This is what the casual observer would call the Region of Death. Reason being that we got Kansas, Duke and Michigan State in this region and damn they all got a chance to win it all. But, and that is a major but, I got some upset predictions that you might agree with, or you might disagree with. Are they as crazy as my Stephen F. Austin Sweet 16 pick? Read on to find out!
Be sure to follow me on Twitter @ufblogg_lijoi and on Facebook at: Ultimatefanaticsblog. After predicting the Midwest I’ll try to knock out the South region while watching either my glorious Manchester City destroy Stoke City or I’ll be watching the Tournament Challenge Marathon that starts at 6. I’d love to put that on mute cause ESPN will prolly suck up to Duke and Trae Young in that order but that’s another post for another time. Here are my picks!
1. Kansas vs 16 Penn
Let’s be honest here, if you’re looking for the best 1 vs 16 upset possibility then look no further. Penn has great defense and they”ll play like they did in the Ivy League tournament, with nothing to lose. That team is always dangerous but with the talent of Kansas, I’ll stay safe and pick Kansas
8. Seton Hall vs 9. NC State
I honestly flipped a coin to decide on this one and it landed on tails, which meant NC State was my pick in this one. Both teams come off some sort of disappointment, with NC State getting beat by Boston College in the tournament and Seton Hall losing 6 of their last 10 including a loss to Butler so this should be an even and exciting game.
5. Clemson vs 12 New Mexico State
This is a popular upset pick beyond the seeding and I can understand why. New Mexico State has a powerful defense and is arguably the best 12 seed against arguably the worst 5 seed. But the Aggies suck at the free throw line and if the game is close, I’ll take Clemson.
4. Auburn vs 13. College of Charleston
Auburn is undersized and shorthanded vs a team that’s one of the hottest mid-majors in the tournament. C of C is going to give Auburn a great challenge but based on talent I say Auburn just barely squeaks by, just barely.
11. Arizona State vs 11. Syracuse
If you ask me this should be 11 USC vs 11 Saint Marys but I digress. I say Arizona State wins by a nose in a game that no one will care about. Both teams enter in this tournament ice cold so you might see some bad basketball.
6. TCU vs Arizona State
I say TCU takes this one. They have an excellent coach and even if they come into this tournament with a key injury and being a bit uneven in their past couple of games, they should take care of ASU. Another popular upset pick here.
3. Michigan State vs 14 Bucknell
The Spartan offense is too good and too explosive for a Bucknell defense that allows 72.9 points per game. Something tells me this one might get ugly but I could be wrong. Either way Sparty takes it.
7. Rhode Island vs 10 Oklahoma
I understand Trae Young garners the loving eyes of ESPN but the fact that an 18-13 team that could barely compete in a checkers tournament got into the 68 team field is just asinine. Come on now, you don’t actually think Trae Young, no matter how good he is can carry such a load vs a smart and experienced Rhode Island team do you? The first game of the tournament will be a crap start for the NCAA as Rhode Island creams the Sooners. NCAA we have a problem, we need a much better selection committee!
2. Duke vs 15 Iona
Come on now. Iona has arguably the most porous defense against a sorry MAAC conference against the Duke Blue Devils. You can laugh at me if the impossible happens, but it won’t.
Round of 32:
1. Kansas vs 9 NC State
Well Kansas might be vulnerable in the paint and NC State can pound the glass. This could get interesting but Kansas and their play down the stretch and their efficient offense should be just enough.
5. Clemson vs 4 Auburn
Auburn is one of the best free throw shooting teams and Clemson has one of the best defenses. As long as Clemson doesn’t foul they should take care of business but even then. Should be one tight game, I got Clemson by the skin of their teeth.
6. TCU vs 3 Michigan State
Michigan State should handle this TCU team nicely with their balanced offense and defense. Should take them out with raw talent alone
2. Duke vs 7 Rhode Island
I just, I got a feeling. Duke might be one of the taller teams and Rhode Island is undersized, but with their experience, basketball IQ, their ability to limit turnovers and their ability to force them. I just got a feeling. That the Rhode Island Rams, will beat Duke. Yes, before the Sweet 16, Duke will go down. It’ll be damn close and it’ll come down to some key plays but, Rhode Island does the improbable and takes out the blue blooded Dukies before the Sweet 16.
1. Kansas vs 5 Clemson
This game is not going to be close. Clemson coming off two tough tests is going to get blasted by a well rested and semi-challenged by Penn and NC State Kansas squad that’ll coast to the Elite 8.
3. Michigan State vs 7 Rhode Island Rams
Same situation here but to a lesser extent really. Rhode Island will crash the glass and nail some shots and it’ll be close until the second half where the Spartans will finish the job. Their tall athletic and defensive-minded players should help propel them to the Elite 8.
1. Kansas vs 3 Michigan State
Goodness this is a doozy. Both of these teams are even but the Spartans are going to look to crash the paint and Kansas will rely on getting to the line and making shots. Pick your poison. Do you want, as a coach, a 50/50 chance on a 3 pointer or a 75/25 chance on the bucket in the paint. If Sparty tries to bully Kansas like they should with it’s balanced attack and raw talent, they should beat the Jayhawks down the stretch and make the Final Four. That’s right, Michigan State will play Villanova in San Antonio.