Let me first say that I am probably so far off base here in the long run that I have successfully cost myself $20 dollars. Not only that but in trying to figure out how to not pick the same Final Four as 97.5% of ESPN I may have completely destroyed what was once a promising bracket. Oh how far I've fallen since picking 6 of last seasons final eight correctly. I have on MORE than one occasion completely ignored my own pre-bracket release predictions. I have officially filed Jay Bilas, Digger Phelps and even Hubert Davis under the growing "should be unemployed" list that is set to debut in the next few weeks. Whether they're right or not, picking strait chalk across the bracket is nothing but cowardly. Doug Gottlieb should be spending more time on the Game Day set than any of those three. At least he had the cajones to pick UNLV into the Elite 8 to go with all his chalk. Also for more preview action from your favorite analyst you don't have to listen to check out my rundown over at JCMJ.
#1 Florida - #16Jackson State
Obviously taking the Gators here, but it should be fun the watch the Nations #2 scorer in Trey Johnson of J-State.
#8 Arizona - #9 Purdue
I'm going to take Arizona here even though my head screams Purdue will win. Arizona has the talent for sure but they've played so bad over the past month or so you wonder if Marcus Williams is just ready to be drafted already. Arizona is getting the same "could beat the #1 seed" hype it got last year from ESPN. I'll ruin my predictions now and say they will not.
#5 Butler - #12 Old Dominion
I almost don't even care anymore who wins this game. I'd rather ODU had drawn USC and Butler was hosting Arkansas but what can you do? I expect Butler to force ODU to shoot a lot of three's something the Monarchs are not the greatest at. ODU getting handled by George Mason decides this one for me. I'll take Butler in what I could argue is an upset.
#4 Maryland - #13Davidson
Trust me I want to take Davidson because Maryland is a threat to the Gators but I'll go with the Terps here. I'm looking forward to getting a look at Stephen Curry as I missed the SoCon final last week.
#6 Notre Dame - #11 Winthrop
I'm taking Winthrop but I think this game could resemble the VMI-Winthrop Big South final. I look forward to Digger's boys going down in round 1. I just wish I could they'd get blown out.
#3 Oregon - #14 Miami, Ohio
I'm going to assume Miami is a 14 because they pre-seeded the MAC winner expecting a Toledo or Akron champion. Miami finished the season 18-14 and needed the ugliest buzzer beater of all-time to beat Akron. I think Oregon walks in what could be the most lopsided first round game of this region.
#7 UNLV - #10 Georgia Tech
So Ga. Tech hasn't won but one true road game in two years you say? Well its sink or swim for me with this pick as I'm taking Ga. Tech here and that my friends is not all.
#2 Wisconsin - #15 Texas A&M-CC
I think this will be closer than the fans in Madison would hope. But the game is in Chicago and if Wisconsin lost this I one of my friends may indeed bust out the noose. With that in mind I'm taking Wisconsin but I wouldn't be shell shocked if TAMU-CC pulls it off.
#1 Florida - #8 Arizona
Arizona shows up about as well as they did against Oregon and Florida blows through the first weekend forgetting they even played a game.
#5 Butler - #4 Maryland
Congratulations Butler you performed perfectly as far as seed expectations go. Maryland should shut Graves down and knock off the Bulldogs without too much trouble.
#11 Winthrop - #3 Oregon
Much like Winthrop first round game this one will be a fast paced three point shootout. I want to take the Eagles here but they got a bad draw. Oregon wins in a close one.
#2 Wisconsin - #10 Georgia Tech
My falling opinion of Wisconsin since Brian Butch's injury is well documented. I like the Yellow Jackets and their horrendous road record to spring the upset. If UNLV beat Ga. Tech I like them to beat Wisconsin also for the record.
My original bracket had a Sweet 16 of Florida, Old Dominion, Winthrop and Georgia Tech. I felt I was a little double digit heavy and cut it down. Plus I did some actual research on a few teams.
#1 Florida - #4 Maryland
The winner of this game WILL win the region. I'm going to take Florida as I think their overall balance will be enough to get past the Terps.
#3 Oregon - #10 Georgia Tech
I'm going to take the Ducks and their quartet of guards in this one assuming the shooting touch is still there two weeks removed from the Pac-10 tourney championship.
#1 Florida - #3 Oregon
It pains me to have nearly the same two at the end of this bracket as the rest of the nation. But what can I say I like both of these teams a lot. The first Nine N' 5 will attest to that. To bad the Ducks didn't fall into the South they could have ruined some brackets. But in this region they're one of the favorites, go figure right? It's somewhat ironic Florida will take out another four guard team to make the Final Four.
#1 Kansas - #16 Niagara
As much as I love Purple Eagles, especially the occasional sighting over the falls. I think Kansas wins this one but it'll be a little bit closer than expected.
#8 Kentucky - #9 Villanova
It looks like Nardi's not going to play in this one but I'll still take Villanova. I say Scottie Reynolds goes insane and drops 41 for a new career high.
#5 Virgina Tech - #12 Illinois
Here I go completely ignoring my previous predictions as I take Illinois to knock off Virgina Tech. Va. Tech is way to inconsistent for my taste and as bad as Illinois was this season I think they'll slow the Hokies down and take them out of their comfort zone. It'll still be tight but I think Illinois sneaks by.
#4 Southern Illinois - #13 Holy Cross
This could be one of the best games of the first round as both teams specialize at the defensive end. These two have nearly identical PPG (63.15/64.24) and PPGA (56.45/57.36) totals and I wouldn't be shocked to see this game end in a 1 point win for.... Southern Illinois. I almost have to pick them so there you go.
#6 Duke - #11 VCU
While they're from the CAA they're not George Mason, its VCU. New head coach, and former Florida Assistant Anthony Grant steps in and leads VCU to the CAA regular and conference titles in his first year. That's impressive given the strength at the top of the CAA this season. I'm going to roll with VCU here as I hate Duke, and they'd lose in round 2 anyway so who cares. That damn Sweet 16 streak ends this year Coach K.
#3Pittsburgh - #14 Wright State
I was all set to take Pitt who I think is the most over rated team of all those in the "Major" conferences. But to hell with it, I said last week I'd take Wright State if these two played so to hell with it that's what I'm going to do. DaShaun Wood I'm counting on you to make me a genius.
#7 Indiana - #10 Gonzaga
This one is quite the toss up from my perspective. I'll take Indiana as I think the D.J. White and Earl Calloway will play well against Gonzaga's no defense approach.
#2 UCLA - #15 Weber State
See Ben Howland take on his Alma-mater. See Ben Howland's Bruins trounce his Alma-mater.
#1 Kansas - #9 Villanova
I think Brandon Rush for the most part puts the clamps down on Scottie Reynolds as Kansas advances to the round of 16 for the first time in three seasons.
#4 Southern Illinois - #12 Illinois
As much as I hate to say it Bruce Webber will meet his former team and send them home earlier than I'd like. This one could be ugly to watch as I'd expect the final score to barely get over 50.
#11 VCU - #14 Wright State
As much as I'd like to pick Wright State here a #14 seed has never beaten a #11 in the second round. Not to mention I'm already on a huge limb taking WSU to beat Pitt.
#2 UCLA - #7 Indiana
The Gonzaga rematch is avoided but the result is just the same for the Bruins. They'll get past Indiana without a whole lot of trouble as D.J. White gets into foul trouble early.
#1 Kansas - #12 Illinois
Much like it would have been with the Southern Illinois boys Illinois's defense will annoy Kansas. In the end the 'Hawks pull away for a relatively comfortable win. By relatively I mean 6+ by the way.
#11 VCU - #2 UCLA
For all those Ben Howland plays two teams he has ties to fans I'm sorry. Pitt will not make it this far or anywhere for that matter and UCLA will win again. I wish VCU was Final Four bound but I just don't see it. UCLA should win in a somewhat close game by 10.
#1 Kansas - #2 UCLA
It looks like nothing but chalk if you scrolled directly to this spot but it's not. The Bruins get Julian Wright into quick foul trouble running one guy after another at the big man forcing him to spend most of the first half on the bench. This allows UCLA to build a comfortable 9 point halftime lead that they barely hold onto in one of the most thrilling game of the tournament so far.
Well that's it for the first two regions. Thoughts? Am I a complete jackass? Let know if you feel so inclined.