Sweet Sixteen Baby!

Love Football! Love Playoffs! I even enjoy the Championship Bowl Series in college football, but there is no other sporting event like College Basketball’s March Madness. Take a look at this year’s Sweet Sixteen and see if you can see the obvious as to why this tournament is so great.

West Region: Salt Lake City, Utah
No. 5 Butler vs. No. 1 Syracuse
No. 6 Xavier vs. No. 2 Kansas State

East Region: Syracuse, New York:
No. 11 Washington vs. No.2 West Virginia
No. 12 Cornell vs. No. 1 Kentucky

Midwest Region: St. Louis, Missouri:
No. 9 Northern Iowa vs. No. 5 Michigan State
No. 6 Tennessee vs. No. 2 Ohio State

South Region: Houston, Texas:
No. 10 St. Mary’s vs. No. 3 Baylor
No. 4 Purdue vs. No. 1 Duke

The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind. No, wait, wrong topic. The answer, my friend, is…parody.  Five out of the eight match-ups include non-major conference teams. Every single region has the potential for a mid-major to end up in the Final Four. Now I don’t expect that to happen, but I do think at least one will make it through to the Final Four.

While the “home” seeds are 1, 2, 3 and 5 (! – well Michigan State as a five doesn’t amount to much since they have been to the Sweet Sixteen three years in a row with a result in losing in the National Championship game last year), the visiting teams are seeded 4,5,6,9,10,11, and 12. Consider the disparity in that! Only the sixth seed is repeated twice making for a truly mind-boggling tourney experience.  Of course, Xavier as a 6 seed is a little quizzical as they made it to the sweet sixteen three years in a row also.

So, here are my picks for the next two days.

West Region: Salt Lake City, Utah
No. 5 Butler vs. No. 1 Syracuse – Syracuse wins without their best player again. They are contending for the strongest performance so far in the tourney.
No. 6 Xavier vs. No. 2 Kansas State – Xavier. They are seasoned veterans, which gives the edge of parody to them.  If Onuaku is not back for the Orange in the Elite Eight then expect Xavier in the Final Four.

East Region: Syracuse, New York:
No. 11 Washington vs. No.2 West Virginia – Isaiah Thomas lives up to his name and shocks the world. Pac 10 in the elite eight. “Weakest” Conference makes it through knocking down the mighty Big East. Who knew?
No. 12 Cornell vs. No. 1 Kentucky – Heart strings force me to cheer for Cornell. Come on Ivy League. Do Ivy Leaguers even know they have a team? An upset like this may be their school’s biggest victory.

Midwest Region: St. Louis, Missouri:
No. 9 Northern Iowa vs. No. 5 Michigan State – Question: Who hosts the Midwest Region when in St. Louis? Missouri Valley Conference. Who is from the Missouri Valley Conference? Northern Iowa. They really are the home team and that is why they pull a great upset over seasoned Michigan State.
No. 6 Tennessee vs. No. 2 Ohio State – Tennessee by twenty in a blow out. I simply have no respect for Ohio State.

South Region: Houston, Texas:
No. 10 St. Mary’s vs. No. 3 Baylor – St. Mary’s because I love parody. Also, I think they are playing with a grudge this year. If I remember correctly they were a bubble team last year that was inexplicably left out. They want to leave an impression. Although my bracket actually has Baylor winning this match-up. Either way I’m right.
No. 4 Purdue vs. No. 1 Duke – Duke, who is my perennial heart team after LSU wins. Their tandem of Scheyer, Singler made the Blue Devils worth watching two years ago. Now with Smith they have the trio to be dangerous. Singler has shown this year that he lives for the pressure, which has been their Achilles’ heel in years gone by. Coach K, who has been to more Sweet Sixteen’s than any other coach in College history – 19,  makes it through to the next round.

Let the games begin.

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