2 weeks ago, SMU was ranked 18th in the nation and seemed destined for their first trip to the NCAA tournament in over 20 years. After ending the season on a 3 game losing streak, though, Larry Brown’s squad will have to settle for the NIT. They’re the only real snub I see not in the tournament this year. Some will say Green Bay at 24-6 deserved an at-large bid, but they didn’t really beat anyone worth talking about all year.
Looking at the brackets, it’s possible we’ll see a 9 seed in the Final Four. Here is my list of the probable Cinderella’s in this years NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament:
#15 Eastern Kentucky
It’s no secret the Kansas Jayhawks have been struggling without freshman Joel Embiid. Andrew Wiggins has picked up the scoring slack bigtime, but the lane has been left relatively unguarded in Embiid’s absence. If there’s a 2 seed going down in the 1st round this year, it’s probably Kansas at the hands of Eastern Kentucky.
Pittsburgh has been a very tough team all year long. They nearly beat Virginia in the ACC tournament, and the only blowout loss they’ve suffered all year was at the hands of Duke. Pitt plays teams close, and keeps the score down. While I don’t see them beating my projected National Champion Florida in the 2nd round, it wouldn’t come as a complete shock if they did.
I don’t see anyone wearing a glass slipper in the East. This region is tough and topheavy. I expect #11 Providence to beat UNC in the first round, but get crushed by Iowa State in the 2nd. By the sweet 16, we’ll likely see #1-4 seeds still playing in the East, unless Memphis knocks off Virginia. Memphis is young and uber athletic, and will give UVA a run for their money. I, like most analysts, expect #4 Michigan State to make it out of the East.
#13 New Mexico St
#9 Oklahoma State
If the NCAA Tournament was a paper towel commercial, the West region would be the flimsy competitor’s towel that falls apart and doesn’t pick up any spilled juice. There will be more upsets in this region than any other, I guarantee it. Surging Oklahoma State got a gift from the committee with their potential 2nd round match-up against struggling Arizona. A Final Four appearance is theirs for the taking. Nebraska could easily beat Baylor, and should put up a decent fight against Creighton in the 2nd round, while New Mexico State gets the softest 4 seed in the entire tournament. The winner of the Oklahoma State/Arizona match-up should get to Arlington.
#12 NC State
If the West is the shitty paper towel, the Midwest is a Goddamn shamwow with ridiculous absorbency. After going undefeated during the regular season and conference tournament, Wichita State got FUCKED with their potential 2nd round match-up with pre-season #1 Kentucky. The Wildcats are the lowest seed with a shot to go deep in this region of titans that also includes Duke, Louisville (a 4 seed? really?), and Michigan. Analysts are saying the South is the toughest region, but I beg to differ. The Midwest is as deep as it gets, but if you’re looking for a 12 seed to get to the Elite 8, I like NC State. They’ve been playing teams very close lately, and knocked off Syracuse last week.
Much like the West, I expect the winner of the Wichita St/Kentucky match-up to cut the nets down and head to the Final Four.
WHO WILL WIN IT ALL?
While they’re saying this is the year 1 seeds get knocked off early, I have 3 of them in my Final Four. Florida, Arizona, Wichita State, and Michigan State are the teams I expect to see in Arlington. Florida is the best team in the country. I’ve been saying it for a few months now, and my opinion hasn’t changed. Crown their asses.