March Madness: Does Your Bracket Look Like Mike's?
Sports blogger Mike Prisuta's brackets have more than a few upsets, including a stunner that will have some local fans booking last minute flights to Houston.
What we’ve seen in advance of the NCAA Tournament included a record 74 AP Top 10 teams being beaten this season.
That should only add to the annual madness.
But despite a preponderance of evidence that suggests this year’s brackets will be especially susceptible to busting, a collection of 31 ESPN.com experts came up with the usual suspects when it came time to project the eventual national champion.
The vast majority went with either Michigan State (18), Kansas (10), Kentucky (one) or North Carolina (one), schools with a combined 15 national titles between them.
Oklahoma was also so anointed (once).
In other words, despite all of the upsets and poll-shattering results that have been much more the rule than the exception this season, many of those who have been paying close attention maintain this still isn’t the season to become too enamored with Austin Peay, Chattanooga, Stephen F. Austin or Green Bay.
So what’s an amateur bracketologist to do?
Same as every year – fill out your sheet line by line with confidence.
But don’t bet the farm.
The first-round upsets, relatively speaking, will include 9-seed UConn over 8-seed Colorado and 10-seed Temple over 7-seed Iowa. Kansas, Maryland (over 4-seed Cal), Miami and Villanova will advance to the Sweet 16. 3-seed Miami over 2-seed Villanova will constitute another minor upset at that juncture, but Kansas over Maryland and then Kansas over Miami will follow the chalk.
Northern Iowa (an 11-seed over 6-seed Texas) and 10-seed VCU (over 7-seed Oregon State) will make some noise in the first round. And Northern Iowa will likewise advance (this time over 3-seed Texas A&M), along with Oregon, 5-seed Baylor (over 4-seed Duke) and Oklahoma, to the Sweet 16. Once there Baylor will take down 1-seed Oregon before losing for a third time this season to 2-seed Oklahoma.
First-round upsets are destined to be sprung by 9-seed Providence (over 8-seed USC), 11-seed Michigan (over 6-seed Notre Dame) and 10-seed Pitt (over 7-seed Wisconsin) but all three will check out in the Round of 32. The Sweet 16 will feature North Carolina surviving Kentucky and 3-seed West Virginia solving 2-seed Xavier. Bob Huggins and WVU will head back to the Final Four after stunning North Carolina (another No. 1 bites the dust).
Make it four first-round upsets in eight first-round games in the Midwest (9-seed Butler, 13-seed Iona, 11-seed Gonzaga and 10-seed Syracuse). Gonzaga will pull another over 3-seed Utah before falling to Michigan State. 5-seed Purdue will knock off 1-seed Virginia on the other side of the bracket, setting up a Regional Final rematch with 2-seed Michigan State. The Spartans will outlast the Boilermakers (as they did in the Big Ten Championship Game), improve to 2-1 against Purdue this season and advance to Tom Izzo’s eighth Final Four.
The South-West Semifinal will give Oklahoma a third shot at Kansas. The third time will be the charm for the Sooners. And in the East-Midwest Semifinal, Michigan State will survive “Press Virginia,” but not before some incredibly anxious moments.
NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
Player-of-the Year candidates Denzel Valentine and Buddy Hield square off (not quite Magic vs. Bird, but not bad).
Valentine makes the last pass and the Spartans win the National Championship.
That, at least, is one potential scenario.
There are a myriad of others.
Like I said, don’t bet the farm.