The Marks Post: It’s March; Let’s go dancing!!
It is rare that I have two columns in a month. With that being said, this special column is a preview and prediction of that one shining moment known as the NCAA Basketball Tournament.
Sixty-eight teams enter pantheons around the country as they look to reach the Final Four that is set for Easter weekend in San Antonio. Only two of the teams, defending champ North Carolina and last year’s runner-up Gonzaga, reached the Final Four last year.
Both North Carolina and Gonzaga are in the West region with number one seed Xavier. Do not look for a rematch of last year’s finals in this year’s Elite 8 as both the Tar Heels and Zags have a different look to them. I have Gonzaga losing to South Dakota State in the second round and similarly have North Carolina falling to Providence in the second round.
Overall number one seed is Virginia. The Cavaliers will look to run through the South region on its way to San Antonio, but I have them losing to number 2 seed Cincinnati in the Elite 8. This will set up a rematch of the American Athletic Conference Tournament finals as Cincinnati will take on sixth seed in the west, Houston, in the Final Four.
The other side of the bracket is highlighted by Villanova getting the number one seed in the East and Kansas getting the number one seed in the Midwest. I know you are probably reading this after all the online bracket contests are locked, but, if not, I have only one of these number one seeds going past the Sweet 16.
To me, Villanova will run through its region unblemished on its way to a national championship matchup against Cincinnati. Kansas, in my opinion, loses to New Mexico State in the Sweet 16. I will say this about Kansas, though. Every time I pick them to lose early in the tournament, they go on to do great things. Every time I pick them to reach the Final Four or beyond, they lose in the first round. Remember the loss to Northern Iowa? Yea, I think I picked Kansas to win it that year.
One thing that most of the national pundits agree on is that this season has more parity in college basketball than usual. The field of 68 teams is filled with a whole number of teams that could be sleepers. I already mentioned two of them in the South Dakota State Jackrabbits and the New Mexico State Aggies. Six other sleepers could be Wright State, Providence, Arkansas, Rhode Island, St. Bonaventure, and UCLA.
This preview and prediction are only my opinion. Honestly, I have not watched as much college basketball this year as I would have liked. So, fill your brackets out accordingly. Remember, money lost on wagers placed because of this prediction is not the responsibility of this intellectual. (Unless you win, in which case there will be a 20% prediction fee.)
In case you were wondering, I have the Jesuit school beating Cincinnati in my bracket and cutting down the nets in San Antonio. So, let’s go dancing and sit down for March Madness that begins today at 11:15 a.m. CST. Oh, by the way, today is the Ides of March. It’s a good day for tournament hopes to get stabbed to death.