NCAA Bracket Breakdown - First Two Rounds
With just over 12 hours until the tournament tips off, offices everywhere are rushing to fill in their last upsets. Look no further than right here my shirt-and-tie-wearing friends. Over the next several minutes, all of the NCAA's secrets will be revealed in front of your very eyes.
First, let's start in the Atlanta bracket. In my opinion, this bracket will be the most boring and predictable of them all. In my crystal ball I see all top 4 seeds advancing to the Sweet 16, with #1 seed Duke moving onto the Final Four after defeating #2 Texas convincingly.... again.
The Oakland bracket is where I see many upset opportunities. Headlined by Conference USA Champion and #1 seed Memphis, this bracket holds the least amount of power. Memphis will struggle to make it out of the Sweet 16, where I predict they will fall to the Jayhawks of Kansas. The biggest upset of the tournament will also be staged in this bracket when the best player in the country, Adam Morrison, and his Gonzaga Bulldogs get bounced by #14 seed Xavier. Expect to see Xavier escape past Indiana in the second round before finally ending their Cinderella dreams in the Sweet 16. Look for #4 Kansas and #2 UCLA to survive onto the Sweet 16 from this bracket.
In Washington D.C., three perennial champions will take to the court looking to continue their legacy of excellence. Expect all three (Kentucky, UNC, and UConn) to prevail in the first round. Other first round winners will include surprising #2 seed Tennessee, Michigan State, and Illinois. Expect #12 Utah State and #10 Seton Hall to pull off upsets in their first round matchups.
The second round in this bracket should prove to be very enticing. I expect UNC and Illinois to move on rather easily, but the other two matchups could be more competitive upon further review than initially meets the eye. Tennessee enters the tournament as losers of 4 of their last 6 games, and often suffer lapses on defense. I expect Seton Hall's senior leaders, Kelly Whitney and Donald Copeland to make it tough for the Vols to put an end to their collegiate careers. In the end I think Coach Bruce Pearl's bright orange suit jacket will prove too much for the Pirates of Seton Hall, and they will be sent home after the second round.
The final second round match up in this bracket could very well be the most intriguing 1 vs. 8 matchup in the history of the NCAA Tournament. Uconn and Kentucky are two programs rich in tradition but who find themselves in very different roles this season. All season UConn has been picked as possibly the most talented team in the country, while Tubby Smith's boys in Lexington have had to deal with the title of underachiever. Both teams are coming into the tourney following losses in their respective conference tournaments. Kentucky will look to play a new role in the tournament -- spoiler, and also show a nation of critics that this team is as good as its #12 preseason ranking. In the end though, expect to see UConn's considerable size advantage win out. I anticipate a struggle for both teams with UConn coming out on top.
In the final bracket to be played out in Minneapolis, don't expect too many upsets in the first two rounds. All top seeds will advance in the first rounds with the exception of Oklahoma and Arizona. #11 Wisconsin-Milwaukee and their in-state neighbor, #9 Wisconsin will be playing the role of upsetters here before being extinguished in the second round. No upsets in the second round of this region though, as I expect all top four seeds to make it to the Semis.
There you have it, straight from the little crystal ball that came as a prize from the inside of my cereal box. The first two rounds should be very interesting. One things for certain, the tournament is almost impossible to predict, but if you follow my advice you'll be guaranteed not to lose. Well, to me anyway. Because we'll have the same picks. I can't promise anything beyond that. Either way, rush out and get your chips and dip early, the tournament tips off at 12:20 et on CBS.