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It's here!!! The most amazing time of the year for a sport's fan!!!  March Madness!!!  In case you can't tell by all my exclamation points, I'm amped up for the tournament to start.  The first two rounds of the tournament (the real first two rounds, not the play in games) are the most exciting four days in sports.  You have upsets, buzzer beaters, prospect showcases, and a Cinderalla team that steals your heart (I'm looking at you Florida Gulf Coast).  So as you get ready to fill out your brackets, take a look at my break down of each region.



Winner:  Florida

The South is pretty loaded in it's top 3 seeds, but there is a reason Florida is the number one overall seed in this tournament.  They haven't lost since December 2nd, ran the table in the SEC, both in the regular season and the SEC tournament, and have a pretty cake tournament road until the elite 8 (when they most likely face Syracuse or Kansas).  Pencil in Florida.

Upset Special:  Dayton over Ohio State

There is no question in my mind that #9 seed Pitt is winning their first round matchup with Colorado, so if I had to put money on an upset that's the one I would go with.  However, taking a 9 seed is the easy way out, so I will give you all a second upset lock.  Dayton is beating Ohio State.  The Buckeyes just aren't that good, and don't have the offensive weapons they have in years past.  Plus the story line is just too perfect for an upset not to happen.  Dayton's coach Arch Miller is a former Thad Matta assistant, and Dayton's leading scorer, Jordan Sibert, is a former Buckeye.  Forget penciling in the upset, you can put it down in pen.

Best Matchup:  Man, I would love to see Florida and Kansas in the Elite 8, especially if Embild can come back healthy after the first weekend.  As a basketball fan, it would be fun to seeing which matters more, having the best team (Florida) or the Best Players (Wiggins and Embild).  Not to mention you would have two of the best coaches in college basketball in Billy Donovan and Bill Self.  


Winner:  Creighton

I know this isn't going to be a popular pick, but the heart wants what the heart wants.  The West isn't a very good region, and I don't think Creighton is going to see much opposition, as I see Wisconsin and Arizona both going down early.  In the tournament, shooting matters, and no team shoots better then the Bluejays, and they have the best player in college basketball in Dougie McBuckets.

Upset Special:  Oklahoma St over. Arizona (rd 2)

That's right, I'm predication a second round upset (don't worry, I will give a first round one too.).  So why do I think Arizona falls?  Because Oklahoma State is a much more talented team then what the have shown the last couple months.  They have one of the best college back courts in Marcus Smart and Markel Brown, and I think they get it together to go on a nice run this tournament.  If you don't got the balls to go big and want a safer pick,  I like Nebraska over Baylor as well.  Baylor didn't have a bad season, they were pretty good.  But watching them a few times, I just don't trust them in the big dance.  Nebraska may not be the most talented team, but they are gritty and I see them outfighting Baylor.

Best Matchup:  Oklahoma St. v Arizona

Whether I'm right about the upset or note, I feel like this could be the best game on our opening weekend.  I enjoy watching Marcus Smart play, flopping aside.  Plus, it will be good to see the future Celtic in action, since we all know Boston isn't getting in the top 3 of the lottery.  Our luck just doesn't work that way.


Winner:  Louisville

The fact that Louisville is a 4 seed is ridiculous.  You could make an argument that they should be a number one seed, if not they certainly deserved a two.  In my opinion they have the best coach in the region with Pitino, the best COLLEGE player in  the region with Russ Smith (I know Parker will be a better pro), and the most experience in the whole tournament.  Louisville returns to the final four, although it won't be easy.

Upset Special: NC State over St. Louis AND Kentucky over Wichita State

In the first round, I'm picking NC State, who has to win their play in game vs Xavier, over St. Louis.  St. Louis isn't that good.  Yes, they won a lot of games this season.  But they have dropped 4 of their last 5 games, and they weren't exactly beating the best college basketball has to offer.  NC State doesn't have a great resume either, but they have been playing well as of late, and I really like TJ Warren, one of the most underrated players in college basketball.

In round 2, Kentucky is going to beat Wichita State.  I know that Wichita State had a great season, but they didn't really play anyone.  Especially not anyone with the talent the Wildcats have.  I'm very interesting to see what Wichita does when they finally play a top tier team.  I predict they fold.

Best Match Up: Louisville v. Michigan

This region is STACKED, so it's going the be very hard to predict an elite 8 matchup, but wouldn't Michigan v. Louisville be ideal?  A rematch of last years championship game to get into the Final Four?


Winner:  Michigan State

A week ago I didn't consider Michigan State to be a final four team.  I have a hell of a lot of respect for the Spartans and Izzo, but I just didn't think they had the horses.  But watching them versus Michigan and Wisconsin their last two games, I've slowly turned into a believer.  I'm really on the fence about this one, and could switch over to Virginia or Villanova prior to Thursday.

Upset Special: Providence over North Carolina

This really isn't a prediction based on my trust in Providence, but a lack of trust in North Carolina.  I've watched them play quite a bit this season, and you never know what team is going to show up.  They have to bring their A game against Providence, who just won the Big East, and I'm not too sure they will.

Best Match Up:  UCONN v. Villanova

I don't know why, but I really want to see UCONN and VIllanova in round 2.  I just feel like it should be an exciting game.  Any time I get a chance to watch Shabazz Napier I try to, even if it's just for a few minutes, and Villanova place such a viewer friendly style.  As a fan I just feel like I would enjoy it.

So those are my picks.  I hope you enjoy.  You can follow me @michaelrooney26

Big Country

Monday, March 17, 2014

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