It has a chance for intrigue. The craziest things you can talk yourself into? From this bracket. Vermont becoming the first 16 seed to take down a #1? Yep. UTEP to the Sweet 16? Yep. BYU to the Final Four. Even that. But my bracket commentary? Here we go.
1 Syracuse vs. 16 Vermont
Here’s the thing about Vermont. Their strength is in Marquis Blakely. They don’t have the T.J. Sorrentine to rock the three point shot. Syracuse advances.
8 Gonzaga vs. 9 Florida State
Teams that bang on the low post have given Gonzaga some real trouble this year. Not to say that Florida State is a guaranteed lock to win this game. But Gonzaga’s weaknesses mesh a lot better with the Noles strengths than the other way around.
5 Butler vs. 12 UTEP
I may not be the first to suggest this as a 12-5 Upset, but I will at least give you a reason as to why. The teams that have beaten Butler are teams that shoot well and have an inside presence. Derrick Caracter provides the inside presence. RANDY Culpepper hops around and calls it comedy from the outside. And slow teams aren’t what gave UTEP trouble this year anyway. Butler falls.
4 Vanderbilt vs. 13 Murray State
There’s a lot of reasons to like Murray State here. Murray State crashes the offensive glass with style and aplomb. They also generate a lot of turnovers and a team like Vanderbilt can be weak in taking teams off of the defensive glass and protecting the ball. I can’t believe I’m talking myself into this. But teams with good guardplay and or teams that can force bad shots inside have been Vanderbilt’s big issue. Murray State can do both. Murray State advances.
6 Xavier vs. 11 Minnesota
Minnesota is a talented enough team that they could beat Xavier, but Xavier has enough shooters to make that sort of a scenario highly unlikely. And I trust Xavier’s defense. So? The Musketeers roll onto round 2.
3 Pittsburgh vs. 14 Oakland
Please. You don’t need me to tell you who wins this game.
7 BYU vs. 10 Florida
Every year I pick BYU in the first round and every year they get pummeled. I know that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and hoping for a different result? But you know what. This pick is crazy. BYU.
2 Kansas State vs. 15 North Texas
Frank Martin advances to round 2. Thanks for playing Angry Green.
1 Syracuse vs. 9 Florida State
This result is as easy as the fact that Syracuse generates enough turnovers to make Florida State pay, Florida State can’t hit the three, and Syracuse can. Survive and advance PC Oranges. Survive and advance.
12 UTEP vs. 13 Murray State
Remember when I said that UTEP had trouble with teams that run faster than they do? Murray State doesn’t. They also have had some issues taking care of the ball. UTEP won’t blow them out, but the size and experience will win out.
6 Xavier vs. 3 Pittsburgh
This game feels like a coin flip. But I’m willing to trust in Pittsburgh’s ability to control the pace and limit fast break opportunities. So yeah. Pitt goes ahead.
7 BYU vs. 2 Kansas State
I can’t pick BYU here. I just can’t. Kansas State is the sort of team BYU hasn’t seen much if at all this year. And teams that could rebound have been the end of BYU via a right thrashing in previous seasons.
1 Syracuse vs. 12 UTEP
The run ends for the Miners right here. Faster team, and they’ll win on the offensive glass. Onuaku should be back by this point as well. The Cuse may win by 20.
2. Kansas State vs. 3 Pittsburgh
Kansas State has the better defense in this match-up. Pittsburgh may force bad shots, but the Wildcats are better glass cleaners. Kansas State may give up turnovers? But Pittsburgh won’t take advantage of that. Kansas State rolls on.
1 Syracuse vs. 2 Kansas State
This looks like one of those classic 88-84 up and down games where there are 21 lead changes. And if you’re living in a world where the game looks like it’s going to be tight as well as classic. Bet on the team with the best player. Kansas State does not have Wes Johnson.
So yeah. 2 down 2 to go.