Thursday, March 16, 2017

Who did you pick to win this year's NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament?

Like a lot of folks early on Monday morning, I filled out a bracket for this year’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.

It goes without saying that it is hard to pick a perfect bracket, especially when you know that a few upsets are bound to happen. If a fella could just figure out when and where those upsets were going to happen, you could be a millionaire.

I heard on the radio Monday that Duke was favored to win the entire tournament by most of the odds-makers in Las Vegas. North Carolina is a distant second, and defending champion Villanova is further down the line.

If you scan the list of teams in this year’s tourney, you’ll see a lot of familiar names, including teams like those mentioned above and well known basketball schools like Kansas, Michigan, Louisville, Arkansas, UCLA, Kentucky, Florida, Arizona and Gonzaga.

I had to Google a few of the other teams to see where they were even located, teams like Iona, Winthrop and Bucknell.

The fact that Troy State and Jacksonville State both made the tournament while Alabama and Auburn were left on the outside looking in, has generated a lot of discussion. In my opinion, Alabama should have made the tourney based on the overall season they had, but their two big losses to Auburn are likely what caused them to not make the cut.

Troy and Jax State will both have big challenges on their hands. Troy will have the daunting task of playing tournament favorite Duke on Friday evening while JSU has to play Louisville, a No. 2 seed, on Friday afternoon. Could either of these Alabama schools upset Duke or Louisville? Only time will tell, but a Troy win over Duke would likely go down as one of the biggest upsets in tournament history.

By the time next week’s paper comes out on March 23, the tournament will be in the Sweet 16 round. Teams that I’ve got making it to the Sweet 16 include Villanova, Florida, Baylor, Duke, Gonzaga, Notre Dame, Florida State, Arizona, Kansas, Purdue, Oregon, Louisville, North Carolina, Butler, UCLA and Kentucky.

In my Elite Eight, I’ve got Villanova, Duke, Notre Dame, Arizona, Kansas, Louisville, North Carolina and UCLA. Final Four teams in my bracket include Duke, Notre Dame, Louisville and North Carolina.

I’ve got Duke and North Carolina making it to the championship game, which will be played on April 3, in Phoenix. Duke has already manhandled North Carolina a couple of times this year, but I’m predicting North Carolina to pull the upset.

Of course, if Troy wins on Friday night, my bracket will be busted and there will be no chance of that scenario playing out.

More than likely what will happen, as it seems to happen every year, is that one of the “no name” teams in the tourney will get extremely lucky and bust every bracket for Maine to California.

That usually happens in the first few days of the tourney, which is what makes this time of year fun. Of course, if North Carolina goes on to win it all, you can say you read it here first.

For the record, local college basketball expert, Detroit Webb, down at Miller Trading Company, is predicting that Duke will win it all, as is local radio personality John Bolton. Evergreen City Councilman and radio personality Luther Upton says that Kansas will win it all, while Carl Tillery down at Wolff Motor Co. is predicting a Kentucky championship.

When I put the question to my trusty Magic Eight Ball, it predicted sixth-seeded Maryland to win it all. 

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