Wednesday, March 18, 2009

March Madness 09'

The Dance:

It’s that time again, my favorite time of the year for sports. There’s nothing like March madness. 65 teams battling for supremacy, does it get any better? Personally I get giddy like a child when this time comes around. I love filling out my bracket and contemplating who is going to go far, who is going to get upset and who the sleepers are, and then talking with everybody about it. There’s a lot of buzz out there this year on who’s going to win. In many ways this year is kind of cool, there’s not a clear front runner to win. I guess we will see.

Every year I try to watch more and more basketball during the season so when tournament time rolls around I will be more prepared and could make better educated decisions. Well like years past, I tried, but to no avail, I didn’t watch enough. I did however watch enough to have a pretty good opinion. So here is my bracket in a nut shell and my pick to win.

My final four are as follows: Louisville, Memphis, North Carolina, and Villanova.

Louisville has flown under the radar this year even though they are the #1 overall team. Not much has been said about them, they will be the team to in the Midwest.

Memphis lost 5 seniors and still went undefeated in conference play this year. Granted they are in the conference USA which we all know is not as strong as the BCS schools. Watch out for them to get hot and a rather weak West division. They will meet there match in Louisville and there tourney will end. They were also the first school to go undefeated and not get a #1 seed.

North Carolina is the team to be in my opinion. If Ty Lawson is healthy, watch out. With the combination of Tyler Hansborough, I think the two can carry this team to a national title.

Villanova is my surprise in the final four this year. They too have flown under the radar and have not generated much buzz. There guard play is exceptional and I believe they are the best team in the East region.

My surprise teams: Purdue, Kansas, Xavier.
-Purdue has had a good year, but no one ever gives respect to the Big Ten conference so this year people will know who Purdue is.
-Kansas has had a lot of pressure, being the defending champs and all, but they will make a good showing getting to the elite 8 before getting knocked out by Louisville.
-Xavier is my sleeper this year. Being a 4 seed, there not too much of a sleeper, but watch out for them to knock Pitt off their undeserving pedestal and reach the elite 8.

Here is this year’s disappointment: Michigan State, Pitt and I hate to say it but Uconn.

Michigan State had a great year. Winning the Big ten conference. There loss to Ohio State in the conference tourney was not biggie for Izzo and friends. They knew they were getting a good seed anyways. Good seed or not, MSU is not getting past USC in the second round. USC is another good team and even with the loss of OJ Mayo, they are a team to watch out for. Better luck next year Spartans.

Pitt, what do I say about Pitt? Everybody is jumping on their bandwagon. They play in a very good big east conference and they rightfully deserve that # 1 seed that they have, but I don’t think they are all that great. If Blair gets into foul trouble early, Pitt may be watching in April. I have them losing to Xavier in the sweet 16 round.

Uconn, I guess we can start with that there overrated. I bet Uconn’s women could beat these guys. Big east conference is tough and they had a great year, I just think they don’t have enough stamina to get to the finals. I also having them losing in the sweet 16 round to Purdue.

A lot of speculation on this years snubs, how does St Mary’s California not get into the field of 65?? I know that every year there is always one cry baby, but Arizona did not deserve to get in over St Mary’s. Arizona lost 5 of 6 down the stretch and somehow they got in. Name recognition is why. They’ve made the tourney some 16 years in a row, and the committee didn’t want to break that streak. Granted the Pac 10 is stronger than west coast conference, but oh well. The other snub that is worth mentioning is Penn State. The big ten had enough mediocre teams make the dance, one more was not necessary. Hell, they almost lost the other night in the NIT to George Mason.

Now this would not be a WI blog if I didn’t mention our teams that our in the tourney. WI is a 12 seed and they play Florida State on Friday night at 9pm CT. Marquette, a 6 seed, plays at 11:15 am CT and they play Utah State. Its hard for me not to want either to win, but knowing that each team has there up’s and downs I had to make decisions. I’m not one of those guys who have Marquette and WI playing in the National title game, because that just would never happen. I have WI losing to Florida State in the first round. They were just not that good this year. They seem to fade in every game they play. They are actually lucky they even got in this year. They were I think the 5th last team to get in or something. Marquette is just unlucky with Dominic James getting hurt. I really thought that they were a final four team, but after the loss of James, they just aren’t the same with Maurice Acker. It’s actually sad because it’s extremely rare that you have three 4th year seniors play all four years with each other and have a real chance at being a contender, and to fall short because of something unexpected is horrible. My heart goes out to Marquette and I’m extremely grateful for the 4 years that James, McNeal and Matthews put in. You will be missed.

Along with the buzz of the tourney itself, people have been griping about what changes need to be made to make the tourney better. The only suggestions I have is that the whole regular conference season, teams battle each other for a conference title. Great, you won the regular season title. Now you get to play in a tournament to see who gets an automatic bid to the tourney. To me, it kind of seems redundant. For example, Michigan State won the big ten championship. They in turn have a bad day and lost to Ohio State. Granted MSU was going to the dance anyways, but where is the incentive to win the regular season, other than bragging rights. I don’t know, just a thought. I guess it gives every team a shot to get into the tourney. Just seems backwards to me. But that is my only suggestion.

So with that said, have a great tourney season, and go Badgers, and Golden Eagles.