March Madness Preview

by Andrew Kennedy

Gut, research, favorite, sleeper…

It’s been awhile since my last post.

The reasons: I’m lazy, Spring Break, went to Lakeland for high school basketball championships, and flirted with many records involving “amount of time spent playing College Hoops 2K8”.

To be fair, two of those four reason involved basketball and watching or playing tournament games leading up to championships and that’s why I’m here now.

I’m going to break down what’s important and what’s not in this year’s March Madness tournament and then give my picks. You should listen to all of my advice because I know more about basketball than anyone else and win my bracket pool around 40 percent of the time in my career.

Midwest Region

The best one-seed, two-seed, three-seed and four-seed are all in this region. Nice, selection committee.

But the one-seed is Kansas and they are the best overall team in the entire bracket so I have them winning the region. In fact, I have all four top seeds advancing to the Sweet 16.

I’ve also been going back and forth between Michigan State and Maryland in the second round. At first I had the Spartans because of their coach Tom Izzo and then I went to Maryland because of point guard Greivis Vazquez. Either way, Kansas is beating both of them.

The only upset I see is Georgetown beating Ohio State in the Sweet 16. I love both teams but the way Greg Monroe is playing is why I’m making this pick as well as the fact that Georgetown lost in the Big East title game, I see it as a good thing because it’s too hard to win that many games in a row.

Evan Turner has also been playing out of his mind but I think Georgetown has the edge and I have to pick at least one upset int he Sweet 16.

West Region

This should be renamed the mid-major region. Gonzaga, Butler, Xavier and BYU are in this region. What a joke.

Gonzaga gets an eight when they should have been a three or four and the same for Butler.

As tough as Gonzaga or Florida State will be for Syracuse in the second round, I still like the Orange advancing through the region. There’s a pretty good chance to see a 12-13 matchup in the Sweet 16 between UTEP and Murray State too.

This is also the region where I think it is most likely for a team seeded less than five to make the Elite 8 in BYU. This is the same spot in the bracket where Davidson made a run to the Elite 8 with Stephen Curry two years ago and Jimmer Fredette is that kind of player.

There’s so many potential upsets below the one-seed that are going to be really tough to pick and that’s why I like Syracuse advancing to the Final 4. They are made for making a run in a tournament even though they lost their last two games.

East Region

There’s only three teams I like in this region to go far and one of them is an eight, but I like them way too much.

It wasn’t more than a few weeks ago that Texas was ranked No. 1 in the country and now Kentucky may have to deal with them in the second round. I don’t know what their problem is but I don’t see them fixing it before Kentucky shows up and runs past them.

This region has to see a Kentucky-West Virginia final which could be the best game of the tournament according to Obama.

Before the regional final I’m not falling in love with Cornell like the rest of the country. There’s just no point in picking a team that can’t win more than one game in the tournament.

I am about as unsure as anywhere in the bracket about the three and six seeds. Out of Marquette, Washington, New Mexico and Montana I want to pick Montana the most simply because I witnessed live the 42-point performance by Anthony Johnson in the Big Sky title game.

Too much shouldn’t ride on those picks because I think West Virginia is good enough to beat all of them easily. Then in the regional final I like Kentucky over West Virginia in a potential blowout.

This Kentucky team is too similar to Memphis two years ago. I see them blowing everyone out to the Final 4 having everyone who picked them feeling great.

South Region

Duke gets the easiest region and the play-in game for some reason. I love Duke but not that much.

I’m with the majority in this region with my Cinderella Siena team making it to the Sweet 16. But unlike most everyone else, I have liked Siena since last year when they beat Ohio State in the first round and then almost knocked of Louisville in the next. I am friends with their point guard Ronald Moore on Facebook and even sent him a message saying “I love you” after the win over the Buckeyes.

Siena could be like George Mason four years ago because of their experience and easy road. Moore leads the nation in assists per game and they have plenty of athletes to match up with the top teams in their region.

I am still predicting a Duke-Villanova regional final and rematch from last year’s Sweet 16. I picked Duke to beat Villanova last year in that game and they didn’t. I’m sticking with them again this year and I think they will.

Their Big 3 is really good and they have two options to bring the ball up court with Jon Scheyer and Nolan Smith so i don’t think the ‘Nova guards will be as much of a problem as last year. You don’t hear anyone talking about how physical defensively they are this year like last year.

Kyle Singler is such a matchup problem and I like him to have a big tournament.

Final 4

I have all one-seeds in the Final 4 just like I did two years ago when I last won my bracket.

All year everyone’s been talking about these four teams being above the rest of the competition in the country and they all made it as one-seeds. I’m not looking for an excuse not to pick them all to make it to Indianapolis.

Much like two years ago I am picking that somewhat of a rematch title game between Kansas and Kentucky. I think they are the two best teams in the country playing the best right now.

Kansas looks a little better but the tests Kentucky passed in the SEC tournament should prepare them for this one. Kentucky really should have no problem overpowering Duke.

I would have thought the Kansas-Syracuse game would be more of a toss up if not for Syracuse’s recent stumbles. But I have to go with Kansas in this one just because of how balanced they are to go along with the tournament experience Sherron Collins has.

Then I’m going with Kansas to win it all for the second time in three years. Kentucky is just too inexperienced and it just seems that team never wins it all.

I’ll be back soon with more updates during the tournament and also probably a break down of UCF’s Kirk Speraw firing later on.

You can follow me on Twitter for updates during the tournament games here.