oklahoma doesn't stop them. Marquette's an easy Sweet Sixteen team over Missouri, and Villanova will beat Duke if they don't lose to UCLA.
- Speaking of Kansas: They don't lose to North Dakota State. Somehow that's another trendy pick, but this is the whatever-they-are's first year in Division I. Let's be serious.
- No one from the SEC survives the first weekend. Only Tennessee wins their first game, and they'll be crushed by Pitt.
- I like six seeds. Once more for emphasis, especially if you're in a pool that rewards picking the underdog: West Virginia and UCLA have decent odds of going far.
Below the cut, a full bracket. Just not yet, as I have somethings to do before I wrangle the interwebs into sticking it up here.
Click to expand. Apologies for the fast-food ads; in compensation here's Patton Oswald with the Democratic response.