The real holiday season in my opinion is March. That has been the case for me as long as I can remember. The people in Vegas would agree. They will tell you that it is the Super Bowl four times. There is nothing like it in sports and I cannot even begin to tell you how excited I am that it’s back. March Madness.
Looking at this season’s bracket I think it is one of the most difficult ones to fill out in a while. Part of that could have to do with the fact that teams like VCU, Butler and other mid-majors have had so much success the last couple years.
The main factor to why this year is so difficult is the fact that there is not a ton of separation between teams that are a four seed through teams that are a nine seed. Indiana, Wichita State, Louisville, Memphis, Uconn, Iowa State, Cincinnati, Florida among the few are all on a very similar wavelength to me. I don’t know if that means the top seeds are that good, or if this second tier of teams in the tournament are that good.
I do not see very many mid-major cinderella stories this season. It could be because the Pac-12 was so down this year but that the mid-majors that normally “shock the world” are seeded way to high to be considered a cinderella. Murray State, Wichita State (thats the second time I have mentioned them, yes there is a reason for that) St. Mary’s and Temple are all seeded seven or higher.
Other than liking Wichita State this year, which you have figured out by now, here is how I think this is going to pan out. In the Midwest, Kansas will make it to the Elite Eight but I expect drama in each and every game they play, starting with their opening round game with Detroit who has a very impressive guard in Ray McCallum Jr. who chose to play with his Dad at Detroit instead of U of A and Duke. UNC is the deepest team in the field and number one for good reason, they will cut down the nets in this region
In the East, I am a big fan of Syracuse every year and that remains the same this season. But not having Fab Melo really hurts and their kryptonite is guarding the three. Vandy is one of the best, if not the best three point shooting team in the nation and a potential date with them in the Sweet Sixteen might be the early exit for the Orange. Florida State is on a roll but after their performance in the Big Ten tournament, so is Ohio State. Jared Sullinger and Thad Matta will represent the East region.
In the South, Wichita State has a pretty solid draw to make it out of the first weekend. Shaka’s VCU Rams did make it to the Final Four a season ago and if you want to go on the past, this looks like a good upset to fill in for the first round. But the Rams only returned one starter from last season’s Final Four team so I don’t see it happening again. For Wichita State in the second round, Indiana is a very good team but also a very young team. I thought Indiana was a year away at the start of the year and I think that remains to be true. New Mexico St. will be a very difficult opening round game for them. After all of this blabber, no one is beating Kentucky in this region and there is no need to elaborate other than the fact that they most likely have the number one and two picks in the next NBA draft.
Finally out here in Phoenix for the West region, its all about Missouri. Pressey might be the best player in this region (between him and Johnson-Odom at Marquette) and English has the experience. I love Tom Izzo and the Spartans are very good, but Mizzou is the more complete team and will cut down the nets at U.S. Airways Center.
My final four: Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio State and North Carolina.
My Championship game: a good tradition rich college basketball matchup between Kentucky and North Carolina.
End Result: John Calipari who is only coach in history to coach a number one seed in the tournament on three different teams, will win his first National Championship for Kentucky.
For everything you can think of for Hoops in March, follow Jared Cohen on twitter at @JaredPros2Preps