For college basketball enthusiasts and bracketologists, last night was the greatest day of the year. Every time Selection Sunday rolls around, everything around seems to stop for an hour as the 65-team bracket is announced excruciatingly slowly on CBS.
Personally, I watched the broadcast from the media room of the Kohl Center, which was a distinct change from my typical viewing spot on the couch. Afterward, Wisconsin senior guards Jason Bohannon and Trevon Hughes were available along with head coach Bo Ryan to answer questions about their seeding.
Ryan’s reaction had the typical simplicity I’ve come to expect from the Chester, Pa., native.
“Our name went up there, they spelled it correctly and they had another team with us,” Ryan said. “That’s my initial reaction.”
Although Ryan’s initial reaction was decidedly simple, mine was not. Each matchup that went on the screen sent my mind racing with the possibilities of a game between the two teams. I certainly cannot share all of those thoughts with you here, so I’ve picked out the best ones.
Here are my initial thoughts on the 2010 NCAA Tournament field, beginning in the Midwest and ending in the West:
We’ll start with the No. 1 overall seed in Kansas, because frankly, they got screwed.
While the matchup against Syracuse in the Final Four as the No. 1 versus No. 4 matchup in terms of No. 1 seeds seems appropriate, the Jayhawks might be lucky to get there.
Potential matchups with fifth-seed Michigan State, second-seeded Ohio State or No. 3 seed Georgetown would all be tough for the Big XII conference champions.
Kansas is still my favorite to win this region, simply because I think they’re without a doubt the best team in the nation. If they slip up, expect the Buckeyes, led by the Big Ten Player of the Year Evan Turner, to continue to find ways to win and book a ticket to Indianapolis.
In this region, I like two upsets: No. 13 seed Houston over fourth-seeded Maryland and No. 11 seed San Diego State over sixth-seeded Tennessee.
Houston was seeded seventh in the Conference USA tournament, yet managed to upset both the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds en route to the league’s automatic bid. The Cougars should carry that momentum into this weekend, giving them a shot to knock off the Terps.
The Aztecs, which defeated UNLV to claim the Mountain West tournament championship, beat New Mexico two out of three times this season, with the only loss being a two-point overtime defeat in The Pit. Tennessee may have beaten Kansas and Kentucky this season, but they will be headed home early after a tough first-round draw.
Syracuse fans may not be happy with the lowest No. 1 seed, but when a player like Arinze Onuaku, the team’s fourth-leading scorer, is questionable, you deserve to get bumped down a bit. The committee could, however, have split the difference with Duke and Syracuse, giving the Blue Devils the “better” seed while sending them out west to Salt Lake City.
While I love to watch the Orange play, I don’t see them reaching the Final Four, even if Onuaku is expected back for the opening weekend. Instead, I like Kansas State — which was a candidate for a No. 1 seed at one point this season — to square off with in-state rival Kansas for a fourth time this season.
Out West, I’ll take a classic five over 12 with UTEP over Butler. Aside from Butler, the Horizon League is weak. As such, the Bulldogs will be prime candidates to fail to reach the second round. It doesn’t help that they’ve been pitted against the CUSA’s best team.
This region probably has the greatest potential to turn your bracket into a complete mess. The first round should be simple, though Cornell could knock off Temple in another 12 over a five, but the second round is where things get interesting. Cornell could take out the fourth-seeded Badgers and Marquette could knock off New Mexico. Regardless, both games should be great second-round matchups.
My early upset pick is Cornell. Although Temple is a great team, a No. 12 seed is quite low for the Ivy League champions. They should easily have been anywhere from a No. 7 to No. 10 seed. And while I certainly see the potential, I do not see Wisconsin or New Mexico falling in the second round.
My pick to advance from the Carrier Dome to Lucas Oil Field is No. 2 seed West Virginia. It was a popular pick from the “experts” last night and I agree. Kentucky is great, don’t get me wrong. But it’s about who’s playing better right now, and that absolutely goes to the Mountaineers.
Perhaps the least controversial of the four regions, the South is the Blue Devils’ region to lose. Of course, a favorable draw for another team in the region could lead to Duke’s demise. Another intrigue factor for the region is the inclusion of three Big East teams and more specifically, Notre Dame as the No. 6 seed.
Which brings me to my upset pick for the South: No. 11 seed Old Dominion over No. 6 Notre Dame. They were one of the last teams in the bracket, but the Monarchs are one of the best teams no one is talking about.
Additionally, I like Siena over Purdue in the No. 13 versus No. 4 slot and No. 12 seed Utah State over fifth-seeded Texas A&M. But those aren’t really upsets in my book as Purdue is looking worse every game and Utah State has the “home court” advantage in Spokane.
True home court advantage will belong to third-seeded Baylor, though, if the Bears can reach the Houston-based regional. It’s just a three-and-a-half hour drive from Waco, TX to Reliant Stadium. With that, Baylor would have a distinct advantage over Duke.
So, there you have it; my Final Four includes a No. 1 seed, pair of No. 2 seeds and a No. 3 seed. If it were to go in such a fashion, I’d take Kansas over K-State and West Virginia over Baylor, with the Jayhawks winning their second national championship in three years.
Of course, this is just my initial reaction, so it’s subject to change several times over the next week before the Tournament tips off Thursday morning.
Jordan is a senior majoring in journalism and bracketology. Will you be traveling to Jacksonville with the Badgers? Let him know at [email protected]