Initial March Madness Bracket Reactions
March Madness is the one time a year I can feel like a kid again. I laid down across my apartment floor filling out my own bracket as each game got announced, yelling at my TV knowing Xavier would be left out of the tournament for the fourth straight season.
I already knew that Xavier would be left out of March Madness long before the bracket got announced, but there were a few things that stood out at a first glance at the bracket, and I’m here to explain some of those decisions made by the committee.
Why is Michigan ahead of Indiana?
Not only did head coach Juwan Howard avoid a 12 seed play-in game, but he also was ranked ahead of an Indiana team that just beat him! The Wolverines have some decent wins against Purdue, Iowa, Rutgers, and Ohio State, but Indiana has the same wins and some that are even better.
The Hoosiers have wins over tournament teams of Purdue, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Illinois, and most importantly a Big 10 Tournament win over Michigan. They also have a better record at 20-13, compared to Michigan’s 17-14 record. The tournament never really meant anything to Michigan this year, and the committee rewarded a bad Wolverines team with an easier first-round matchup with Colorado State.
Gonzaga vs Arizona is the play
Picking the number one team in the country to face the number two team in the country might seem boring, but it makes sense. Both of these teams are super tall and play at a fast and efficient rate. My only concern for both of these teams is guard play. Arizona’s, Kerr Krissa, is an erratic point guard who can fill it up. If he keeps his emotions in check he could lead the Wildcats to the Final Four. For Gonzaga, which Andrew Nembhard will we get? If he plays as he did during the WCC tournament, good luck stopping Gonzaga; however, if he performs like he did against Alabama this year (4 points and 4 turnovers), they could lose to Arkansas in the Sweet 16.
Everyone loves UAB
Jordan “Jelly” Walker went on an absolute tear to get UAB into the big dance, and he’s going to need one more of these performances if they want to beat Houston. Walker averaged just under 30 points a game during the C-USA tournament, and I think he could have another performance like that. Kelvin Sampson is an all-time coach for the Cougars, but he’s had to deal with one too many injuries this year for Houston, and I think that will catch up with him.
Low seeds that could steal you some points
In the first round of your bracket challenge, it’s important to pick a few upsets that not many people are choosing. First off, avoid choosing some common predictions like Memphis, Michigan, Virginia Tech, and, Murray State.
Some teams that not many people are picking are South Dakota State (24.2%), New Mexico State (19.2%), and Iowa State (36.4%).
South Dakota State is the hottest team in the country, winning their last 21 games, behind their 12th ranked KenPom offense. A good defense might win championships, but a better offense pulls off first-round upsets in March.
New Mexico State is a fun upset team, as they play a very similar style to UCONN. Both teams slow the game down, but NMSU plays a much more efficient style of basketball, while the Huskies rely on dominating the offensive and defensive glass. Getting second-chance points isn’t guaranteed in March, that’s why I love the Aggies here.
My final upset pick is Iowa State. They hav e the most quadrant 1 wins in the country, while LSU is limping into March after firing their beloved head coach, Will Wade. But ignoring the stats, this is the least common 11 vs 6 seed upset, so you could surprise a lot of your coworkers if you get this one right.
Players who could win games by themselves
Once the regular season ends, players win games in March, not just teams. Keegan Murray (Iowa), JD Notae (Arkansas), Jaden Ivey (Purdue), Johnny Juzang (UCLA), Johnny Davis (Wisconsin), and Jabari Smith (Auburn), are just a few guys who can single handily win a tournament game.
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