Initial Thoughts on the Tournament Bracket

The field of 68 is officially set.

I'll keep it short and sweet. Here's my initial thoughts on this year's tournament field.

The NCAA committee got the field right

Almost every year, the committee leaves out a team that the majority felt should've been in, while putting a team in the field that raised tons of eyebrows. This year, that doesn't seem to be the case. Alabama, TCU, and Indiana didn't exactly make compelling cases, while Belmont getting in as the second Ohio Valley team was totally deserving. It's rare when you feel like the selection committee pretty much got the field nailed. This year, they deserve credit. I think they got the right 68 teams picked.

Where they got it so, so wrong

Tennessee travels to Columbus, Ohio. If chalk prevails, they get to play Cincinnati ... in Columbus, Ohio.

Clay Travis went off on this fact hours ago. He's a noted Tennessee fan, but in this case, that's irrelevant. He's right.

When the NCAA ranks the teams 1-68, the overall top seed should get the region in which the Sweet 16/Elite 8 site is closest to them, followed by the second and third top seeds. The fourth number one seed gets what's left over. For the first and second rounds, the top four seeds in each region should get the geographical advantage. For seventh-seeded Cincinnati to get such an easy commute for their fan base isn't fair to Tennessee. The NCAA screwed that one up royally and for once, John Calipari can't complain that his team got screwed over the most (to be fair, Kentucky's had some pretty rough draws in recent tournaments).

Sure, we can complain that North Carolina will have a road game if Kansas advances to the Sweet 16 and meets the Tar Heels in Kansas City. But, KU still would have to survive the first weekend. This is a first weekend road game for Tennessee and I think that's lousy.

Where the NCAA got it wrong, part two

The field has so many potential conference games, it's startling.

If Minnesota beats Louisville, they likely get Michigan State. And if Maryland makes the Sweet 16 (which isn't a wild possibility), Michigan State might be playing two conference foes in a row. That's ... a little odd. There's a good chance Duke meets Virginia Tech again, as well.

The NCAA usually does a better job of spreading conference teams out a bit. Putting three Big Ten teams in one half of a bracket is rare. I'd rather them spread it out.

Upset picks

Not much for picking a ton of upsets. But some real potential Cinderellas are...

(12) Liberty over (5) Mississippi State. Teams with veteran guards that shoot the ball well are ALWAYS dangerous in March. Liberty has two senior guards in Caleb Homesley and Lovell Cabill, Jr. that do just that.

Both Ohio Valley teams. I think (12) Murray State could give (5) Marquette fits, while if Belmont can get past Temple in Dayton, the Bruins are the type of team that could reach the Sweet 16. Beating Maryland is a possibility, and with LSU in turmoil, this could be the surprise double-digit team of the tournament.

(12) NM State over (5) Auburn. Yes, another dangerous 12 seed. The Aggies score a lot and are great on the boards. Auburn tends to live and die on the perimeter, so if they're on, even the top seeds are vulnerable to the Tigers. But if the Aggies guard well and Auburn's cold from behind the arc, this upset could happen.

The dark horse to go deep is...

(6) Iowa State. Anyone watching the Big 12 tournament could see that the Cyclones are finally clicking on all cylinders. Yes, Kansas State didn't have Dean Wade, but ISU's relatively easy win over Baylor, gritty win over K-State and surprisingly easy win over Kansas showed what the Cyclones are capable of when they're playing their best basketball. Iowa State is a potent offensive team; they won't lose a shootout. It takes a sloppy performance, coupled with bad defense, to send this team home. If ISU wins the tempo battle against Houston, they can take the Cougars out and join Kentucky and North Carolina in Kansas City, where "Hilton South" has been very, very good to them. Want a team that can set fire to brackets? Iowa State looks to be that club.


There's not a definitive favorite this year; there's a lot of teams that could hoist the trophy when it's all said and done. However, after watching a phenomenal third matchup between Duke and North Carolina, my head is leaning towards the Blue Devils. Zion Williamson takes a good team and makes them an elite one. I think they'd exact revenge on Gonzaga (if they get there; Michigan or Florida State could take Gonzaga out) and I just wouldn't bet against them, so long as Zion and R.J. Barrett are on the court.

Leave a Comment

Featured Site