The most wonderful time of the year is here! No, I’m not talking about Christmas or the start of summer vacation or even the Super Bowl — I’m talking about Selection Sunday. The day where everyone around the world stops, kills about 30 trees by printing brackets and pretends to be an expert on all things college basketball.
The first update: North Carolina, Kansas, Virginia and Oregon are number one seeds.
Oregon is the biggest surprise of the bunch, taking out Michigan State and Villanova as other potential suitors. Virginia lost to North Carolina in the ACC Tournament and also still got a top seed. An interesting start.
16. Austin Peay
12. South Dakota State
11. Vanderbilt/Wichita State
15. UNC Asheville
This is a pretty stacked bracket, with preseason top 10 teams from top to bottom. Iowa and Maryland fell off the table late, but watch out for Arizona: they have experience and can take down a fairly weak Miami team if the Hurricanes move past Buffalo.
Rapid Fire Sweet Sixteen Picks: Kansas, Maryland, Arizona, Iowa
Final four: Kansas
Let’s talk about some upsets. Unfortunately, this bracket looks strong at the top and fairly weak at the bottom. I think Miami is a below average team that could be shocked by Buffalo, but watch out for the winner of Wichita State/Vanderbilt. It always helps to get a game under your belt while the other teams wait in the wings, so the winner of that game could gain an advantage.
16. Holy Cross/Southern
8. Saint Joseph’s
13. UNC Wilmington
11. Northern Iowa
3. Texas A&M
14. Green Bay
7. Oregon State
15. Cal St. Bakersfield
Wow, this is quite a change from the South Region. A lot of impressive lower seeds and underwhelming top seeds, and it looks like Oklahoma might have an easy road to the Elite Eight. I’d watch out for Texas if they get past Northern Iowa, one of my potential darling teams of the tournament.
Rapid Fire Sweet Sixteen picks: Saint Joseph’s, Yale, Texas, Oklahoma
Final Four: Oklahoma
1. North Carolina
13. Stony Brook
6. Notre Dame
3. West Virginia
14. Stephen F. Austin
15. Weber State
As a UNC fan, this is definitely a tough bracket. West Virginia is a turnover-creating machine that can take down any team. Kentucky is a team that’s peaking at the right time and Providence has one of the NPOY candidates. I’d say that Chatanooga can beat Indiana, but Kentucky is the dark horse to come out of this region.
Rapid Fire Sweet Sixteen Picks: UNC, Kentucky, West Virginia, Wisconsin
Final Four: UNC (How could I not??)
8. Texas Tech
12. Arkansas Little Rock
4. Iowa State
6. Seton Hall
14. Fresno State
2. Michigan State
15. Middle Tennessee
I really hate this bracket. Utah is a 3 seed but Kentucky is a 4? Purdue is a 5 and Texas is a 6? Give me Michigan State and it isn’t really that close. I think Seton Hall might challenge the Spartans down the road, but a Michigan State-Iowa State regional final looks enticing.
Rapid Fire Sweet Sixteen Picks: Michigan State, Seton Hall, Texas Tech, Iowa State
Final Four pick: Michigan State