Another year, another March, another month of Madness. That’s right folks, it’s a new year and a new bracket of teams with no hope, some hope, or a good chance of cutting down the nets in Indianapolis. As everyone scrambles to start filling out fifteen different scenario-pending brackets, we all bask in the glory and anticipation of a tournament filled with buzzer beaters, upsets, and the potential for a #1 seed to finally bite the bullet and get canned in the first weekend (except my Blue Devils). Trust me, if Duke gets canned, you won’t hear much more from me in the latter half of March. The Thursday deadline is approaching fast so let’s kick the Madness off with a few upset specials I’ve got up my sleeve….
1. Temple vs. Cornell in the Round of 64
Yes, I know everyone likes Temple and their guard play this year. But you know what? Cornell is one of the best 3-point shooting teams in the country. They fire up threes like the ball is on fire. With any space, a 3-ball is headed toward the rim from the Big Red. Cornell is one of the leaders in the clubhouse in 3-point percentage and attempts in the NCAA Division 1, and there’s no reason to be gun-shy here in the tournament. I mean, for goodness sakes, Andy Bernard (the Office) went there, so they must be good. With that Ivy League brain power, they might very well just have the fortitude and the swagger to knock off Temple. As we all know, the 5-12 matchup is always an intriguing one. Every year, at least one 12 seed does its thing and takes care of business against an often too-comfortable 5 seed. Look for this year to be no different.
2. Notre Dame vs. Villanova in the Sweet 16
Let’s skip a few rounds and head on to the Sweet 16 where I really like Notre Dame to upset a very overrated Villanova Wildcat team. With Harangody back and Little-Hansborough playing well from the perimeter, Notre Dame has taken on an identity that was present with the ballclub last year. I know the ‘Cats still have Scottie Too Hottie and an array of guards, but there is not one soul on the Villanova that can truly contain Cool Hand Luke in the paint. If the Fighting Irish make it this far and Villanova doesn’t lay an egg against Richmond in Round 2, look for the Green and Gold to fight on and lose to Duke in the Elite 8.
3. Florida vs. The West Region
All I have heard this week is “Oh, my Hokies didn’t make it, what is the committee thinking?” or “My Hokies or My Bulldogs deserve a spot in the NCAA Tournament.” Well, to be quite honest, they might as well go ahead and worry about the NIT because neither Miss. State, nor VA Tech had a chance of cutting down the nets anyways. Who got in instead? My super sleeper team, the Florida Gators. Watch out folks, watch out for the Gators to come chompin’ on your doorstep. Billy Donovan is a prove winner and his team ALWAYS plays well during tourney time. Now that they’ve been given a chance by the NCAA committee, count on them to prove their worth in the West Region. Not only do I have them upsetting BYU in Round 1, but I have them taking down Kansas State to secure a spot in the Elite 8, where they will eventually succumb to their Orange counterpart, Syracuse and Jim Beoheim. Florida is deep with young talent, they endured a learning season in the brutal SEC, and have a young star by the name of Chandler Parsons who can light it up from 3-point land or dribble to the basket among the trees. No one has heard a lot about Florida this year, but any team coached by Donovan makes me a believer. Everyone is on the K State bandwagon, but watch them unravel under the pressure when they face the Gators early into March Madness. I like Florida and their potential here, and why not? No one’s ever able to “call” the next George Mason run in the tourney….da Gators have the best chance of anyone. Count it, and the foul.