Tuesday, March 19, 2019

What to Make of the 2019 NCAA Men's Basketball Brackets? Nobody know

Three ACC teams and Gonzaga are number one seeds in the four regions. At least three of them, maybe four will not be in the title game and probably not the Final Four. Two Big Ten teams, Michigan and Michigan State are two seeds. Michigan would have to defeat Gonzaga and Michigan State Duke to make the Final Four. Both teams have outstanding defenses, but the odds of both reaching the Final Four are slim. Indeed, it’s possible that neither make it to the Regional Finals However, out of loyalty to Michigan and as an “adopted” son of the Great State of Michigan, I want them both to succeed with one winning out.. Kentucky and Tennessee from the SEC are the two other 2 seeds. Thus the top eight teams before the tip off are from three power conferences. Duke and Kentucky are vying for the One And Done Championship. Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota, The Ohio State University, Rutgers and Wisconsin also represent the Big (Ten) Conference. Michigan was the only Big team to make it out of the first round last year. Since my first teaching was in Ohio, albeit it at ONU and not OSU, I will like to see the Buckeyes win a few, but their last half of the season was not up to TOSY standards. Actually, I would live to see a final four comprised of 4 Big 10/14 teams. If not, why not 4 Jesuit Universities since I also graduated from the University of San Francisco when it was a basketball power and nobody ever heard of Gonzaga. Anything is possible. But not for last year’s Cinderellas, UMBC (University of Maryland at Baltimore County) and Loyola Chicago with 99 year old Sister Jean. they were not invited to the dance this year. The Hall of Famer, Rick Pitino is missing the year, taking his game to Greece. Last year’s national champion, Villanova, plays St Mary’s in the first game, a classic clash of East Coach Catholics versus West Coach Catholics. Who’s this year’s Cinderella, or at least early round bracket buster: Yale, which could conceivably play Duke for the East Regional Title and academic superiority, Montana which could defeat the other UM, Michigan, in the first game, Liberty, Belmont Temple, Bradley, Gardner Webb, Colgate, Old Dominion, Iona, once of Jim Valvano fame, Old Dominion, once a power in women’s basketball, Northeastern, Wofford, or Abilene Christian? Will a 16 beat a 1? Remember, Virginia, last year’s 1 seed fell to UMBC in the first game. The Retrievers defeated the Cavaliers. A few are predicting Virginia to win out, cut the nets, and extirpate last season’s sin. That stain the Cavaliers recorded will never go away. Michigan handily defeated Appalachian State 52-14 on August 30, 2014. The 2014 landslide will never erase the pain of Appalachian State’s 34-32 upset of the Wolverines on an otherwise beautiful day in the Big House on September 1, 2007, a day which will live in infamy in Ann Arbor. The pain lasts to this day. I know; I was at the game. Appalachian deserved to win. They out coached and outplayed the Wolverines. Rumors are that several Michigan players started celebrating their impending victory the night before the game. A 15 over a 2? That’s happened a few times. Who’s got the hot hand going in? Auburn? Oregon? Oregon won its last eight in a row, destroying UW in the Pac 12 championship game. Can a 6 game loser, Kentucky, Michigan State, North Carolina, Texas Tech win it all? Could LSU under a recently appointed interim coach emulate Michigan under Steve Fisher and win the title? The best team in Southern California is the University of California Irvine Anteaters. So much for two coaches in one season UCLA and scandal ridden USC. The best team in Northern California is St. Mary’s. So much for Berkeley and Stanford. Cal and Stanford are both in the Women’s Tournament. Women do not get the respect, publicity, or revenues of the men’s basketball. Let me emphasize that the women play a better game than the men. They are schooled in the fundamentals. They play as a team. No one and done’s in women’s basketball. The women play and learn all 4 and sometimes 5 years. They also go to class. A team to win it all has have talent, coaching, a hot hand, lucky, and injury free. Zion Williamson is back for Duke, so Duke is almost every prognosticator’s choice to win it all. Zion and most of his teammates have trouble with free throws. The geometry of three point shots also confuses the Duke team. Those are major weaknesses in a tight game. Duke should win its first game against UNCC, six miles and several leagues apart. Your tournament picks are as good, or poor, as mine. Nobody knows. Give the brackets to the office administrative assistant who knows nothing about basketball. She might be the big winner. My one certainty is if Buffalo plays Michigan in the West Regionals in Anaheim, our 38½ year marriage will be tested. She went to Buffalo and I to Michigan.

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