Thursday, March 19, 2015

March Madness: “Big Blue” Balls

By Jeffrey Boswell

Can anyone stop Kentucky from completing an undefeated season with the national championship?

Kentucky is clearly superior by far, and that's got the rest of the NCAA field waving a white flag, and that surely makes Adolf Rupp happy.

Nothing seems to phase the Wildcats, and that's a reflection of their head coach, John Calipari, who's not even the least bit intimidated, not even when a fellow coach threatens to murder him.

The Wildcats are a virtual lock to reach the Final Four. From there, anything could happen, like a poor shooting night, an opponent on fire from the three-point arc, or some interesting discoveries down the road from a team of NCAA investigators. Nobody, and I mean nobody, vacates Final Fours like Calipari.

What's the spread in Kentucky's first round game against Hampton?

Kentucky (minus evisceration)

Did Indiana deserve to be included in the tournament field?

No. But head coach Tom Crean campaigned tirelessly and shamelessly for his team. In addition, former IU head coach Bobby Knight threatened that if the Hoosiers didn't make the field, he would toss a "committee chair" across the room.

Which five-seed or higher has the best chance to reach the Final Four?

Kentucky's presence in the Midwest Region precludes picking a team from that region, but if pressed, I'd go with Wichita State, the No. 7 seed. The Shockers have the coolest nickname in college basketball, and want nothing more than another shot at Kentucky, who knocked them out of last year's tournament.

In the East, another No. 7 seed, Michigan State, seems ready to make another strong tournament run. The Spartans have two things going for them: 1)head coach Tom Izzo, who loves tourney time, and 2) they are not in Kentucky's region.

Does Duke have the maturity to win it all?

The Blue Devils start three freshmen, and the rigors of a tough schedule has prepared them for battle. And any team coached by Mike Krzyzewski is a threat to win it all. But this Duke team lacks the one thing that has defined great Duke teams of the past: a player everyone hates. There is no Christian Laettner; there is no Steve Wojciechowski or Chris Collins, or any other Duke guard relegated to a lifetime duty as an assistant coach at Duke.

What the 2014-2015 Blue Devils do have is a collection of adorable players with cute mini-afros, and even Coach K would tell you that these guys are quite huggable.

The Devils will make the Elite 8, but will tumble to No. 2 seed Gonzaga in the regional final.

Can North Carolina make a deep run in honor of the late Dean Smith, who passed away on February 7?

The Tar Heels are a No. 4 seed, also known to the great Dean as "that team we would play in the third round as we would be a No. 1 seed."

Alas, the Heels are not a No. 1 seed, and a date with No. 13 Harvard awaiting on Thursday. As with UNC basketball (and UNC athletics in general), it's all about who shows up. If this game were played in an African-American Studies classroom on the Carolina campus, Harvard would win by forfeit, because no UNC student-athletes would be in attendance.

UNC will reach the Sweet 16, but will fall to No. 1 seed Wisconsin, as the Heels struggle with the Badgers' size, as well as a horribly officiated game, because, let's face it, Carolina's luck with "whistleblowers" hasn't been too good lately.

How in the name of John Wooden did UCLA make the field?

Selection Committee chairman Scott Barnes mentioned some b.s. about the Bruins "gaining steam" and passing the "eye test." That's committee-speak for "we'd like to set up an intriguing first-round matchup with a team coached by Larry Brown, who formerly coached UCLA."

That being said, the Bruins will prove that the Selection Committee, even with severely flawed logic and stupid reasoning, was right, and UCLA will knock off SMU in the first round.

Round of 64: The Upsets

Midwest Region: No. 12 Buffalo over No. 5 West Virginia. Buffalo over West Virginia, you say? "Hurley" you can't be serious? Oh, I'm serious, and stop calling me "Hurley." Former Duke legend Bobby Hurley coaches the Bulls. "Surely" that counts for something.

South Region: No. 12 Stephen F. Austin over No. 5 Utah. Two things about SFA: their nickname is the "Stone Colds" and the university has a Six Million Dollar endowment. One thing: neither of those two is true. But this is: the Lumberjacks won as a 12 seed in last year's tournament and are looking for more in 2015.

No. 13 Eastern Washington over No. 4 Georgetown: What did the Georgetown bus driver say after Friday's game? "Let's go, Hoyas."

Final Four

Kentucky, Arizona, Gonzaga, Villanova

Championship

Kentucky over Villanova

Contents copyright © Sports Central 1998-2017