March Madness is the best sporting event in the world. Period. For a few weeks in March, my love for the sport of college basketball reaches its peak, cumulating in a beautifully unpredictable and inspiring tournament. Now, I’d be lying if I said I always picked a great bracket. However, I always only fill out 1 every year (and place it in a money pool) and have had a pretty good track record at picking huge upsets. Now, these upset picks are not random, by any means. I do extensive research on every team in the field (in addition to the great amount of hoops I watch in the regular season) and try to make the most educated upset picks. I spend so much time researching first round matches, that my bracket typically falls apart when I rush through picking the late round tilts (when the points are really on the line). I legitimately picked Florida Gulf Coast to defeat Georgetown (largely due to the fact that they beat Miami in the regular season, and GT’s vulnerability). The next year, I followed it up with accurately forecasting Mercer over Duke, as I was impressed with a Mercer win over Tennessee, and my belief that Duke was not as good as its 3 seed suggested. Last year, I forecasted Stephen F. Austin over West Virginia (yet accidentally clicked on WVU online… I was devastated), as I thought SFA’s offensive efficiency (and Thomas Walkup’s skill) would neutralize the attacking press of the Mountaineers. Lastly, I do not consider a 12 over a 5 a real upset (it is too overplayed). Really, I dig deep for a 13-15 seed to find my long shot teams I support. Another note, every year in the 60 person money pool I partake in, I always have by far the highest potential point total (most upsets; you get rewarded for round win + seed number). Now, let’s get to this year.
I will sort these teams into tiers:
Tier 1: Upsets I will absolutely pick on my one and only official bracket (money pool).
Tier 2: Upsets I like, but am still deciding whether to predict (I will pick some/not all of these teams officially)
Tier 3: Upsets I think have a chance, but I just don’t like them enough to overtake all my other upset picks.
PS. I am not including Wichita State. 10 seed doesn’t count, especially one that is 8th in kenpom.
Middle Tennessee State
Now, I feel far too square-ish making this pick. Everyone is mentioning it, which makes me dislike it. However, it is just too good to ignore. Heck, Vegas has the game as nearly a pickem. This game would make a lot more sense to me if it was a 7-10, instead of 5-12. I have had my eyes glued to the Blue Raiders all year, and have seen them do things like romp Vanderbilt by more than 20 points, a triumph over UNC Wilmington, a road domination of Ole Miss, and a narrow road defeat to VCU. Giddy Potts, Reggie Upshaw, Jacorey Williams. Kermit Davis is a great coach.
East Tennessee State
Another trendy pick, but it is a 4-13. This pick is arguably more about my lack of confidence in Florida (struggled down the stretch, loss of John Egbunu) than my love for ETSU. However, they do own a road win over Mississippi State, have a stud in TJ Crommer, and former Indiana man, Hanner Mosquera-Perea. I like Steve Forbes’ crew here.
Florida Gulf Coast
Dunk City. Responsible for one of my greatest picks of all time. Very athletic going up against a very athletic squad. I worry a little about a team reliant on athletes going against FSU, but the Seminoles don’t have the best tournament track record.
New Mexico State
Now, this is far more about my lack of faith in Baylor, than love for the Aggies. They do bode an impressive record, however, and the Bears are still super vulnerable.
Very good team coached by Eric Musselman, with a few NBA players on their roster. The Cyclones always disappoint in March, but the Pack may be to similar of an offense first squad.
Own a win over Illinois, have Keon Johnson, but mainly are interesting because they face an extremely unpredictable Butler team.
Love the team of Kevin Keats, but worry that his offense only team will face a brick wall against UVA’s stingy defense.
Play defense, score efficiently, and mainly beyond the arc. A great combination for a giant killer. However, they take on a Notre Dame that is very similar, just with more talented players.
Press-Virgina always fails on March, but the Bison rely on big man, Nana Foulland, yet lack the crucially important great guard play.
South Dakota State
A 16-1, what??? The Jackrabbits are not good enough as a complete team, but the Zags are a weak 1 seed, and Mike Daum may very well be the best player on the court. It is not completely crazy to see Gonzaga tighten up, while Mike Daum drops 50. He is awesome!!!
Cincinnati is still really good defensively, but can now score. Will be interesting to see their contrasts in styles if they match up against Wake Forest or UCLA
The West region sucks.
I like potential elite 8 runs from Notre Dame, Michigan, Wichita State/Cincinnati
Enjoy the best time of the year!